The Biblioblog Reference Library

[«] Posts by the Author "Adam Kotsko"(#31)

June 19 2017, 5AM

The Hulu series The Handmaid’s Tale is a curious cultural document. It is very well-produced and well-acted and makes the dystopian world feel eerily plausible — and yet the big question that was always lingering for me was, “What exact... [Television]

June 14, 4AM

I have completed a full draft of my translation of Agamben’s Karman: A Brief Treatise on Action, Guilt, and Gesture. A lot of work remains to polish and whip it into bibliographical shape, but that is all mop-up. The Italian version does not seem to... [Agamben] [translation]

June 13, 6AM

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Democrats want people to suffer. They conceive this suffering as educational, teaching people a valuable lesson about not choosing the smart, sensible party. Yet there is an undeniable element of jouissance wh... [politics of the absurd]

June 12, 11AM

Approximately every two weeks, I go on a mini-rant on Twitter about people pointing out Republican hypocrisy. The most recent occasion was a juxtaposition between two tweets from Newt Gingrich, one praising the special prosecutor and the other freaking o... [politics of the absurd]

June 8, 6AM

The existence of a chief executive officer of the state introduces a conceptual problem: how can you enforce the law against the person who has the final say on law enforcement? It is not possible for this enforcement to come from within the executive it... [politics of the absurd]

June 4, 5AM

A basic principle of the social sciences is that systemic effects have systemic causes. A classic example is Durkheim’s Suicide, where he argues that none of the individual reasons that people choose to take their own lives can account for the suici... [Christian Theology] [Political Theology] [politics of the absurd] [Race]

June 2, 11AM

Yesterday, North Central College’s acquisition of Shimer College was finalized. Here is the official announcement from North Central. This is the culmination of at least two years of negotiations, planning, curriculum redesign, and more work by mo... [blog posts]

6AM

Lately, for reasons that are unclear to me, my thoughts have turned to the doctrine of transubstantiation, and those thoughts have reached a form that is probably blog post-worthy — hence I share them with you now. One very basic point we learn from... [Christian Theology]

June 1, 8AM

A while back, I wrote an article on social media as a platform for passing judgment. Now I’m thinking about the same problem from another angle — basically, social media often feels a lot to me like my evangelical church did growing up. Ther... [Christian Theology] [Social networks]

May 30, 10AM

Over the last few months, I have received a number of complaints about the blog template, in terms of both readability and searchability. I must admit that I myself had trouble with the search functionality when I wanted to link to old posts. In selecti... [housekeeping]

May 24, 1PM

If Trump colluded with the Russians to influence the election, it would be a very bad thing. If said collusion provides a path to remove him from office, then that would be a good thing. That both of those points are true, however, does not detract from... [politics of the absurd]

May 12, 4AM

In the phrase “toxic call-out culture,” I’m interested in the word “toxic.” The last time it was part of a widely used set phrase was back in the good old days of the Global Financial Crisis, when we heard a lot about “... [politics of the absurd]

May 9, 11AM

I am aware that it is my male privilege speaking here in part, but when I read older texts that use “man” to designate all of humanity generically, it doesn’t sound offensive and exclusionary so much as old-timey and mildly comical. I c... [blog posts]

May 4, 11AM

Today, I hope there is a hell. If such a place has a use, it is to house people who celebrate with a cold beer after voting to endanger the lives of millions to enrich the already wealthy. These people should be trembling in fear before the justice and wr... [apocalyptic] [Saint Paul]

6AM

My experience teaches me that the online left abides by certain unspoken rules that help everyone to remain as woke and unproblematic as possible. At the risk of breaking the code of silence, I will list the most important rules as I have come to underst... [politics of the absurd]

April 24, 6AM

The mainstream debate about social constructs shows how deeply engrained individualism is in the American psyche. From an individualist viewpoint, there are two categories that a claim to knowledge can fall into: objective (existing “out there̶... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

April 13, 10AM

The brutal ejection of a paying and duly seated passenger from a United Airlines flight has prompted a flourishing of contrarian hot takes. “Actually,” our clever subversive thinkers opine, “if you’ll let me play devil’s adv... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd] [The Prince of This World (book)]

April 6, 3PM

The only safe answer is no. Don’t get caught up on the merits. Don’t talk about how the Hitler-of-the-week may be bad, but the chaos we’ll create is even worse. Don’t get on your high horse about how U.S. meddling caused the sit... [blog posts]

March 31, 5AM

I have taken particular joy in the jokes surrounding Mike Pence’s refusal to eat dinner with a woman other than his wife. This is because I grew up in an evangelical Christian culture where such rules were very much in force — to the extent t... [blog posts] [family values]

March 28, 10AM

For some reason, my mind has been drawn over the past few days to what I owe to Zizek, intellectually. I have not kept up with his recent work and have been mostly critical of his political “interventions,” but I think that there are some assu... [blog posts] [Zizek]

March 20, 6AM

There are a lot of popular memes going around to the effect that one weekend of Trump’s security “could pay for” Meals on Wheels. This is true in the very narrow sense that they cost approximately the same amount of money. But savings on... [politics of the absurd]

March 17, 6AM

Trump voters have been mocked for believing that a pampered billionaire is somehow a man of the people. Yet on an important level, he really is one of them. That is to say, he really believes the right-wing conspiracy mongering that the Republican Party... [politics of the absurd]

March 16, 1PM

The Trump budget proposal is a nightmare — petty and vindictive, short-sighted and cruel. Inexpensive programs that literally save lives are being cut, apparently out of sheer spite. Surely, we are in the terminal phases of what I once called the ... [apocalyptic] [fascism] [politics]

March 14, 6AM

Pictured above is the courtyard of my building. I cannot describe how relieved I am to see snow. Chicago has not had any significant snow through all of January and February — the first time this has happened in recorded history — and some day... [apocalyptic] [Plato-to-NATO] [Race]

March 8, 10AM

In my previous post, I advocate excluding harmful ideas (my example is white supremacy, but I would include Holocaust denial, climate change denial, and others) from the public sphere. Whenever this kind of suggestion comes up, it is inevitable that some... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

6AM

Liberals are concerned. It appears that the Campus Left is squelching free speech by protesting right-wing speakers. The answer to bad speech, we are told, is more speech. The only way that tired bromide could be true, though, would be if it were possi... [politics of the absurd]

March 6, 4PM

Every election under capitalism is of course conducted on a terrain of ideological distortion, but there are degrees. One the one hand, one could think of the kind of ideological distortion that narrows the range of acceptable debate artificially, but th... [politics of the absurd]

February 28, 5PM

Having just finished teaching The Black Jacobins, I wanted to pay tribute to C.L.R. James’s genius by pointing to one short passage — namely, the first two sentences of the fourth chapter of that book: The slaves worked on the land, and, like ... [blog posts] [CLR James]

February 27, 6AM

Miya Tokumitsu’s Jacobin article on lecture pedagogy is something of a mess. It does argue that lectures at their best can be engaging and community-building, but almost everything it is saying could be recouched as a defense of in-person learning ... [Academia] [blog posts]

February 21, 6AM

Two fantasies have arisen in the wake of Trump’s unexpected ascension to the White House. The first is that the Deep State will save us. The second is that the media, fighting for its survival, will finally grow a spine and a conscience and, well, s... [politics]

February 13, 4PM

Today we compiled and submitted the final manuscript for Agamben’s Philosophical Lineage, the edited volume on Agamben’s many interlocutors that Carlo Salzani and I have been working on for seemingly all eternity (in reality, at least 18 month... [Agamben] [blog posts]

February 11, 7AM

It never fails. Any time someone expresses approval of a protest, a nice liberal will come along and declare that it’s counterproductive because it makes Trump (or whichever right-wing figure) look like a victim, further legitimating him in people&... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

February 9, 8AM

It’s fair to say that I am a productive person, both academically and personally. I view getting my work done as an opportunity to finally get some work done. I’ve written before about the somewhat sad origins of this productivity, which sta... [blog posts] [life of the mind] [Memoir Material]

February 2, 1PM

On Thursday, February 16, I am doing two events at Northwestern — a discussion of the intro and chapter 1 of The Prince of This World and a talk on political theology and neoliberalism. Details are included in this PDF flyer.Filed under: blog posts... [blog posts] [Lectures] [The Prince of This World (book)]

February 1, 11AM

I have a new piece out in Real Life on the culture of judgment in social media. It is a much-expanded version of my post from a while back entitled “Critique of Judgment.” Thanks to Rob Horning for inviting me to do this. Filed under: blog p... [blog posts]

January 30, 3PM

The Hebrew Bible and New Testament both say very unequivocal things in favor of helping the poor and excluded, welcoming the stranger, and a host of other topics immediately relevant to our political environment. But unfortunately, all of the people who ... [Biblical Studies] [ethics]

January 26, 10AM

Like everyone, I mocked the tweet. Deep down, I never thought it could happen to me. Now I wish I had stopped to think things through, because I didn’t know how to respond. A terrorist had actually kidnapped my baby. By all indications, he had rigge... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

January 25, 6AM

One thing that is strange about the debate over free will between Erasmus and Luther is that they are arguing on two very different levels. Erasmus is the voice of common sense — “if we don’t have free will, then how can we be morally j... [Agamben] [Martin Luther]

January 22, 8AM

There’s a lot of common advice that amounts to political due diligence: know who your representatives and other elected officials are, hold them accountable by contacting them about important matters, support more progressive candidates wherever pos... [blog posts] [politics]

January 21, 8AM

Yesterday, a dapper Nazi was punched while giving an interview about how the white race has an inborn right to domination. (I am not naming him in an effort to shield myself from the attention of his ilk; I imagine his identity is easily ascertainable via... [blog posts] [fascism]

January 20, 7AM

I remember back the last time the Electoral College delivered us an incompetent overreaching fool — one of our watchwords in those years was that the Constitution is not a suicide pact. And so, on November 9, Obama should have said, “We all kn... [apocalyptic] [blog posts] [politics]

January 19, 7AM

While engaging with the classical Greek sources and particularly with Nicole Loraux’s work last semester in class, I found myself increasingly sounding like John Milbank. In very broad and abstract terms, the question that guided my path through the... [augustine] [blog posts] [Plato] [Plato-to-NATO]

January 18, 4PM

Today someone made me angry, and I made that person angry in turn. I happen to think my anger was more justified, but my interlocutor’s was apparently more intense — after a certain point, I was inclined to mend bridges and they pointedly refu... [blog posts] [Memoir Material]

January 17, 6AM

Last night, I gave a talk on the Temptation of Christ at an event for the DePaul Humanities Center. My focus was on the devil’s offer to give Christ all the kingdoms of this world, which I used as a starting point for tracing the roots of apocalypt... [New Testament]

January 16, 6AM

Walter Benjamin famously, and somewhat enigmatically, declared that “even the dead won’t be safe from the enemy if he is victorious.” The example that leaps to mind for me is Martin Luther King, the increasingly revolutionary leader who ... [Martin Luther King Jr.]

January 14, 2PM

I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Mark Fisher. Mark was one of the pioneers of theory blogging and para-academic independent publishing. I learned a great deal from his blogging at K-punk, where he wrote incisive political commentary a... [in memoriam]
I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Mark Fisher. Mark was one of the pioneers of theory blogging and para-academic independent publishing. I learned a great deal from his blogging at K-punk, where he wrote incisive political commentary a... [in memoriam]

7AM

For the past couple months, I’ve been working on a couple projects that fulfill long-term goals. I’m going to finally have a published French translation on the books, which I have been hoping to do ever since I was thwarted in my attempt to ... [to-do lists]
For the past couple months, I’ve been working on a couple projects that fulfill long-term goals. I’m going to finally have a published French translation on the books, which I have been hoping to do ever since I was thwarted in my attempt to ... [to-do lists]

January 13, 5AM

In recent days, some people have been joking that Obama should resign a few days before the end of his term so that Biden can say he was president. In some iterations, this is a way of subtley screwing over Trump, who has already received gifts addressed ... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]
In recent days, some people have been joking that Obama should resign a few days before the end of his term so that Biden can say he was president. In some iterations, this is a way of subtley screwing over Trump, who has already received gifts addressed ... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

January 5, 10AM

Presumably we have all seen The Social Network, or at least heard of the primal scene of Facebook that it stages. One night, a bored Mark Zuckerberg uses his ability to type really fast to set up a website to judge the hotness of the women of Harvard. It ... [blog posts] [Technology]
Presumably we have all seen The Social Network, or at least heard of the primal scene of Facebook that it stages. One night, a bored Mark Zuckerberg uses his ability to type really fast to set up a website to judge the hotness of the women of Harvard. It ... [blog posts] [Technology]

7AM

There are three varieties of atheism. Only one of them is actually interesting. “Matter of course” atheism — this is the position that belief in God is clearly superfluous, both for explaining the natural world and for developing a coh... [apocalyptic] [blog posts]
There are three varieties of atheism. Only one of them is actually interesting. “Matter of course” atheism — this is the position that belief in God is clearly superfluous, both for explaining the natural world and for developing a coh... [apocalyptic] [blog posts]

January 4, 10AM

I’ve been thinking lately about which projects I choose to undertake. For instance, I look at the two projects I’m wrapping up right now — a translation of Nicole Loraux’s “War in the Family” (the essay Agamben discusse... [life of the mind] [The lighter side of AUFS] [to-do lists]
I’ve been thinking lately about which projects I choose to undertake. For instance, I look at the two projects I’m wrapping up right now — a translation of Nicole Loraux’s “War in the Family” (the essay Agamben discusse... [life of the mind] [The lighter side of AUFS] [to-do lists]

December 31 2016, 8AM

To President Bowling, Members of the Board of Trustees, and the Administrative Staff of Olivet Nazarene University: It has come to my attention that Olivet Nazarene University will be sending its marching band to perform in the inauguration of President-E... [apocalyptic]
To President Bowling, Members of the Board of Trustees, and the Administrative Staff of Olivet Nazarene University: It has come to my attention that Olivet Nazarene University will be sending its marching band to perform in the inauguration of President-E... [apocalyptic]

December 30, 6AM

I am planning to kick off next year with two speaking dates. The first will be part of a larger event on “The Temptation of Christ” for the DePaul Humanities Center on Monday, January 16 (PDF flyer), and the second will be a conversation with ... [Lectures] [The Prince of This World (book)]
I am planning to kick off next year with two speaking dates. The first will be part of a larger event on “The Temptation of Christ” for the DePaul Humanities Center on Monday, January 16 (PDF flyer), and the second will be a conversation with ... [Lectures] [The Prince of This World (book)]

December 27, 7AM

[As always, I am not recommending any particular course of action or political strategy. All I’m trying to do is work my way into the mindset that would allow the Democrats’ actions to make sense as something other than the product of personal... [blog posts] [politics]

December 23, 10AM

I’ve had occasion to return to the topic of atonement, and specifically Aulén lately, and a thought occurred to me: Aulén’s typology of the three main atonement theories is strikingly similar to the commonplace typology of philosophical ethi... [blog posts] [Christian Theology] [ethics]

December 20, 8AM

Martin Luther King, Jr., famously said, “The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice.” We can take this to be the standard liberal-progressive way of looking at the arc of history. There are two other possible variations: that ... [apocalyptic] [blog posts] [fascism]

December 18, 12 PM

The term “fake news” has recently come back into vogue, to refer to the false news stories that circulated freely on social media and most likely contributed to the cruel technicality that occurred on Election Day. This is not the first time ... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

December 16, 3PM

Yesterday I attended a reading group that was discussing selections from Adorno’s Minima Moralia. One passage that occuppied a considerable amount of our attention came from aphorism 134, on satire: Irony’s medium, the difference between ideol... [ideology]

9AM

During the campaign, I was forced to grudgingly admit that Trump had said something true: namely, that Bush should be held responsible for his negligence in failing to prevent 9/11 and that the Iraq War was an unmitigated disaster. In recent days, I have... [blog posts]

December 14, 6AM

Last night, a colleague and I took some students to hear the Civic Orchestra, a youth orchestra sponsored by the Chicago Symphony. It marked the end of a semester where I had attended the CSO at least every two weeks. I had been going increasingly often... [music] [retreat into aestheticism]

December 12, 8AM

All this makes clear what we all kind of knew: that institutional stability and continuity is partisan issue and has been for a long time. I’ve long joked that the Democrats are the party of “having a government at all,” but it’s n... [blog posts] [Schmitt] [Zizek]

7AM

Naturally, the prospect of Trump being impeached has been on people’s minds. It is perhaps conceivable that he could go so far that even the Republicans wouldn’t be able to stomach it. Yet when pondering that potential outcome, people tend t... [blog posts] [politics]

December 8, 8AM

Yesterday, I received a Facebook direct message telling me that I was a Jew who should get into the gas chamber. Normally I just block and delete such things, but this one was so flagrant that I felt I had to report it. This morning, I got a message tel... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd] [Technology]

December 2, 6AM

During his eight years in office, Obama deported a record number of immigrants, which is traditionally a Republican thing to do. He can’t openly take credit for it, because it would alienate his base — and if he tried, Republican voters litera... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

November 30, 2PM

[The following is the English transcript of an interview that will appear in Portuguese translation in a special issue of the IHU Online Review on Agamben, published by Instituto Humanitas Unisinos in Porto Allegre, Brazil. The questions were provided by ... [Agamben] [blog posts] [Interviews]

8AM

I thought that Trump’s seizure of the presidency would put an end to hypocrisy critiques, but liberals are still reaching for the same tired “point and laugh” gotchas. One that came across my Facebook feed today points out that conserva... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

5AM

Monique Rooney arranged a roundtable in the most recent issue of Australian Humanities Review around an essay of mine entitled “What is the Western canon good for?” Nina Power and other luminaries have graciously provided responses.Filed unde... [blog posts] [Plato-to-NATO]

November 28, 6AM

Michael Haneke’s film Funny Games portrays a bourgeois family that is gradually destroyed by two anonymous men with an appetite for cruelty. In the face of these destructive nihilists, all the victims’ instincts — negotiation, compromis... [blog posts] [film] [politics]

November 26, 8AM

A lot of stupid things have been said about the Electoral College since it apparently handed Trump the presidency. Much of it is in the vein of Federalist Papers fan-fiction, as in an article that is so stupid that I refuse to link it, which argues that ... [blog posts] [politics]

November 23, 7AM

I was very saddened to learn of the death of Scott Erik Kaufman. It is shocking to lose such a giant among bloggers at such a young age. Everyone who participated in the often tumultuous debates in the early days of academic blogging will remember him a... [in memoriam]

November 22, 8AM

At New APPS, Gordon Hull has a good response to my post on Trump and neoliberalism, where he argues that Trump can be construed as broadly neoliberal due to his emphasis on branding and competition. There is nothing in the post that I would strongly disp... [neoliberalism]

November 18, 2PM

In Australia and New Zealand, I was often asked after my lectures whether I thought Trump was a neoliberal. I answered that since neoliberalism is a specific set of ideas, it was unlikely to be within Trump’s grasp. Then, on a more serious note, I s... [blog posts] [fascism] [neoliberalism]

November 17, 3PM

I have a tendency to read the New Testament, and especially Paul, against the later Christian tradition — for instance, in my post yesterday distinguishing between the Protestant Paul and the “real” Paul. My teaching this semester, thoug... [apocalyptic] [augustine] [Dante] [Saint Paul] [St. Paul]

November 15, 4PM

I’ve got Romans on my mind, specifically 1:17 — “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘The one who is righteous will live by faith'” (NRSV translation; Greek text: δικαιο... [apocalyptic] [blog posts] [Justice] [New Testament] [St. Paul] [translation]

3PM

A quote from the first page of Jodi Dean’s Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies (2009): The end of the Bush administration and the crisis in capitalism confronting the world economy are opportunities not simply for reflecting on the bankruptcy o... [blog posts] [Jodi Dean]

November 14, 3PM

In my initial reflections on the election result, I said that I felt ashamed. I was not the only one — anecdotally, that word showed up a lot in people’s gut reaction. In some ways, it’s a strange thing to say, especially when we look ... [blog posts] [politics] [politics of the absurd] [Psychoanalysis]

