Tuesday, October 17, 2017

For a New Naturalism

Forthcoming and edited by Australian philosopher Arran Gare, For a New Naturalism features a range of philosophers drawing upon the speculative naturalist tradition and utilizing approaches fashioned by the likes of C.S. Peirce, Merleau-Ponty, C.D. Broad, Catherine Malabou, just to name a few.

You can read the introduction online, HERE.

Monday, October 16, 2017

YouTuber Roaming Millennial visits Lafayette College

Roaming Millennial (a vlogger on YouTube) visited Lafayette College not so long ago. This is pretty close to where I teach at Moravian so had I known it was going on I would have gone. Might be interesting to bring Roaming Millennial to Moravian College - afterall, she declares herself to be a "philosopher king" and we just finished the Republic. She would also be an interesting figure to talk to our ethics bowl team.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

new track from John Maus' forthcoming album, 'Screen Memories'

I'd love to chat with Maus to discuss some of his philosophical views - mostly those I've garnered from looking over his dissertation. Two Ph.D.s discussing music, particularly music in Maus' own vein, would be quite a rare conversation. So - John Maus - if your out there, get in touch!

John Maus' forthcoming album Screen Memories will be available October 27th. Definitely looking forward to it. Here is a new track that has just appeared on YouTube.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thoughts inspired by the New York Times article "Return of the ’80s! Synth-Pop Bands Stage a Middle-Aged Comeback"

I often repeat ad nauseum a number of theses to any of my full-blown Millennial students who will listen. No, I state ad nauseum a number of facts. Facts are facts, therefore they are self-evident. But allow me to characterize or explain a number of facts about music of the '80s and early to mid '90s.

Number one: '80s and to some extend early to mid '90s music is far superior to the music which is being produced today. I support this fact by explaining how nearly all of the 14 year-olds running up and down the comments of YouTube are constantly opining how today's music isn't very good at all ("it sucks") and that they wish they were "living in the '80s."

Number two: Analog was, is, and always will be better than digital. Support? Vinyl and cassette are all the rage among the youngins' these days. Who would have thunk it? Analog has that "warm" feel that digital doesn't. It's more authentic, rich, and full despite not usually being as bright and crisp. But in the brightness one loses tone. An atmosphere revolves around tone rather than clarity.

Number three: The fact that each artists' release had to be curated - that what contributed to the album overall was the placement of each song - meant that each release had its own atmosphere. Today, though, there is Spotify and "the playlist." But anyone can put any song on a playlist. To the argument that bands can release albums" as mp3 downloads, which means a specific order - well, not everyone downloads each song, nor listens to those songs in a specific order, nor has to go through the trouble of fast forwarding/rewinding or picking up the needle to move through the songs.

Number four: the proliferation of music is not necessarily a good thing. The very aesthetic enjoyment of music has changed due to the fact that via mp3s (which lop off huge amounts of high ends and low ends - again, tone is everything) one no longer has to "stay" one one song or a group of songs for much time. We scroll through our mp3s like we do our news feeds, and pay as much attention to each song and care about it for as long as we do for those headlines. In essence, mp3s allow one to have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of songs at one's fingertips, and so one isn't even allowed to actually focus on, re-listen to, any one song individually. I mean, one can do that. But the tendency is - given that they are available - is to just scroll through and hit upon whatever one happens to land upon. This also means that one quickly forgets which songs are good and which ones aren't. Soooooo many bands/artists to choose from, and given data holding space, one will soon be able to have them all.

Number five: the proliferation of artists is a good thing. Any Millennial with a laptop and keyboard now has their own band. Go to bandcamp to see this in action. Spot FM (and probably soon Spotify) furthers the fragmentation of these bands further and further into sub-genres, into sub-sub genres, into sub-sub-sub genres. Postpunk or New wave becomes synthwave becomes retrowave becomes darkwave becomes cold-dark wave until finally the niche-carving nature of the datasphere (internet) makes a new "genre" for each and every single individual artist/band!!!

Number six: Following this, you do NOT require talent to be a muscian today. When I listen to music from, say, the '50s, '60s, '70s, and especially '80s and '90s - you had to be able to play your instrument as there weren't computer programs to create it for you. One could object that music is always ever-becoming technologized: the lyre becomes the guitar becomes the electric guitar. But you still need to know to play a guitar. And in fact, with a distortion pedal hooked up to it, you can achieve even more unique sounds and tones to couple with that musicianship. No auto-tuning, no sampling and feedback loops. Nothing. Just you and the instruments and possibly whatever electric medium they pass through. Here my point is: a laptop can create a song for you, rather than you using the laptop to create the song.

Am I a disgruntled Gen-Xer (technically Xennial) yelling at the kids to get off my lawn? Absolutely not. YouTube, the public commons of music lovers galore, has all of the evidence one needs. Teenagers and young people of today will most emphatically tell you that they "wished they lived in those times," or that the music of today "was like that."

On the other hand, is today's music lost? Absolutely not. Why not? Read THIS New York Times article. YouTube kids opine for the "nostalgia they never knew" not because their just a nostalgic bunch. They long for music that actually means something. And in the music of the '80s/'90s they get that.

Hence why so many bands today reach for that style today.

Relations, relations

Once in a great while I will actually take a look at what posts seem to be popular on my blog (usually I am much too busy to look). The following little segment of posts was popular over the last few days - not sure how it was shared, but, quite a few folks were looking at some of these.

When I looked at them of course I picked out a few things I didn't like. However, I always resort to the disclaimer found at the bottom of this blog: things I have posted in the past do not necessarily reflect how I think now. On the other hand...a few of the posts had me thinking.

Linked somehow I updated a few posts on speculative realism as well, just because I was in housekeeping mode for abit. The Benzon post (I forget what it is called) needed some pruning and updating to current thinking, but for the most part when I post things I leave them as be.

It's strange to look back at posts from three, four, five years ago - when one does it's like hoping you won't cringe. Thankfully generally I don't for the most part, but no one is perfect. We always can look at things with fresh eyes as time goes on.

Anyway, here are the string of posts, from another one of my posts:

For more see:
  1. "Ecology Re-naturalized" HERE.
  2. "Why a Relationless Universe Cannot Be" HERE.
  3. "The Human and 'Mesomining'" HERE.
  4. "Massumi on Relations and Relationalism" HERE.
  5. "Are All Relations Internal?" HERE.
  6. "More on Internal and External Relations" HERE.
  7. "In Defense of Relations" HERE.
  8. "The Deep Transcendence of Objects" HERE.
  9. "Irreducible Relationality" HERE.
  10. "Simondon's Transindividual and Nonreductive Relationalism" HERE.
  11. "Latour on Simondon's Mode of Existence" HERE.
  12. "Who's Afraid of Realism? (Part 1) HERE.
  13. "Who's Afraid of Realism" (Part 5) HERE.
  14. "Probing the Idea of Nature" HERE.
  15. "Transcendentalism and Correlationism" HERE.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Tropes of Transport: Hegel and Emotion

This looks incredibly interesting. Hegel is usually pegged as the poster-child for abstract reasoning gone wrong. That, when formal mediation is applied to anything concrete (life, emotions, the individual or particular), the Notion (the universal in action) immediately swallows into a higher generality that concrete.

