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Showing posts from December, 2015

Identity Politics = Gulags! So what?

Am I the only one who finds it strange that those who promote a culture of "calling out", a problematization of every cultural production as being "problematic" because it does not demonstrate x political concern, and campaigns to "check the privilege" of others within the same left milieu, are the very same people who are by-and-large opposed to the history of actually existing socialism and the "totalitarianisms" of the Russian and Chinese Revolutions?  After all, if you're going to problematize the practice and ideas of people––that is, claim that they aren't politically up to par and demand that they rectify their understanding of things––then, if your politics is ever operationalized, you can't just assume that things will be rectified spontaneously.  Indeed, you're demanding that people be forced to recognize that they are wrong, that their understanding of reality is oppressive; you're already, in some manner, forcing …

How To Be A Feisty Theorist

In an effort to catch up on professional development, I've spent the past month immersed in the work of philosophers/theorists that are deemed important.  Maybe it's because I was partially trained in "analytic philosophy" that I am somewhat allergic to the ways in which "continental philosophy" is articulated, but damn I'm yet again annoyed by the fact that I'm reading thinkers who seem to be intentionally resisting interpretation, and who generate followers because of this resistance.  I was trained to care about arguments, clarity, and at least a vague recognition of logical structure… Which is why I tend to be confused when "philosophers" who resist clarity, who can't be bothered to conceptualize their positions according to argument, tend to be celebrated.  Of course this celebration tends to happen outside of the discipline of philosophy, which usually resists these chic theorists, in theory programs, literary studies, or what-ha…

Reflections on Cold War Propagandists: Arthur Koestler

[This was in my incomplete draft post folder of this blog.  I can't remember what motivated me to write about Koestler, but I suspect it had to do with the fact that Darkness At Noonsomehow made it to #8 on the Modern Library's Top 100 Book List.  Although the Modern Library's "Readers' Top 100 List" is worse than the critics (it's dominated by Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard), it is still annoying to see that Koestler's anti-communist novel ended up so high on the critics' list, trumping even Dostoevsky.  In any case, in lieu of any new post, there's no point in letting this completed one lie dormant…]

The anti-communist literary edifice that was developed during the cold war in order to construct a discourse about "totalitarianism" that lingers to this day is based upon the work (excluding Orwell) of two iconic figures: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Arthur Koestler.  In some ways Solzhenitsyn's work eclipses that of Koestler's bec…