Thursday, September 25, 2008

Long time no post

So, this summer, Camp Theory focused on Skype meetings and very little substantive commentary made it to the blog. The good news is that we have decided to extend summer creating more chances to read and chat and/or post.

From Bourdieu, the group decided to keep reading about gift economy. Our next book is:

The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property by Lewis Hyde.

Skype meeting announcement coming soon.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Outline of a Theory of Practice-Chapter 2

The next Skype meeting will be Sunday, August 24th on chapter 2.

I read chapter one in two parts. During the first part, I was engaged and interested in Bourdieu’s critiques of the biases we bring to questions based on our profession or perspective. The questions an ethnographer asks, frames the nature of the answer. He also questions the answers. The answers may reflect an ideal rather then the lived experience.

I had a very hard time concentrating to the second half of the chapter. I kept hoping Bourdieu would give a hint as to why I should care about the specificity of his research and how he, outside of talking about (but not showing) statistical analysis and game theory, questioned his own biases.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

New Chat Time

Dear readers,

The next Skype meeting will be Sunday 10 AM, yes, that is the morning folks, Chicago time. We will talk about the first chapter of Outline of a Theory of Practice, as I had to cancel the last meeting.

It think it is interesting that this book has the typographical "look" of Agamben and address many of the issue of what is mean to being working "now" that Arendt poses. These books seem to know each other.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

Last book of the summer

Dear campers,

It is time for the last book of the summer. Outline of a Theory of Practice
by Pierre Bourdieu. We will Skype about the first chapter on Sunday 8 pm Chicago time.

Happy reading.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Finishing The Human Condition

So, it is time to move on from the Human Condition. Monday, rather than Wednesday will be the last chat, 9pm Chicago time.

Tonight's conversation centered around the particular ways Arendt uses words like private and public and how easy it is to start substituting our modern understanding of these words. It took me some time to understand she is dealing with these words much more theoretically and in an isolated format. Her definitions from Greek and Roman debate have to do with ideal states of separation. She is, in many ways pointing out the blurring of the two and the dangers of not noticing this. Yet, I still often, even when reading this, blur them.

Happy reading.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

reading time

So, somehow in getting back to the States, I fell of the Arendt wagon. If you are free, let's talk about Action on Wednesday evening at 9pm Chicago time.

We will hold the final Skype meeting the following Wednesday, concluding this wonderful book. I find it odd The Human Condition is not quoted more, more widely discussed, and generally appreciated. I find everything I am reading relates back to Arendt. Not only that, her mixture of simple almost obvious intellectual structures combined with her views and detailed historical support provide a refreshing writing model. Usually, these components are separated, leaving overly diaristic, overly academic narrative, or complex and obtuse theoretical writing.

Basically, this is just a pleasure to read and think about as I go about my day.

Enjoy reading.


Monday, July 21, 2008


The conversation and music were wonderful on Sunday. Some questions that came up that we can consider include:

What is the relationship between violence and labor Arendt talks about in section 17, A Consumer's Society (page 129/130 in the second edition)?

What does Arendt mean when she talks about privacy and in particular how is the labor of the body the most private of the three types of work? Pg 121

We will read through ACTION and Skype on Friday at 6 PM Chicago time.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Second Section of The Human Condition


I hope you are enjoying The Human Condition as much as I am. The next Skype meeting will be on Sunday at 8PM Chicago time. Please read the Labor and Work sections.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Agamben to Arendt

The Human Condition is a nice companion to the State of Exception. Giorgio Agamben’s short book maintains a tight argument. He primarily uses Carl Schmidt’s legal writings and Roman law to uphold the idea that a political and legal no man’s land, the state of exception, where the leader of a constitutional state uses the law to suspend the law has been, if not constant since World War I, the default control strategy. The oddity between how clear and obvious his thesis appears in the introduction and how arcane most of his arguments seem pose a tension between the acutely politically and socially relevant and the seemingly obscure.

The first section of Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition on the Realm of the Public and the Realm of Private act a model for the structure and use of early Western Philosophy as a basis for an argument. Where as Arendt’s arguments are broad and work within large categories, types labor, public and private, family and bureaucracy, her theories are supported by the very current, in relation to the publication of the book, or early thought. As she attempts to trace ideas from the past to the present, a logic emerges. The logic is debatable, but it is laid out. Agamben uses his examples as proofs and the writing style is more formal. At times, the two time frames, early law/politics and the current Patriot Act seem too distant. Arendt's more conversational tone seems to provide a model to fill the gap.

I look forward to the next conversation tonight at 8pm Chicago time.


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Winding up of State of Excecption and beginning The Human Condition

It is time for a new book, The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt. Read through the section on Public and Private Realms and we will have a Skype meeting on

Sunday night 8pm Chicago time.

We will wrap up State of Exception and open a discussion on the Human Condition.

Happy reading.


Monday, June 30, 2008

Questions for our Thursday 8pm (Chicago time) talk

While reading this, I have come across very few moments when I want to argue face to face with the author. This is unusual in theory. One of the reasons I like reading theory is that is agitates my intellectual hackles. I am not finding this dynamic while this reading. Do other folks feel the same way? I am finding an easy and pleasant melding of Agamben’s ideas with my own. But I always do have questions and here are a few to consider for our chat on Thursday at 8 pm Chicago time.

1. Agamben is a professor of aesthetics. While this writing seems clear from the point of view of legal philosophy or politics, does it take on a different meaning when considered from the point of view of aesthetics?

2. Has anyone ever seen the Hebrew letter Aleph used as a footnote before? Also, as there are other letters in the Hebrew alphabet, why always Aleph?

3. Agamben’s thesis on the slide into an easy (and I suspect we are reading our way into a theory of a constant) state of exception since WWI seems remarkably obvious. Is this perspective simply obvious once state?

