Archive for Slavoj Zizek

Theory of Conspiracy

Posted in Revolution, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 29, 2016 by Rob Wallace

20130619_G8leaders02In life it is never a mathematical proposition which we need, but we use mathematical propositions only in order to infer from propositions which do not belong to mathematics to others which equally do not belong to mathematics. –Ludwig Wittgenstein (1922)

David Grimes, a physicist, calculates large-scale conspiracies are impossible. Someone somewhere–a whistleblower or bungler–will leak the goods.

The issue missed here, however, as Stephen Colbert–channeling Slavoj Žižek–put it to Donald Rumsfeld the other night, are the unknown knowns, the crimes the brigades of ideological shock troops among us pretend ignorance of in the service of expediency.

That is, in a reading of the WikiLeaks cables ironically enough, is the business of empire really something other than an albeit open conspiracy? And who, then, are the more dangerous conspirators now dining in our best restaurants–the true believers or the manipulative cynics?

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The Red Coates

Posted in Ecological resilience, Organic agriculture, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2015 by Rob Wallace

It’s been something of a mystery to me the extent to which so many white people are personally offended black people are objecting to being stopped and killed by police.

Of course it’s about oppression–each murder serves as a message to black and white communities alike–but where is the line of logic that makes the action an argument, however absurd?

Even the possibility of deescalating a confrontation with a clearly discombobulated Jeremy Dole in his wheelchair earlier this week, captured in the video above, is waved away in favor of a public execution on the streets of Wilmington, Delaware. A firing squad is repeatedly the default response.

As Alain Badiou on the Paris Commune persuasively argues, what happens out on the street is philosophy in practice.

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Happy Labor Day!

Posted in Ecological resilience, Revolution with tags , , , , , on September 7, 2015 by Rob Wallace

Batman barbacueFrom which Hegelian delusion do you suffer? Are you a Beautiful Soul who deplores the world’s wicked ways while actively reproducing them? Do you follow the Law of the Heart and as a self-proclaimed savior resort to paranoid constructions to explain why the greater world doesn’t follow your expectations?

Or do you enjoy one or both fallacies because each imbues even a life of inquiet desperation with meaning?

Can precepts underlying such disassociations be simultaneously false in the abstract and entirely necessary in the concrete? How else can we change the world save starting as the people we are now? Surely any Cabralian betrayal that follows is the righteous path?

Do you all-out reject both delusions as hideously bourgeois instead — fake meat on a fake holiday — however much you might embody them? Or, back hard in the other direction, are such dialectical gaps the very means by which to overcome the injustices that produced them? Are our hypocrisies — falling on our faces into something new — the way out?

Do such trepidations evaporate upon a revolution right or wrong? Does revolution begin only when enough of the prevalent dread cooks off into conscientisation? Do we prols arrive at such equanimity, however tenuous, when we suddenly recruit each other as active participants of a shared history?

Goliathian Priors

Posted in Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2014 by Rob Wallace

Ghana GermanyEven on fútbol Nate Silver panders to power, predicting the winners will win. He’s the statistical Malcolm Gladwell, the latter, despite his new book, already on record disparaging successful underdogs as metaphysically unfair.

As if contingencies and sudden regime shifts, to reference Slavoj Žižek‘s Hegel, aren’t themselves universal necessities (well beyond the power of Silver’s Bayesian).

And to which the revolutionary toasts the Ghanas and Costa Ricas a beer or three, minding Alain Badiou’s Paris Commune, wherein the truth upon the world’s contested pitches changes the very predicates of circumstance.

Gordon Gecko

Posted in Evolution, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 17, 2014 by Rob Wallace

Americans have dissipated their racial energy in an orgy of stone breaking. In their few years they have broken more stones than did centuries of Egyptians. And they have done their work hysterically, desperately, almost as if they knew that the stones would some day break them. –Nathanael West (1933)

I must say I disagree with Slavoj Žižek’s Lacanianism that sinthomes, the deeper jouis-sens of meaning at the heart of the materiality of the written word, qualitatively differ from mathemes, their mathematical analogs. For mathemes also carry libidinal investment and are also subjectivized not only along historical trajectories long and short but by deeply personal jouissance.

That doesn’t spoil mathematics. It just makes it part of the fabric of human experience, for better and, as the strange video here demonstrates in form and content, for worse.

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The Parallax Pig

Posted in Organic agriculture, Revolution with tags , , , , , , , , on November 19, 2011 by farmingpathogens

Slavoj Žižek on the historical linguistics of  food production and consumption:

“‘Pig” refers to animals whom farmers deal, while “pork” is the meat we consume–and the class dimension is clear here: “pig” is the old Saxon word, since Saxons were the underprivileged farmers, while “pork” comes from French “porque,” used by the privileged Norman conquerors who mostly consumed the pigs raised by farmers.

Such a parallax–dual or dueling perspectives–can be found along other dimensions.  The kinds of social histories symbols and what they represent share can also be found in the mathematical modeling used to characterize these little piggies, their roast beef, and their wee pathogens all the way home.

The epidemiological formalisms deployed grew out of historical trajectories of their own, with all manner of interests–personal and political–shaping their inputs and  outcomes. We’re not talking here about acts of blatant corruption–how gauche!–but the way social presuppositions are built into modeling as ethically practiced.

Setting aside the obvious complications we are likely to encounter, in the interests of bringing the issue to a head, if you’ll excuse the hog pun, let me ask, Is there such a thing as a Norman modeling and its Saxon counterpart? Can we find Robin Hood in Sherwood Formalism?

The Scientific American

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2011 by Rob Wallace

Science is the business right now. If the science works, the business works, and vice versa. –Craig Venter

Bird flu marinates a chicken in its own juices, a satay best avoided whatever the menu special. In such short an order better for the bistro than the barn infected birds rapidly bleed from the inside out.

What to do about this bit of bad news?

Broilers and layers are as much commodities as they are birds. As much engineering problems as living organisms. So ask research and development for a solution comes the answer.

It was, after all, by virtue of its open morphogenesis and behavioral flexibility that the chicken was first domesticated multiple times from red and grey jungle fowl distributed across South and Southeast Asia, artificially selected for the backyard, then scaled up in size and population to its factory model.

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We Can Think Ourselves into a Plague

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution, Farming Human Pathogens book, HIV, Influenza with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2010 by Rob Wallace

The power of the mind is a New Age staple. But really, can I concentrate enough to levitate myself (much less get my laundry done today)?

The materialist answers, funny you mention it, but, yes, you can. A few minds thought through the ideas that produced the airplane and perhaps soon enough the personal jet pack with smart phone dock and coffee maker.

The dialectical materialist would modify science’s self-congratulations with the observation it’s taken many generations’ labor to produce the surplus permitting a few their deep thinking. Ingenuity is itself a social object.

And yet, despite, or perhaps because of, that backing, we can think ourselves into era-specific traps. Among these include animal and plant diseases that rope-a-dope us into a frustration we feel obliged by our lords and masters to fail to understand.

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