Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back to Bucky

This is really late, but I just got around to our round-up of things we liked about Bucky, even if he is nuts:

1) It's not technology that saves us, it's the implementation of technology. The goal is "livery."
2) There is abundance. It is generous but finite. Abundance vs. limited resources and grasping for power.
3) We each create our own "omnihood." Omni is a big concept from the book; a sort of variation of act locally but try and affect the major systems and learn how they interact and how systems need plurality and dissension (part of his omni-vision is very naive).
4) Have a master plan.
5) Don't accept the words of experts; test things for yourself. Rely on direct experience/
6) Don't forget to do.
7) Don't forget the process (and documenting the process) is as important as the work.


When Merely Discussing Raises Hackles

I read this today in one of my many email alerts, and it reminded me of Zizek's discussion of torture (page 50): below we have an open discussion AND a law about the limits of extra-judicial killing!


Two civil liberties organizations said they will file a legal challenge against the government's suspected targeting for assassination of an American supporter of Al Qaeda, arguing that under the U.S. Constitution no citizen can be "deprived of life... without due process of law."

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights first filed suit against the Treasury Department, which said they needed a "license" in order to act on behalf of Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been designated as a terrorist. After the lawsuit was filed yesterday, the Treasury Department said the license to proceed would be granted.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dennis Kucinich and several House colleagues introduced legislation last week "to prohibit the extrajudicial killing of United States citizens."

"No United States citizen, regardless of location, can be 'deprived of life, liberty, property, without due process of law', as stated in Article XIV of the Constitution," their bill said.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said yesterday that the targeting of al-Awlaki was not done entirely without process. "There's a process in place that I'm not at liberty to discuss," he said.

"If... we think that direct action [against terrorists] will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that," then-DNI Dennis C. Blair told a House Intelligence Committee hearing (pdf) on February 3, 2010.

But the Kucinich bill said that "No one, including the President, may instruct a person acting within the scope of employment with the United States Government or an agent acting on behalf of the United States Government to engage in, or conspire to engage in, the extrajudicial killing of a United States citizen."

Zizek: The Reality of the Virtual (film)

If you are a Netflix subscriber, you can enjoy this  lecture given by the man himself in London, 2003.

The first 15 minutes or so are spent clarifying his understanding of Lacan's Imaginary, Symbolic, Real triad.   I did not stay up late enough last night to watch all the way through to the end, but will finish the movie tonight.

Netflix has other documentaries on or including Zized available through the mail.  You Chicagoans might want to plan a watching party!


p.s. awesome talk last night. thanks to all for persevering over the technology hurdles. we might all have a bit of the revolutionary in us, yet. Happy reading!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Hi campers,

I'm happily following up on our discussion from last week with a reference that came up. Around page 258 in Latour, we started to question the limits of his description of the law, and how well his case for the law's stability functions when applied to, for example, developments in European law leading up to WWII. We were looking at the section where he establishes that the difference between police and thugs depends on the entirety of the law (a fabric of sanctions and decrees makes the act of search and arrest legal rather than an act of thuggery -- there is a lot to unpack).

There is a footnote on Vichy in Latour, but not much else to contextualize what his conclusions here regarding the Council of State might say about systematic removal of civil rights, states of exception, and so on, which led me to mention Giorgio Agamben's Homo Sacer. 'Homo sacer' is a feature of Roman law, a person who can be killed but not sacrificed. It does take a book to sort out what that means, a paradox in which someone is excluded from the law and thereby included and identified under it -- in Roman law it applied to banishment, and today we would also talk about it in terms of stripping civil rights. Agamben looks at the early roots of these laws regarding the 'sacred man' and in particular at developments in European law leading up to WWII.

So if you finished Latour thinking, 'What about ..' -- this book may add to the conversation.

Happiness with a cup of tea and Zizek in hand to you all --

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lost Causes from Rio

Hey campers. I am back online and looking forward to Tuesday at 8 (Chicago time/10 Rio time). I will read to about page 100. I figure we can give this book five weeks, as it is long and we did not choose a September book. As this book touches on just about every book and movie ever made, there are lots of connections to past readings. No doubt there will be lots to talk about. Viva la revolution (at least ones that pose deeply inspiring and motivating symbolic value to the world outside the brutality and specificity of violence-as proposed by Zizek)!