As we see in the below such is hardly the case.

Katrin Pahl: Tropes of Transport: Hegel and Emotion (2012)
// Monoskop Log

"Intervening in the multidisciplinary debate on emotion, Tropes of Transport offers a fresh analysis of Hegel's work that becomes an important resource for Pahl's cutting-edge theory of emotionality. If it is usually assumed that the sincerity of emotions and the force of affects depend on their immediacy, Pahl explores to what extent mediation—and therefore a certain degree of manipulation but also of sympathy—is constitutive of emotionality. Hegel serves as a particularly helpful interlocutor not only because he offers a sophisticated analysis of mediation, but also because, rather than locating emotion in the heart, he introduces impersonal tropes of transport, such as trembling, release, and shattering. "

Publisher Northwestern University Press, 2012
Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0
ISBN 0810127857, 9780810127852
ix+282 pages

Reviews: Emilia Angelova (Parrhesia, 2014), David H. Kim (Parrhesia, 2014), John McCumber (Parrhesia, 2014), Jason J. Howard (Parrhesia, 2014), Katrin Pahl (response to the 4 reviews, Parrhesia, 2014).

Interview with author (Rorotoko, 2012)



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Deleuze and New Materialism: Naturalism, Norms, and Ethics

What I like about Ansell-Pearson's work is that when it comes to the new metaphysics he doesn't try to concoct philosophical movements or brands where none exist. It's easy these days to be duped by poseurs and charlatans who attempt to create such nonsense for their own personal gain (whatever that might result in). But, usually they're found out and ignored anyway. You can read Ansell-Pearson's very excellent paper HERE. It's authentic and puts Deleuze further in touch with new materialism and naturalism, which is a profitable and upcoming area of scholarship for sure.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Blast from the past: 1977-1997 Xennial Paradise

THIS article from Chris Morgan at Jacobite resonated with me. I was around for alot of the '90s counter-culture, alternative, "underground" scene - a scene which included "'zines", tape trading, shows held in basements, barns, and living rooms usually packed with young people beyond whatever entrance door, letter-writing, running your own 'zines and shows, creating your own music using a cassette 4 track!

It was a great time when true independence and music were alive. I had migrated back and forth between two scenes really, due to my two main underground music interests - one line going from the late '70s/early-to-mid '80s and then early '90s punk-to-hardcore-to straightedge hardcore-to-metal-death-metal-black-metal and then done when it sold out in the late '90s; but also post-punk ‘70s and '80s synthwave, whether coldwave, neo-romanticist wave, sometimes college underground alternative at its more goth or darker edges (The Cure mostly - whose album "Disintegration" is still unbeatable today, but also on a lite note bands like Neds Atomic Dustbin, The Smiths, Morrissey, etc.), also synthwave like Argento/Carpenter-isms moving more into early/mid-’80s new wave which was always dark, weird, contemplative and sometimes creepy or (most times) sad and melancholic.  Occassionally the two would overlap, but they were distinct by my age as I moved from the whole metal thing of my teenage years to the synthwave thing of my twenties.  The overlap would be something like the first three Katatonia albums, the Darkthrone band Neptune Towers (believe it or not I used to be friends with Gylve Nagell, also Faust, the drummer of Emperor, I knew the guy from Katatonia pretty well, some others I am missing I am sure).

Today bands like La Cassette or Umberto keep the tradition alive, as does probably in the most important way: John Maus. John Maus is amazing, so definitely go to YouTube or search him on this blog and check him out.  Gateway Drugs (from South Africa) is pretty good, the band Cold Cave is really good (love them, check them out), Blood Sound is great (from Philly), Graveyard Club, Geometric Vision, and for other current bands I know I am forgetting so much.  Oh, I also think very early Raveonettes is pretty good, melancholy inside an indy-pop wrapper of sorts, with all of the lyrics covering the "darker" subjects of life we Xennials (borderline Gen-X and please-oh-God-I-am-too-close-being-a-Millennial-Nooooo!) You know, the sort of subjects that when I tell my students about the trouble we used to get into, they are astonished.  Their eyes pop open wide when I tell them something as innocent as my parents allowing me out all night when I was 16 or 17 years old and how I would hang out with friends yet still go to school the next day. The fact that many of us smoked, many of my friends did hard drugs (thankfully I avoided that), just total nihlism and debauchery of the the '80s and '90s into the 'oughts. If Na and I ever have children (we do want children desperately) I wonder how they'll turn out as raised by Xennials or X-ers.

Sorry, looks like I'm digressing here!

The scene the above article references is the scene which included the vegan/vegetarian and animal rights folks that I hung with in my teenage years. We took no shit because we had a life-style which was pretty self-righteous, and we knew it. Our lifestyle just happened to overlap with the Thrudvant folks who also just happened to be radical Odinists. They basically were pescetarians and had many of the straight-edge kids values. Crazy times to be a teenager. I remember the righteousness, the militantism, and the awe of just how many young people like me were interested in such an "underground" thing. I'm laughing at how we dressed with our choker beads and bleached spikey hair... (oops, I wear choker beads today, they're from Thailand though so I hope it's not too out of style). We loved bands like Earth Crisis ("Firestorm," "All Out War," "Destroy the Machines"), Hatebreed, also Chokehold was pretty big (and is, as of two years ago when they played a year-long reunion tour aged in their late '30s. Still playing...wow, so great). Almost forgot the great band Abnegation.

Youth culture is a funny thing, because it seems alot of those values are things I'm still concerned with today, or still find interesting today at the least: things like nature mysticism, animal rights, sentionautics, the aesthetic feel and tone of melancholia, counter-culture, and anything which brings me back to the best decade of time itself: the '80s. Further, I believe the little tunnel of, oh, 1977 through to 1985ish give or take, maybe up to the early '90s if I were pressed (I think by 1997 things were over) - those were the times. I mean, not that I literally remember or experienced the late '70s, if you were born in the early to mid '80s you still felt the impact. (Millennial kids worship Xennials for this - they try to appropriate a nostalgia they never knew.)

Something did happen after the turn of the century. But engaging that change is for another day. I think I've made my point, which I absolutely know, trust me, is very subjective. But I do think that anyone who is in their mid '30s or late '30s will also resonate with all of this.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"Dark Star: A Special Review of Nick Land's ‘A Thirst for Annihilation"

HERE. A pretty interesting read - be warned though, it's fairly subtle writing given the content so take your time.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Profound Plato: What Brings Plato to Life for Undergraduate Students?

Part of the joy of teaching Plato is seeing just how non-antiquarian his ideas truly are. I have to admit though, I hadn't always found such joy in teaching Plato and in fact re-discovered Plato when I started teaching Ancient Greek Philosophy about, oh, three or so years ago.

The very first time I taught the class was while I was VAP at East Stroudsburg University, teaching the class while also teaching three other sections of Intro with about 75 students in each section save for the large auditorium section which had 140 students. 145 students I believe, to be more precise. Yes I had two TA's, but they didn't do anything except complain how I put them to work editing a book I was working on at the time (within their scope of duties, technically).