November 12, 9AM

A lot has been written about evangelical support for Trump, including this excellent piece by Hollis Phelps. I share Phelps’s cynical view of the leadership, but for many everyday evangelicals, the picture is not so stark. They are not political n... [blog posts] [Christian Theology] [politics]

November 11, 5AM

My parents are good people. They are honest, they work hard, they are generous. My dad makes friends everywhere he goes. My mom went to college late in life to become a teacher specifically so that she could help underprivileged black students. And bo... [blog posts] [family values]

November 10, 7AM

This post is a thought experiment and a hypothetical. I am not recommending any particular course of action or way of thinking about the disaster that has befallen us. I want to use Schmitt as a lens for a couple reasons. First, even more than the theory ... [apocalyptic] [Carl Schmitt]

November 9, 5AM

I am going to write some things about my reaction to this disaster. I don’t think they will do any concrete good. I don’t intend for them to convince anyone to do or think anything. It’s just that writing is all I know how to do. I c... [apocalyptic]

November 2, 3PM

This afternoon, Chris Hayes — whom I’ve always had pleasant interactions with, who is obviously really smart, who does good work in pushing for genuine policy debate in the media, etc., etc. — tweeted the following: The American supporte... [blog posts] [politics]

October 28, 2PM

The Qur’an makes high claims for its clarity and internal consistency, and as I have spent the week reacquainting myself with it in class, I am coming to a fresh appreciation of how radically focused it is. Calvin claims that the Bible is never tell... [blog posts] [Islam] [Reading the Qur'an]

2AM

My first introduction to serious theology was a graduate seminar on the Trinity with Craig Keen. In retrospect, it was a turning point in my life. Previously I had assumed that I would be heading to graduate school in literature, but I found that academic... [God and Difference book event]

October 25, 2PM

In 2009, Obama entered office with an unmistakable mandate and control of both houses of Congress — including a rare fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate — and the Democrats wasted it. They pushed through a stimulus package that barely off... [blog posts] [neoliberalism] [politics]

October 24, 5AM

Many years ago, I argued that one of the biggest problems facing conservatism is how baroque and complicated its “universe” had become. Its fans are expected to have immediate recall of obscure concepts and plot points, while tolerating obviou... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

October 22, 5AM

Radical Protestant separatists have rocked the European Union, voting to leave the Federation that had tenuously unified Christians belonging to opposed sects. Britain, which adheres to its own idiosyncratic version of the Protestant sect, had only rece... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

October 20, 8AM

It often happens to me that when I begin using a term ironically, it eventually works its way into my sincere vocabulary. That is exactly what happened with “robust,” which I initially intended as mockery of Radical Orthodoxy’s gold sta... [politics of the absurd] [Radical Orthodoxy] [The Prince of This World (book)]

October 14, 1PM

Today we discussed Romans in class, and I described the traditional reading somewhat uncharitably: there’s something wrong with us such that it’s impossible for us to do the right thing, but if we believe in a certain story, then it’s al... [apocalyptic] [blog posts] [Christian Theology] [Saint Paul] [St. Paul] [teaching]

October 13, 8AM

People have a lot to say about Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize in Literature. I have polled my Twitter followers, and so far they believe that I should either not form an opinion on this issue or, if I do, I should keep that opinion a secret. So I am goin... [blog posts]

October 12, 2PM

“The true life is absent.” But we are in a simulation. Everything about our universe, rightly understood, cries out: I was created! Finitude, imperfection, the gaps in the fullness of reality — all point toward a fuller, more perfect ... [blog posts] [Christian Theology] [politics of the absurd]

October 10, 7AM

It has often been remarked that Trump has brought a “reality TV” feel to this election cycle. What is less noted is that he is on both sides of the reality show equation — for his supporters, he is Simon Cowell, while for his opponents,... [politics of the absurd] [The Prince of This World (book)]

October 9, 10AM

The Aeneid is a book about fate. This is a different kind of fate from what we see in Greek mythology, which is as inexorable as it is meaningless. Here the situation is just the reverse. First, there is a clear meaning, an arc of history tending towar... [literature] [blog posts] [Virgil]

October 6, 12 PM

It is my considered opinion after 36 years of experience that Thanksgiving and Christmas are too close together. There are many reasons to complain about the timing of the two holidays — the burden of traveling twice during the most dangerous and d... [blog posts] [life of the mind] [The lighter side of AUFS]

October 3, 2PM

Is the “bio” of biopolitics precisely bios in the Agambenian sense? The common reading (at least as far as I can tell) would align it more with zoè — and one could even read the Agamben of Homo Sacer in that way. If we take The Use of... [Agamben] [Foucault]

September 30, 1PM

As most readers of this blog know, I teach at a school in the Great Books tradition. While Shimer is more liberal and open to contemporary sources than most schools in that tradition, our curriculum remains pretty firmly within the classics of the “... [blog posts] [Plato-to-NATO] [teaching]

September 29, 6AM

Early this summer, I received an unsolicited review copy of Dotan Leshem’s Origins of Neoliberalism: Modeling the Economy from Jesus to Foucault — true proof of divine providence, given that I was working on a project connecting political theo... [Agamben] [Book Reviews] [Economics] [Mondzain] [neoliberalism] [Political Theology]

September 28, 6AM

Everyone knows that according to Aristotle, there is a sphere called “the political.” It is dependent upon but fully distinct from the economic, which is the realm of necessity and slavery. By contrast, the political represents the realm of ... [aristotle]

September 27, 1PM

[This represents the final version of the talk on the devil and neoliberalism that I gave at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and subsequently at various universities in Australia and New Zealand as well as the Melbourne School of Continental Phil... [blog posts] [neoliberalism] [Political Theology] [Schmitt] [The Prince of This World (book)]

September 26, 5AM

Jay Rosen has written a summary of the reasons that the traditional model of campaign reporting has broken down. The old approach envisioned the political process as involving “two similar parties with warring philosophies that compete for tactical ... [apocalyptic] [Carl Schmitt] [politics]

September 25, 5AM

In the field of theology, one sometimes finds a job listing that requires the successful applicant to sign a statement of faith. I am most likely past the point of applying for such jobs, so it is safe for me to reveal that I have always maintained that,... [ethics] [politics]

September 24, 12 PM

I’m never sure what to do with an article like this one by David Bromwich in LRB. The discussion of free speech on campus seems to carry with it a series of rhetorical traps, as though it is impossible to criticize the phenomenon in question (“... [politics of the absurd]

September 22, 1PM

Kevin Drum has posted what he believes is an “overwhelming” progressive case for Hillary Clinton. (Or at least that’s what the headline says — in the actual text of the post it is downgraded to a “liberal” case.) The ... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

September 13, 4PM

The Girlfriend and I are at different points in Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, having both finished vol. 4 of Knausgaard’s My Struggle. I’m sure we are hardly the only couple to both be making our way through these two Major International... [Ferrante] [Knausgaard] [literature] [Television]

September 9, 6AM

I feel unmoored. Only in the last few days did I turn the corner of having been home from Australia and New Zealand as long as I had been there. The first week we were back, we had to deal with our dog Max’s sudden illness, which caused him to act v... [blog posts]

September 8, 11AM

In his excellent piece commemorating the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, Gerry Canavan says, “The Idea of Star Trek is that the future might be good; we might be good; we might find a way, somewhere far beyond the stars, to become our better selves.&... [blog posts] [Star Trek]

September 6, 3PM

I grow weary of the vague gestures about how the Clinton Foundation “raises questions” about Hillary Clinton and the influences she is subject to. It’s not that the concerns are unwarranted, though they often seem to be exaggerated R... [blog posts] [neoliberalism] [politics of the absurd]

September 1, 10AM

A Facebook friend asked how I go about taking reading notes, and I thought it might be worth a blog post. At a certain point in my academic career, I noticed that I was wasting a lot of time flipping futilely through books looking for the quote I just kn... [blog posts] [Writing]

August 30, 5AM

We never encounter customer service directly, only its representatives. Every quest after customer service is a Kafkaesque ordeal, in the purest possible sense. We are all the man from the country, waiting at the threshold to customer service without ev... [blog posts] [Kafka] [messianism]

August 27, 6AM

Everyone is so sure. Everyone has the formula. We already know, apparently, how to overcome racism. There is already a fully articulated, correct way to talk about transgender people and their experience. Solutions to complex problems like dealing wit... [politics]

August 23, 6AM

In lectures and conference presentations, I often have occasion to mention the ransom theory of atonement, or the crucifixion more generally. As such, I am very, very frequently asked how my work relates to Girard. And my answer is: it doesn’t, be... [Girard] [neccesary snark]

August 22, 1PM

I have been rereading Mondzain’s Image, Icon, and Economy lately, and the topic of the relationship between this book and Agamben’s The Kingdom and the Glory came to mind. I already wrote several years ago about how I thought that Mondzain ac... [Agamben] [Mondzain]

August 19, 5AM

I have had my first faculty meeting of the semester, and classes start on Monday — in short, summer vacation is officially over. This semester, I am teaching the senior capstone course, which meets four days a week (syllabus), and we will have some... [to-do lists]

August 15, 4AM

Donald Trump’s latest “gaffe” is his claim that Obama is the founder of ISIS. Now even Trump seems to admit — to the extent compatible with his “never back down” policy — that this is a hyperbolic way of saying t... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

August 9, 2PM

This is the second-to-last day of my Australia-New Zealand trip, and the day of my final lecture on the theme of “Neoliberalism’s Demons.” I would like to repeat my thanks to Monique Rooney (of Australian Catholic University) for the in... [blog posts] [The lighter side of AUFS] [The Prince of This World (book)]

August 7, 3PM

Tomorrow, I will be giving a masterclass (PDF flyer) at the University of Auckland, where we will be discussing my Crisis and Critique article (PDF) as well as a paper I gave at a conference earlier this year at Loyola University Chicago, entitled “... [Agamben] [blog posts] [Conference Papers]

August 6, 2PM

What bothers me most about the Zizek trans article is the sheer laziness. I do think there’s a point buried in there that’s worth considering (the gender binary doesn’t “work” for anyone — though that’s a point th... [blog posts] [Zizek]

July 31, 11PM

When I was working on my conclusion for the edited volume Agamben’s Philosophical Lineage, which I have entitled “Agamben as a Reader of Agamben,” I had frequent reference to the order of publication of Agamben’s works, which somet... [Agamben] [blog posts]

July 29, 2PM

While I was in Canberra, I was interviewed by the local public radio affiliate, ABC 666, about my work on the devil, and Fergus Armstrong graciously extracted an mp3 from the streaming audio file. Thanks to him, to Monique Rooney for helping to set it up... [Audio] [The Prince of This World (book)]

12 AM

I will be speaking under the auspices of the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy on Wednesday, August 3; details here. This is in addition to my talk at Australian Catholic University on Tuesday. The rest of my schedule can be found here.Filed un... [blog posts] [Lectures] [The Prince of This World (book)]

July 26, 2PM

I just finished reading Agamben’s Che cos’è la filosofia? (What is Philosophy?), a beautiful and elegant book both conceptually and as a physical artifact. When I ordered the book, I threw in one of his little pamphlet books, just out of cur... [Agamben] [Books] [poetry]

July 22, 8PM

The primary lecture I’m giving during my tour of the ends of the earth, “Neoliberalism’s Demons,” builds on my project in The Prince of This World. In that (still frustratingly forthcoming) book, I establish connections between ke... [Academia] [neoliberalism] [The Prince of This World (book)]

July 20, 6PM

In American poltical discourse, legitimate opinions are represented by two different, but equally important groups: Democrats and Republicans. Political debate, as it is commonly understood, just is the dispute between the two parties. This is why it is... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

July 14, 7AM

The history of every hitherto existing society is the history of attempting to do away with the irreducibility of human decision-making. From the appeal to the inscrutable demands of the gods to the pious submission to the logic of the market, human bein... [ecology] [Hegel]

July 13, 12 PM

When it comes to real, tangible effects, human lives matter because other human beings say they matter. We can imagine that all lives matter from God’s perspective, but here below, mattering takes recognition. Mattering is not a given, but a histo... [politics of the absurd] [Race]

July 11, 7AM

Periodically, one reads of an evangelical leader or Republican legislator who believes that the Bible has a great deal to say about America. Yet biblical scholars are buzz-killingly insistent that all of the biblical writings were composed during a time ... [Mormonism] [politics of the absurd]

July 10, 8AM

I have never been very close with my family as an adult, but I am increasingly afraid to call home. Within the last couple weeks, my mother and grandmother both, despite having serious misgivings about Trump, have suggested that the alternative might be w... [family values]

July 8, 7AM

Hegel once said, “Reading the morning newspaper is the realist’s morning prayer. One orients one’s attitude toward the world either by God or by what the world is. The former gives as much security as the latter, in that one knows how on... [blog posts] [Social networks]

July 6, 5AM

This summer, I was invited to come speak at Australian National University by Monique Rooney. Subsequently, I was able to schedule several other talks in Australia and New Zealand, adding up to a three-week speaking tour that will double as a vacation, wi... [Academia] [Lectures] [The Prince of This World (book)]

July 5, 9AM

To commemorate the completion or “abandonment” of the Homo Sacer series now that The Use of Bodies has been published, the Stanford University Press blog is running a blog event. My introductory post has been published, and this event schedul... [Agamben] [blog posts]

July 2, 5AM

Hillary Clinton’s ridiculous proposal to forgive student loans for certain entrepreneurs is ridiculous. It is also deeply revealing of the mainstream Democratic approach to policy — not just because it’s a classic Clinton-style micropol... [blog posts] [neoliberalism] [politics]

June 30, 5AM

Carlo Salzani and I have officially been offered a contract with Edinburgh University Press for our edited volume on Agamben’s sources, which is now entitled Agamben’s Philosophical Lineage. We’ve put together an impressive group of cont... [Agamben]

June 27, 6AM

Often, The Girlfriend and I are deadlocked on a decision where neither of us expresses a strong preference — for instance, which restaurant to go to. In those situations, we each pick a side and play rock-paper-scissors. Then, once the decision is... [blog posts] [neoliberalism] [politics]

June 23, 5AM

A sit-in on the House floor initially seems like the most un-Hillary thing conceivable — a point that was only underscored when Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren put in an appearance. Yet at least one of the measures they’re fighting for fi... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

June 22, 8AM

To assume that the United Kingdom would leave the European Union in order to escape from neoliberalism is as naive and misleading as assuming that North Korea has historically kept its distance from the USSR and China as a way of escaping Communism. In bo... [Communism] [neoliberalism]

June 15, 7AM

Nothing could more vividly illustrate the fact that Hillary Clinton is the candidate of the status quo than her pathetic rejoinder to Trump’s “Make America great again” slogan: “America is already great.” The system is fine,... [politics of the absurd]

June 14, 8AM

The katechōn has spoken: in response to the Orlando attacks, Hillary Clinton believes we need to return to “the spirit of 9/12.” I’m glad she gave us a day to reflect, because the spirit of 9/11, as I remember it, was one of confusion ... [eschatology] [politics of the absurd]

June 13, 11AM

Hebrew poetry relies on conceptual rather than auditory rhymes, with line pairs expressing similar ideas. To pick an example at random: “Save me O God, by your name, / and vindicate me by your might” (Psalm 54:1). While I was correcting proo... [blog posts] [Hebrew Scripture]

May 30, 12 PM

[Note: Bruce Rosenstock posted these responses as comments on my link to a a recent lecture by Zizek; with his permission, I am collecting them here for your enjoyment.] Commenting as I read the lecture: Zizek complains about having his tics analyzed by B... [Zizek]

7AM

Dismissal is a fundamental feature of the intellectual life. We are all finite and limited, both in time and in mental capacity, and so it will inevitably happen that we feel compelled to dismiss some cultural product or other — indeed, entire fiel... [blog posts]

May 28, 5AM

Summer has finally begun, as we had our last faculty meeting yesterday. My previous two summers were almost insanely productive. This year, as I am in a lull waiting for The Prince of This World — by the way, did you know it’s available for ... [to-do lists]

May 26, 6AM

The iron-clad rule of all punditry and freelance social media opinionating: everything that happens must be construed such that it helps Trump. Do people protest his events? The silent majority hates protestors, so it helps Trump. Do people not protest h... [blog posts]

May 25, 7AM

Was online discussion better when blogs were in their heyday? I don’t think I have rose-colored spectacles, but it seems to me there was at least more room for productive discussion. There was a greater chance that a commenter had been following you... [blog posts]

May 23, 5AM

Slavoj Zizek needs to stop writing political columns. He is not good at it. Some readers are still making heroic efforts to construe his political columns positively, but if you need a supporter to write a 2000+ word defense of your pithy political inte... [blog posts] [Zizek]

May 18, 1PM

It’s almost too obvious to say that the Homeric epics are misogynist. What strikes me is how systematically misogynist they are, how they have to keep repressing a feminine element that always threatens to resurface. Sometimes it does, most dramatic... [Gender] [poetry]

7AM

In the acknowledgments to the collection The Birth to Presence, Nancy confesses that he has not always found it possible to provide bibliographical references for his quotations: “Some readers may take this to be oversight or a blameworthy hastiness... [blog posts] [Hegel] [Nancy]

May 16, 8AM

I recently came across this bibliography of neoliberalism assembled by William Davies. My question for you is whether you believe there are any significant gaps in it. Please, please leave your comments here rather than or in addition to Facebook or Twi... [blog posts]

May 15, 6AM

I’ve noticed that among progressive Christians, “love” works as a kind of rhetorical trump card. Christians are supposed to “love,” hence you should be nice to people, hence you should be a liberal — or something to th... [blog posts] [Christian Theology]

May 13, 7AM

When people think of “demonization,” they usually think of the simple act of painting someone as evil and irredeemable. My research for The Prince of This World convinced me that a further step is necessary if you really want to turn someone i... [politics of the absurd] [The Prince of This World (book)]

May 12, 6AM

[Note: This post is prompted by nothing in particular. I just want to have it on hand so as to save me some typing when the next person cleverly diagnoses the hypocrisy of a Marxist who participates in capitalism.] The Marxist critique of capitalism is th... [Cranky Beyond My Years] [Marxism]

May 11, 4PM

It seems increasingly likely that Bernie Sanders will fail to win the Democratic nomination. Even if he does manage to beat the odds, however, his entire candidacy is based on the premise that our system is broken. Hence, whether or not he wins the nomi... [politics of the absurd]

May 10, 3PM

Radiohead belong to ‘rock,’ and if rock has a characteristic subject, as country music’s is small pleasures in hard times (getting by), and rap’s is success in competition (getting over), that subject must be freedom from constraint (getti... [Agamben] [blog posts] [music]

7AM

What if it turns out that no professional group is closely aligned with the distribution of political affiliations in the general public? What if that differential distribution were in part driven by values inherent in the respective professions themselve... [Academic freedom] [politics of the absurd]

May 9, 10AM

There is a piece by a well-known New York Times columnist alleging that universities are somehow discriminatory toward conservative views. This is one of the most boring cliches in all of higher ed reporting, not least because it depends on gerrymanderin... [Academic freedom] [politics of the absurd]

May 6, 5AM

For several popular styles of political analysis, racism is always, by definition, a red herring. For doctrinaire class-first, class-only Marxism, racism can only ever be an epiphenomenon or an ideological distraction, and in more mainstream liberal disc... [blog posts] [politics] [Race]

May 4, 10AM

I have no insights into Trump. Whatever the sources of his appeal, I am utterly blind to them. Whatever he’s offering, I don’t even have receptors for. Most of my family is conservative, but they all hate him. My inside informants into the con... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

April 29, 12 PM

The Prince of This World has appeared on the SUP website and is available for pre-order. I think we can all agree that the cover design that the crack team of Stanford designers came up with is amazing. Here is the back cover description: The most endur... [The Prince of This World (book)]

April 27, 9AM

Tomorrow I will be giving a talk at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville entitled “The Devil and Neoliberalism: A Discussion of Free Will.” Details here. Filed under: blog posts, lectures [blog posts] [Lectures]

April 26, 6PM

One of the preoccupations of political theology is the relationship between medieval Christianity and secular modernity. The first question to ask is whether they are continuous with each other. For some theorists, there is no continuity — the en... [blog posts] [Political Theology]