4. Being outside of law and legal theory, I like the precise textual and historical format of the book. For those who know the subject, is it overly simple?

I hope these questions are helpful. Feel free to post questions or bring your own the conversation.

Talk to you soon.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Next phone time

The next phone time is Thursday night 8pm Chicago time. That is 9am Taipei time, so that works.

Can't wait to hear what questions you have.


Posted by Nef Mart

This is in response to my reading of page 2 where the judiciary becomes the law and politics becomes living. I was asking if that extends to make living life inherently political?

Re: state of exception - I think what he means on the first page is that in the relation of laws to people, there is also a state of exception for the individual actor. For example, you can shoot someone in self defense, as the law against murder is suspended - but only to the point of necessity - you can't kill them unless you fear for your life. In emergencies - some of these "exceptions" are well documented in the law, but some are not so clear.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

State of Exception

First I want to thank Katie Hargrave for recommending this book. There are remarkable connections to these ideas and people close to me. My mom, Susan Mart, writes on the Patriot Act, and has made that her speciality yet did not know this writing. My husband Tom specializes in International Constitutional law and politics and did not know this writing. I appreciate how theory has a way of crossing disciplinary boundaries.

I cannot set a phone date for chapter 2 and 3 just yet, as my schedule is still fuzzy here in Taiwan. We are going to explore some nature here, but don't know which days we will be away from technology.

So, as we currently live in a state of exception, act and live, which Agamben proposes as political (top of page 2) and enjoy your acts of legal disobedience.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New book: State of Exception


Because I am in Darmstadt doing the K[ne(e){a}d] project, I am not going to hold a closing Skype conversation about the Archive and the Repertoire.

We begin State of Exception, by Giorgio Agamben today. Read the first quarter this week and post questions ad comments to this blog.

The next Skype conversation will be Monday the 23rd at 5pm Chicago Time. I cannot do it any later, as that is midnight in Germany.

Please post if you are going to join this call, as I will sleep if no one is in for this round.

This book should prove really interesting and quite different from a book on performance and hemispheric studies. Yet, I am sure there will be overlap. There always is.

Happy reading.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Reading for the week of June 9th -16th

This is the final week for Diana Taylor's The Archive and The Repertoire. Either finish the book or find an interesting section. The next Skype discussion will be:

Wednesday, June 11th at 8:30 Chicago time.

Happy reading.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Reading for this week

The reading for this week is:

Memory as Cultural Practice (I added this again)
La Raza Cosmetica
False Identification:Minority populations Mourn Diana
You are Here



Monday, May 26, 2008

First conference call

If you would like to join the first conference all today (Monday May 26th) at 6pm Chicago time, please join Skype. To do so:

1. Go the Skype site:
2. Download their application
3. Create a user name
4. Add me as a contact by clicking the small + on the bottom right of the pop-up screen
5. Look for amberginsburg (all lower case-all one word)
6.Add me to your contacts
7. Be on Skype at 6pm (Chicago time)

Hope to hear from you this week or sometime soon.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Why this book?

A few people have asked me, "Why this book?" It might seem odd to choose a book on performance and hemispheric studies, as I know very little about performance and didn't even know the term hemispheric studies until I read the introduction.

My friend Katie Hargrave recommended the book to me some time ago. We both work inter-disciplinarily. Reading this book as a methodological model for inter-disciplinarity is easier NOT knowing the subject well. I appreciate the broad approach and expanse language Diana Taylor uses. She sees each subject in conversation with each other (pg.xvii). The way she asks questions of each appeals to my open-endedness.

I have been accused many time of having performance in my work. When Taylor writes- “Civic obedience, resistance, citizenship, gender, ethnicity, and sexual identity, for example, are rehearsed and performed daily in the public sphere.”- performance bleeds into critical spatial practice, history, and gender studies. Nice. I was at the train Metra station reading that sentence. The two platforms, divided by track, had benches facing one another. Suddenly I was performing reading for the folks opposite me while they were performing a variety of things, boredom, mating rituals, and a race politics, to name a few. I love the idea of public spaces as sites of performance where we both influence and are.

I tend to shy away from the diaristic. Not so with this reading. This entry in written in the first person as an experiment in directness. This writing, while deeply personal, still manages to appeal to broad interests. Another nice model.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Hello Art Theory Summer Campers,

Today is the official opening of Art Theory Summer camp. Our first book is Diana Taylor’s The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas. There are 10 chapters in the book and we have four weeks allotted. The first reading is:

Introduction: Who, When, What, Why
1. Acts of Transfer
2. Scenarios of Discovery
3. Memory as Cultural Practice

Feel free to join in the conversation about the book as a whole or any article of interest. Participate as you are able.

Our first Skype meeting will be

Monday the 26th at 6pm.

If you are interested in this time-based dialogue, sign up for Skype prior to the meeting time. Skype is a free online commutation tool that allows for conference calls. If you have a headset, or headphones, conference calls are much easier to understand.

Happy reading!


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Art Theory Summer Camp is about to begin again. Below is a list of summer readings, as well as a schedule. As an addition to the blog format, this year there will be weekly SKYPE meetings. I hope having “talk time” will allow for fluid and organic connections to take place that will complement the written format of the blog. Times for phone meeting will be regularized to meet the needs of this year's participants.

Order or reserve your books now for the summer and join the fun.

Book ONE:
The Archive and the Repertoire-Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas
Diana Taylor
May 19th –June 16th

Book TWO:
State of Exception
By Giorgio Agamben
June 17th-July 7th

The Human Condition
Hannah Arendt
July 8th-August 4th
Human Condition

Book FOUR:
Outline of a Theory of Practice
by Pierre Bourdieu
Aug 5th-September 1st


Sunday, January 6, 2008