Anyway, it was then that as I began teaching the class I first discovered a love for the Presocratics - which I always had given that a main research area of mine is the philosophy of nature. The Presocratics' various ontologies of nature has always fascinated me, but not until I actually started teaching them in-depth had I learned more than what I did as a foundation in my graduate studies. In the teaching-world that's common, however.

But, Plato was different. I, like many undergraduates, wasn't particularly excited about Plato when I was in my early college years. The professor who taught the Ancient Greek Philosophy class I took was himself quite ancient! And as an impatient young person I couldn't get myself too terribly excited about the class despite doing quite well in it.

Enter my graduate school days: a Plato seminar on the M.A. track had me reading once again the in's and out's of the dialogues and the Republic. But other than the very first class, the material just wasn't brought to life.

This brings me to my point: it is so, so important that - at least in one's undergraduate training, when one is first introduced to any philosophy, where that philosophy has even the remotest potential to be a turn-off to a student - that one approaches with great care how that philosophy is taught. It must be done very, very carefully. As it turns out, my belief is that how one teaches Plato is almost just as important as the content of Plato we decide to teach in the class. Now, obviously it is not up to the student as to how the material is taught - which is why so many young people miss out on Plato. Many professors simply don't know how to teach it. (Many, but not all.)

Not until my Ph.D. days did I even begin to glimpse the full power of Ancient Greek philosophy. I had taken a seminar on Aristotle (our doctoral program had us taking seminars in all of the major historical thinkers, whether Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, etc. etc.) where I noticed just how absolutely profound Ancient Greek thought was. That experience I can recount another day. But for now, it seems to me that it can certainly be a good thing that as we mature our approach to things we once liked (or didn't like), changes.

Sometimes this may occur in the case of, say, some sort of band or music one enjoyed as a teenager. There are plenty of things which I listened to then which may me cringe now. On the other hand, there are things I listened to then which I still listen to and enjoy now. Whether mark of quality or personal taste is unimportant when it comes to trying to pass on the value of something as we see it. But for philosophy I think it is different.

The sad part is when (as a youngster) one cringes at the good stuff when what they are cringing at is very, very good. Such is the case with Plato. (Perhaps, too, a case may be made here for classical music as well. By that I mean, despite one for example not having a taste for classical music, perhaps one's maturity and patience would allow them to see the beauty present in it. And as I always say, the more one learns about classical music, and one understands how it can be profitably listened to so that its true scope becomes present, then one's taste might possibly change to include it. This became true when I began re-learning how to play the piano as an adult after having studied as a child.)

For me, Plato brings to life philosophy in its most active but also troubled sense. In a book like the Republic for example, something as (supposedly) simple as the translation of "justice" features in such a way that, college age or not, the stakes of its meaning is absolutely relevant. And of course as any philosopher who has read Plato knows, not just politically but in moral terms - in axiological terms.

How does one bring Plato to life for students? Well, part of the trick is that one must be ready to teach Plato. This means one personally seeing the value in and importance of what one is teaching. I hadn't sat down to actually carefully read through the Republic again since graduate school. So not until I was reading it to prepare to teach it for my first Ancient Greek Philosophy class had I not seen it with eyes which were ready. But what made me ready? The fact that (hopefully) my philosophical eyes have matured abit? The mere fact that I was older and had more patience? I'm not sure.

I can say, though, that if one personally sees what is profound in Plato, one's students will too.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Ernst J├╝nger's Philosophy of Technology: Heidegger and the Poetics of the Anthropocene (NDPR Review)

Ernst J├╝nger's Philosophy of Technology: Heidegger and the Poetics of the Anthropocene

2017.10.02 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Vincent Blok, Ernst J├╝nger's Philosophy of Technology: Heidegger and the Poetics of the Anthropocene, Routledge, 2017, 153pp., $140.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781138737594.
Reviewed by Robert P. Crease, Stony Brook University

Ernst J├╝nger (1895-1998) was a writer, novelist, author, and philosopher whose significant influence on 20th century thought was twofold. The first is via his notion of "total mobilization," a description of the technological age as characterized by a wholesale transformation of human life into exploitable energies and resources. The second is via his impact on the thought of Martin Heidegger, one of the greatest of 20th century philosophers. This influence is manifested particularly in Heidegger's notion, in The Question Concerning Technology, of the Gestell or "Enframing," a mode of existence in which beings of all sorts, including human beings, appear as means towards ends. Blok's book is a narrow exposition of both of these aspects of J├╝nger's thought.

Read More


Friday, September 29, 2017

the aesthetics of accelerationism

Following yesterday's post which covered the music of John Maus and featured an interview with Adam Harper, I'm posting a link to Harper's blog "Rouge's Foam" which seems to still be more or less active, HERE. The theme is "excessive aesthetics" although plenty of other sorts of philosophy makes its way into the posts as well, for example with THIS post on the aesthetics of accelerationism.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

John Maus

John Maus's '80s synthwave revivalism and "post-utopian romanticism" is the subject of this interesting podcast. Posting the roughly 30 minute episode below, followed by two very good interviews with Maus, followed by a few of my favorite Maus tracks.

For those who don't know, Maus holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, a fact which has come to bear not only upon his music making but upon the title of his most recent album, "We Must Become the Pitiless Censors of Ourselves" - a phrase taken from contemporary French philosopher Alain Badiou.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

cover for Nature's Transcendence and Immanence

Featuring my essay, "The Meaning of Nature: Toward a Philosophical Ecology." The painting on the cover is by my good friend, Marilynn Lawrence.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Heidegger's Shadow: Kant, Husserl and the Transcendental Turn (NDPR Review)

Heidegger's Shadow: Kant, Husserl and the Transcendental Turn
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews //

Chad Engelland, Heidegger's Shadow: Kant, Husserl and the Transcendental Turn, Routledge, 2017, xiv + 275pp., $140 (hbk), ISBN 9781138181878.

Reviewed by Sacha Golob, King's College London

One way to understand the trajectory of Heidegger's thought is as a series of engagements with the possibilities and the risks inherent in transcendental philosophy. This approach is the basis of Engelland's book; as he elegantly puts it, the transcendental functions throughout Heidegger's career as the 'shadow' which he cannot jump over, the hermeneutic situation out of which he writes (p.206). Heidegger's attitude to the transcendental evidently undergoes complex shifts, shifts mediated in part by his successive dialogues with Husserl, Kant, and others, but Engelland's central argument is that this attitude is never purely negative: as he sees it, even the later Heidegger offers what is effectively a 'transcendental critique of transcendence' (p.172).

Read More HERE.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Lisa Blackman's "Loving the Alien: A Post-Post-Human Manifesto"

Lisa Blackman: "Loving the Alien: A Post-Post-Human Manifesto" (2016)
Originally published on Monoskop Log

This essay explores the ambivalent position of the alien in order to reflect upon the question of whether there is a place for a non-body politic. Lisa Blackman brings together a number of different debates from “new biologies” to “alien phenomenologies” that provide some ways of framing a possible non-body politics founded on radical relationality, contingency and “inhuman formation” that might go some small way to recognising what might be at stake.