3AM

The inaugural issue of the new journal Continental Thought and Theory, edited by Mike Grimshaw and Cindy Zeiher, is now available, featuring reflections on intellectual freedom from a range of thinkers, including Altizer, Steven Shakespeare, Monique Roone... [Academia]

April 25, 4AM

The amount of tone-policing and other forms of meta-discourse surrounding the Democratic primary is overwhelming. Everyone feels patronized, insulted, inundated with negative information about their candidate and apologetics for the opponent. Every day br... [politics of the absurd]

April 21, 5AM

Next year, I’m going to be teaching Shimer’s senior capstone, which is purportedly an overview of the broad Western tradition (ancient and medieval in the fall, modern in the spring) with an emphasis on the concept of “history.” T... [Shimer College] [teaching]

April 19, 6AM

As I’ve often mentioned, I’ve spent the last year working through Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit in an independent study with a student who is a committed Marxist and thus very highly motivated to understand Hegel. To weigh in on a rec... [Hegel] [teaching]

April 13, 11AM

[Explanatory note: The editorial board of AUFS sent the following letter privately to the editors of the Political Theology journal. We are now posting it publicly in the hope of spurring action.] Dear editors, As scholars working in the field of politic... [blog posts]

April 10, 6AM

There’s something about “the classics” that seems to appeal to working class aspirations. When lending libraries were established, records tend to show that working class people mainly checked out the classics. In the Soviet Union, the R... [blog posts] [reading] [teaching] [the last analysis]

April 7, 6AM

This article by Zizek on the Panama Papers seems to be free of the kind of offensive comments that have characterized his commentary on the refugee crisis. There are many things one could say about it, but what stands out to me are the opening remarks ab... [blog posts] [Zizek]

April 5, 5AM

I find it interesting that the dominant mode of critiquing Zizek’s recent political writings from the left is simply to post quotations from him, with dismissive comments. It’s taken to be self-evident what’s wrong with his statements &#... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd] [Zizek]

April 1, 5AM

Today is the deadline for program units of the American Academy of Religion to accept or reject all proposals. As someone who has made many proposals over the years, I know that the process appears opaque. I am currently serving as co-chair of the Theol... [Academia]

March 25, 5AM

Bruce Rauner was elected governor of Illinois in a low-turnout off-year election in 2015, against the uninspiring Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn, who had served as Blagojevich’s running mate and had barely squeaked out a win against a previous Repub... [blog posts]

March 24, 6AM

Seemingly every day brings us another example of Republican state legislators and governors trampling on the rights of their citizens. Today especially, with passage of a despicable anti-trans law in North Carolina, I am seeing a lot of liberals speaking... [politics of the absurd]

March 22, 8AM

If Trump is a fascist, if he’s a potential American Hitler, how do we respond when family members support him? For instance, I’ve learned that a relative of mine, one I was close to when I was growing up, is a Trump supporter. I’ve also ... [family values] [politics of the absurd]

March 21, 5AM

It’s that time of year again — the time when people start getting offers for the increasingly rare TT jobs. This morning I read some great reflections on Facebook from James Stanescu and Eileen Joy about this dubious season, which I can’... [Academia]

March 18, 4AM

Mike Grimshaw passes along the following announcement: On the 50th anniversary of the famous TIME Magazine “Is God Dead?” cover, Radical Theologies has published This Silence Must Now Speak’: Letters of Thomas J.J. Altizer 1995-2015, edited ... [Altizer]

March 16, 8AM

I had big plans, which have not come to fruition. Rather than writing the first article mentioned in my previous post, I spent much of my time debating about whether to write it, ultimately deciding not to. My goal of writing a conference paper “a... [The lighter side of AUFS]

March 13, 9AM

There was a time, not so long ago, when Neil deGrasse Tyson was univerally beloved as an icon of science and rationality. He made the rebooted Cosmos an unlikely hit, and his take-downs of scientific ignorance on Twitter were staples of virtually everyon... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd] [Social networks]

March 10, 8AM

If a college education is important, both for individual life opportunities and for society as a whole, then it deserves every student’s full attention. School work is work. It’s a full-time job. One of the biggest flaws in our current higher ... [Academia] [blog posts]

6AM

  When politicians propose tax cuts, they often claim that they want people to be able to keep more of what they earn. I agree, with one stipulation: that we distinguish between “earning” and “being in a position to effectively dema... [Economics]

March 8, 2PM

My heavily left-wing Twitter feed has seized upon a tweet from some obscure right-wing account that made the bonehead error of saying that Tammy Duckworth failed to “stand up” for veterans and then deleted it. By all accounts, they aren’... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

March 3, 3PM

There’s a lot that’s interesting about Robert Ballmer’s recent lamentation over evangelical support for Trump, but I think his argument is hamstrung by his equivocation on the term “evangelical.” The bad evangelicals we know ... [blog posts] [family values] [fascism]

March 1, 8AM

Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” relentlessly attack the notion of any form of necessary social progress, whether liberal or Marxist. In the current election cycle, we may be witnessing a fresh “now of legibility&#... [Benjamin] [politics of the absurd]

February 29, 5AM

Last night we went to see 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is part of the 70mm Film Festival at the Music Box. I’ve seen the film several times before, but never on the big screen. One thing that struck me was how much more patient I was with the pacing... [film]

February 25, 7AM

This article on the Russian Revolution by Lars T. Lih makes for interesting reading. He argues that leftist and liberal critics of the Soviet Union alike have over-emphasized doctrinal or ideological disputes, which were in fact meant to provide post-hoc ... [Communism] [Lenin] [tragedy]

February 24, 6AM

As regular readers of this blog may recall, I have been doing a tutorial on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit with a Shimer student all this school year. Last semester, we got up to the end of Reason, and now we’re working our way through Spiri... [Hegel]

February 23, 8AM

A lot of people are rightly panicking about the prospect of a Trump presidency. I am one of them, more often than not. In this discourse, Trump is an absolute evil that must be stopped no matter what the cost, even if that means holding your nose and voti... [Nietzsche] [politics]

7AM

SCTIW Review has published my review of Roberto Esposito’s Two: The Machine of Political Theology and the Place of Thought. I highly recommend that you follow my example and write a review for them as well (list of books available for review). Fil... [blog posts]

February 21, 7AM

Okay, so here’s how I see things playing out. The Republicans are going to start playing hardball against Trump, and he’ll announce a third-party candidacy in a fit of pique. Shortly thereafter, Sanders will get robbed in some obvious and into... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

February 19, 7AM

I recently declared that I was planning to turn my comparison of Coates and Augustine into a proper article. A few days ago, however, I received an e-mail from a reader who went to hear Coates speak and had the opportunity to ask him if he had read August... [augustine] [blog posts] [Coates]

February 18, 7AM

I am an avid internet user. It is difficult to imagine my life without it. I owe many of my closest friends to the internet, along with many of my professional successes. As a force in my individual life, I’m willing to call it a net good. On the sy... [blog posts] [Technology]

5AM

A few months ago, I asked Facebook whether anyone wanted me to come talk about the devil and neoliberalism, and Monique Rooney responded that she would like to bring me to her institution — Australian National University. That visit is now evolving... [blog posts]

February 16, 4PM

This Jezebel piece by Jia Tolentino on David Bowie’s sexual encounters with underage girls is a fully considered, nuanced discussion of a complex issue. On the one hand, Tolentino takes Lori Maddox’s account of the incident seriously and respe... [Academia] [Agamben] [blog posts] [ethics] [feminism]

6AM

When this month’s Harper’s arrived, something sent a shiver down my spine — a blurb promising (threatening?) a discussion of safe spaces and campus protest. National magazines, even ostensibly lefty ones, seem incapable of addressing th... [Academia]

February 9, 12 PM

8AM

I have frequently been called upon to teach the intro to fine arts course at Shimer College. It is a challenging course because it falls outside the “read books and talk about them” model that professors and students alike are most comfortable... [music] [Shimer College] [teaching]

February 8, 4PM

Having just finished a major project, this semester I’m using my writing time for smaller things. I’m working on expanding my theory on Coates and Augustine into a proper academic article, which I hope to be in a position to submit to a journ... [The lighter side of AUFS]

February 2, 8AM

You all have convinced me that my thought experiment yesterday was excessively pessimistic. It’s unlikely that Sanders could both win the nomination and enter office with the Democratic establishment seething with resentment against him (the role o... [blog posts] [politics]

February 1, 8AM

Let’s grant from the outset that both Clinton and Sanders are “electable,” particularly against the crew of fools and mediocrities that the Republicans have to choose from. Let’s even further stipulate that either one of them woul... [politics] [politics of the absurd]

January 28, 7AM

In the Poetics, Aristotle devotes significant attention to two modes of storytelling: tragedy and epic. The former is a self-contained, naturally unfolding story, which Aristotle views as the best form of narrative art. He is so fascinated with tragedy,... [aristotle] [Television]

January 26, 7AM

I’ll vote for literally any Democrat in the general election, up to and including Satan himself or even Rahm Emanuel. But I just don’t see the benefit of “strategically” voting for a candidate I disagree with in the primary, due t... [politics]

January 24, 6AM

It is often observed that the left forms circular firing squads — incidents where internecine struggle does serious damage to the cause. When this issue comes up, the point is most frequently to blame some other individual or group for starting a ci... [politics]

January 21, 12 PM

Why We Love Sociopaths has been translated into Spanish. I like the cover image, complete with Walter White and his gas mask. Extract and TOC available at the link — it’s a strange sensation to read my own words in translation, after having sp... [translation] [Why We Love Sociopaths (the book)]

January 18, 5AM

Amaryah alerts us that Vincent Lloyd has a great piece up for Martin Luther King Day. An excerpt: Where are those powerful resources found? I do not think that we should turn to King’s late work to find a more “radical” leader. While such a turn h... [blog posts] [Martin Luther King Jr.]

January 16, 8AM

We often hear that “political correctness” is to blame for the left’s failures. Though the fundamental message of the left is presumed to be automatically popular in itself, that appeal is obscured by language policing and the narrowly ... [politics of the absurd]

January 15, 8AM

Every kind of indirect communication, which is what satire is, presupposes some kind of in-group. It could be a preestablished in-group, as with an “inside joke,” or it could be an in-group by anticipation (which is what seems to be going on i... [politics of the absurd]

January 12, 6AM

Filed under: Awkwardness (the book), lectures [Awkwardness (the book)] [Lectures]

January 8, 4PM

In recent weeks, I have become increasingly fascinated by Star Wars prequel contrarianism — the growing body of literature arguing that, far from being the boring disasters most believe them to be, the prequels are well-wrought pieces of art. Truly ... [blog posts]

January 6, 6AM

My hypothesis is that Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me is in critical dialogue with Augustine’s Confessions. Coates does not make this dialogue explicit, but it becomes evident through a series of structural parallels. Here are som... [augustine] [Coates]

January 4, 6AM

In my opinion, Tarantino’s greatest gift as a screenwriter is his ability to generate tension by crafting genuinely open-ended set pieces. For me, the locus classicus is the scene in True Romance where James Gandalfini is interrogating and torturin... [film]

January 3, 6AM

One of the most striking things to me about The Leftovers is the music. The signature gesture of the soundtrack is to deploy a “highbrow” version of a pop song — for instance, the piano arrangement of “Where is My Mind” or L... [music] [Television]

December 29, 6AM

It was a slow year for AUFS, and I primarily blame myself. Between writing, translation, and new administrative duties, I had little energy left for blogging, and two waves of right-wing harrassment (for details of which you can look here, here, and here... [blog posts] [year-end wrap-up posts]

December 23, 6AM

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of a prequel, and it’s clear to me that it’s a genre with deep roots. Oedipus at Colonus is a self-conscious prequel to Antigone, for instance, supplying interesting background to Antigo... [Hebrew Scripture]

December 18, 7AM

One thing that makes Agamben’s Homo Sacer so difficult to grasp is that the status of the claims is very unclear. On the one hand, you have the close analysis of this particular legal figure from ancient Rome, and on the other, you have a whole ran... [Agamben]

December 16, 6AM

This was a big year for wrapping up projects. Early on, Creepiness came out — and though I hadn’t done any actual work on it this year, it marked the conclusion of the pop culture project I’d been doing “on the side” (despit... [year-end wrap-up posts]

December 15, 4PM

Earlier today I wrote a post about trigger warnings. While it did reflect my actual views on the topic, I was convinced by my co-bloggers that it was not a helpful intervention, in that it ran the risk of feeding into certain student-scapegoating discour... [blog posts]

8AM

One of the biggest challenges for neoliberal public policy is creating artificial scarcity. Competitive markets are regarded by neoliberal policymakers as the ultimate horizon of human meaning and freedom, and creating markets requires creating scarcity ... [ecology] [neoliberalism]

5AM

It is completely reasonable to request a heads-up when a course will be dealing with violent or disturbing material. Such warnings already exist elsewhere, such as movie or TV ratings. And it is reasonable for faculty members to attempt to accomodate stud... [Academia]

December 4, 7AM

As I work on final revisions on The Prince of This World, I’ve reflected on the fact that last year at this time, I was just wrapping up my course “Theology and Politics of the Devil” at Chicago Theological Seminary and beginning plannin... [The Prince of This World (book)]

December 3, 11AM

What form of political organizing, if any, stands the best chance of proving effective against the phenomenon of mass shootings? Filed under: blog posts [blog posts]

December 1, 7AM

For the past several months, my ultimate horizon has been the winter break, when I will complete revisions on The Prince of This World and submit the final manuscript. There are presumably things that will happen afterward, but it’s difficult for m... [The lighter side of AUFS] [The Prince of This World (book)]

November 30, 10AM

I’ve continued to work on the Schubert piano concerto I described in one of the least-read AUFS posts in history. I feel pretty confident on the first movement, though there are still places that need work. Now most of my efforts are directed at the... [music]

November 26, 8AM

I am a veteran of online discussions about Žižek. My constant refrain, for over a decade now, has been that Žižek’s critics have not actually understood what he is saying. And until that can be clarified, I refuse to enter into a discussion of... [politics of the absurd] [Zizek]

November 25, 8AM

Žižek’s recent remarks on the refugee crisis have provoked considerable ire in online leftist circles. For some, this article is the final proof that Žižek is a racist and quasi- (or not so quasi-) fascist. Though many people I respect share this vi... [politics of the absurd] [Zizek]

November 24, 6AM

In the middle section of the Phenomenology of Spirit‘s chapter on “Reason,” entitled “The Actualization of Rational Self-Consciousness Through Its Own Actuality,” Hegel makes a strange methodological choice. On our journey t... [blog posts] [Hegel]

November 19, 9AM

In a less racist country, the reasoning would go like this: the people fleeing ISIS from Syria hate ISIS more than we possibly could, more even than the French could. Attacks on the scale of the tragedy in Paris are routine in ISIS-controlled areas, resul... [blog posts]

November 18, 5AM

Christianity promotes an extremely demanding ethic in principle. The problem is that it also provides unlimited, unconditional forgiveness for failing to live up to that ethic. The history of mainstream Christianity is the story of embracing the latter p... [blog posts] [Christian Theology] [ethics]

November 17, 6AM

My long-promised book on the devil will be published by Stanford University Press, under the title The Prince of This World: The Life and Legacy of the Devil. Details of the publication date, etc., have not been decided, but I do know that I’ll be s... [The Devil] [The Prince of This World (book)]

October 30, 7AM

The issue of the relative accessibility of humanities scholarship, the role of “theory” and its terminology, and the need to reach a broader audience have all been major areas of conversation within the humanities themselves. The heyday of &#... [Academia]

5AM

Yet another article on the scourge of opaque academic writing is making the rounds, and someone on Facebook got mad at me for being so dismissive of it. After all, surely I must admit that sometimes academic writing is needlessly complex and jargony? Ri... [Academia]

October 29, 6AM

This semester I’ve had ideal circumstances for teaching Hegel: a very motivated student and a one-on-one setting. My ultimate goal, however, would be to teach a proper course, and I imagine (based on my experience teaching Heidegger) that such a co... [blog posts]

October 27, 7AM

Questions that occur to me as the first half of my (hopefully) two-semester tutorial on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit winds through the wilds of “Observing Reason”: So far, I’ve noted that for Hegel, the “negative” c... [Hegel]
Questions that occur to me as the first half of my (hopefully) two-semester tutorial on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit winds through the wilds of “Observing Reason”: So far, I’ve noted that for Hegel, the “negative” c... [Hegel]

October 23, 6AM

There is a meme going around to the effect that Paul Ryan, the candidate for Speaker of the House, is demanding family time as a condition of taking the job, while meanwhile he opposes mandatory paid family leave for other workers. This is precisely the ... [politics of the absurd]
There is a meme going around to the effect that Paul Ryan, the candidate for Speaker of the House, is demanding family time as a condition of taking the job, while meanwhile he opposes mandatory paid family leave for other workers. This is precisely the ... [politics of the absurd]

October 21, 6AM

It’s one of George W. Bush’s most famous garbled quotes, but lately I’ve begun wondering if it was actually intended as a straightforward description of America’s long-term ambitions in the Middle East. By now, it’s clear to... [apocalyptic] [politics]
It’s one of George W. Bush’s most famous garbled quotes, but lately I’ve begun wondering if it was actually intended as a straightforward description of America’s long-term ambitions in the Middle East. By now, it’s clear to... [apocalyptic] [politics]

October 20, 10AM

Every time Blacks in America make a significant advance, there is a violent backlash. Emancipation and Reconstruction gave way to the KKK, lynching, and Jim Crow. Civil Rights was quickly followed by Nixon’s “Southern strategy” and the W... [politics] [Race]
Every time Blacks in America make a significant advance, there is a violent backlash. Emancipation and Reconstruction gave way to the KKK, lynching, and Jim Crow. Civil Rights was quickly followed by Nixon’s “Southern strategy” and the W... [politics] [Race]

October 16, 4AM

Last summer, I reviewed Mathew Abbott’s excellent book on Agamben, The Figure of This World. The one reservation that I expressed was over Abbott’s claim that Agamben’s goal is a world in which “everything is exceptional” &#... [Agamben]
Last summer, I reviewed Mathew Abbott’s excellent book on Agamben, The Figure of This World. The one reservation that I expressed was over Abbott’s claim that Agamben’s goal is a world in which “everything is exceptional” [n... [Agamben]

October 11, 6AM

In his prison writings, Bonhoeffer begins to radically rethink Christianity for a world that no longer has need of religious guidance — a “world come of age” where human beings take responsibility for their own problems with no need to a... [Bonhoeffer] [neoliberalism] [nihilism]
In his prison writings, Bonhoeffer begins to radically rethink Christianity for a world that no longer has need of religious guidance — a “world come of age” where human beings take responsibility for their own problems with no need to a... [Bonhoeffer] [neoliberalism] [nihilism]

October 10, 5AM

High ethical standards initially seem to be a good thing. Even if we cannot always live up to them, there is value in recognizing and enshrining an ideal. At the same time, ethical standards are not used solely as an object for aspiration. They are als... [ethics] [feminism] [politics] [Race]

October 6, 5AM

I’m given to understand that some technophilic strains of the left believe that Bitcoin is a liberatory technology, because it frees currency from the control of state and corporate interests. However, the price of this liberation, as far as I unde... [blog posts]

October 5, 3PM

I’ve been working through Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit in painstaking detail in a tutorial with a very motivated and long-suffering student this semester. This week, I started Heidegger’s Origin of the Work of Art in another class, a... [blog posts]

5AM

Mike Grimshaw and Cindy Zeiher have put together a new journal in collaboration with the Department of Digital Humanities at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand): Continental Thought and Theory. The first CFP is up currently. It all looks great w... [Academia]

October 4, 6AM

According to Hobbes, the state exists to save us from the dystopian state of nature, in which we are constantly vulnerable to interpersonal violence. We submit to the sovereign’s violence in the expectation that being subject to one possible source... [politics] [Race]

October 3, 6AM

After each of our increasingly routine mass shootings, there is a predictable exchange: liberals advocate gun control laws, while conservatives say we shouldn’t do that. I have to say that at a practical level, I’m with the liberals on this o... [politics of the absurd]

October 1, 4AM

I have a piece up at Marginalia Review of Books on two recent books about the devil. Filed under: blog posts [blog posts]

