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Apr. 5th, 2010

Benjamin

max_ambiguity

Chromophobia, continuums, and interdisciplinarity

    You guys, I feel like the parts of my brain that understand theory are atrophying.  My new department is not open to theoretical discourse.  I don't think they're actively hostile toward it, but there's no one to have conversations with about this stuff.  Except for you, Theory Is Hot Crew.  Our attempts at group reads don't seem to work out so well, so I just went ahead and read something on my own and I thought I'd share a few thoughts here.

     I picked up David Batchelor's Chromophobia because it was supposed to be "A provocative contribution to the discourse of color theory."  (Or so says James Meyer on the book jacket.)  Essentially, the argument is that Western culture has eschewed color since ancient times.  Color is childish, gay, feminine, vulgar, oriental, superficial, or inessential, and therefore bad.  I wanted to hear more.  I wanted to see Batchelor trace this history of color.  But unfortunately, this book was very disappointing.  Batchelor apparently takes "theory" to mean "I can ramble on as I please without providing a context for anything I say; I can mix Pleasantville with Plotinus in the same paragraph without justifying the juxtaposition, and I can rely on broad generalizations as the basis for proving my point." 

     This is not how I like my theory.  Still, I picked out two passages to share with you.  One I disagree with vehemently. The other has the potential to be intriguing.

  "If colour is single and colours are many, how can we have both?  Plotinus said colour is 'devoid of parts', and this is probably among the most significant things every said on the subject.  For Plotinus, then, colour was single, it was indivisible.  But in being indivisible, colour also put itself beyond the reach of rational analysis - and this was exactly is point.  To analyze, after all, is to divide.  If color is indivisible, a continuum, what sense can there be in talking of colours?  None, obviously...except that we do it all the time" (Batchelor 85-6).   The idea that it's pointless to talk about anything that exists on a continuum seems absurd to me.  Is analysis just division?  Is all division a falsehood?  Perhaps, but we could take anything and call it a continuum.  But we still find it useful to divide it into categories.  (Oh god, my writing sounds like Batchelor's now.  Shoot me before anyone else is infected!)

     "I have mentioned at least as much literature, philosophy and science as art theory, and I have said more about films, architecture and advertisements than painting or sculpture.  Fair enough: colour is interdisciplinary.  Except that I feel uncomfortable casually passing something off as 'interdisciplinary'.  I want to preserve the strangeness of colour; its otherness is what counts, not the commodification of otherness.  The interdisciplinary is often the antidisciplinary made safe.  Colour is antidisciplinary" (Batchelor 97).  We discuss "the interdisciplines" (as someone recently referred to it in a_a) here a lot, so I thought this passage might be of interest in spite of the overall suckitude of the book.  Does calling something "interdisciplinary" strip it of the freedom it sought by escaping the disciplines in the first place?

Mar. 12th, 2010

owl

owl_of_minerva

Things I never thought I'd see, but are sort of awesome

Most recent issue of the Continental Philosophy Review: "Hegel and Deleuze on the metaphysical interpretation of the calculus".

Just wanted to share my delight with you all.

Feb. 28th, 2010

QI - Jimmy Carr - Acropolis

owl_of_minerva

Claude Lévi-Strauss comic in the Financial Times

By the authors of Logicomix: "Exclusive Claude Lévi-Strauss cartoon"

Feb. 19th, 2010

lucille

a_priori

theoretical Application

I put together this list more than a month ago, when perpetua_redux advertised at academics_anon. Then I sat on it for awhile, until the early semester crazy faded and I now am just a bit more available to parry your challenges, quench your queries, and prostrate my intellect for your procrastinatory amusement. So have at it!

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Jan. 11th, 2010

deco

celestialmaven

The List

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littleangel_103

Application

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Nov. 3rd, 2009


northrop_fried

Good night, sweet prince.

Claude Lévi-Strauss 1909-2009
French+
Influential+
Reflexive-
Totalizing+
Cold+
Alive-

Oct. 28th, 2009

cat & girl

ichbinkelsey

(no subject)

I am not at home, but my roommate informs me that the the Great Thumpkin has come in my absence. Oh great and powerful theory fairy, thank you for The Resistance to Theory and Cinema 2! Max, now I can find out if this is the one where he talks about bacon.

Oct. 21st, 2009


northrop_fried

Apparatus

I just read Agamben's What is an Apparatus.. It's a clearly written and deep archaeology of Foucault's notion of the apparatus or dispositif (who I understand was accustomed to being hoisted on his own petard and various other apparatuses after moving to California) that traces it back through Hegel to the early church's theological notion of "oikonomia" as a justification (by way of analogy-- the only way one can justify mystery) of the trinity. I don't have the energy to explain it right now. It's good right up to the last section, which is like this little exasperated sigh cum warmed-over Heideggerian rant about how much he dislikes cellphones.

My cellphone doens't tell me what to do. Lighten up, chuckle-head.

Oct. 9th, 2009

bridge

witheredsong

My list of 10

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 Edit: Hi. I am updating from the emergency room of the nearest hospital. My baby sister is throwing up her guts because of food -poisoning, and it is ten o'clock at night. If you would give me permission, I am going to come back to this as soon as I can. Or, I can withdraw my application and try at a later date. Thank you for your questions. I would love to have a chance to answer them,  though.

Edit: What appeared to be food-poisoning is actually acute appendicitis. She is being prepped for surgery. I withdraw my application for the time being and apologise for inconveniencing all of you. I hope I can return and try this again sometime in the near future. Thank you for your probing questions.

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