Publisher Fall Semester, Miami, 2016
Open access
22 pages
via Fall Semester

PDF download HERE. Special issue of Subjectivity HERE. After Nature Google Drive link HERE.

Resistance of the Sensible World: An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty (NDPR Review)

Resistance of the Sensible World: An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty
Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // 

Emmanuel Alloa, Resistance of the Sensible World: An Introduction to Merleau-Ponty, Jane Todd (tr.), Fordham University Press, 2017, 128pp., $28.00 (pbk), ISBN 9780823275687.

Reviewed by David Morris, Concordia University

Emmanuel Alloa's insightful book compellingly shows how Maurice Merleau-Ponty's philosophy is oriented by a resistance manifest in things and the sensible world. This resistance counters philosophical efforts at seeking (at least in principle) fully clarified accounts of things, others, and ourselves. Where ideologies of transparency (12) encounter this resistance as a problem, Merleau-Ponty finds it integral to philosophy, animating philosophical questions and granting philosophy things to think about in the first place. In effect, Merleau-Ponty recasts the transcendental condition of philosophy as an as yet indeterminate resistance operative prior to philosophy that can never be fully exhausted by it. Alloa's conclusion pushes these results about resistance beyond Merleau-Ponty, to show how they require a methodological transformation of philosophy.

Read More HERE.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The healing power of nature (Aeon article)

A very good excerpt first, then link to the article.
The tradition was already ages-old in Japan, but naming it went hand in hand with making recommendations for best practices: one should walk, sit, gaze and exercise among the trees; eat well-balanced meals of organic, locally sourced food; and, if available, immerse in hot springs. All five senses should be engaged, especially for certification as one of Japan’s official Forest Therapy Bases, which are well-maintained, embraced by the local community, and which are required to show, in practitioners, a decrease in physiological markers such as levels of the stress hormone cortisol after wandering in the woods. 
When Akiyama recommended forest bathing all those years ago, he knew about the pioneering studies of phytoncides – basically, pungent essential oils – conducted by the Soviet scientist Boris P Tokin in the 1920s and ’30s. The oils, volatile compounds exuded by conifers and some other plants, reduce blood pressure and boost immune function, among other benefits. 
In recent years, a host of other mechanisms have come to light – in fact, there are up to 21 possible pathways to improved health, according to a review paper in Frontiers in Psychology from scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Among the elements that have been identified, of particular note are bright lights and negative air ions (oxygen atoms charged with an extra electron), known to ease depression; simple views of nature, which enhance autonomic control of heart rate and blood pressure; and even the sounds of nature, which help us to recover from heightened stress. 
Blood tests revealed a host of protective physiological factors released at a higher level after forest, but not urban, walks. Among those hormones and molecules, a research team at Japan’s Nippon Medical School ticks off dehydroepiandrosterone which helps to protect against heart disease, obesity and diabetes, as well as adiponectin, which helps to guard against atherosclerosis. In other research, the team found elevated levels of the immune system’s natural killer cells, known to have anti-cancer and anti-viral effects. Meanwhile, research from China found that those walking in nature had reduced blood levels of inflammatory cytokines, a risk factor for immune illness, and research from Japan’s Hokkaido University School of Medicine found that shinrin-yoku lowered blood glucose levels associated with obesity and diabetes. 
‘People respond very favourably to water, whether a fountain in a healing garden or a river or shoreline’ 
Studies showed that just three days and two nights in a wooded place increase the immune system functions that boost feelings of wellbeing for up to seven days. The same amount of time in a built environment has no such effect. Human response includes increased awe, greater relaxation, restored attention, and boosted vitality. Health outcomes on the receiving end of the pathway are astounding: enhanced immunity, including reduced cardiovascular disease, fewer migraines, and lowered anxiety, to name but a few. According to Frances Ming Kuo , the lead author of the University of Illinois review: ‘The cumulative effect could be quite large even if many of the individual pathways contribute only a small effect.’

Link HERE.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jim Carrey's "bizarre" interview offers more existential wisdom than this reporter can handle...

Kudos to Tamara, a student in my Existential Philosophy class, for sending the below to me. Obviously Carrey has been reading his Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, etc.  The reporter-woman with her whole superficial "don't you want to empower people?" line is immediately confused upon hearing Carrey's existential wisdom. She doesn't even know what to do. Hilarious.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Does imagination precede language? Aeon tries to find out...

"Imagination is ancient, our imaginative life today has access to the pre-linguistic, ancestral mind: rich in imagery, emotions and associations." 

Link to the article HERE.

Some highlights:
"Aristotle described the imagination as a faculty in humans (and most other animals) that produces, stores and recalls the images we use in a variety of mental activities. Even our sleep is energised by the dreams of our involuntary imagination. Immanuel Kant saw the imagination as a synthesiser of senses and understanding. Although there are many differences between Aristotle’s and Kant’s philosophies, Kant agreed that the imagination is an unconscious synthesising faculty that pulls together sense perceptions and binds them into coherent representations with universal conceptual dimensions. The imagination is a mental faculty that mediates between the particulars of the senses – say, ‘luminous blue colours’ – and the universals of our conceptual understanding – say, the judgment that ‘Marc Chagall’s blue America Windows (1977) is beautiful.’ Imagination, according to these philosophers, is a kind of cognition, or more accurately a prerequisite ‘bundling process’ prior to cognition. Its work is unconscious and it paves the way for knowledge, but is not abstract or linguistic enough to stand as actual knowledge."
"We’ve romanticised creativity so completely that we’ve ended up with an impenetrable mystery inside our heads. We might not literally believe in muse possession anymore, but we haven’t yet replaced this ‘mysterian’ view with a better one. As the Austrian painter Ernst Fuchs said of the mysterious loss of self that accompanies the making of art: ‘My hand created, led in trance, obscure things … Not seldom, I get into trance while painting, my state of consciousness fades, giving way to a feeling of being afloat … doing things I do not know much about consciously.’ This mysterian view of imagination is vague and obscure, but at least it captures something about the de-centred psychological state of creativity. Psychologists such as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi have celebrated this aspect of creativity by describing (and recommending) ‘flow’ states, but the idea of ‘flow’ has proven little more than a secular redescription of the mysterian view.
"Evolutionary thought offers a path out of this confusion. In keeping with other evolved aspects of the human mind, the imagination has a history. We should think of the imagination as an archaeologist might think about a rich dig site, with layers of capacities, overlaid with one another. It emerges slowly over vast stretches of time, a punctuated equilibrium process that builds upon our shared animal inheritance. In order to understand it, we need to dig into the sedimentary layers of the mind." 
"Contrary to this interpretation, I want to suggest that imagination, properly understood, is one of the earliest human abilities, not a recent arrival. Thinking and communicating are vastly improved by language, it is true. But ‘thinking with imagery’ and even ‘thinking with the body’ must have preceded language by hundreds of thousands of years. It is part of our mammalian inheritance to read, store and retrieve emotionally coded representations of the world." 
"It is possible that Homo sapiens of 40,000 years ago were graphically literate before they were verbally literate." 
"Hominin waking life might have been closer to the free associations of our contemporary dream life."
Regarding aesthetics and creativity, imagination, and process-evolutionary theories of cognitive development, see my After Nature post "Whitehead's influence on Susanne Langer's Conception of Living Form," HERE.

