:: Essays archive ( 2000-2005, click for articles pre-2006)

Neoliberal cyborg Science: World of Warcraft as gamic vehicle published 26/03/2015

Chun articulates the construction of the individual by software by noting that: “[c]omputer programs shamelessly use shifters, pronouns like ‘my’ and ‘you’, that address you, and everyone else, as a subject.” WoW stages neoliberalism’s fetishisation of the individual while disguising the paradox engendered by the conferral of radical agency onto every individual. The player feels empowered while unbeknownst to them, their agency is in fact an illusion.

Rafael Lubner on how World of Warcraft functions as an atopic form of neoliberal ideology.

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There Is No Cure For This: A Reading of Geoffrey G. O’Brien’s “In The Idle Style” published 17/03/2015

Geoffrey G. O'Brien

After several failed attempts at memorizing “In The Idle Style,” I became less interested in committing it to memory than exploring the idea that there was something in the deeper fibers of O’Brien’s poem that resisted my initial attempts at memorization — and that such resistance was a signal to its meaning and value.

Gary Sloboda on Geoffrey G. O’Brien’s poem “In The Idle Style”.

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flatness/interruption published 11/03/2015


She finds the potatoes she put on the stove earlier boiled over. Jeanne is upset, and starts to walk through the flat in panic – the pan of potatoes in her hands. Finally she tosses them into the trash.

Katharina Ludwig on Chantal Akerman‘s Jeanne Dielman.

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On Vincent Harding, Benjamin Netanyahu and Selma published 08/03/2015


That a police officer can draw a gun on an unarmed young man and shoot him many times, killing him, and be “protected” by current “legal practice” – the cop who drew his gun on Taj Blow, a student on the Yale campus, is similarly and bizarrely “protected” – is a great scandal of modern America. If this is a free regime, what is a police state?

Gil Caldwell on civil rights in the US.

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The social contract theory according to Socrates published 07/03/2015


There are two courses of actions: persuade or obey, according to the laws of the city. If you are in disagreement with an order, you are actually obligated to persuade. You must persuade the authority that issued that unjust order to change their minds, but if you fail, you must obey. This is the core formula to sustain the system. The integrity of the system depends on the endurance of this procedure. Of course, there are circumstances that are unpleasant to us, and we would wish it otherwise, but we cannot overrule the system at our leisure. That conclusion is the result of the debate with Crito about the value of expert opinion of the few over the opinion of the majority.

Shahram Arshadnejad on Socrates and the Social Contract.

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Sounding out the Idols: Images, Ideology & ISIS published


The video explains their ruinous behavior as the fulfillment of religious duty: “The Prophet Muhammed commanded us to shatter and destroy statues.” The irony here is perspicuous: threatened by the potency of the image, these militants undertake drastic measures to destroy it, yet in so doing engrave an immeasurably more powerful image before the entire world by uploading their video. This perplexity runs deeper than this incident and gestures towards a paradox at the origin of the aniconic and philosophical traditions.

Gilah Kletenik on ISIS and Iconoclasm.

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Innocent Abroad: Rupture, Liberation, and Solidarity published 02/03/2015


So here, in these philosophers, was stuff that seemed just as hard as the physics and chemistry that were bringing me to New York. Moreover, philosophers seemed to value a lack of confidence—telling me, not to ignore my doubts and get back to studying, but to push my uncertainty as far as it could go. Sartre explained why this is inescapable—only by self-deception can we hide from ourselves the fact of choice and the depth of our inability to anchor life in external or internal certainties. Like it or not, we were in the end responsible for who we are and what sort of world we inhabit.

Peter Railton‘s Dewey Lecture.

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the ethics of belief published 23/02/2015

German writer Christa Wolf asks herself: “What kind of faith will the people of the future (assuming there are people in the future) read out of our stone, steel, and concrete ruins?” If we’re to take history as a reliable measure, the story of the 20th and 21st centuries will, in two or three thousand years, be quite the simple yarn: we built the freeways out of national pride; we liberated peoples across the globe from their cruel dictators; we went to war against terrorists to defend our freedom; and so on. Every ruin has its myth; every war has its Helen.

Patrick Nathan on Cassandra, myth, Google Maps, and the power of stories.

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The Will to Marxism: Need We Work in an Economy of Abundance? published 20/02/2015

Karl Marx - portrait

Why should a 3 hour working day be considered more insane than an 8-10 hour working day or a fifth of the population put in jail? Why should the sane submit to the insane, who think it right that a minority should decide whether or not a majority lives in penury or pleasure? Why should a particular mode of market-capture undermine our ability to seek philosophy and self-understanding rather than the economic bottom line, which, if it doesn’t kill us, certainly won’t follow us to the short-faring graves that await us all, even those few who manage to profit?

Jeremy Brunger on the role of Marxism in 2015.

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Violins, Dirty Shoes and Broken Biscuits: Laurie Lee as unknowing British Beatnik published 16/02/2015

At one point among the most celebrated writers of his day, Lee’s legacy in contemporary culture is accompanied by an eerie silence. Along with Down and Out in Paris and London, Midsummer Morning, is one of the definitive chronicles of the aimless wandering generation of Europe caught between two world wars. Each town with a real identity, and most characters displaying an at times laughably innocent vision of the world, the book portrays what feels to me at least as the last embers of an authentic European experience, before the destruction of war took place, and the subsequent white-washing of mass tourism took hold.

Robert Greer on the oft-overlooked early British beatnik, Laurie Lee.

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