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Interviews » The End Times » Arcadian Wisdom (published 10/06/2017)

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.

Interviews » The End Times » Disagreement (published 21/05/2017)

We take this pattern of judgments to be evidence that the ordinary notion of disagreement allows for two people to disagree by making non-incompatible moral claims (i.e., two claims such that it is not the case that one must be false). If that is right, then, not only is the disagreement argument against contextualism undermined, but the correct theory may in fact be a contextualist theory, since that kind of theory does allow for the possibility of disagreements that do not involve making incompatible claims.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Justin Khoo.

Reviews » Femicide Machine and The Iguana 43 (published 14/05/2017)

‘Borderization’, a Mexico where, ‘ … everything is becoming a border, a twilight zone in which anything can happen. A border that, in spite of the best efforts of civil society and institutions to find a dignified and viable means of coexistence, spreads like a scourge of crime, impunity, the loss of respect for life, the disappearance of persons as an industry of extermination… Empires – like nation-states – become decadent when they become unable to guarantee the integrity of their sovereignty and their territory. In recent years – due to ancestral inequality, the disaster of the globalised economy, the fall of the authoritarian presidency, the slow institution of a new political system of the drug trafficking boom, police and judicial corruption and the migration of workers – Mexico’s borders have suffered from a series of perverse effects that tie together a multi-faceted erosion of everything from the national contract to public security.’

Richard Marshall on Sergio González Rodríguez‘s The Iguala 43 and The Femicide Machine.

Interviews » The End Times » Jerk and Whoosh Time (published 13/05/2017)

Of course, Cockburn – unlike More or Alexander – was a woman, and it’s likely that sexism has played some part in the neglect of her work. She was writing at a time when men worried that reading made women ‘troublesome or ridiculous’, and debated whether women’s inferiority was due to their feeble bodies or their soggy brain fibres. (Less than eighty years ago, C. D. Broad concludes a book review by writing that its author, Susan Stebbing, must be enjoying something of the exhilaration of a ‘good housewife’ who has completed her spring-cleaning.)

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Emily Thomas.

Interviews » The End Times » The Noumenaut: Psychedelics and Philosophy (published 07/05/2017)

If one accepts A. N. Whitehead’s proverb that the European philosophical tradition consists of a series of footnotes to Plato, then a case can be made for the significance of psychedelics to philosophy as we have it. The self-proclaimed ‘chemical philosopher’ Humphry Davy wrote in 1800 a treatise on the philosophical ramifications of nitrous oxide intake, siding with the idealists – and thereafter we can follow a line of philosophers who were indebted to psychoactive intake. Figures include Nietzsche, James, Benjamin, Jünger, Paz, Sartre, Foucault, and Nick Land amongst others. William James, incidentally, wrote that Hegel’s philosophy only became clear to him under the influence of nitrous oxide.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall and Lindsay Jordan interview Peter Sjöstedt-H.