Plato on the Metaphysical Foundation of Meaning and Truth (NDPR Review)

​More Plato as we cover more of the Republic. See Plato on the Metaphysical Foundation of Meaning and Truth reviewed at NDPR, HERE.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Pragmatism and Objectivity: Essays Sparked by the Work of Nicholas Rescher (NDPR Review)

Pragmatism and Objectivity: Essays Sparked by the Work of Nicholas Rescher
// Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

2017.09.09 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Sami Pihlstr├Âm (ed.), Pragmatism and Objectivity: Essays Sparked by the Work of Nicholas Rescher, Routledge, 2017, ix+282 pp., $ 140.00 (hbk), ISBN 9781138655232. Reviewed by Michele Marsonet, University of Genoa

In this collection of 14 essays many aspects of classical and contemporary pragmatism are examined with reference, at least in most cases, to the work of Nicholas Rescher. Usually, those who are interested in pragmatism from an historical point of view tend to forget that, from the beginning, a substantial polarity is present in this tradition of thought. It is a dichotomy between what Rescher calls "pragmatism of the left", i.e. a flexible type of pragmatism which endorses a greatly enhanced cognitive relativism, and a "pragmatism of the right", a different position that sees the pragmatist stance as a source of cognitive security. Both positions are eager to assure pluralism in the cognitive enterprise and in the concrete conduct of...

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Visual Phenomenology (NDPR Review)

Apropos our upcoming Phenomenology seminar expected to run Spring 2018.

Visual Phenomenology
// Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews // News

2017.09.10 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Michael Madary, Visual Phenomenology, MIT Press, 2016, 247pp., $45.00 (hbk), ISBN: 9780262035453. Reviewed by Susanna Siegel, Harvard University

The central thesis of this book is that "visual perception is an ongoing process of anticipation and fulfillment." Madary calls this conclusion "AF", and the book is organized around a two-premise argument for it:
P1. The phenomenology of vision is best described as an ongoing process of anticipation and fulfillment.
P2. There are strong empirical reasons to model vision using the general form of anticipation and fulfillment.
Conclusion (AF): Visual perception is an ongoing process of anticipation and fulfillment.
Madary devotes Part I to defending phenomenological analyses of the dynamic and perspectival aspects of visual experience that he takes to support premise 1, and Part...

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Plato's Ethics and Politics in The Republic (SEP entry update)

In our First-Year Writing Seminar (FYWS) "What is the Good Life?" we're currently reading Plato's Republic, and so I thought the below might be of interest to some of my students who read this blog.

Plato's Ethics and Politics in The Republic
// Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

[Revised entry by Eric Brown on September 12, 2017. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography] Plato's Republic centers on a simple question: is it always better to be just than unjust? The puzzles in Book One prepare for this question, and Glaucon and Adeimantus make it explicit at the beginning of Book Two. To answer the question, Socrates takes a long way around, sketching an account of a good city on the grounds that a good city would be just and that defining justice as a virtue of a city would help to define justice as a virtue of a human being....

Monday, August 28, 2017

quote of the day

Heidegger on a forest path.

"Nature is present in all that is real. Nature unfolds in human work and in the destiny of peoples, in the stars and in the gods, but also in stones, things that grow, animals, as well as in streams and thunderstorms... [Yet] Nature can never be found somewhere in the midst of the real as simply one more isolated thing. [Nature as] the "all-present" is also never the result of combining isolated real things. Even the totality of what is real is at most but the consequence of the all-present... The "wonderful" [that is Nature] withdraws from all human producing, and nevertheless it flows through everything with its presencing."

- Martin Heidegger [GA 4: 52-53, Commentary on H├Âlderlin's "As When On a Holiday,"]

Hallstaater Lake, Austria (from cable car). Photo by Niemoczynski, June 2017.
Thanks goes to Keith Hoeller, and also to Richard Capobianco from the Heidegger Circle for emailing me the quote. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Podcast: "Experiential togetherness through readings of William James, Alfred North Whitehead, Gilles Deleuze, and Isabelle Stengers" (mp3 audio download)

Dirk (know to many as "dmf") sent along THIS link. Haven't listened to the whole thing yet but will soon. From my guess of it, it appears to cover what process-relational philosophers interested in the likes of Deleuze, Whitehead, etc. would enjoy.

Thanks Dirk!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Call for Papers: Eighth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism

Eighth International Congress on Ecstatic Naturalism 
April 6th & 7th, 2018
Campus of Drew UniversityMadisonNew Jersey

"Nature and the Symbolic in the Human and Non-human"

A central feature of any naturalism is that there is at least some form of continuity between mind and nature – or, that mind "stretches" to meet nature (in the words of John Dewey). But, what is "mind" within a naturalistic register? A basic premise for naturalists such as Charles S. Peirce, John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, Alfred North Whitehead, or Susanne Langer – naturalists in the American philosophical tradition – is that "mind" is essentially symbolic. This is to say that, conceptually, mind is both expressive and representational. This, though, begs the question: what within nature might be able to "think?" As any "ecstatic" naturalism seeks to explore nature's deeply embedded transformational potential, the theme of this year's congress questions nature's potential for "mind" – or "intelligence" - and questions how that mind might be at work within the natural world, especially as expressed by means of symbol. What precisely is nature's potential for expressive intelligence and how is it expressed through symbol and concept? And further, what other than the human might be able to "think?" What does it mean to think? Can machines think? Can forests think? Insects? Birds? Fish? Transcending beyond the boundaries of the human, we seek papers that wish to explore especially non-human modes of intelligence within the realm of the symbolic in order to connect naturalism to applied philosophical fields, whether animal ethics, cognitive science and artificial intelligence, political ecology, biosemiotics, and so on. Papers need not be exclusively about the philosophy of ecstatic naturalism but are encouraged to at least minimally address its perspective before moving on to present a different thesis of the paper so as to place all papers of the congress within the stream of contemporary philosophical naturalism.

Submissions of abstracts 300-500 words in length should be emailed to: niemoczynskil@moravian.edu no later than October 31st, 2017. Authors of accepted papers will be contacted no later than November 30th with a paper deadline (no more than 15-20 minutes in length of reading or 6-8 pages double-spaced) of March 1st.






Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How our attention is harvested

Lengthy article/review which goes into detail regarding the neuro-livestock addicted to their iPhones, mostly through a discussion of Facebook - although Twitter is as much to blame in that users are essentially performing free labor for the benefit of the platform they use.

YouTube is just as guilty of this as well. In my research in (possibly) starting a YouTube channel I discovered that its bad news for YouTube if those who create content actually end up with a profit. Unless views directly translates to traffic to one's own business then the only money to be made is through ads, most of which pay pennies on the dollar. Full-time YouTubers barely make anything, contrary to popular belief.

What this all boils down to is an attention-economy where content-creators are the cybercattle and the platform the slaughterhouse. If one creates content they must always do so with the masses in mind, and the platforms ensure that this is the way it must be for it suits their business model, not those who create the content.