September 29, 12 PM

Earlier today, I participated in a Reddit Ask Me Anything. Thank you to the moderators of /u/RadicalChristianity for the invitation and everyone for the questions — and if there are any stragglers, I may still be able to squeeze out an answer or tw... [blog posts]

7AM

I’m beginning to think that at the end of the day, Agamben’s Homo Sacer series isn’t “about” sovereignty at all. If there’s a single core problem in this overlapping and yet heterogeneous collection of studies, it migh... [Agamben]

September 28, 3PM

One of the great tragedies of American higher education is that essentially every school bought into the organization of the modern research university. In that model, professors are distributed into departments that are defined by a given discipline or ... [Academia] [Shimer College]

September 27, 11AM

This afternoon, I dropped The Girlfriend off at the airport. For the first time in close to ten years for either of us, we now own a car — the last leftover of her brief move to Minneapolis, the land of 10,000 expressways. Neither of us wants it, ... [blog posts]

September 24, 6AM

Aside from his various theological and administrative roles, the pope serves as the public face of the Roman Catholic Church. In that connection, his job is to shore up the loyalty of his members and burnish the reputation of the Church in the broader wo... [Roman Catholicism]

September 17, 11AM

Many years ago, AUFS was arguably best known among theology blogs for its rejection of Radical Orthodoxy. It was regularly alleged that we had no substantive critique but were simply trashing Radox, presumably out of a desire for attention. At this lat... [Milbank] [Radical Orthodoxy]
What if we viewed the Soviet Union as the single most important political actor of the 20th century? While reviled, it staved off some of the worst possible outcomes — above all the victory of the Nazis. One could also argue, perhaps more counteri... [Communism] [eschatology]

September 10, 5AM

Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis is clearly a terrible person who should not be occupying so much of our collective attention. In an ideal world, she would have resigned in protest. And there’s little doubt that this whole controversy has been drum... [politics of the absurd]

September 8, 9AM

Not since the heyday of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has the word “radical” enjoyed such prominence. One cannot read a theology blog, much less listen to a theological podcast or take a theology course from the Uber of graduate seminars, ... [blog posts]

September 7, 6AM

Contributions to our event on Mary-Jane Rubenstein’s Worlds Without End: Marika Rose, “The Singular Whiteness of the Multiverse” Jonnie Russell, “The Politics of Everything” Lisa Gasson-Gardner, “Take me to the multive... [Mary-Jane Rubenstein] [Worlds Without End Book Event]
I am grateful for the careful and generous readings reflected in these five posts. While each of them pulls my thoughts in unique and productive directions, I would like to attend to their collective effort to make more explicit the ethical and political ... [Mary-Jane Rubenstein] [Worlds Without End Book Event]

August 31, 9AM

Joe Sachs is the Official Aristotle Translator of Shimer College. I especially enjoy his rendering of the Poetics, which pushes back against traditional moralistic readings of Aristotle’s theory of tragedy. One element of such a reading is the view... [aristotle]

August 30, 6AM

On Facebook, Scott Erik Kaufman pointed out Kieran Healy’s paper Fuck Nuance, which I greatly enjoyed. One thing that stood out to me was his repeated claim that the endless demand for more nuance is a form of symbolic violence. Often it can be a ... [Academia]

August 27, 11AM

Science fiction is full of cautionary tales about full automation: Skynet, the Matrix, the Cylons, etc. It is also full of thought experiments about artificial intelligence, such as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I think that these themes mak... [Agamben] [politics]

6AM

Let’s try to reconcile a few apparently contradictory propositions about the American school system: Most local school districts are funded through property taxes. Property values in most major urban areas have literally never been higher. Urban sc... [politics] [Race]

August 26, 5AM

Agamben’s Homo Sacer series is a source of confusion for many, because the volumes have been released out of order. Recently he added a new layer of puzzlement by revising the order, though I think the revision makes more sense than the old numberi... [Agamben]

August 21, 6AM

Grab the popcorn! Donald Trump has made the 2016 Republican primary the entertainment event of the season! And though they admit it’s terrible, plenty of liberals almost hope that he gets the nomination — because it’d be comedy gold, a... [politics]

August 18, 5AM

The last item on my summer reading list was Knut S. Vikør’s Between God and the Sultan, a survey of Islamic law. It provided a less partisan counterpoint to Hallaq’s work, which had been my primary source of information previously (aside fro... [Islam]

August 17, 8AM

Tomorrow I have my first faculty meeting of the fall semester, making this the final day of summer vacation. Aside from a certain Unfortunate Incident involving unwanted online attention, it was a good one. It was obviously dominated by my work on The P... [Academia] [The lighter side of AUFS]

August 14, 11AM

We often hear about how left-wing candidates can “never win in the general” because they’re “too far outside the mainstream.” Instead, we need candidates who can “appeal to the center.” And this may well be true... [politics]

9AM

Shimer College is currently seeking a Director of Admissions and Director of Development. Filed under: Shimer College [Shimer College]

August 12, 7AM

When I finished my manuscript for The Prince of This World, one thing that occurred to me is that literally ever since my colleagues at Shimer have known me, I have been “working on” that project. Around the same time I started, I also made s... [Language]

August 7, 5AM

It’s fitting that Jon Stewart’s loving tribute came on the same night as the Republican debate, because the politics of hate-watching the Republican clown-car are the politics he gave us. For most educated, white liberals, being a Democrat no... [politics of the absurd]

August 5, 7AM

This year I am going to be serving as Associate Dean at Shimer, and one of my primary duties will be to coordinate the academic assessment program. Though in principle I am an assessment skeptic, in practice I have been heavily involved with the ongoing ... [Shimer College]

August 4, 1PM

I’m reading David Potter’s Constantine the Emperor, partly just for my own edification but partly as “deep background” for the Trinity project I’m beginning to think about considering planning. The first third of the book is... [Christian Theology] [Erik Peterson] [Political Theology]

August 3, 7AM

In The Time That Remains and elsewhere, Agamben flatly dismisses the idea that Paul is an apocalyptic thinker. This is strange to me, because Paul obviously is an apocalyptic thinker. It’s even more puzzling because Agamben gives basically no expl... [Agamben] [apocalyptic] [Saint Paul]

August 2, 6AM

I’ve played piano for most of my life, and I still try to keep it up by practicing my old favorites and learning new pieces. Since I started teaching at Shimer, I’ve increasingly been called upon to teach musical materials, and that has shift... [music]

July 28, 6AM

As I have begun to wrap up my work on The Prince of This World, I have been thinking about which direction to go next. A project on the Trinity seems like the most compelling option to me currently, and though I plan to take it easy writing-wise for a wh... [Christian Theology] [help]

July 27, 5AM

This summer, we have been rewatching The Sopranos (my third time, The Girlfriend’s second). We just finished season five last night, and some thoughts have been percolating. It’s striking how much both of the “offspring” (Mad Men... [Television]

July 26, 6AM

All previous attempts to reconcile the contradictions between free will and necessity have neglected the decisive role of social class in distributing the two. While there are gray areas in the middle areas of the social hierarchy, broadly speaking free ... [blog posts]

July 22, 5AM

Chicago Public Schools is facing a deficit of $200 million. That obviously sounds like a lot of money, and that’s the only figure we ever hear. You never learn what that amount represents as a percentage of last year’s budget, or as a percenta... [blog posts]

July 21, 4AM

A major writing project is a strange emotional journey. When you’re writing a paper or a blog post, you can often let your excitement about the idea carry you. I try to convince my students not to wait around for inspiration, but within limits, it... [Writing]

July 18, 12 PM

After much reflection and thought, I have decided to create a new “professional” Twitter account that will consist solely of selected blog updates and links related to my publications and public appearances. I have arranged things so that it ... [blog posts]

July 17, 6AM

Over the years, I have been an avid magazine subscriber. At times, I’ve had four going at once. I’ve done Harper’s (my first and longest, though I finally had to give up after the “maybe HIV doesn’t cause AIDS” articl... [blog posts]

July 15, 9AM

Though there are some who would still embrace the rhetoric of the “Golden Age of Television” for marketing purposes, we all know that that storied era is over. If there was any question about it, the conclusion of Mad Men — part of the ... [Television]

6AM

I am currently about halfway through Davis Hankins’ The Book of Job and the Immanent Genesis of Transcendence. I had vaguely thought of writing something on Job some time in the future, but I am pleased to announce that his book renders anything I ... [blog posts]

July 8, 7AM

The Donald Trump phenomenon is the logical end point of the “politics as entertainment” model championed by the right-wing media. And from that perspective, the embrace of a similar model among liberals is alarming — the hegemony of th... [politics of the absurd]

July 7, 8AM

What if the purpose of Santa Claus is to get children used to the idea of complicity with a lie? Children who discover Santa Claus’s non-existence are normally exhorted to keep that truth from younger children. If they obey, they gain the satisfac... [family values]

July 3, 4AM

In the social media age, the prospect of being socially shamed has become a real site of anxiety for mainstream culture. Jon Ronson has written a book on the topic, and columnists routinely meet their wordcount by repeating cliches about the dangers of T... [Academia] [politics]

July 2, 3PM

Yesterday afternoon, the harrassment campaign against me seemed to have reached a low ebb, and I felt confident that this particular storm had passed. Yesterday evening, however, it kicked back into high gear and I started receiving so many hateful Twitt... [Academic freedom] [Technology]

July 1, 4AM

The term social justice has become almost a cliche, so it can be hard to step back and ask what it actually means. One way to read it is as an attempt to include “social issues” within the sphere of justice. Another way, which I think is mor... [politics of the absurd] [Race]

June 30, 3PM

Today I found myself swirling around in the right-wing toilet of the Internet yet again. Last time, the whole controversy centered around tweets that I quickly realized were based on a profound misunderstanding of the situation and just as quickly delete... [politics of the absurd]

June 29, 9AM

This is the first summer I’ve had in a long time that didn’t feel like a state of emergency in some way — both financially and in terms of my self-imposed academic work. I’ve submitted my translation of The Use of Bodies to Stanfo... [Academia] [The lighter side of AUFS]

June 24, 6AM

This utterly phoned-in article on the continuing hand-wringing about Heidegger reminds me of a theory I’ve been developing about Agamben’s use of Heidegger and Schmitt — namely, that he’s not using them despite their Nazism, but be... [Agamben] [Heidegger] [Schmitt]

June 22, 9AM

As colleges and universities try to get on-campus sexual assault under control, the dominant framework for educating college students on the issue centers on the concept of “consent.” I obviously understand why this framing suggested itself, ... [Academia]

June 19, 5AM

In the wake of the horrific white-supremacist terrorist attack in Charleston, a disturbing number of people — including the governor of South Carolina — seem dedicated to downplaying, ignoring, or even denying the obvious racist motivations of... [Race]

June 17, 9AM

For a long time, we have been accustomed to talk about cats. They wander the streets, they live in our homes, and they populate the internet in the form of images and videos. While the latter is admittedly a new phenomenon, it does nothing to shake our ... [Foucault] [The lighter side of AUFS]

June 16, 7AM

Someone once told me that Foucault recommended that everyone should have a thinker they’re always reading but never write about. When I heard that, it struck me that mine is Foucault himself. I started reading him in college, and I’ve been r... [Foucault] [Heidegger]

June 15, 5AM

In many debates about leftist political strategy, the various forms of oppression tend to be mapped out onto the opposition between class and an indefinite string of “identity”-based categories. The latter are often castigated by traditional ... [Marx] [politics]

June 11, 6AM

In the last few days, I’ve talked with a couple colleagues who have very different approaches to writing, from me and from each other. One always seems to have reams of material on hand, which he shapes into books and articles. Another seems unabl... [Academia] [Writing]

June 8, 1PM

This contribution to our book event comes from Nadia Sariahmed. In Recalling the Caliphate S. Sayyid makes a refreshing and powerful argument for the necessity of a new articulation of Islam and the political and for the mobilization of Muslims as politi... [Recalling the Caliphate Book Event]

7AM

I once read an essay to the effect that one shouldn’t read Proust because one wants to have read Proust, but only if one want to be reading Proust. The same, it seems to me, applies to Karl Ove Knausgaard’s massive My Struggle. After Brad an... [Contemporary Fiction] [Knausgaard]

June 3, 9AM

Campus culture has been much-discussed in recent weeks, as a growing consensus has emerged that today’s college students, though well-meaning, are often prone to overreaction and oversimplification of complex political and moral issues. The result ... [Academia]

June 2, 12 PM

Friday was the last day of faculty meetings for the semester, making Monday my first weekday of freedom. I celebrated by attending the newly-inaugurated Foucault reading group that looks set to occupy many if not most of my Monday afternoons for the next... [blog posts]

May 31, 10PM

Early in Recalling the Caliphate, Sayyid recounts an attempt by then-Iranian president Khatami to bridge the gap between his country and the United States by appealing to Alexis de Tocqueville. As an instructor at a school in the Great Books tradition, I... [Islam] [Recalling the Caliphate Book Event] [Schmitt]

May 29, 3PM

Today the Shimer faculty ended its spring faculty meetings with a discussion of pedagogy, centered on the idea of the Socratic method. One of our texts was the famous passage from the Apology where Socrates describes himself as a gadfly sent by the god t... [Plato] [translation]

May 28, 3PM

At Aaron Bady’s suggestion, I read Eve Sedgwick’s classic essay “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading, Or, You’re So Paranoid, You Probably Think This Essay Is About You.” It begins with an account of Sedgwick’s con... [blog posts]

6AM

In The Kingdom and the Glory, Agamben tries to demonstrate that the concept of oikonomia links together the Trinity and notions of divine governance/providence, but he doesn’t really talk about the Trinity as such, as a theological problem in its ow... [Agamben] [Christian Theology]

May 27, 5AM

As a white man of the left, I have observed mixed reactions to members of my tribe among subaltern groups. On the one hand, they are often appreciative, at least in principle, of white male allies and very willing to engage with them. On the other hand, w... [politics of the absurd]

May 22, 6AM

It’s impossible to mention The Wire to someone who hasn’t seen it without them bristling about how everyone says they have to watch The Wire. There’s a similar defensiveness around Mad Men, as people seem to think that if they disagree ... [blog posts]

May 21, 8AM

In my forthcoming book on Agamben co-authored with Colby Dickinson, I include an essay that indirectly discusses The Use of Bodies, arguing that rereading The Time That Remains in light of the entire extant Homo Sacer series could be a good substitute for... [Agamben] [Saint Paul] [translation]

4AM

As a kind of coda to Creepiness, I have published a guide to creepiness in Star Trek at the Daystrom Institute. Drawing on an extensive comment thread on the topic, it includes obvious choices like Barclay or Neelix, as well as many others. But surely w... [Creepiness (the book)] [Star Trek]

May 19, 7AM

To what extent are the “great” TV shows great television and to what extent are they just great stories, with great characters, etc.? That is to say, which ones contribute the most to television as a specific artform? One way to get at this... [Television]

5AM

The Mad Men finale is doing two things at once. The first and most obvious is that it’s giving us some form of resolution for all our favorite characters. Most of these endings are happy — and even if Betty’s impending death isn’... [Mad Men]

May 15, 7AM

It seems to me that since the late 1990s and early 2000s, structural and personal racism in American culture have gotten significantly worse, undoing much of the progress that was achieved from the 60s through the 90s. Representation of people of color i... [politics] [Race]

May 14, 4AM

Whenever I hear someone include Game of Thrones in the canon of the “Golden Age of Television,” I begin to ask very serious questions about that person’s taste and critical acumen. Here are a few reasons why: A plot that’s sprawl... [Television]

May 13, 1PM

Cosma Shalizi, writing at Crooked Timber, forewarns readers as follows: A 5000+ word attempt to provide real ancestors and support for an imaginary ideology I don’t actually accept, drawing on fields in which I am in no way an expert. Contains long quo... [blog posts]

4AM

The lecture at Shimer yesterday was very good. One point that Prof. McKenzie kept highlighting is that we in the liberal arts are “overdeployed” in text-oriented activities, while other forms of cultural production are seemingly outside our p... [blog posts]

May 11, 12 PM

When George Zimmerman inevitably gets himself killed, I’m sure I won’t be alone in feeling happy about it, in feeling that a standing offense to the concept of justice has been belatedly mitigated. My feeling that day will not, however, mean ... [blog posts]

4AM

Yesterday, The Girlfriend and I thoroughly rearranged our library due to receiving several matching bookshelves from a co-worker of hers who was in the process of moving. The result is frankly life-changing. All books are loose-packed, and there are sti... [blog posts]

May 8, 7AM

Some things I’ve been kicking around: A Nietzschean reading of Islam: could Islam be read as an attempt to develop a form of prophetic monotheism that embraces master morality rather than slave morality? Particularly striking here is that none of ... [Islam]
In recent years, I have tweeted prolifically as my blogging activity continues to decline. Surely these two facts are related, but I think it’s worth reflecting on why tweeting has replaced blogging for me. It’s not just that a tweet is easi... [blog posts]

May 7, 1PM

This column on adjunct’s feelings of being disrespected is amazingly stupid. It makes sense that disrespect — a daily lived experience — would be more vividly felt than an abstract category like “underemployment.” But the r... [Academia]

4AM

On Monday, May 18, two of Mladen Dolar’s former doctoral students are coming to Chicago to give joint talks with the overall title of: “The Fetish Character of anti-Semitism and its Secret. Two Žižekian Interventions.” The talks will take ... [blog posts]

May 4, 4AM

Next week, Shimer College and the Illinois Institute of Technology will be sponsoring a lecture by Jon McKenzie of the University of Wisconsin on “Remaking Liberal Arts In and Out of Higher Ed.” The lecture will take place on Tuesday, May 12,... [blog posts]

April 29, 8AM

A common defensive move against critiques of the white power structure is to retreat into abstraction. Yes, it’s a shame that blacks are at such a disadvantage in white societies, but in every society, the majority places the minority at a disadvan... [Race]

April 28, 4AM

I’ve recently been working my way through the final volume of Hodgson’s Venture of Islam, the second half of which focuses on the original “disruptive innovation” — modern technological society. Hodgson is at pains to emphas... [Economics] [Race]

April 27, 5AM

When I was growing up, my mom ran a furniture and decorating store with my aunt and grandma, and all three homes became showrooms in themselves. There was naturally a much more frequent churn of furniture in my house than in the average household, and my... [The lighter side of AUFS]

April 25, 5AM

Fiscal austerity gets the most attention, but there’s another type of neoliberal austerity that is arguably just as important: possibility austerity. Every policy “debate” is backed into a corner by artificial constraints, where certain... [neoliberalism] [politics]

April 24, 4AM

My working theory is that virtually no one wants equality as such. They want inequality, but the good kind, the justified kind. Hence it is plausible that someone could rail against the power of the 1% and yet still get snippy: “They want $15 an h... [politics]

April 21, 4AM

The majority of immigration to any given Western country comes from areas that have either been colonized by that country or else stand in a looser relationship of subordination and dependency. While presumably there are still at least two or three peopl... [blog posts]

April 19, 3PM

For the last several years, as many of you know, I have been watching a metric shit-ton of Star Trek. I have finally hit the point of diminishing returns where watching more Star Trek no longer seems very realistic in the near term, and this has led me t... [blog posts]

April 18, 6AM

One problem I have perceived in Shimer’s general approach to course design is that there is not much room for students to fully “digest” all the difficult texts that they’re working through. In part, this is due to the Iron Law of... [blog posts]

April 16, 6AM

What if the Gospel writers didn’t know why the crucifixion happened? What if the Gospels are all an attempt to cover over this fact by making it seem increasingly predicted, inevitable, mysterious? Making the cross something that promises meaningf... [blog posts]

April 15, 10AM

Colby Dickinson of Loyola University Chicago reports the following: I’m very happy to announce an interdisciplinary conference, ‘The Challenge of God: Continental Philosophy and the Catholic Intellectual Heritage’, set to take place 14-1... [blog posts]

April 13, 10AM

Repeatedly in the Qur’an, we read that God has created humanity male and female. This duality plays a directly theological role: in contrast to God, who is absolutely One and eternal, who has no partners or offspring, humanity is dual and reproduct... [Reading the Qur'an]

April 4, 6AM

My course over the Qur’an is nearing its end, and I think it has been pretty successful. While my lack of proper expertise poses some problems, and while certain aspects of the readings could have been better selected and arranged, at the end of th... [Islam] [teaching]

