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Buzzwords » Top Reads of 2016: Richard Marshall (published 23/12/2016)

12 of what I’ve read this year: The Genesis of Neo-Kantianism, 1796-1880. Frederick Beiser. Beiser is an essential read and this is a great and readable book about an important sub-field of continental philosophy. It includes, for the Beckett fans amongst us, a chapter on Windelband, one of whose books Beckett read and from which […]

Interviews » Restless Hauntings: Richard Marshall Interviews Marina Warner (published 06/04/2009)

mw2By the time photography got into its stride it was accepted pretty much as a documentary index of reality. This was why it became very popular in spirit circles because it proved that spirits existed. Well now of course we know so much more about this very peculiar state of being which has been called ‘image flesh’ – a term of Maurice Merleau-Ponty that I like very much. It’s an expression I like because it implies flesh that is not flesh. He applied it to other forms of iconography, which are also image flesh. They might be more material than a photograph – a sculpture, a painting – but they share the relationship to the mind’s eye that photography does.

Richard Marshall talks Catholicism, zombies and Beckton Alps with Marina Warner.

Interviews » The End Times » Carl Schmitt and Democratic Cannibalism (published 16/06/2018)

The absolute entrenchment of the constitution’s core commitments and party bans are the two most significant takeaways. By arguing that the basic decision of the Weimar Constitution was for liberal basic rights rather than democracy, Schmitt believed he had discovered a way to prevent extremists from gaining power and committing legal revolution, a way consistent with the existing Weimar Constitution.

As the Nazis and Communists gained seats in parliament, Schmitt was frustrated by positivist jurists’ unyielding commitment to democratically decided positive law. He criticized them for how their theoretical commitments resulted practically in something like political quietism. And, in doing so, he seems to interpret them as one-sided adherents to Weber’s ethics of conviction, as politically irresponsible.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Benjamin A Schupmann.

Interviews » The End Times » The Impossible and The Real (published 09/06/2018)

When I think about what it means for something to exist, I don’t see a gap between existence, reality, being, or whatever you want to call it. When it comes to Pegasus, Santa Claus, and the Tory party’s concern for the poor, it’s not that there’s something out there in reality that somehow lacks the property of existence. There’s simply no such thing.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Mark Jago,

Essays » Psychedelics and Education: A conversation with Kenneth Tupper (published 06/06/2018)

Ethnographers have documented the shamanic and psychedelic practices of indigenous people for centuries. This 1560 account from the Catholic evangelization of the Aztecs, by the Franciscan missionary Bernardino de Sahagún, was published in a pharmaceutical trade publication in 1951 (the piece allegedly caught the attention of the banker Gordon Wasson, who then went on to become the 20th century’s most influential ethnomycologist). Points of resonance with western experiential education (e.g. the vision quest) are evident, but these indigenous practices are more likely to be conceptualized by westerners as superstitious ritual rather than as means of gaining meaningful knowledge about the cosmos or human condition.

Lindsay Jordan talks psychedelics with Ken Tupper.

Reviews » Gore Capitalism: The Politics of Tony Montana (published 05/06/2018)

Tijuana is where the violence is insane, everywhere and involves everyone. Readers of Bolano and Sergio Gonzalez Rodriguez know all about this. Violence there is no longer a peripheral, accidental side-effect of narco cartels and corrupt politics but a lethal structural feature of a weak, broken state. A culture of depraved machismo feeds it, leading to elaborate and theatrical killings and perverted snuff-sex death. The black tears of the innocent are washed away in its white noise carnage. The porno psycho-murder entrepreneurialism seeps into the international markets of everything. A faux blankness silences the helpless keening of its victims. We, the happy consumers of the deranged products of these cults of hallucinatory death feign ignorance or are genuinely outraged. Whatever, enough of us, like addicts and nihilists, mercilessly continue to buy.

Richard Marshall reviews Sayak Valencia‘s Gore Capitalism.

Interviews » The End Times » Aristotelian Plato, Mathematical Pythagoreanism and the Origins of Philosophy (published 02/06/2018)

Plato was impressed by the Persians and Egyptians, and in antiquity he was thought to have traveled to meet them in his youth (and, on his death bed, a Chaldean came to gain wisdom from him). Plato wrote eloquently about the wisdom of Egypt in the Timaeus-Critias, ascribing the wisdom of his distant ancestor Solon of Athens to the Egyptians, and he praises the wisdom of the Persian kings Cyrus and Darius in the Laws. He also wrote about the Zoroastrian educational system, and in particular Ahura Mazda (who was the primary god of the Zoroastrian pantheon), in the First Alcibiades, which he praised in various ways, but ultimately considered deficient to the system of Socratic/Platonic education that he was advancing. Quite interestingly, as soon as Plato dies, his students in the Academy (especially his amanuensis Philip of Opus, and another figure called Hermodorus of Syracuse) claim that Plato took his overall metaphysical system from the Persians – a striking claim that, when compared with the surviving inscriptions from Persia and the Zoroastrian writings, which are collected under the title Avesta, show impressive connections.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Phil Horky.

Interviews » The End Times » Indian Philosophy of Language (published 31/05/2018)

We can’t be familiar with the intellectual traditions of every culture (I’m certainly not), but given that some of our oldest literature is in Sanskrit and that human beings have been speaking languages for a very long time, I don’t think we should be that surprised that there would be people reflecting on what language is and how it works, well before Russell and Frege. And in the 1960s and the work of B.K. Matilal, English-language philosophers have had resources to make them well aware that Indian philosophers have been doing sophisticated stuff in language (in Sanskrit, but not only that language–there’s Pāli, Prakrit, Tamil, and other languages too). I should add that Chinese philosophy also has a very long history of linguistic philosophy, dating back to around the time of Pāṇini, and that anyone interested should look into Mohist logic.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Malcolm Keating.

Reviews » The Underground Republic of Tony White (published 30/05/2018)

White’s subtle pulp detective novel comes with all the benefits of the genre: a complex and twisting plot with a genuinely shocking and satisfying dénouement, a brooding, troubled and edgy anti-hero cop protagonist and a broad, psychogeographic and political landscape taking place in the designated sacred spacetime spanning the end of the Miners Strike in 1985 to the Battle of the Beanfield at Stonehenge. Writing it White adopts the playful puzzle materials of the Oulipo lit guys and gals and draws esoterical fodder from the Guardian crossword puzzle and the Sylvain Marechal’s French Revolutionary Calendar. There’s a luxuriance of natural feeling and grounded knowing in the well-healed prose. It has an assurance that drives the plot towards its severe but thrilling denunciations of our corrupt forces of law and ordure. White works against the bookish and cloistered, brings vernacular energies to his communal memories of this time.

Richard Marshall reviews Tony White‘s The Fountain in the Forest.

Interviews » The End Times » After Identity: Questions Of Interpretation (published 27/05/2018)

White non-trans faculty are not meant to study issues of race or transgender – witness the controversy over Rebecca Tuvel’s article, “In Defense of Transracialism” – and non-white faculty are meant to study nothing but issues of race and the consequences of racialization. For the most part we find LatinX scholars, for example, in Hispanic Studies and Ethnics Studies departments, rather than, say, Philosophy ones. We are all, then, to study ourselves. This outcome seems to me to be both a travesty of the promise of diversity and a dogmatic account of identity.

Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews Georgia Warnke.