As Instagram is the new "thing," it appears that every few years the masses migrate from one platform to the next. Myspace to Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to... and so on. The whole "trending" thing and idea of mass viral influence disgusts me. I'd rather be a black sheep than some lab-rat addicted to my smartphone tapping and scrolling my life away.

Anyway, the review is quite long - but do read if you can find the time to do so.

Article HERE.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Ontologies of Nature: Continental Perspectives and Environmental Reorientations (new book)

New book discussing various ontologies of nature from a Continental environmental philosophical perspective, which is a new (and good, I think) trend in Continental scholarship.

This volume contains essays that offer both historical and contemporary views of nature, as seen through a hermeneutic, deconstructive, and phenomenological lens. It reaches back to Ancient Greek conceptions of physis in Homer and Empedocles, encompasses 13th century Zen master D┼Źgen, and extends to include 21st Century Continental Thought. By providing ontologies of nature from the perspective of the history of philosophy and of contemporary philosophy alike, the book shows that such perspectives need to be seen in dialogue with each other in order to offer a deeper and more comprehensive philosophy of nature. The value of the historical accounts discussed lies in discerning the conceptual problems that contribute to the dominant thinking underpinning our ecological predicament, as well as in providing helpful resources for thinking innovatively through current problems, thus recasting the past to allow for a future yet to be imagined. The book also discusses contemporary continental thinkers who are more critically aware of the dominant anthropocentric and instrumental view of nature, and who provide substantial guidance for a sensible, innovative “ontology of nature” suited for an ecology of the future. Overall, the ontologies of nature discerned in this volume are not merely of theoretical interest, but strategically serve to suspend anthropocentrism and spark ethical and political reorientation in the context of our current ecological predicament. - Editors: Kuperus, Gerard, Oele, Marjolein (Eds.)

Link HERE.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Spotlight on Carbondale: Illinois Town Sits at Solar Eclipse 'Crossroads'

My Ph.D. alma mater SIUC makes the news.
Spotlight on Carbondale: Illinois Town Sits at Solar Eclipse 'Crossroads'
// Space.com

By pure cosmic coincidence, the town of Carbondale has found itself at the center of eclipse mania.

SPEP 2017 full program

The 56th annual meeting of SPEP: Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, held at the University of Memphis, Oct. 19-21, 2017. Full program in .pdf format for download, HERE.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

quote of the day

"Logic is the backbone of philosophy. And nothing is quite clear logically unless it can be put mathematically. Ideally at least, a philosopher should be a mathematician and logician as well as metaphysician. Perhaps this could be said of Plato, certainly of Leibniz, Peirce, and Whitehead."

- Charles Hartshorne, Creative Synthesis & Philosophic Method

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mathematics is Metaphysics: Zalamea in translation:

A statement in favor of synthetic thought, Zalamea's metaphysics is one whose backbone is mathematics. I picked up his Synthetic Philosophy of Contemporary Mathematics and as a non-specialist in the philosophy of mathematics (yet still holding an interest) I must say it is a very good and very clear book. THIS article is its summarizing statement.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

North American Schelling Society website updated

It's abit clunky, although you can sign up to be emailed updates. Apparently they are launching a journal called Kabiri (I wish the journal had a much better name), which looks like will be an online open-access journal. On the website one can also find a fairly extensive bibliography of Schelling scholarship in English, but it looks like an embedded data-base of some sort and is very, very slow. Like I said, the website is clunky and s-l-o-w.

This year's NASS conference (the fifth annual meeting) will take place at the Universidad Nacional Aut├│noma de M├ęxico in Mexico City from February 21-25. Its theme is "Schelling: Crisis and Critique."

Link to the updated website HERE.

Monday, August 14, 2017

International Society for Nietzsche Studies: Call for Papers

HERE. The Cfp is for presentation and discussion at its annual workshop to be held at Birkbeck – University of London (March 16–17, 2018). Papers are welcomed on any aspect of Nietzsche’s philosophical thought. Deadline is November 1st 2017.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A gift

... from my wife for my birthday. Incredible sound: bright and clear, with wonderful tone (string length is equal to a baby grand piano). What a surprise - I love it!
New book on facts and values featuring many contemporary pragmatist writers. See below:

Facts and Values. The Ethics and Metaphysics of Normativity . Edited by Giancarlo Marchetti , and Sarin Marchetti

Table of Contents

Behind and Beyond the Fact-Value Dichotomy. Giancarlo Marchetti and Sarin Marchetti

Part I: A Counter-History of the Dichotomy

1. The Fact/Value Dichotomy and the Future of Philosophy . Hilary Putnam

2. Pragmatic Constructivism: Values, Norms, and ObligationsRobert Schwartz

3. Contingency and Objectivity in Critical Social Theory: Horkheimer and Habermas . Maeve Cooke

4. From the Positivismusstreit to Putnam: Facts and Values in the Shadow of Dichotomy . John Mcguire

Part II: Varieties of Entanglement

5. Reflections Concerning Moral Objectivity . Ruth Anna Putnam

6. On MatteringNaomi Scheman

7. Change in View: Sensitivity to Facts and Prospective Rationality . Carla Bagnoli 

8. Normativity without Normative Facts? A Critique of Cognitivist Expressivism . Alex Miller 

9. The Evolutionary Debunker Meets Sentimental Realism . Mauro Rossi and Christine Tappolet 

10. How to Be a Relativist . Kenneth Taylor 

Part III: Some Applications

11. Science and the Value of Objectivity. David Macarthur 

12. The Environment and The Background of Human Life: Nature, Facts, and Values . Piergiorgio Donatelli 

13. Fact/Value Complexes in Law and Judicial Decision . Douglas Lind

About the Book
This collection offers a synoptic view of current philosophical debates concerning the relationship between facts and values, bringing together a wide spectrum of contributors committed to testing the validity of this dichotomy, exploring alternatives, and assessing their implications. The assumption that facts and values inhabit distinct, unbridgeable conceptual and experiential domains has long dominated scientific and philosophical discourse, but this separation has been seriously called into question from a number of corners. The original essays here collected offer a diversity of responses to fact-value dichotomy, including contributions from Hilary Putnam and Ruth Anna Putnam who are rightly credited with revitalizing philosophical interest in this alleged opposition. Both they, and many of our contributors, are in agreement that the relationship between epistemic developments and evaluative attitudes cannot be framed as a conflict between descriptive and normative understanding. Each chapter demonstrates how and why contrapositions between science and ethics, between facts and values, and between objective and subjective are false dichotomies. Values cannot simply be separated from reason. Facts and Values will therefore prove essential reading for analytic and continental philosophers alike, for theorists of ethics and meta-ethics, and for philosophers of economics and law.


