Thursday, June 17, 2010

What I'm Reading

One of the key figures in my doctoral thesis is James K.A. Smith, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. As well as blog Fors Clavigera (see here for an explanation of its title), he writes a What I'm Reading blog, which is actually the older of the two. Jamie describes What I'm Reading as "something between an annotated bibliography and a collection of book reviews." This is something that I'm going to try out with this blog.

Having completed my PhD, I now spend my days hunting for academic jobs, writing conference papers, and turning my thesis into a book and a couple of articles, and I'll still post about these things. However, I'm also still reading new things. So I thought I might try out posting snippits of what I'm reading which will give insight into where I am hoping to go next with my work.

Since my postdoctoral aspirations converge on exploring the possibility of Derridean radical sociality, I thought starting with this from Slavoj Zizek's The Puppet and The Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity, pp.43-44 -

"When today's Left bombards the capitalist system with demands that it obviously cannot fulfill (Full employment! Retain the welfare state! Full rights for immigrants!), it is basically playing a game of hysterical provocation, of addressing the Master with a demand that will be impossible for him to meet, and will thus expose his impotence.

"The problem with this strategy, however, is not only that the system cannot meet these demands, but that those who voice them do not really want them to be satisfied.

"When, for example, 'radical' academics demand full rights for immigrants and the opening of borders to them, are they aware that the direct implementation of this demand would, for obvious reasons, inundate the developed Western countries with millions of newcomers, thus provoking a violent racist working-class backlash that would then endanger the privileged position of these very academics?

"Of course they are, but they count on the fact that their demand will not be met - in this way, they can hypocritically retain their clear radical conscience while continuing to enjoy their privileged position."

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