April 3, 9AM

I can’t claim to be an expert on the internal politics of Iran, but my meager efforts are surely better than the active anti-knowledge that is spreading around the Iran nuclear deal. I’ve ranted on Twitter a bit, and I thought I’d write... [politics]

April 2, 11AM

Popular sovereignty is triune. The Father is the popular sovereign as such, which is the source of its two hypostases or actualizations: the state and the market. The state is the Son, an embodied reality that is most often literally personified in a co... [Agamben] [sovereignty] [Trinity]

8AM

The graduate students in the English Department of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln have put together a pretty impressive blog. It includes a very thorough and thoughtful review of my talk there a couple weeks ago, along with a lot of other good stu... [blog posts]

7AM

It turns out that The Girlfriend, who landed a job in Minneapolis in January, is going to be able to transfer to the Chicago office much, much earlier than anticipated. Hence I won’t need to move to Minneapolis for the summer — missing the be... [blog posts]

March 30, 9AM

It’s commonly acknowledged that traditional pedagogical methods emphasizing passive listening and rote memorization are suboptimal. “We now know” that there are superior methods that focus on student engagement and discussion. What I s... [teaching]

March 29, 5AM

In the Social Sciences capstone at Shimer, we spend a lot of time on texts that emphasize the social mediation of reality and call into question any kind of simplistic empiricism — Mannheim’s “sociology of knowledge,” Foucauldian p... [blog posts]

March 27, 10AM

As noted in the title, this is just the beginning of a thought, but I think there may be something about the public/private distinction at play in the recent (deplorable) “religious liberty” cases involving businesses. The question, it seems ... [blog posts]

March 25, 3PM

Over the last couple weeks, I have been working on a report for a committee at school. It started in a subcommittee made up of four people, but the intention was to produce a report that would reflect the whole committee, so there were subsequent rounds ... [teaching] [Writing]

March 24, 8AM

I’ve been using Gerry Canavan’s Star Trek CFP as an excuse for “researching” the red-headed stepchildren of the franchise: Enterprise and The Animated Series. I began by rewatching Enterprise over the last couple months, a process... [blog posts] [Star Trek]

March 23, 10AM

Everyone knows what “diversity” means in an academic context. It does not mean making sure there is a good balance between chess players and lacrosse players. It does not refer to the desire that Republicans and Democrats should be roughly e... [blog posts]

March 16, 9AM

I frequently complain about people responding to my posts on Twitter rather than in comments. Literally everything about Twitter militates against good conversation — space constraints (made worse if including multiple @-handles), inadequate thread... [blog posts]

5AM

[Cross-posted from The Daystrom Research Institute, with some revisions.] I see politics in Star Trek — thinking of politics broadly as the sphere of relationships involving power — as having two conflicting levels. On the one hand, the starsh... [politics] [Star Trek]

March 12, 6AM

I am a very routine-oriented person whom life rarely allows to fall into a stable routine. I compensate for this by planning. Planning is central to my strategy for overcoming my travel anxiety, for instance — if I spend enough time imagining myse... [The lighter side of AUFS]

March 11, 4AM

It is likely that I will be offering a course on the Qur’an again next spring, and I’m already planning on working my way systematically through the text one or more times before that (likely in different translations). I’ll obviously n... [Islam] [Reading the Qur'an] [teaching]

March 10, 3PM

I’ll get straight to it: I didn’t like this Jacobin article on The Americans. It’s not so much that I disagree with its point, though I do. What I object to, more fundamentally, is the very procedure: the attempt to find something insi... [neoliberalism] [Television]

March 8, 5AM

We had the earnest, though chastened idealism of West Wing. We also had the Office-style send-up of Veep. All that was missing in the genre of White House dramas was the dark, gritty version. House of Cards dutifully stepped into the gap. The last de... [Television]

March 7, 3PM

I have been invited to join a show called “The Experts” at the Mission Theatre inside of the iO Theater complex. The theater is run by famed improvisers TJ and Dave, and past guests can be seen here: http://theexperts.jigsy.com/ I’ll be ... [The Devil]

March 5, 8AM

This semester, I am giving several talks each over the devil and creepiness, and I’m finding the experience of both very different. On the devil front, I’m also in the early stages of drafting the book itself, so the talks provide a good oppo... [Academia]

March 3, 6AM

You may have noticed that I’ve been blogging less frequently in the last several months. Part of the reason is that I’m trying to make some headway on my devil project during the semester, so a lot of my excess intellectual energy is taken up... [Star Trek]

February 26, 7AM

As Gerry Canavan has eloquently pointed out, the perpetual crisis mentality of higher ed is an indication that the very large and expensive management class that has taken over universities in recent decades is an utter failure. Well-managed universities... [Academia]

February 18, 4PM

Surah 31, entitled “Luqman” after the legendary wise man who appears in it, is about wisdom. The question is whether there is any content to wisdom beyond simple adherence to Islam, and initially the answer may seem to be no. Luqman’s ... [Islam] [Reading the Qur'an]

February 17, 7AM

The New Inquiry has published an excerpt from Creepiness, including — most importantly — a link where you can purchase it. Be a part of something bigger than yourself: my beer money. Filed under: Creepiness (the book) [Creepiness (the book)]

February 16, 11AM

The most famous term from Agamben is surely “bare life,” la vita nuda. As often happens, this term actually stems from Benjamin, specifically the “Critique of Violence,” where he briefly mentions blosses Leben. As Carlo Salzani p... [Agamben] [Benjamin] [translation]

February 12, 6AM

As my class slowly works its way through the Meccan revelations, we have arrived in the large group of surahs that recount the missions of the prophets. It is striking how consistent the pattern is. God judges a city or nation’s behavior to be bey... [Islam]

February 9, 12 PM

A new issue of Crisis and Critique is out, featuring articles by Zizek, Roland Boer, Michael Löwy, Catherine Tomas, and me. Filed under: academia [Academia]

February 8, 7AM

It’s the ultimate get out of jail free card: when a critic of Islam is accused of racism, they point out that “Islam is not a race.” I agree on a certain level. Islam is a faith that embraces believers on every continent, in hundreds o... [Islam] [politics of the absurd] [Race]

February 5, 5PM

Work on my translation of The Use of Bodies continues apace. I now have full drafts of the prologue, first major part, first “intermezzo,” and second major part. I have nearly completed all bibliographical work for those segments (the publis... [Agamben] [translation]

January 31, 5AM

Level 1: I am offended at what you said. Level 2: I am offended that you took offense at what I said. Level 3: I am offended that you would imagine that my taking offense is the truly offensive aspect of this scenario. Level 4: I am offended that you are ... [politics of the absurd]

January 29, 11AM

Noted online leftist Freddie deBoer has seen some shit. No lie. And though he once weirdly castigated me for being paralyzed by political correctness — indeed, for being exemplary of the self-hating white man terrified of offending anyone — ... [Academia] [politics of the absurd]

January 27, 8AM

This summer, I wrote a post on my first impressions of reading the Qur’an. Many readers were disappointed by the negative tone, as the post focused mostly on what I found alienating in the text (such as its repetitive nature), even as I admitted th... [Islam]

January 17, 8AM

Some events in the next few months: February 4: Release of my translation of Agamben’s Pilate and Jesus February 23-24: I will be at Wayne State University, where I will give talks over Creepiness and the devil February 27: Release of Creepiness Th... [Shameless Promotion]

January 16, 11AM

When I was a teenager, I went through a libertarian phase. A lot of factors contributed to it. One was my desire to connect with my father, who was (and remains) an avid Rush Limbaugh fan. Another was my desire to piss of my high school history teacher... [politics of the absurd]

January 13, 4PM

As I shared over Twitter the last few days, The Girlfriend’s dog, Max, had a serious health crisis this weekend. He developed a herniated disc in his spine, which was compounded by internal bleeding around the area. The scary thing is that there i... [Animals]

January 12, 6AM

Shimer’s spring semester begins on Wednesday. This term, I will be teaching two sections of the Social Sciences capstone, entitled “Social Perspectives and Social Action” (PDF syllabus), and an elective entitled “Reading the Qur&#... [syllabi] [teaching]

January 10, 7AM

I have received my allotment of author copies of Creepiness, which I show you here in case you were waiting to preorder until you had proof that it would in fact be printed: Filed under: Creepiness (the book) [Creepiness (the book)]

January 9, 6AM

Gerry Canavan recently turned me on to The Daystrom Institute, a Star Trek subreddit devoted to the most intricate possible examination of the franchise. As my life has been in turmoil the last couple months with The Girlfriend’s move, etc., I have... [Star Trek] [The lighter side of AUFS]

January 8, 5AM

Yesterday, I went on a brief Twitter rant based on misinformation about the Charlie Hebdo attacks — both on the nature of the publication itself and the extent of the attack. I had somehow gotten the impression that the publication in question was ... [blog posts]

January 3, 7AM

It strikes me that even the most basic democratic ideals are almost entirely missing from the mainstream public sphere. Rule by experts or markets or data has replaced the ideal of the people collectively making important decisions for itself. Democracy... [politics]

December 29, 7AM

Much has been made of the contrast between Athens and Jerusalem, but it has seldom been noted that these two worldviews represent significantly different approaches to time travel. Now obviously they do not include time travel in the full sci-fi sense, b... [Hebrew Scripture] [Star Trek] [The lighter side of AUFS]

December 28, 1PM

Have any of you ever decreased the number of books you owned? (I know this is a seemingly paradoxical concept, so please give it time to sink in.) If so, how did you go about selecting them? Did you try selling them to used bookstores or via Amazon? Ho... [Academia]

December 26, 7AM

The Girlfriend and I are not planning on having children, ever. Indeed, as you may be able to tell from her internet moniker, we are not married and do not plan to do that unless it becomes necessary for some urgent practical reason. We are very happy w... [family values]

December 22, 10AM

Paul reports that Christ crucified is a stumbling-block to the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. I’m beginning to wonder if the Jews and Greeks had a point. Everything that is most destructive about Christianity comes from the Cross — the ... [Christian Theology]

December 15, 6AM

While it was horrible for the world at large, 2014 was an amazing year for me personally. I rang in the New Year wandering the streets of Paris, and I’ll end it in The Girlfriend’s new apartment in Minneapolis, where she has secured a job tha... [year-end wrap-up posts]

December 10, 4PM

As I was reading Catherine Keller’s Cloud of the Impossible for our upcoming book event, I was reminded of Deleuze and Guattari’s claim from What is Philosophy? that philosophy is about the creation of concepts. That is clear enough in the ea... [Catherine Keller] [Deleuze] [Plato] [Shimer College] [teaching]

December 7, 6AM

A few months ago, Shimer College received some decidedly unwelcome publicity: Ben Miller, writing for the Washington Monthly, named it the worst college in America. This prompted Jon Ronson, a reporter for The Guardian, to visit Shimer and investigate wh... [Shimer College]

December 1, 5PM

Every year, the arrival of Christmas music season is equally jarring and unwelcome for me. While I’ve heard the songs over and over for decades at this point, I am somehow unable to allow them to fall into the background. Instead, every word and e... [family values] [ideology] [popular culture]

November 30, 7AM

One of the primary sources for my devil research is the infamous Malleus Maleficarum, a witch-hunting manual that became one of the first best-sellers of the early print era. As I’ve worked through its theological logic in a couple different course... [feminism] [ideology] [The Devil]

November 28, 5AM

Creepiness is now available for preorder on Amazon, as is my translation of Agamben’s Pilate and Jesus. Both will be released in February.Filed under: Agamben, Creepiness (the book), publications, translation [Agamben] [Creepiness (the book)] [publications] [translation]

November 27, 11PM

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should enjoy unprecedented savings on all their favorite brands. This was the first Black Friday and took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to ... [Economics] [empire] [politics of the absurd]

7AM

We’ve been expecting less from our fantasies for quite some time now. The turning point, in my mind, was “trickle-down economics.” The entire premise was of course absurd — the whole point of capitalism is that wealth tends to fl... [ideology] [Television]

November 26, 6AM

In his testimony before the grand jury, unrepentant cold-blooded murderer Darren Wilson claimed to have been afraid of Michael Brown — an unarmed man literally the same size as Wilson — and said that in his rage, “it [Brown] looked like ... [Race] [The Devil]

November 25, 6AM

In the United States of America, abstract liberal universalism is objectively pro-white. For instance, take the all-too-common white response to the slogan “black lives matter” — “all lives matter.” Yes, to me all lives mat... [Race]

November 24, 1PM

This weekend, a lurker e-mailed asking why I do theology, given that I am not a traditional believer or pious person. It is a question that used to come up a lot here, back when we were more engaged with the theology blogosphere (during a time when it wa... [theology]

6AM

One year ago today, I went on one of my Twitter rants about higher education in America. Along the way, it morphed into a rant about the disproportionate burdens we put on young people, as crystallized in the following tweet: We ask 18-year-olds to mak... [boredom]

November 21, 2PM

For a variety of reasons, including lack of conference funding and lack of any actual desire to attend, I am missing this year’s AAR/SBL conference, much as I missed last year and the year before that. Yet I can experience all the most exciting mom... [boredom]

November 20, 6AM

This semester, all my classes have been grouped together so that I’m done teaching by 1. This may seem to leave a wonderland of free time for writing and research, but experience tells me that is not the case. While I enjoy Shimer classes a great ... [Academia] [Writing]

November 19, 2PM

Colby Dickinson and I have been offered a contract by Rowman & Littlefield to publish a co-authored collection of essays entitled Agamben’s Coming Philosophy: Finding a New Use for Philosophy. The book gathers together both previously published... [Agamben] [publications]

November 17, 2PM

As the governor of Missouri declares a state of emergency in anticipation of a ruling on the murder of Michael Brown, I’m sure many of us were put in mind of the famous quote from Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History”: &... [Benjamin]

November 15, 7AM

This has been the busiest semester of the busiest year of my life. Every time I think I’m “over the hump,” I realize there’s another mountain of work. By the time the semester ends — a semester during which I’ve taken... [to-do lists]

November 11, 3PM

It’s always easier to design a syllabus with only white men. An inclusive syllabus is a struggle. You can anticipate the dismissiveness, the uncomfortable silence, the angry rejection. The syllabus filled with white men, by contrast, is calm. Th... [feminism] [Race] [teaching]

November 10, 3PM

During my five years or so of teaching, a nagging thought has kept resurfacing — namely, that the traditional course format is remarkably unforgiving. This was especially clear when I taught on the quarter system, where a moderately serious illness... [Academia] [teaching]

November 9, 6AM

A familiar feature of organized crime is the protection racket. In this scheme, a mob leader demands to be paid to protect a business. If the fee is not paid, then that same mob leader attacks the business — hence you are first of all paying the f... [Agamben] [Economics] [politics] [religion]

November 7, 3PM

Beginning in the late 1970s, capitalist elites began a deliberate, carefully planned attack on essentially every institution that provided a material basis for leftist organization and loyalties. That attack was hugely successful, in large part because m... [ideology] [politics]

November 5, 5PM

Today, a hateful post was written about me by someone notorious for mean-spirited personal attacks. It is easy enough to determine what I’m referring to if you’re curious, so I won’t link to the post. Nor do I plan to respond in detail... [blog posts]

November 4, 12 PM

Historically, I have been a pretty avid voter. This particular election, I feel an urgency to keep Illinois from getting a finance-asshole Republican governor, but there’s only so much damage he could do as the legislature will remain Democratic ba... [politics of the absurd]

November 3, 1PM

In the last week especially, I have started to notice how often politically-charged online memes open out onto a “no-win vortex.” Take the example of the cat-calling video. On the one hand, it calls attention to street harrassment, which is ... [blog posts]
Everyone with an internet connection is now aware that Lena Dunham’s memoir includes some creepy passages centering around her childhood sexual expression. An article in National Review (a publication I’d prefer not to direct traffic to) calle... [blog posts]

October 31, 4AM

The white middle class family in America has grown ever more paranoid over the course of my lifetime. Children once roamed free after school, but now it’s virtually a crime to leave a child unattended in public. It’s not clear to me that the... [family values]

October 30, 3PM

An episode of Freaks and Geeks records the turning point. Mrs. Weir has lovingly prepared Halloween cookies, just like every year, and when the first group of trick-or-treaters show up, one of the moms shames her for her presumption. This more attentive... [boredom]

2PM

A while back, Shimer was planning to refurbish its classrooms, and they asked the faculty whether they preferred chalkboards or dry-erase boards. I put in an impassioned plea to retain chalkboards, though I was sadly overruled in the end. In my view, cha... [Academia] [teaching]

October 29, 4PM

By now, everyone with an internet connection is aware of the appalling video depicting a woman being harrassed on the street over 100 times in a single day. What’s striking to me is the reaction on the part of men who presumably would never partici... [feminism]

October 27, 3PM

Early this summer, I reworked a talk I had given into an article for an edited volume. The topic was one I would feel confident listing as an “area of specialization,” and when I completed the changes (which involved considerably expanding it... [Academia]

October 26, 6AM

In my fine arts course this week, we did a unit on the myth of Danaë, which is admittedly only briefly mentioned in Book IV of Ovid’s Metamorphosis but has exercised a durable fascination on painters. It’s a strange scene to picture: Danaë ... [art]

October 21, 10AM

One thing that has stood out to me as I have undertaken my recent crash course in Islam is the sheer number of Arabic terms that are left untranslated. At times, even a dedicated student like me became bogged down in technical terminology that was left i... [Islam] [translation]

9AM

Detractors of Zizek have lately attempted to discredit his work on procedural grounds. The more serious accusations are related to plagiarism — including the famous case of the paraphrased white supremacist book review and now a more recent inciden... [You make a good point, but aren't you actually completely wrong?] [Zizek]

October 20, 12 PM

This article on the limited value of teaching evaluations makes for bracing reading. It is based on experiences in UK universities, but I assume many of the lessons would be applicable to similar mainstream institutions in the US. Broadly speaking, the ... [Academia] [teaching]

October 18, 12 PM

Voter ID laws are a truly evil thing, an attempt to disenfranchise the poor and racial minorities. They are also an act of evil genius, politically speaking. To the majority of middle-class voters, it sounds totally reasonable — who doesn’t ... [politics of the absurd]

October 16, 4PM

I’ve noticed a strange tic among academic writers, a tic to which I fall victim myself: a compulsive overuse of connective particles. In some cases, it seems that there must be some type of connective particle in literally every sentence of every p... [Academia]

October 9, 4PM

In Shimer’s fine arts class, we typically do a unit on Cézanne that includes a selection of Rilke’s letters written after a particularly vivid encounter with an exhibition of Cézanne’s art. Out of curiosity, I picked up Rilke’s ... [aesthetics] [Cézanne] [Heidegger] [Rilke] [Rodin]

October 7, 7AM

I have a piece up at The Immanent Frame entitled “Curse God and Die: On Agamben and Job.” It use Agamben’s reflections on oaths and curses in The Sacrament of Language as a framework for investigating the frequent references to cursing ... [Agamben] [Job]

October 4, 6AM

As I’ve been studying Islam, I have become increasingly fascinated by the question of whether the Native Americans would have been better off if Muslims had made “First Contact” rather than European Christians. Best of all, of course, w... [Islam]

5AM

[This story is perhaps outside the usual scope of this blog, but I fear it would be unintelligible if delivered via Twitter. So here we are.] Last night, The Girlfriend and I went to Kuma’s Too, the spin-off of Kuma’s Corner, the metal bar le... [The lighter side of AUFS]

September 30, 9AM

Yesterday I asked Twitter for recommendations of paintings on the subject of The Temptation of St. Anthony, and Brad shared this very comprehensive blog post. They’re all worth investigating, but for me the prize definitely goes to Joos van Craesbe... [art]

8AM

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m going to be offering a course on the Qur’an next semester. One thing I didn’t factor in when I volunteered to do this, however, is how quickly I need to complete the book order (due to some change... [help] [teaching]

6AM

At Shimer College, we pride ourselves on teaching “primary texts” as much as possible. The goal here is to make sure that all the reading we assign is “discussable,” which secondary sources providing background usually are not. I... [Islam] [Shimer College] [teaching]