"The concept of normativity spans a series of interrelated dichotomies that lie at the heart of philosophical inquiry: fact and value, is and ought, the objective and the subjective, causes and reasons, the natural world and human sensibilities. Much philosophical effort has been devoted to accentuating the gaps between the concepts juxtaposed by each of these pairs, and the fallacies involved in their conflation. This volume, however, seeks to bridge these gaps. The papers collected here—all written expressly for this volume—set out to show that normative discourse must be sensitive to the facts, and that reasoning about facts is inherently value-laden. They demonstrate that the descriptive and the normative meet in language, in expressions that are both descriptive and normative. And they highlight the objective aspects of moral reasoning, and the normative aspects of objectivity. These challenges to the traditional view are as relevant to social and political discourse as they are to philosophy" - Yemima Ben-Menahem, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

"This distinguished volume of essays draws creatively on several rich traditions in philosophy—including Wittgenstein, Murdoch, philosophy of law, critical social theory, and Deweyan and Peircean pragmatism—to bring together an important variety of new challenges to the supposed "fact/value gap" and its alleged consequences for philosophy. For all those who want think harder and deeper about "fact and value", it will be essential reading" - Sophie-Grace Chappell, Open University

"Marchetti and Marchetti have gathered here a comprehensive collection of positions critical of the coherence of the fact/value dichotomy; each coming at the problem from a different perspective; each offering a different (dis)solution. Their introductory overview of the origins of the dichotomy in the western philosophic tradition is valuable, tying together the various strands, from Hume through Russell, that have provided support for the distinction in its current emotivist and non-cognitivist forms. The collection is also noteworthy for its attention to the critical voices found in the American pragmatist tradition and taken up by a number of contemporary thinkers whose work is represented here, such as Hilary Putnam" - Sharyn Clough, Oregon State University

"Explicit interest in questions about the relation between facts and values has waxed and waned, inside and outside the academy, over the last several decades. But the questions themselves, which often turn up under different labels, remain immediately relevant both to our efforts to do justice to the world and to ethical challenges we confront within it. Marchetti and Marchetti have given us a collection that clearly brings out the importance of fact-value debates while also stressing the debates' multifaceted character. Taken together, these essays – from a group of distinguished thinkers – offer not only a helpful tour of the complexity of the issues but also a forceful impression of how and why they matter today" - Alice Crary, The New School

"That there is a clear and unequivocal distinction between facts and values is something all too often assumed and only very seldom actively interrogated. Facts and Values takes up this question from a range of philosophical perspectives (including but not restricted to the 'analytic') that nevertheless converge in their rejection of the idea that the distinction can be given any unqualified application. This has important consequences, allowing us to recognise, for instance, the interconnection between ethics and ontology, and forcing us also to acknowledge the way in which evaluative commitments are inextricably bound up with all of our engagements in the world. The volume provides both an excellent point of entry into the topic at the same time as it also sets out important new insights and approaches. It contains contributions from many key figures in the area, but is especially notable for including one of the last pieces of writing by a seminal thinker of the last fifty years, Hilary Putnam, who together with Ruth Anna Putnam, has been central in bringing philosophical attention back to this important question" - Jeff Malpas, Univerity of Tasmania

"Throughout the history of analytic philosophy, the fact-value distinction has been baked into nearly every research program within the tradition. Hilary Putnam has shown that we had better not just assume that the distinction -- or its sophisticated variants, e.g., the contrast between science and ethics -- can be sustained. If it cannot, there is a great deal of rethinking to be done, both across the many philosophical subspecializations and in the broader intellectual culture. This collection keeps this very important ball rolling, advancing an agenda with the potential to reshape philosophy." - Elijah Millgram, University of Utah

Sunday, August 6, 2017

a music recommendation

An After Nature reader emailed in (wishing for her name to be withheld, no problem) asking for the possibility of more music recommendations, something which has always been just in the "background" here at the blog. I used to post alot more music-type things but only do so infrequently now.

In any case, I decided to oblige. I know not all readers are crazy about music postings as musical tastes vary quite wildly. But, it was a request. So...

Jesu is a band that was introduced to me by my good friend Kevin S. who lives out in Arizona. I want to say this was back in '05-ish. The band is the brainchild of Justin Broadrick, formerly of the industrial band Godflesh (who released the landmark "Streetcleaner" EP back in 1989). Jesu is abit like Godflesh but with much more tonal emotion and expression.

First track is "Sunday" which around the four minute mark really opens up. Definitely be prepared to sit down and get taken through the track, perhaps as you are working on the computer or reading or whatever. Very, very emotional - nearly melancholic. It's just an experience to listen to.

Second track is "Silver" which is just a tight song all around and which interestingly picks up around the four minute mark as well.

Maybe readers will enjoy these. Who knows.

Friday, August 4, 2017

After Nature on YouTube, coming soon

As many After Nature readers know, for awhile I've been toying with the idea of an After Nature YouTube channel. Originally I had considered creating a podcast, however then decided that video would be more personable. The plan has become for me to fade out After Nature blog and transition wholly over to a YouTube "vlog" ("video log.")

With that said, I have a general time-frame in mind to do this, which would be, at some point, next year - perhaps in the spring. As the blog fades out at the end of this year I plan to keep everything up (for now) and make available as a downloadable file all of the blog content.

In the meantime I'll be creating a test "pilot" episode and will make available on YouTube. If all goes well this would happen during the fall, with a first episode to appear in early spring when the blog officially closes. As the channel will (mostly, hopefully) be anonymous you would have to look for it rather than being linked here.

Anyone who watches YouTube and is interested in philosophical "vlogging" would know people like Greg Sadler (who was kind enough to offer to me a consultation some time back concerning how one might run a YouTube channel) and Clifford Lee Sargent of Better than Food Book Reviews. Their links are HERE and HERE. Incidentally Cliff had also offered to get together over Skype and offer some advice as to how things might go. Here is Cliff offering an interesting review of J├╝nger's On Pain.

For awhile I have also been watching the very sporadic posts of Tilo Kaiser, a n├Ąturphilosopher, sentionaut, and organicist who lives in Germany. His videos are (quite obviously) in German but if you speak German and want to hear some beautiful poetry then his channel could be quite interesting for you. I first discovered him when he posted a video about Ernst J├╝nger's Die Schere, where in particular he discusses dreams, the afterlife, J├╝nger's LSD experience, and "the light of the cosmos," the inner paradise. In yet another video on the same book he discusses "the Plutonic essence." Even if you don't speak German I think it is fascinating to just listen to him articulate his poetry and thoughts, which covers a number of subjects, authors, and viewpoints.

Here below Tilo reads Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson quotes: "What is the most difficult task in the world? Thinking ...." "Finally, nothing is sacred except the purity of our thinking." "Childhood is the everlasting Messiah who comes to the aid of the fallen man and asks them to return to paradise."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Lorenzo Sleakes on panpsychism

Philosopher (and After Nature reader) Lorenzo Sleakes emailed me awhile back sending links to two papers he's authored. They look fairly interesting. Check them out for yourself HERE and HERE.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Why Millennials are the worst and Gen-X will save the world

A recent article suggests the obvious, that when it comes to dating, Millennial online culture is catching up with that generation born between 1980-ish and 2000-ish.  Many Millennials experienced their "age 25 mid-life crisis" and now are approaching age 30 (so many are still 20-somethings about to turn 30). However, according to the article, whereas in the past many young people had begun to settle by their '30s many Millennials are unable to commit to any sort of long-term relationship and in turn are having trouble finding life-partners, and in turn trouble settling enough to buy a home, let alone hold any one career path or even have children.

