Menu Home

The fetishisation of interiority

From pg 27 of Peter Sloterdijk’s The Art of Philosophy.  Witnesses report that Socrates had the habit of “sinking” into thought, as if thinking involved a kind of trance or obsessive daydream. According to Xenophon, Socrates saw this as “concentrating the mind on itself” by breaking off contact with his environment […]

Conduits for variety

In his superb From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Fred Turner vividly describes The Whole Earth Catalog and the horizon it opened up for many of its readers. From loc 1212: For many, the Catalog provided a first, and sometimes overwhelming, glimpse of the New Communalists’ intellectual world. Gareth Branwyn, for instance, a journalist who […]

Two modes for becoming who we are 

The self as painting: we become who we are through repetition and representation. Encumbered only by our imagination and the culture in which we find ourselves, we craft ourselves through iterated projects of self-representation. We might find the materials available to us limiting, in which case we might seek out […]

Digital media and ontological security 

There’s an intriguing argument in The Mediated Construction of Social Reality, by Nick Couldry and Andreas Hepp, concerning our dependence upon digital media and how we respond to its failure. From loc 5527: We feel the costs viscerally: when ‘our’ media break down –we lose internet connection, our password stops […]

Why do I write?

An exercise in free-writing, undertaken at a writing workshop at the Becoming Academic conference at the University of Sussex. I write to eliminate the clutter in my head, the accumulated debris which emerges within me as I make my way through the world, trying to understand my experiences as I […]

The Personal Morphogenesis of Francis Begbie

Which character from the Irvine Welsh novels has the most depth? While Francis Begbie might have counted as the most vivid, particularly as he was brought to life in Robert Carlyle’s unforgettable performance, I’d be surprised if anyone thought of him as the deepest. Yet that’s the impression one is left […]

The Politics of Agency

Ever since I was a philosophy student, I’ve been interested in how we conceptualise individuals and groups. The two are connected in my mind because, if groups are composed of individuals, our concept of individuals is going to condition our concept of groups and vice versa. However discussion at this […]

Anticipatory Urgency

Earlier this morning, I found myself impatiently waiting in my local petrol station to purchase a drink before I went swimming. The woman in front me in the queue was rather slow. Initially seeming surprised that money would be required for the transaction, she proceeded to initiate an entirely different process to locate her […]

The Ontology of Fateful Moments

In his On the Ontological Mystery, Gabriel Marcel describes the experience of “an irresistible appeal which overturns the habitual perspectives just as a gust of wind might tumble down the panels of a stage set”. He is talking of a chance meeting with a stranger, but the image is a […]

Carrying the weight of the world

I love this expression from Peter Sloterdijk’s Selected Exaggerations loc 944: Carrying the weight of the world is an art that can be practised in many different ways. I think it is right to say that it is fundamentally the same art. It consists of answers to the burdensome nature […]

The substitute socialisation of the marine corp

From J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, pg 173-174: The Marine Corps assumes maximum ignorance from its enlisted folks. It assumes that no one taught you anything about physical fitness, personal hygiene, or personal finances. I took mandatory classes about balancing a checkbook, saving, and investing. When I came home from boot […]

The Relative Autonomy of Symbolic Mediation

A quick note on the Wacquant workshop. We’ve turned to habitus and he’s offered the unproblematic claim that we always encounter the physical world through the prism of symbols. Social relations generate symbolic relations which are deposited in the body, shaping action in ways which serve to reproduce or transform social relations. It would be impossible […]