September 29, 12 PM

Common wisdom holds that there is a special class of claims known as “religious claims.” These claims are characterized by an inability to be rigorously proven or disproven. While people are free to embrace such claims in the privacy of thei... [secularism]

September 25, 4AM

For adherents of the ground-breaking philosophical school of Contemporaneanism, it’s been a wild ride. Side-stepping traditional academic institutions, we stepped directly into the public sphere by using online technologies like blog posts and Twit... [blog posts] [politics of the absurd]

September 23, 5AM

Yesterday, The Girlfriend and I went to the special exhibit on Magritte at the Art Institute. During our trip to Brussels, we had visited the Magritte Museum there, which unfortunately seemed to be a holding place for second-tier pieces and first drafts ... [art] [Chicago]

September 22, 3PM

In this era of increasingly accurate 3D computer imagery, animators have come up against a problem known as the “uncanny valley” — after a certain point, the closer to accurate 3D imagery is, the creepier it becomes. The reason that it&... [aesthetics] [art] [Creepiness (the book)]

September 21, 8AM

Protests don’t work. Whatever their efficacy was in past eras, it is spent. We all witnessed the largest coordinated protests in world history in the lead-up to the Iraq War, and the Iraq War not only happened but is still happening, under the wat... [politics of the absurd]

6AM

This semester, I fear I may be reaching a kind of saturation point for how much it is possible to do without being in a constant state of anxiety. In addition to my regular teaching and administrative duties at Shimer, I am teaching a graduate seminar at... [to-do lists]

September 14, 5AM

In many responses to Agamben’s provocative claim that the concentration camp is the nomos of modernity, I have not seen much attention to the text from which Agamben draws the curious term nomos — namely, Schmitt’s Nomos of the Earth. I... [Agamben]

September 13, 6AM

During a Twitter discussion about the widely-cited study showing that men profess to be most attracted to 20- and 21-year olds well into their fifties while women prefer men approximately their own age throughout their lives, the inevitable happened: some... [politics of the absurd]

September 12, 1PM

A few questions for those of you more familiar with the landscape in online education: In your view, is the current state of video conferencing technology adequate to simulate a lively, seminar-style discussion session? Do you know if any schools have tr... [teaching] [Technology]

September 10, 5PM

Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition is one of the classical pieces that is most familiar to me. Ever since my high school marching band did a show based on it, it has been a constant companion, at least in the version orchestrated by Ravel. Mor... [art] [music] [teaching]

September 9, 8AM

Elif Batuman has a post up at a New Yorker blog about awkwardness, which engages with my work on the topic at length. She makes a slight tweak to my historical progression toward awkwardness, arguing that it was specifically the shock of realizing that t... [Awkwardness (the book)]

5AM

I have written before about the constitutional problems arising from attempts to either abolish the Senate or create proportional representation. I now believe that I have developed a flawless scheme to achieve proportional representation with only minim... [politics of the absurd]

September 7, 5AM

Jon Cogburn did not exactly cover himself in glory in his latest post, where he decries the rhetoric of ableism. (And to be fair to other New APPS contributors, one of his co-bloggers quickly denounced the post, though perhaps taking it down would be a b... [blog posts]

September 6, 9AM

In a recent post that I can’t find for some reason, Corey Robin pointed out that the Salita affair — in which the University of Illinois rescinded a job offer upon learning of heated pro-Palestinian tweets written by the professor in question ... [politics of the absurd]

September 4, 4PM

I was reading something today that referred to Fukayama’s thesis that the fall of the Soviet Union marked “the end of history.” As we all know, the theory is that the battle between communism and liberal democratic capitalism was the la... [Communism]

September 2, 3PM

While I was in San Francisco this summer, C.S. Soong of KPFA’s Against the Grain invited me to record an interview about Agamben’s work, which has now aired and is archived here for your enjoyment. If you’re a Facebook person, please co... [Agamben] [Audio] [Interviews]

6AM

Here is the syllabus for my devil course at Chicago Theological Seminary, which begins on Thursday. As you can see if you compare and contrast on my CV page, it’s substantially, though not totally, different from the Kalamazoo and Shimer iterations... [teaching] [The Devil]

September 1, 5AM

Is there a mourning trend in contemporary television? At least on cable, it seems to be a dominant theme, one whose hold is only growing. The Walking Dead and Les Revenants (which will be remade in an English-language version) focus on what happens when... [Television]

August 26, 5AM

The Girlfriend has a remarkably effective approach to cooking that could be helpful for all those busy academics out there, particularly single or childless ones. The biggest challenge in cooking for only one or two people is that it is incredibly time-i... [The lighter side of AUFS]

August 23, 5AM

In Romans 9-11, Paul lays out what he believes to be God’s plan for Paul’s work as the apostle to the Gentiles. Though the rejection of Jesus as messiah by the vast majority of Jews seems to be a huge defeat, God is actually using it as an op... [Islam] [Muhammad] [Saint Paul]

August 21, 5PM

Let’s say I were to do a course next semester on the Qur’an only, with some attempt to achieve coverage over the whole of the text and to strike a balance between contemporary and historical commentators. Do you have any recommendations? Fil... [Islam] [teaching]

August 18, 3PM

Seamus Heany once said that the best part about translating is that you get to finish something you didn’t have to start. It’s a strange feeling, though, finishing up something for someone else — and not only that, finishing something t... [Agamben] [translation]

August 16, 7AM

This week, I’ve been settling back into my Chicago apartment and mostly letting my brain rest after the brutal monastic discipline of this summer. I’ve also had a couple meetings at Shimer, which has got my mind starting to churn on my teachi... [teaching]

August 13, 1PM

Making a Star Trek film was always a strange project. Both the original series and Next Generation were meandering affairs, with few clear villains and many episodes with confusing premises. The movies have been many different things — sometimes f... [film] [Star Trek]

6AM

I think we can all agree that the reality that the term “genocide” is meant to represent — the systematic destruction of a race or ethnic group — is a horrible crime. Everyone is obviously against “genocide,” and that ... [politics]

August 8, 6PM

As most readers probably know, I have spent the last ten weeks in San Francisco, as The Girlfriend has a short-term job out here this summer. Due to a combination of financial constraints, the nature of our accomodations, and my very deepest personality ... [boredom]

August 7, 1PM

As the Gaza crisis intensified, I’m sure I’m not alone in having wondered why the US’s support for Israel is so absolutely unconditional. What’s in it for America? Hasn’t it reached a point where Israel is a liability and s... [Economics] [politics] [Race]

August 5, 8AM

In my day, I’ve had run-ins with a few self-declared “schools of thought,” and all those interactions have been invariably toxic. One is probably reminded of the old truism that if you have nothing but bad relationships, you have to rec... [blog posts]

August 4, 7AM

One strange feature of the online atheist movement is that while all religions are bad, Islam is consistently presented as the very worst — so that Richard Dawkins, for instance, can wonder aloud whether atheists should support Christian missionarie... [Dawkins] [Islam] [Race]

July 31, 8AM

There is a quote from Varro that Agamben uses in the essay “Notes on Gesture” (included in both Infancy and History and Means Without End): “For a person can make [facere] something and not act [agere] it, as a poet makes [facit] a play and ... [Agamben] [politics of the absurd]

July 30, 8AM

The article on bad academic writing that’s been going around strikes me as perhaps a little cruel, and as unlikely to actually get through to the people who most need the message — after all, it’s notoriously difficult to see the flaws i... [Academia]
[NOTE: Earlier this summer, The Girlfriend and I watched a lot of House of Cards and Scandal, so that must be kept in mind in reading this post.] It’s easy to forget now, but in the summer of 2008, it really looked like John McCain would win. Only ... [boredom] [politics of the absurd]

July 29, 8AM

I’m getting ready to write a couple pieces for a reference volume on atonement, and that has got me thinking once again about how profoundly strange Aulen’s Christus Victor is. On the one hand, it was an absolutely decisive intervention insof... [Abelard] [Anselm] [Barth] [Christian Theology]

July 28, 8AM

Adrian Pabst has a column up at ABC Religion and Ethics on the challenges facing the West — a situation that may even, God forbid, lead the West to split! What we need, it turns out, is a reinvigorated West united on the basis of Christianity (alon... [politics of the absurd]

July 25, 12 PM

Perhaps [weasel-word!] something has occurred in the history of the concept of structure that could be called an “event,” if this loaded word [loaded according to whom?] did not entail a meaning which it is precisely the function [is this real... [Academia] [derrida]

July 24, 8AM

The standard liberal objection to religious motivations for political action is that they are unquestionable and not susceptible of disproof, so that they cannot form a part of the ongoing rational dialogue that should ideally characterize the political p... [Christian Theology] [politics of the absurd] [Zizek]

July 21, 7AM

A couple years ago, I was invited to contribute to a reference volume. I was honored to be included and eager to have the chance to demonstrate my expertise on the topic. Yet as I looked at the proposed table of contents, I noticed a problem: no women. ... [Academia]

July 18, 8AM

A new issue of the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory is out, featuring my review [pdf] of Less Than Nothing. Filed under: blog posts [blog posts]

July 17, 7AM

The film First Contact marks a decisive turning point in the Star Trek franchise’s approach to time travel. Previously, the emphasis was always on preserving the past, which had led to a glorious future. Even at great cost — as in the classi... [neoliberalism] [Star Trek]

July 16, 8AM

In what is increasingly becoming a tired schtick, Rebecca Schumann rehearses the most inflammatory cliches about academic practices — in this case, peer review. David Perry’s response reflects my own experience: I’ve had a generally goo... [Academia]

July 15, 5PM

A former student wrote to ask what I thought of the recent evidence of plagiarism in an essay by Zizek. I replied that Zizek’s own explanation of the incident, which can be found here among many other places, struck me as plausible — indeed, ... [politics of the absurd] [Zizek]

July 14, 12 PM

I apologize if these posts about future plans are too self-indulgent. Perhaps they could be viewed primarily as a way of coping with my own anxiety, and thus you should feel free to skip them. Hopefully there is some value, however, in seeing how I thin... [to-do lists]

July 13, 8AM

A theological hypothetical for all those armchair ecclesiologists in the audience: what if literally every Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox bishop suddenly died before they were able to ordain any new bishops? How would apostolic succession be preserv... ["the church"]

July 12, 8AM

Yesterday I went through a familiar cycle: someone posted a generic right-wing comment, I deleted it, and then I got caught in an e-mail dispute over my intolerance for dissent, etc. It should be clear from our comment policy that we don’t aspire t... [housekeeping]

July 11, 6PM

The penultimate episode of the original Star Trek series (TOS), “All Our Yesterdays,” has an interesting premise: an alien race faces certain destruction as their sun goes supernova, and instead of escaping into space, they use time travel to ... [Star Trek]

10AM

A disproportionate amount of political debate centers around vague abstractions: government spending, deficits, and inflation. The latter two are supposed to be particularly horrible, leading to hyperinflation (and therefore Hitler) or else mountains of ... [Economics] [politics of the absurd]

July 10, 10AM

I am approaching Star Trek completism, as I have only four episodes left of the original series (TOS). (I will never truly reach that lofty goal, as I refuse to finish Star Trek V, and so it seems fair to write this post before I have “officially&#... [Star Trek]

July 8, 12 PM

Eternal damnation is an embarrassment to contemporary Christianity. Liberals tend to be universalists, to the extent that they articulate a position at all, and even conservatives generally downplay it, particularly given the hegemony of “seeker-se... [Christian Theology]
Eternal damnation is an embarrassment to contemporary Christianity. Liberals tend to be universalists, to the extent that they articulate a position at all, and even conservatives generally downplay it, particularly given the hegemony of “seeker-se... [Christian Theology]

7AM

The Girlfriend and I have been watching The Wonder Years lately, and it’s striking how generic the setting is — if not for references to news events in the late 1960s, it could be any time period from 1965 to the late 1990s (and I only posit t... [Economics] [education] [family values] [Television]
The Girlfriend and I have been watching The Wonder Years lately, and it’s striking how generic the setting is — if not for references to news events in the late 1960s, it could be any time period from 1965 to the late 1990s (and I only posit t... [Economics] [education] [family values] [Television]

July 3, 11AM

I just finished reading The Figure of This World: Agamben and the Question of Political Ontology by Mathew Abbott (Amazon link). I’ve linked approvingly before to Abbott’s work characterizing Agamben’s project as one of “political... [Agamben] [Book Reviews]
I just finished reading The Figure of This World: Agamben and the Question of Political Ontology by Mathew Abbott (Amazon link). I’ve linked approvingly before to Abbott’s work characterizing Agamben’s project as one of “political... [Agamben] [Book Reviews]

9AM

Yesterday I finished Wael Hallaq’s Introduction to Islamic Law, which not only does a great job of explaining the classical structures of Shari’a legal reasoning but also mounts an argument that the imposition of modern state structures fundam... [family values] [homosexuality] [Islam]
Yesterday I finished Wael Hallaq’s Introduction to Islamic Law, which not only does a great job of explaining the classical structures of Shari’a legal reasoning but also mounts an argument that the imposition of modern state structures fundam... [family values] [homosexuality] [Islam]

July 2, 2PM

My two major projects for the summer — my Islam syllabus and Creepiness — are now basically done. There will be further work on both (continued background reading on Islam and the process of editing on Creepiness), but they will no longer req... [boredom] [to-do lists]
My two major projects for the summer — my Islam syllabus and Creepiness — are now basically done. There will be further work on both (continued background reading on Islam and the process of editing on Creepiness), but they will no longer req... [boredom] [to-do lists]
After many years of joking about the project and gradually taking the idea more seriously, this morning I finished a full draft of Creepiness, the final volume of my study of negative character traits in popular culture. Although I still need to make a f... [Creepiness (the book)]
After many years of joking about the project and gradually taking the idea more seriously, this morning I finished a full draft of Creepiness, the final volume of my study of negative character traits in popular culture. Although I still need to make a f... [Creepiness (the book)]

July 1, 5PM

I have completed a draft syllabus for the Introduction to Islamic Thought elective I’ll be teaching at Shimer this fall. While I still have time to tinker — and I am most open to suggestions on the selections from the Qur’an — I a... [Islam] [syllabi] [teaching]
I have completed a draft syllabus for the Introduction to Islamic Thought elective I’ll be teaching at Shimer this fall. While I still have time to tinker — and I am most open to suggestions on the selections from the Qur’an — I a... [Islam] [syllabi] [teaching]

June 30, 9AM

Serious question: Why are mustaches creepy? Filed under: Creepiness (the book) [Creepiness (the book)]
Serious question: Why are mustaches creepy? Filed under: Creepiness (the book) [Creepiness (the book)]

June 27, 4PM

The most difficult part of preparing for my Introduction to Islamic Thought class has not been the task of assembling a list of major thinkers and texts. Though it took some digging and much advice from more experienced teachers and scholars, at the end ... [Islam]
The most difficult part of preparing for my Introduction to Islamic Thought class has not been the task of assembling a list of major thinkers and texts. Though it took some digging and much advice from more experienced teachers and scholars, at the end ... [Islam]

June 25, 7AM

Yesterday I remarked on Twitter that the imitation of Muhammad seems to be much more important for Muslims than the imitation of Christ is for Christians. My wording was exaggerated, suggesting that Christians are opposed to imitating Christ — thou... [Christian Theology] [Islam]

June 24, 9AM

The Bay Area Public School has posted an announcement with details. The first session will be on Monday, June 30th, at 4pm, in downtown Oakland, and we will be reading up to page 34 in Agamben’s Infancy and History. Filed under: Agamben [Agamben]

7AM

It’s a strange moment. The Gremlins, having eaten after midnight and turned from teddy bears into evil reptilian creatures, find themselves in a movie theater. Suddenly, Snow White starts playing — and they are transfixed. They all sing in ... [Economics] [film] [politics of the absurd]

June 20, 5PM

I’ve posted before about the possibility of a reading group this summer through the Bay Area Public School. The details are still being finalized, but I wanted to give an update for those who would like to participate. I’m planning to start ... [Agamben]

June 19, 9AM

It is a commonplace in public policy that exposing citizens to more price signals for important services is an important part of bringing down costs. In the health care arena, for example, it’s often said that the reason medical costs are so high i... [Economics] [neoliberalism]
It is a commonplace in public policy that exposing citizens to more price signals for important services is an important part of bringing down costs. In the health care arena, for example, it’s often said that the reason medical costs are so high i... [Economics] [neoliberalism]

June 17, 2PM

“Sure, I have racist thoughts. I’ve crossed the street to avoid a black man sometimes, but only at night. I mean, at least I’m honest about it, though, right?” “I have had a lot of bad experiences with women, and yes, IR... [ethics] [Television]
“Sure, I have racist thoughts. I’ve crossed the street to avoid a black man sometimes, but only at night. I mean, at least I’m honest about it, though, right?” “I have had a lot of bad experiences with women, and yes, IR... [ethics] [Television]

June 16, 1PM

Five-Hour Energy is one of those products that exists near the back of all of our cultural consciousnesses, at the boundary between “real” products and obvious scams. We might map out that space as bounded on the more legitimate-seeming side ... [Agamben] [politics of the absurd] [Zizek]
Five-Hour Energy is one of those products that exists near the back of all of our cultural consciousnesses, at the boundary between “real” products and obvious scams. We might map out that space as bounded on the more legitimate-seeming side ... [Agamben] [politics of the absurd] [Zizek]

June 15, 9AM

Corey Robin confesses that he rides the subway for hours in order to be able to focus on reading. I have to confess that I once tried it, getting on a Brown Line train in Chicago that would take me around the Loop and back home again with no effort on my... [The lighter side of AUFS]
Corey Robin confesses that he rides the subway for hours in order to be able to focus on reading. I have to confess that I once tried it, getting on a Brown Line train in Chicago that would take me around the Loop and back home again with no effort on my... [The lighter side of AUFS]

June 14, 9AM

The consensus is clear: Orange is the New Black spends too much time on its main character, Piper. I don’t disagree — the other women’s stories are objectively much more interesting, and there’s something disturbing about the fact... [Television]
The consensus is clear: Orange is the New Black spends too much time on its main character, Piper. I don’t disagree — the other women’s stories are objectively much more interesting, and there’s something disturbing about the fact... [Television]

June 12, 8PM

[Editor's note: As part of my more leisurely summer routine, I've hit on a way of achieving the true Star Trek completism that has so long eluded me by watching an original series (TOS) episode every day over lunch. I had already worked about halfway thro... [Star Trek]
[Editor's note: As part of my more leisurely summer routine, I've hit on a way of achieving the true Star Trek completism that has so long eluded me by watching an original series (TOS) episode every day over lunch. I had already worked about halfway thro... [Star Trek]

9AM

I’ve been making slow and steady progress on developing my course in Islamic thought for the fall. I’m starting to see that one of the benefits of Shimer’s text-centered approach is that it makes room for professors to be more explorato... [Islam] [teaching]
I’ve been making slow and steady progress on developing my course in Islamic thought for the fall. I’m starting to see that one of the benefits of Shimer’s text-centered approach is that it makes room for professors to be more explorato... [Islam] [teaching]

June 3, 3PM

There has been something disturbing about the current season of Louie, an undercurrent of anger and even violence that lends Louie’s depressive misadventures a more sinister edge. One episode has him permanently injuring a woman he’s slept wi... [feminism] [Television]
There has been something disturbing about the current season of Louie, an undercurrent of anger and even violence that lends Louie’s depressive misadventures a more sinister edge. One episode has him permanently injuring a woman he’s slept wi... [feminism] [Television]

8AM

For decades, Zizek has been expressing his disdain for teaching. Now, for whatever reason, people are choosing to get worked up about it on Twitter. What’s striking to me is not merely the fact that Zizek’s views on this matter were already ... [Academia] [teaching] [Zizek]
For decades, Zizek has been expressing his disdain for teaching. Now, for whatever reason, people are choosing to get worked up about it on Twitter. What’s striking to me is not merely the fact that Zizek’s views on this matter were already ... [Academia] [teaching] [Zizek]

June 2, 8AM

It’s a serious question. I seem like just the kind of person who would be vegetarian, demographically speaking. I’ve even gone through periods of my life where I was functionally vegetarian much of the time and could easily have made the tra... [boredom]
It’s a serious question. I seem like just the kind of person who would be vegetarian, demographically speaking. I’ve even gone through periods of my life where I was functionally vegetarian much of the time and could easily have made the tra... [boredom]