As the article points out Millennials yearn for a long-term relationship but are either unable to find one, or hold one.  Some of the reasons? The article cites unconquerable focus on self and self-absorption (narcissism), unwillingness to grow up (or inability to mature having been raised by helicopter parents), a general distrust toward everyone, a general laziness and apathy couched in a "I want to be left alone" or "I'm busy!" attitude, and unrealistic narratives perpetuated by social media which endorse the existence of that "perfect someone." In reality though the formation of romantic relationships online as well as the maintenance of those relationships online has led to issues with self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and the inability to communicate (or perhaps even feel) any genuine or real emotions. Many Millennials are simply unable to grow up, even at age 30, and that as much shows in their love life according to this article. See HERE.

Following, this lost generation who is unable to communicate in full sentences and relies on emoji to express their love interests has become "incapable" of love, save for narcissistic self-love. They are incapable of intimacy. See HERE. Millennial women blame their hoodie-wearing iPhone-grasping male peers and have turned to older men who have grown up as their new dating pool. See HERE. Millennial males in their '30s still inhabit the adolescent mind, as evident on Tinder.

THIS article is quite harsh and clearly blames feminism (perhaps mistakenly) for gender confusion, as much as it does mistakenly identify Generation-X as Millennials' parents (this is impossible: Millennials' parents are Baby Boomers...Gen-X is only old enough to be their long-distant cousin or older brother). And, further, Gen-X has waited until they hit 40 or later to have children, making Generation Z the children of Gen-X, not Millennials. In essence though the article does correctly identify that fragile sense of self had by Millennials - the one that enjoys all of the praise, expects to be paid more for doing less, and expects the world, just like their parents, to cater to their every whim and need (baby-sit them, basically). See HERE.

When it comes to cohort effects, we Gen-X'ers look on in horror as we see 30 year-old grown up children leech off of our '80s nostalgia in vain attempts to recover the meaningful and magical (rather than pandered and shallow) "childhood they never had." Part of this perpetual childhood for Millennials includes, other than that narcissistic over-self confidence that "love will find a way," a childlike fascination with sexuality and complete inability to experience true romance.

On the job front, many employers now struggle with Millennials who now make up half of the US workforce. Consistently late to work, consistently not accomplishing enough work, and consistently not working hard enough, Millennials are apparently fired in droves.  As the ultimate "let down" of society, the generation at war with Boomers continues to whine and complain, call their parents, show up late for work (and leave early), while Gen-X can only do what it does best: ignore the drama, put its nose to the grindstone, and save the world. See HERE and HERE.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Beyond the Black Rainbow

In the vein of Stanley Kubrick or John Carpenter, Beyond the Black Rainbow (2012) is a film whose aesthetic harkens back to those '70s mind-bending science fiction films that I discussed last week. Definitely worth checking out as is the soundtrack.

Some interesting music. I also included a video of my favorite Carpenter film, Escape from New York (1981). Newer Deru album, "1979," added for good measure.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Time Will Come... (Recommended oddball but very cool science fiction films of my youth)

It's no secret that fairly eccentric conversations with my father during dinner is what interested me in philosophy when I was a child. He would engage my sister and I with the most deep (but also strange) questions a child could ask to entertain. We would talk about space, time, whether the universe "goes on forever," consciousness and the soul, the prospect of extraterrestrial life, the fate of the universe. You name it, we talked about it. Well, if it was weird we talked about it, but weird in a good way.

My father was interested in science and cosmology as much as he was interested in, say, the possibility of apocalypse. But weren't we all. It was the '80s, and usually after watching The Twilight Zone (as a family mind you, and then discussing it!) my father would pick up a Soldier of Fortune magazine as easily as he would Scientific American. So both science and apocalypse were in the air.  As an aside here I would like to recommend the '80s version of the Twilight Zone where many episodes are free on YouTube. Exceptionally creepy, but good. Last year in fact I was compelled to pick up the '80s Twilight Zone complete DVD set and rewatch them all.

Some of my favorite episodes include "A Little Peace and Quiet" (a woman discovers a pendant that can stop time), "Wordplay" (the meaning of all language suddenly changes one day), "Personal Demons" (an author must confront little monsters only he can see), "Need to Know" (what happens when we become enlightened to our own extinction?), and my all time favorite, "A Matter of Minutes" (a couple discovers that they are trapped in between one minute and the next).

Having developed a taste for obscure science fiction then at a young age, by age twelve or so I would be staying up late watching Channel 4, a station that would always play creepy, trippy far-out philosophical science fiction movies. Apparently these are known as "midnight movies."

Hence this post.  Recently I had an itch to seek out some of these movies and rewatch them. Yikes. Now I know another source of my philosophical mind and why I am interested in the subjects that I am.

The first list are one's standard fare of apocalyptic movies (today the kids would call them "dystopian" genre). But there's some gruesome shit that I saw - and the mere label "dystopian" doesn't do justice. For example, whether it's Death Race 2000 (1975) - yes, I had a sleepover when I was like ten and we watched the video cassette - or Zardoz (1974) - a very deep movie for a kid, I watched it and remember being fascinated and horrified at the same time. Thus, most of the movies I saw had an impact on my philosophical outlook many years later. Plus, these are just really cool movies for as weird as they are. But again, I'm a firm believer that "weird" can be "good" if it forces you to think outside of the box.

I'd like to recommend two films that I watched just recently and then I'll link three lists below.

The first is Phase IV (1974). Holy. Shit. Insane. It's available on amazon to rent for three bucks, but let me just say: apocalyptic ecology. This was "dark ecology" before it was ever "fashionable" today. Watch the movie and only after watching it should you seek out the lost ending on YouTube. Trippy, new age, ecological, total dark apocalyptic science fiction. This is why my interest in biosemiotics and panpsychism isn't benign. The film questions species to species communication, alien intelligence, and the philosophical consequences of deanthropocentrism. As well as the end of the freaking world.

Second is Threads (1984). Millennials never cease to amaze me if only because they just don't realize how bad we Gen-X'ers had it. Their blind confidence and child-like innocence hasn't come to grips with the horror which is human existence. I mean, I vividly remember drills in school where we had to hide under our desks as practice for when the bombs hit. You couldn't even walk to Blockbuster without fear the commies might nuke you on the way.  It was real shit, and the prospect of total global death was very, very real. Forget The Day After (1983), in Threads there is no hope or redeeming value. Imagine Ligotti minus any enlightenment whatsoever, save for..."if a nuclear exchange ever breaks out the world is screwed." Apropos if only for North Korea keeping the tradition alive.

Trailer first and full movie second. Followed by links.


See "20 Oddball Science Fiction Movies" HERE.

See "15 Underseen And Overlooked Dystopian Futures In Film" HERE.

See "9 Most Riveting Post-Apocalyptic Movies" HERE.

Watching most of the movies on these three lists will take you back to the glory days of apocalypse if you are a fellow Gen-X'er. Oh dear Millennials, you have so much to learn...

Post Scriptum: Two non-'80s movies but worth the mention due to their being "hard science," but also entertainingly "dark" enough to be included in this post are Europa Report (2013) and Primer (2004). Runners up include Doctor Who with Tom Baker and Disney's (yes, Disney's) The Black Hole (1979).