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Interviews » The End Times » Law (published 24/06/2017)

I was delighted when I reached the remark, “What is an electric field? Is it something real, or is it merely a name for a factor in an equation which has to be multiplied by something else to give the numerical value of the force we measure in an experiment?” Finally, I remember thinking, here at last was the sort of question that I wanted us to pursue. But the textbook went on to say that “since it works, it doesn’t make any difference. That is not a frivolous answer, but a serious one.” I felt ashamed of my obvious intellectual immaturity and bad taste.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Marc Lange.

Interviews » The End Times » Modern Metaphysics – the Analytic/Continental Mix (published 17/06/2017)

I believe that there are deep connections between Heidegger’s metaphysics and the concerns of analytic metaphysicians. One of the things that I try to do in my book is to show that Heidegger’s metaphysics involved him in a kind of battle with language that was reminiscent of Wittgenstein’s early work. But that is just one example of very many. And it illustrates the point we touched on earlier: how profitable it can be to set non-analytic traditions alongside the analytic tradition.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews A.W. Moore.

Reviews » What Algorithms Want (published 12/06/2017)

The success of Trump in the USA was a Cow Clicker political success: no matter how dumb, nasty, inept and poorly designed, Trump understands where the new magic sources of power lie. It’s no accident that he tweets, cutting out the ‘normal channels’ of shared concern to ‘speak’ directly to the private space of (anti) social media. His genius has been to seduce and reach beyond both comprehension and knowledge, to harness some vast algorithmic political unknowability and ignorance. This is the new cultural landscape that Ed Finn’s timely and fascinating book investigates.

Richard Marshall reviews Ed Finn‘sWhat Algorithms Want.

Interviews » The Hacker (published 10/06/2017)

As Debord said, theories are made to die in the war of time. They are of their era. There’s no shortage of cranky pro-situs who claim ownership of the Situationists, like petit-bourgeois shop-keepers. But I think it’s better to treat it as material to refunction rather than repeat. It’s not for imitating, it’s for treating as raw material. That’s why the hardcovers of my books on the Situs come with comic strips that I made with Kevin Pyle, as a bit of a hint about how to repurpose the material now.

Richard Marshall interviews McKenzie Wark.

Interviews » The End Times » Arcadian Wisdom (published )

I don’t think, and I don’t think that Plato thinks, that the questions human beings ask as they struggle to figure out what is just or beautiful or good—as they struggle to forge for themselves good lives—are susceptible to technical resolution. Human life cannot be mastered by an expert. It can surely be enhanced by thought, but it cannot be successfully engineered. In us there are too many powerful forces and desires, too much variability, contingency and sheer madness.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews David Roochnik.

Reviews » Life and Death on the Border: A Review of Yuri Herrera’s Kingdom Cons (published 08/06/2017)

All three of the short novels by Yuri Herrera, translated into English by Lisa Dillman, inhabit this shifting territory, that is far more psychological – or mythical, in the Greek sense – than geographical. After publishing Signs Preceding the End of the World and The Transmigration of Bodies, And Other Stories have now added Kingdom Cons, Yuri Herrera’s first novel. The territory of all three novels may be reminiscent of the real border between Mexico and the United States but, in Herrera’s works, that territory is more like the hypnagogic borderland between sleep and dream.

Des Barry reviews Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera.

Reviews » Hour of the Wolf (published 03/06/2017)

The horror that slides across the book is a terminal dread, ‘a white sea, a white death’. The dread is clenched in clean icy prose that, as the blurb has it, results in an incantationary text which includes all the usual suspects from occult literature: ‘robed figures and furry men, ice caves and deserts, god and serpent, shapelessness and sacred geometry, mysterious artifacts and unfolding perceptions…in a pentangle of overlaid story bodies, each sinking deeper into its own true consciousness, while at the same time constructing an indexical sequence of translation from raw sense to mediated artiface, a primer of the dissolution of life into text.’ What else it raises is the spectre of Miltonic and Shakespearean whiteness, and the failed theodicies of Leibniz, Malebranche and Arnauld.

Richard Marshall reviews M Kitchell‘s Hour of the Wolf.

Interviews » The End Times » The Pluralist (published )

Different moralities must share some general features if they are to perform their functions of coordinating beings having particular kinds of motivations. Morality is a cultural construction in something like the way bridges are. There would be no bridges unless human beings used them to move across bodies of waters or depressions in the earth, but a good bridge cannot be designed according to whim, but rather according to what would adequately fulfill their function and the nature of the materials that are available for their construction.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews David Wong.

Reviews » Homo Sovieticus and Mind Control (published 30/05/2017)

Psikhon was the biomagnetic medium described by Velminski as, ‘… an agent of “infection” for influencing, controlling and steering the psyche along cybernetic lines… scientific insight and aesthetic practice belonged to a political-ideological program founded on the premise that mental events could directly produce real-world effects… The flexible “mechanism” at work corresponded to the fraught mode of civil engineering that shaped the Cold War… Fittingly, the political-medical aspect of Psikhon , which Khlebnikov envisioned and Gulyaev thought he could measure by means of his Aurathron, reached its apogee when the Soviet Union was in the course of collapsing and the masses had to be “recharged with healing forces.”

Richard Marshall reviews Wladimir Velminski‘s Homo Sovieticus.

Interviews » The End Times » Nietzsche and Friendship (published 27/05/2017)

Perspectivism consists in part in the view that there is no privileged representation of the world, no theory that can explain once and for all every worldly phenomenon. Many of its critics infer from this that perspectivism reduces to a relativism according to which every view is as true as any other. There are several answers to this charge. But the connection with the arts provides one of the strongest. For, although it makes no sense to think of “the greatest” artist or “the greatest” work, we are still perfectly capable of distinguishing between the quality of different artists and different works. Why, then, should that be impossible in the rest of life as well?

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Alexander Nehamas.