June 1, 7AM

I have officially arrived in San Francisco for the summer, as part of my ongoing effort to never stay home long enough to feel settled. I’ve mentioned previously that I was interested in doing a reading group, and I’ve been asked by the Bay A... [Book-Discussion Group]
I have officially arrived in San Francisco for the summer, as part of my ongoing effort to never stay home long enough to feel settled. I’ve mentioned previously that I was interested in doing a reading group, and I’ve been asked by the Bay A... [Book-Discussion Group]

May 28, 5AM

It’s difficult to imagine the scale of the postwar abundance compared to previous eras. The US was not only able to completely tear out its old infrastructure and build new while also providing an unprecedented degree of material wealth and securit... [Mad Men]
It’s difficult to imagine the scale of the postwar abundance compared to previous eras. The US was not only able to completely tear out its old infrastructure and build new while also providing an unprecedented degree of material wealth and securit... [Mad Men]

4AM

Is this Left Forum panel a US propaganda psyop? I want to ask my comrades on the left to consider the possibility. After years of research, I have determined that conspiracy-based thinking is just the kind of obscurantism that thrives on the political r... [politics of the absurd] [You make a good point, but aren't you actually completely wrong?] [Zizek]
Is this Left Forum panel a US propaganda psyop? I want to ask my comrades on the left to consider the possibility. After years of research, I have determined that conspiracy-based thinking is just the kind of obscurantism that thrives on the political r... [politics of the absurd] [You make a good point, but aren't you actually completely wrong?] [Zizek]

May 27, 5PM

Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to childhood? Like pain from an old wound, we remember the joy of Christmas — the joy of getting stuff, without having to realize we were being bought off. We wish that it could be that way again. We wish our ... [Mad Men]
Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to childhood? Like pain from an old wound, we remember the joy of Christmas — the joy of getting stuff, without having to realize we were being bought off. We wish that it could be that way again. We wish our ... [Mad Men]

May 26, 4AM

Veronese, “Happy Union” from the Allegory of LoveThis weekend, I had the opportunity to go to the big Veronese exhibit at the National Gallery in London, the largest collection of Veronese’s paintings ever assembled outside Italy. For t... [art] [music]
Veronese, “Happy Union” from the Allegory of LoveThis weekend, I had the opportunity to go to the big Veronese exhibit at the National Gallery in London, the largest collection of Veronese’s paintings ever assembled outside Italy. For t... [art] [music]

May 25, 3PM

I’ve just returned from London, where I was participating in the awkwardly named “Actuality of the Theologico-Political” conference at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. Overall, it was the best conference experience I’ve ... [Adventures in Conference Attendance]
I’ve just returned from London, where I was participating in the awkwardly named “Actuality of the Theologico-Political” conference at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities. Overall, it was the best conference experience I’ve ... [Adventures in Conference Attendance]

May 21, 6AM

As I work on my Islam course for the fall, it occurs to me that I’ll likely have more material than I can use in one course. Hence, I’m pondering the idea of proposing another Islam-related elective for the spring semester as well, which would... [Islam] [Saint Paul] [teaching]
As I work on my Islam course for the fall, it occurs to me that I’ll likely have more material than I can use in one course. Hence, I’m pondering the idea of proposing another Islam-related elective for the spring semester as well, which would... [Islam] [Saint Paul] [teaching]

5AM

Over the last year, The Girlfriend and I invested a truly appalling amount of time in a full viewing of all the contemporary Star Trek series (Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise). Neither of us regard the JJ Abrams films as canon, ... [Mad Men] [The lighter side of AUFS]
Over the last year, The Girlfriend and I invested a truly appalling amount of time in a full viewing of all the contemporary Star Trek series (Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise). Neither of us regard the JJ Abrams films as canon, ... [Mad Men] [The lighter side of AUFS]

May 20, 5AM

In my previous post, I claimed that “the humanities are good for contextualizing and interpreting texts and other text-like human artifacts, particularly artifacts that are regarded as especially authoritative or masterful and that belong to an iden... [Academia] [Biblical Studies]
In my previous post, I claimed that “the humanities are good for contextualizing and interpreting texts and other text-like human artifacts, particularly artifacts that are regarded as especially authoritative or masterful and that belong to an iden... [Academia] [Biblical Studies]

May 18, 7PM

Simply because the humanities are often critical in their approach does not mean that they lead people to contest existing political arrangements. Many if not most of the greatest humanistic scholars of all time were enthusiastic advocates — precis... [Academia]
Simply because the humanities are often critical in their approach does not mean that they lead people to contest existing political arrangements. Many if not most of the greatest humanistic scholars of all time were enthusiastic advocates — precis... [Academia]

May 15, 5AM

Due to my impending travel, I’m going through a weird period where I have simultaneously a lot of downtime and no time at all. Hence it seems like a good time to “pick off” relatively small tasks. One such task is the revision of a tal... [Writing]
Due to my impending travel, I’m going through a weird period where I have simultaneously a lot of downtime and no time at all. Hence it seems like a good time to “pick off” relatively small tasks. One such task is the revision of a tal... [Writing]

4AM

Leon Niemoczynski and Stephanie Theodorou inform me that there will be a Philadelphia Summer School in Continental Philosophy this year that should be right up our readers’ alley. It’s led by John Caputo, on the topic of “Continental Ph... [Conference announcement]
Leon Niemoczynski and Stephanie Theodorou inform me that there will be a Philadelphia Summer School in Continental Philosophy this year that should be right up our readers’ alley. It’s led by John Caputo, on the topic of “Continental Ph... [Conference announcement]

May 14, 10AM

You know, this one. I’ve never faced nearly the level of complaining that some do, perhaps because I’m an old softy and also perhaps because I’m a white dude with a beard. Maybe a combination of the two — one year I should shave ... [Academia] [teaching] [the last analysis]
You know, this one. I’ve never faced nearly the level of complaining that some do, perhaps because I’m an old softy and also perhaps because I’m a white dude with a beard. Maybe a combination of the two — one year I should shave ... [Academia] [teaching] [the last analysis]

May 12, 5AM

As I mentioned a while back, I’m going to be spending the summer in San Francisco. I arrive at the end of the month, and in the meantime, I’ll be very busy with faculty meetings, the Birkbeck conference, and preparing our apartment for the su... [boredom]
As I mentioned a while back, I’m going to be spending the summer in San Francisco. I arrive at the end of the month, and in the meantime, I’ll be very busy with faculty meetings, the Birkbeck conference, and preparing our apartment for the su... [boredom]

May 8, 6AM

My school bag always contains the following items: Two pens A Moleskine notebook A folder which itself contains the following: Instructions for signing onto the wi-fi at the University of Chicago library A periodic table Syllabi for current classes (if ... [The lighter side of AUFS]
My school bag always contains the following items: Two pens A Moleskine notebook A folder which itself contains the following: Instructions for signing onto the wi-fi at the University of Chicago library A periodic table Syllabi for current classes (if ... [The lighter side of AUFS]

May 7, 5AM

It’s an iron-clad rule: whenever someone declares himself [sic] a “contrarian,” you can know with absolute certainty that everything that comes out of his mouth will be a well-worn cliché. Contrarians never say that maybe we should tot... [politics of the absurd]
It’s an iron-clad rule: whenever someone declares himself [sic] a “contrarian,” you can know with absolute certainty that everything that comes out of his mouth will be a well-worn cliché. Contrarians never say that maybe we should tot... [politics of the absurd]

May 6, 11AM

Marty Center Senior Fellow Symposium by Betty M. Bayer Thursday, May 15, 4:00pm Swift Hall Common Room Betty M. Bayer will deliver her Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion Senior Fellows Symposium: “Endings Without End: When Prophe... [blog posts]

4AM

This morning, Anthony retweeted a quote from Justine Tunney, an Accelerationist who recently made some remarks to the effect that the humane genome project had revealed certain genetic inferiorities in those of African descent. The quote was one that may... [politics of the absurd]

May 5, 12 PM

Jump on board with the latest academic trend or don’t. Either way, you’ll regret it. Write an interdisciplinary dissertation or don’t. Either way, you’ll regret it. Teach your heart out in adjunct jobs or just teach a couple classe... [blog posts]

May 4, 5AM

It’s only this year that I’m starting to consciously acknowledge how difficult this time of year is for me. Every year, without fail, I go through a major depression during the month of May (though the worst was actually during what was laugh... [Abelard] [boredom]

May 1, 10AM

A candid photo, taken by Anthony many years ago when he, his partner, his cats, his ferrets, his guinea pigs, and I all shared an apartment.Filed under: animals, Communism, Lenin [Animals] [Communism] [Lenin]

8AM

I welcome any responses, anecdotal or data-driven, faculty or student experiences. My question is whether college writing centers demonstrably contribute to students’ mastery of writing. I can see how extra tutoring would help, and the cynical sid... [Academia]

April 30, 4AM

It is something of a commonplace in Heidegger interpretation that the famous example of the broken hammer provides us access to the present-at-hand (as opposed to ready-at-hand) and hence to the scientific stance toward things. When my class read the rel... [Heidegger] [teaching]

April 29, 6AM

Is it possible to tell a compelling love story any longer? Romantic love is of course fascinating to the couple involved, but from the outside it seems difficult to portray without recourse to stale clichés and contrived conflicts — all the more s... [neoliberalism] [popular culture]

April 25, 8AM

Recently, I started a White House Petition to “abolish the capitalist mode of production.” My intention was mostly sarcastic, as I did not expect the petition to reach even the threshold to get an official response, much less to be acted upon... [Communism]

April 24, 4AM

Hitchhiking used to be commonplace. Now we think of it as dangerous, but studies have shown that one was no more likely to be a victim of a crime while hitchhiking than in any other situation. And it makes sense — when you do a favor for someone, ... [neoliberalism]

April 22, 4AM

[Obligatory disavowal of any implicit claim to be saying something original about Milton.] In the wake of the #CancelColbert saga, I’ve been thinking a lot about the attempt to “subvert from within” — not just Colbert’s metho... [Milton] [popular culture]

April 16, 6PM

I wrote a few weeks ago about the ideological function of free will: we don’t blame people because they have free will, we say they have free will so we can blame them. In the theological realm, the goal of granting us free will isn’t to enhance... [ecology] [Economics] [Political Theology] [politics of the absurd]
I wrote a few weeks ago about the ideological function of free will: we don’t blame people because they have free will, we say they have free will so we can blame them. In the theological realm, the goal of granting us free will isn’t to enhance... [ecology] [Economics] [Political Theology] [politics of the absurd]

April 15, 4PM

On the 15th anniversary of Giorgio Agamben’s Northwestern lectures the Paul of Tarsus Interdisciplinary Working Group presents with support from the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Program in Critical Theory, and the German department. F... [Agamben] [Conference announcement] [Paul Reading Group events]
On the 15th anniversary of Giorgio Agamben’s Northwestern lectures the Paul of Tarsus Interdisciplinary Working Group presents with support from the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Program in Critical Theory, and the German department. F... [Agamben] [Conference announcement] [Paul Reading Group events]

April 11, 10PM

A unified theory — though not a theory of everything. Not philosophy of, with all its implications of dominance and omnicompetence (a philosophy of religion, of law, of fashion are all equally plausible), nor even simply philosophy and — but ... [A Non-Philosophical Theory of Nature Book Event] [Badiou] [Heidegger] [Laruelle] [Political Theology] [Schmitt]

April 5, 5AM

As I worked through God of the Oppressed with my students this week, a disturbing thought occurred to me: I began to detect a homology between Cone’s project (at least as represented in this particular text) and that of Radical Orthodoxy. Part of t... [Cone] [Milbank]
As I worked through God of the Oppressed with my students this week, a disturbing thought occurred to me: I began to detect a homology between Cone’s project (at least as represented in this particular text) and that of Radical Orthodoxy. Part of t... [Cone] [Milbank]

March 27, 7AM

Common sense tells us that we’re morally accountable because we have free will. In reality, the opposite is the case — a free will is attributed to us so that we can be viewed as morally accountable. Put more briefly: we don’t blame pe... [Agamben] [Aquinas] [Christian Theology] [neoliberalism] [Nietzsche]

March 25, 9AM

Let’s say, just in theory, that a friend of mine were to be assigned to teach an introductory course on Islamic thought at a college with a discussion-centric pedagogy based on primary texts. Let’s say further that this friend of mine wants t... [Islam] [teaching]

6AM

This past weekend was my aforementioned seminar on Agamben at the American Comparative Literature Association, at which I delivered this paper (PDF). It was an excellent panel all around — all the papers were substantive, and the discussion was eas... [Adventures in Conference Attendance] [Agamben]

March 23, 8AM

Here is my paper (PDF) for the ACLA session on Agamben that Virgil Brower and I organized. It was the final paper of the seminar and provided an oblique “preview” of the final Homo Sacer volume, The Use of Bodies.Filed under: Agamben, lecture... [Agamben] [Lectures]

March 18, 7AM

We haven’t had enough conference announcements lately, so I thought I’d let you know of the forthcoming event at the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities in London entitled “The Actuality of the Theologico-Political.” I will be ... [Conference announcement]
In The Nomos of the Earth, Schmitt argues that every legal order is founded in a kind of topology that divides the earth into regions and determines the law’s applicability to those regions. His book traces the metamorphosis of this fundamental app... [Agamben] [Schmitt]

5AM

E.L. Kornegay, Jr., a fellow CTS alum, has a new book out with Palgrave, entitled A Queering of Black Theology: James Baldwin’s Blues Project and Gospel Prose. It has been recommended by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, and a sample chapt... [Black theology] [queer theology]

March 15, 11AM

St. Patrick’s Day plays a crucial role in the American holiday calendar, bridging the gap between the post-Christmas “TV event” season (Superbowl, award shows, etc.) and the summertime “grilled meat” season. More importantly... [boredom]

6AM

A couple days ago, I posted a confused series of tweets on the revelation of Heidegger’s anti-Semitism in the recently published “black notebooks.” It was exceptionally unwise to attempt to address this issue in that format, and so I th... [Heidegger] [politics]

March 14, 10AM

As I grow more accustomed to Shimer’s discussion-centered pedagogy, I am increasingly coming to understand that a big part of my job is not simply to encourage students to speak in class, correcting them or encouraging them as appropriate, keeping t... [Shimer College] [teaching]

March 13, 1PM

Next week, Virgil Brower and I will be presiding over an ACLA seminar entitled “Agamben, Capital, and the Homo Sacer Series: Economy, Poverty, People, Work.” The full conference schedule is available for download here. Our seminar’s li... [Agamben] [Conference announcement]

4AM

Whatever you think of their awesome “faculty” (i.e., the roster of people who said they’d hypothetically be open to doing guest lectures), it appears that the intellectual habits that the Global Center for Advanced Studies is inculcating... [Academia] [politics of the absurd]

March 11, 11AM

The Global Center for Advanced Studies is offering a one-credit course on contemporary philosophy of religion. It will consist of four class sessions team-taught by John Caputo, Clayton Crockett, and Creston Davis, with special guest lectures by Thomas A... [Academia] [neoliberalism] [politics of the absurd]

4AM

Kim Jeong Un did remarkably well in his recent election to a seat in North Korea’s supreme people’s assembly. The Western media is being suitably sarcastic about the 100% turnout, of whom 100% voted for the young Kim, but for me it highlights... [Agamben] [Communism]

March 8, 7AM

Anthony noted on Twitter this morning that our humble blog and Women in Theology both feature in an article by occasional commenter Robert Saler on discussions of philosophy and theology online. The last time our name appeared in print (in a column in Ch... [blog posts]

6AM

Some guys came up with a web service called Twitter that would facilitate sending group text messages. They imagined people would use it to help coordinate in-person socializing — for instance, you could send a message to your group of friends sayi... [the last analysis]

March 7, 4AM

The United States Constitution specifies that no state can be involuntarily deprived of equal representation in the Senate, which I take to mean that any state that refused to ratify a constitutional amendment establishing proportional Senate representati... [politics of the absurd]

March 6, 5AM

The other day, Stephen Keating asked me what attracted me to Agamben initially, and I had to confess that at first it was simply a desire to see what the big deal was about Homo Sacer. I found the book pretty baffling, and out of stubbornness (and with s... [Agamben] [Badiou] [Christian Theology] [Zizek]

March 4, 12 PM

I served on a steering committee for a programming unit of the American Academy of Religion for several years, and I have helped plan a seminar for the American Comparative Literature Association national conference this year. I have also proposed paper ... [Academia]

7AM

This week in my humanities course, we’re following up the music unit with a unit on visual art woven together with Heidegger’s Origin of the Work of Art. It’s spread over three days, and I pre-distributed some scans of paintings to them... [aesthetics] [Cézanne] [Heidegger] [van Gogh]

March 3, 12 PM

As far as I understand it, the price of the physical book is a trivial portion of the cost to produce a book. The difference in price between hardcover and paperback may have misled us in this regard, but what you’re paying for with a hardcover is ... [Books] [the last analysis]

4AM

Modern critics of Christianity have repeatedly drawn attention to the recurring trope of the blessed watching the damned being tortured in hell. It appears most forcefully in the famous passage from Tertullian’s De spectaculis that was quoted by bo... [apocalyptic] [augustine]

March 2, 5AM

Heroes of the Holocaust were people just like you.In Remnants of Auschwitz, Agamben writes of a soccer match between the SS and the Jewish Sonderkommando (pg. 26): This match might strike someone as a brief pause of humanity in the middle of an infinite h... [Agamben]

March 1, 5AM

In my Humanities capstone class, we just finished a unit on music, interweaving key modern classical pieces — Wagner’s “Prelude to Tristan und Isolde,” Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of the Faun, Schoenberg’s Pierro... [Hebrew Scripture] [music] [Stravinsky]

February 27, 12 PM

In recent years, it’s emerged as the leading academic cliche, the ultimate objection. Asked quizzically or impatiently, good-heartedly or dismissively, in any case it does not invite an answer. “Yes, but what would that look like?” &#... [Academia]

5AM

It is possible to keep up with research and writing in a teaching-heavy position, even in a position that makes heavy demands on faculty to participate in the administration of the school. The only problem is that it is extremely exhausting and stressful... [Academia]

February 26, 12 PM

Augustine is a difficult writer, and City of God is one of his most difficult works. The problem, it seems to me, is not that of following his arguments on a line-by-line level, or not primarily. Rather, the problem is figuring out why he is even talkin... [augustine]

February 23, 7AM

[The following is a segment from a draft introduction for Creepiness, which did not seem to fit very well with the rest of the argument.] Anyone who undertakes to define creepiness faces seemingly insuperable obstacles. How can we define a concept that ca... [aesthetics] [Creepiness (the book)]

February 20, 7AM

Next Thursday, February 27, I will be giving a talk at Columbia College Chicago’s Cultural Studies Colloquium entitled “Creepiness and Culture.” The talk is at 4pm at the Columbia campus’ 624 South Michigan Avenue building, room 6... [Creepiness (the book)] [Lectures]

February 18, 4PM

The last night before I graduated from Olivet Nazarene University, I lay awake in bed. Looking back, I can now see that I got a lot out of my education there, but at that moment, it seemed like four wasted years — and worse, it seemed like it had s... [messianism]

6AM

I’m part of a group trying to put together a pedagogy panel for the AAR about religious studies people who are in “niche” schools — basically, the kinds of places that don’t have traditional departments, etc., like Shimer, St... [Academia]

February 17, 4PM

Leonardo da Vinci – John the Baptist What are we to make of the fact that Leonardo da Vinci and his students detected a certain kinship between John the Baptist and Dionysus? The two figures seemingly could not be more different — the grim as... [art] [Christian Theology] [Nietzsche]

11AM

In The Birth of Tragedy, one of Nietzsche’s most concrete illustrations of Appolinian art is Raphael’s Transfiguration (pictured above): In a symbolic painting, Raphael, himself one of these immortal “naive” ones, has represented f... [art] [Nietzsche]

February 15, 6AM

I’m starting to notice an alarming pattern: when no one posts, traffic falls. We have so many great posts in the archives that one would think that people would take advantage of gaps between posts to go back and read all our old material, but it a... [housekeeping]

February 13, 6AM

In the devil class, we noted out a strange feature of the New Jerusalem as portrayed in Revelation: the kings of all nations come to pay tribute there. It seems that we are to envision the continued existence of the system of “the nations” in... [Athanasius] [Political Theology]

February 10, 5AM

Imagine there was a new drug that could indefinitely increase a person’s physical strength — the more they have, the stronger they are. In the aggregate, the increased use of this drug would increase the total physical strength of the human r... [Economics]

February 7, 2PM

The question may seem strange, as “influence” is a central category of intellectual history — indeed, without understanding a thinker’s influences, it seems impossible to understand that thinker at all. In practice, however, it of... [Academia]

1PM

AUFS lurker Raúl Zegarra informs me that Notre Dame is inaugurating an annual graduate theology conference this year, with a theme of “The Mission of Academics in the Context of Suffering.” The topic is inspired in part by the 1982 Rio Negro... [Conference announcement]

February 4, 5AM

Recent scholarship has overthrown the dominant image of Gnosticism, which Karen King has shown to derive from a carrying over of anti-heresy polemics into the modern scholarly literature. No single document in the extant texts evinces all the qualities t... [Gnosticism] [Marcion]

February 3, 5AM

This Thursday, February 6, I will be giving a talk at Harvard University entitled “Why Agamben Needs Psychoanalysis,” as part of the Psychoanalytic Practices Seminar. It will be at 4:00 in Room 133 of the Barker Center. The talk will deal wi... [Lectures]

February 1, 12 PM

I have been contracted by Stanford University Press for two further Agamben translations. The first is a pamphlet-length book entitled Pilate and Jesus, which I have promised to complete this summer. The second, and presumably more interesting to most, ... [Agamben] [translation]
After finishing the first season of Enterprise, I can see clearly why it’s universally regarded as the weakest series. Half the characters are totally forgettable, the time travel plot is stupid beyond belief, and the theme song is simply intolerab... [Television]

January 30, 5AM

In my devil class, we read Daniel and Revelation in a short period, attempting to get at the apocalyptic mindset that produced our familiar figure of the devil. I’ve written previously about my theory that Antiochus Epiphanes’ brief but horri... [apocalyptic]

January 26, 6AM

Dasein — the convention of leaving this term untranslated seems to be the single most consistent trait across all English translations of Heidegger. It does have the disadvantage that leaving foreign words untranslated can make them seem like myste... [Heidegger] [translation]

January 25, 7AM

In recent months, faculty from Chicago State University, a public university on the far South Side of Chicago, have taken to the internet to expose the chronic mismanagement of their institution. Their latest find is that the school’s Provost plagi... [Academia] [the last analysis]

6AM

This piece by Sarah Kendzior on the pointlessness of academic publishing is making the rounds. I found myself at once objecting and feeling like I couldn’t object, and on further analysis, it came to seem to me that she was conflating two issues: a... [Academia]

January 24, 12 PM

I love Kant, but I think we all need to just need to admit that the Prolegomena failed to achieve its intention. It claims to be an introduction to the Critique of Pure Reason, but it is borderline incomprehensible if you don’t already broadly know... [kant] [teaching]

January 21, 5AM

Normally one reads the Gospels as all filling out details of the same basic story. This traditional attitude even affects critical scholars, who have focused on questions about the synoptic gospels’ shared source and their incorporation of their ow... [Gnosticism] [New Testament]

January 20, 7AM

It is well known that when straight adolescent males are put into a gender-segregated setting, a vicious cycle begins wherein they will egg each other on to ever more extreme performances of masculinity. These performances necessarily entail the objectif... [Academia] [Gender]

6AM

At Women in Theology, Amaryah Armstrong has a post critiquing the idea of “racial reconciliation”: I want to be clear here that conflict resolution at an interpersonal level is important for life together, but the framework of reconciliation, ... ["the church"] [Martin Luther King Jr.] [Race]

January 19, 6AM

In my talk over the devil at Shimer College, I insisted that the figure of the devil that emerged out of Jewish apocalyptic thinking and had such a distinguished career in Christian theology had to be distinguished from the generic “trickster”... [apocalyptic] [Hebrew Scripture] [Political Theology] [The Devil]

5AM

This semester, I will be giving the following talks: Thursday, February 6, at Harvard University, under the auspices of the Psychoanalytic Practices Seminar, which is sponsored by the Mahindra Humanities Center, I will be giving a talk entitled “Why... [Lectures]

January 16, 10AM

Several years ago, Bruce Rosenstock recommended that I look at 2 Maccabees as a way of contextualizing Paul’s discussion of God’s “adaptive” approach to historical events in Romans 9-11. His general thought was that the Jews had g... [apocalyptic] [Hebrew Scripture] [Political Theology]

January 15, 12 PM

For the last couple years, I’ve been living with a huge Stravinsky boxed set, slowly working my way through it. This overlapped with my teaching as one of the pieces that we use in connection with Ovid in the fine arts course is the Stravinsky/Bala... [music]

January 14, 10AM

I spent the morning rereading the Book of Job for the first day of my devil course, and while many enigmatic passages leapt out at me, none was quite as surprising as this segment from the final chapter (emphasis added): And the Lord restored the fortunes... [Hebrew Scripture]

January 13, 7PM

We had to confront it eventually, and tonight The Girlfriend and I started Enterprise. I’m already fairly familiar with the general parameters of the show due to my fascination with reading Memory Alpha, and it seems clear to me that the show was n... [Television]

6AM

This semester, I’m teaching Humanities 4: Critical Evaluation in the Humanities (syllabus), an elective on The Devil in Christian Thought (syllabus), and a small tutorial/directed reading that I’m calling Heidegger’s Middle Period (provi... [Shimer College] [teaching]

January 11, 9AM

For the past two days, the Shimer faculty was involved in an assessment workshop with a knowledgable consultant who was so enthusiastic about our program that he offered his services for free. One thing that struck me was that I had been thinking of asse... [Academia] [teaching]

January 9, 7AM

The best books in the humanities have the structure of a really cool grad seminar. They bring together a compelling reading list, striking the right balance between cutting edge “cool” stuff, stuff you know you should read but maybe havenR... [Academia]

6AM

It’s as though life is a constant election. With our every choice, we signal our preference, and someone or something (public opinion, the market, etc.) registers it and acts accordingly. We don’t simply consume things — we “supp... [boredom]
In the U.S., our weather reports respect both sides of the analytic/continental divide, giving us both the empirical temperature and a phenomenological account of what temperature it feels like (wind chill or heat index). This can lead to some confusion.... [boredom]

January 7, 4AM

As I’ve mentioned before, The Girlfriend and I planned a trip to Paris for this winter break. In addition to being near-perfectly timed to avoid the catastrophic cold in Chicago, it also proved to be a particularly fruitful moment for me, given tha... [art]

December 23 2013, 7AM

One point from Hardt and Negri’s Empire has always stood out to me: namely, that institutions typically become more powerful as they break down. The most familiar example is the university, which has in many ways squandered its cultural credibility... [Academia] [Economics] [family values] [Hardt] [Negri]

December 22, 8AM

This year, we are taking a year off from Christmas. The Girlfriend and I resolved at some point this summer that we would not travel to see either of our parents over the holiday — a choice made easier by the fact that it was my family’s R... [family values]

December 14, 6AM

Suey Park has written a post detailing the kinds of unhelpful responses people with anxiety disorders often receive from their professors. The question of how to help students deal with their anxiety is one that has bothered me since I started teaching &... [Academia] [teaching]

December 13, 6AM

The year is not yet over, but we can add new notable posts that are written after this date. The past year was not as exciting as 2012, when (to speak only of the biggest highlight) Brandy dropped a series of bombs on the theology blogging world after AA... [year-end wrap-up posts]

December 9, 8AM

The Girlfriend and I continue to obey some obscure drive to watch all of Star Trek, and currently we’re in the sixth season of Voyager. One of the most controversial characters in that series was Seven of Nine, a liberated Borg drone who was added ... ["the church"] [Star Trek] [Television]

December 6, 8AM

Like many people, I have a vague if unexamined sense that non-violent resistence is somehow the “best” political strategy — even if it doesn’t work under all circumstances, it would in any case be somehow better or preferable to us... [politics] [violence]

December 4, 5AM

Yesterday I received an Amazon shipment that included piano books collecting pieces by Debussy and Satie. When these were added to my collection, I felt fairly satisfied with my holdings in terms of “hitting the bases.” Along with those two,... [music]

December 3, 6AM

Inside Higher Ed has published an expanded version of my piece on teaching Shimer’s Humanities 1: Art and Music. The most notable addition is an introductory bit on Rancière’s Ignorant Schoolmaster. Filed under: Ranciere, Shimer College, te... [Ranciere] [Shimer College] [teaching]

December 2, 6AM

Following Chomsky’s advice, I follow the business press to see what the ruling class thinks is going on in the world, and more specifically, I subscribe to Bloomberg Businessweek, which occasionally allows reality to creep in (global warming is real... [Economics] [politics of the absurd]

November 30, 6AM

It’s well known that dystopia is the hottest teen trend since vampires, but it’s more than a momentary trend — dystopia has been a staple of young adult literature and high school curricula for decades at this point. It’s very str... [nihilism] [popular culture]

November 28, 6AM

I took a year off from the AAR this time around. What did I miss?Filed under: blog posts [blog posts]

November 26, 7AM

The ending of Kakfa’s short story “A Hunger Artist” is strange, even for Kafka — in fact, it initially makes the story seem like kind of a “shaggy dog” story. After detailing the rise and fall of a professional faster,... [art] [Kafka]

November 23, 8AM

My course over Being and Time is nearly complete. On our last remaining day, we will be reviewing the introduction as a way of reviewing the whole — this week, we finished the final chapter and did one last “review day” over the last tw... [Heidegger]

November 19, 9AM

In the fifth chapter of Division Two of Being and Time, Heidegger addresses the question of Dasein’s historicity and how it relates to the academic discipline of history. He argues that authentic historical study must not content itself with a cata... [Heidegger] [Mad Men]

November 17, 10AM

When I was growing up, environmentalist propaganda efforts were in full swing. I learned about environmental problems in school. I watched Captain Planet at home. Recycling programs were rolling out in local communities for the first time. My father, ... [ecology] [eschatology]

November 14, 8AM

One way to understand the OOO project is to say that other entities are more Dasein-like than we might have expected. They too disclose each other’s possibilities, even when Dasein isn’t there to intermediate the encounter. The notion that o... [Heidegger]

November 12, 5AM

In recent years, a reactionary discourse on rape has infected our political discourse. While American attitudes and practices on this issue have always been alarmingly inclined to naturalize men’s violent impulses and blame the victim whenever poss... [feminism]

November 10, 12 PM

I recently had the misfortune of watching Star Trek Into Darkness. It is of course an utter failure as a film — a convoluted and contradiction-laden plot barrels along with no character development whatsoever — and as an adaptation of Star Tr... [politics of the absurd]

November 9, 9AM

The other day, I was hit by a biker while crossing the street. He came out from behind a bus, barrelling at full speed, even though he was approaching a red light. As he tried to stop, he flew over his handle bars, head-butting me in the side of his hea... [public transit]

November 7, 6AM

I have grown increasingly annoyed at a prevelant tendency in my corner of academia: judging a book by its promises rather than its achievement. The phenomenon jumped out at me most forcefully with Zizek and Milbank’s Monstrosity of Christ — p... [Academia]

November 6, 3PM

As I near the end of my class on Being and Time, I am of course confronted with the fact that the book is “incomplete” — a fact that my students periodically bring up, as if anticipating that after all their hard work, they will simply b... [Heidegger]

November 4, 4PM

George Frederic Watts, The Minotaur (1885)Filed under: art [art]

3PM

Lately I have been pondering the direction Agamben’s Homo Sacer project might take as it approaches completion. In The Highest Poverty, he promises us a theory of “use,” the problem that the Franciscans open up but never adequately deve... [Agamben] [Christian Theology]

12 PM

This is a reminder that the deadline for applying to Shimer College’s new two-year, full-tuition scholarship for transfer students is next Friday, November 15. In addition to sumbitting the regular application materials, students will need to write... [Shimer College]

5AM

The fine arts course I’m teaching at Shimer is based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which has inspired countless works of music and visual art. It strikes me that if any more recent figure has the potential to serve as such a productive basis for a... [art] [boredom] [Kafka] [music]

November 2, 3PM

Further specification: for practical use in an undergraduate class. If we have time, maybe we could also discuss why on earth a new translation of Dante seems to come out approximately every two months.Filed under: Help [help]

October 31, 4AM

Yesterday, I delivered a lecture at Shimer College entitled “A Brief History of the Devil,” and the text of my talk is available in PDF form here. The talk is aimed at an undergraduate level, and so I did not include much theoretical or schol... [Lectures] [Shimer College] [The Devil]

October 27, 11AM

I watch a lot of Hulu, and so I watch a lot of commercials — indeed, a lot of repetitions of each individual commercial. I go through cycles: I’m initially relieved to see a new commercial to break the monotony, then instantly sick of it alre... [the last analysis]

October 21, 11AM

On Wednesday, October 30, at 3:15, I will be giving a lecture a Shimer College entitled “A Brief History of the Devil.” It will be a partial sneak preview of my long-promised project on the devil, providing what one early reader of the text f... [Lectures] [Shimer College] [The Devil]

October 20, 7AM

The discipline of political theology begins from the fundamental homology between the human and divine sovereign, but the historical experience of political theology begins from their disjuncture. The political theology of the Hebrew prophets was devised... [Agamben] [Schmitt] [Taubes]

October 16, 11AM

The last decade has witnessed an explosion in supernatural themes, in novels, movies, and television. Vampires and zombies have been particularly successful, but few mythological creatures have been left totally unexplored. That’s why the absence ... [Television] [The Devil] [the last analysis]

October 14, 6AM

Lately The Girlfriend and I have been watching Star Trek: Voyager, the first Trek series to feature a woman captain. The transition is different from the shift to a black captain in Deep Space Nine — whereas Sisko’s blackness (like Geordi LaF... [feminism] [Television]

October 11, 2AM

As promised, below is the English transcript of my forthcoming interview over Zizek and Theology. 1. In general, what are the fundamental formulations of Žižek on theology? Žižek interprets Christianity along Hegelian lines, as an enactment of the dea... [Interviews] [Zizek]

October 10, 2PM

After our joint interview over Agamben, the Brazilian publication Unisinos has asked both of us to do our own solo interviews, Colby’s over his recent book Between the Canon and the Messiah (which is apparently printed in pure gold, judging by the p... [Interviews]

October 8, 12 PM

The Billfold asks several people what they’d do with a $20,000 windfall, and the result is predictable — the majority are thinking primarily of paying off debt. My impulse is similar. I’d put half of it into savings, almost just for th... [the last analysis]

7AM

I’m about halfway through teaching Shimer’s Humanities 1: Art and Music. So far, we have done a couple weeks of intro each for visual arts and music, then started a sequence based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which has inspired a large numb... [art] [music] [Shimer College] [teaching]

October 7, 2PM

This morning, I deleted a couple of attempted comments on Steven’s recent post, in which it was objected that the post was hypocritical in stereotyping white dudes while speaking out against stereotypes, etc. The Girlfriend felt I should let them t... [politics of the absurd]

October 6, 12 PM

I’m going to continue to post on the new scholarship for transfer students at Shimer College approximately once a week until the application deadline of November 15. We find that Shimer often proves to be a good fit for students who are bored or fr... [Shimer College]

October 2, 1PM

I’m lucky to be able to teach at a school I really believe in. I’ve written before about the distinctiveness of Shimer College’s pedagogy and about all the ways it cuts against the trends toward narrow over-specialization and one-size-f... [Shimer College]

October 1, 2PM

Far be it from me to criticize people for analyzing television. I’ve written two books on the topic and plan to write a third. Yet there’s something about internet television criticism that exhausts me, above all the episode-by-episode ̶... [blog posts] [Television]

6AM

With the Son and the Holy Spirit still deadlocked on key issues, God the Father announced today that divine providence would be shutting down, effective immediately. This is the first providence shutdown since the Filioque controversy that famously led t... [Christian Theology] [politics of the absurd]

September 29, 8AM

Watching the budget and debt ceiling saga unfold, I have reluctantly concluded that the Republican Party is not corrupt and power-hungry enough. While there have always been protest parties that have the luxury of embracing abstract principles, actual ru... [politics of the absurd]

September 28, 7AM

The two main passages on das Man (the “they”) in the first division of Being and Time (sections 27 and 34-38) present us with a jarring shift in tone. Though Heidegger repeatedly emphasizes that he’s not making any kind of evaluative ju... [Heidegger] [ideology]

September 26, 7AM

We live in an era where there is a deep desire to view humans as machines. Humans are not machines — they are free beings who can do surprising things for a variety of reasons or no particular reason at all — but our whole society is set up t... [Communism] [Economics] [politics]

September 23, 4PM

My students and I agree — Heidegger’s use of the term “understanding” (Verstehen) in sec. 31 of Being and Time seems very counter-intuitive. His “interpretation” (auslegung) seems to be closer to what we would commonly... [Heidegger] [translation]

September 20, 7AM

One of the most striking scenes in Melancholia comes when Justine and Claire step outside the mansion to see the sky lit up by two large heavenly bodies: the moon and the planet Melancholia. Claire suddenly notices that Justine is missing, and when she f... [Antigone] [Kierkegaard] [Lacan] [Melancholia]

September 19, 2PM

Last night, The Girlfriend and I rewatched Melancholia and cast an analytical eye on the opening sequence. (I would include a video here, but the only YouTube versions I can find have alternate music, which makes me kind of sick to my stomach.) Many of ... [Melancholia]

September 18, 11AM

Colby Dickinson and I recently did an interview over Agamben for the Brazilian publication Unisinos, which was translated into Portuguese and recently published. We decided to publish the original English transcript for the benefit of non-Portuguese speak... [blog posts]

September 17, 7AM

Happy Constitution Day, everyone! You may not have noticed this sacred holiday, but I cannot help but be aware of it. This is because every institution of higher learning is required to commemorate Constitution Day with some type of public event, as a c... [blog posts]

September 15, 6AM

The Borg are probably the most enduring contribution of Next Generation-era Star Trek to the public consciousness, but after finishing Deep Space 9, I think the Dominion deserves further consideration. While the Borg were a simplistic version of “f... [Plato] [Television]

September 12, 2PM

One often hears intellectuals adopting anti-intellectual positions. Academics routinely deride the “Ivory Tower,” for instance, and highly educated theologians insist on the superior insights of the people in the pews. There’s apparent... [Academia] [politics of the absurd]

September 10, 8AM

Periodically, someone asks me about the ads on the site. They never show the ads to me, and so I don’t give it a lot of thought. It’s part of the price of having a free WordPress account. I’m not really open to claims that having ads ... [housekeeping]

5AM

Rebecca Solnit has a diary in a recent LRB in which she reflects on the shift in the texture of time that has taken place since the mid-90s. It would be easy to read this piece and start debating some of the generalizations she makes, though I think she ... [Technology]

September 8, 4AM

In Opus Dei, Agamben claims that there are two ontologies at work in the Western tradition: the ontology of being and the ontology of having-to-be or of command. In some ways, this corresponds to Heidegger’s discussion of the Greek and Christian on... [Agamben] [Heidegger]

September 5, 5AM

Yesterday on Twitter I made one of those jokes that is bound to become a reality at some point: I proposed developing a “Great Television Shows of the Western Tradition” sequence similar to a “Great Books” curriculum. There are a... [Shimer College] [Television]

4AM

This semester, I am teaching Humanities 1: Art and Music, which was the last of the Humanities sequence at Shimer College that I had left. It has prompted a lot of thought on the capstone course, Humanities 4, which has gone through many different incarn... [teaching]

September 3, 3PM

It’s widely agreed that the lack of women’s awkwardness is a glaring fault in Awkwardness. I defended myself initially by claiming that there were not very many women characters or woman-centered shows that belonged to the contemporary “... [Awkwardness (the book)] [feminism]

August 30, 1PM

One thing that is perhaps surprising about Being and Time, for someone familiar with the later Heidegger and with the continental tradition that grew out of his work, is how positive it seems to be about science. He never denies that science is extremely... [fascism] [Heidegger]

August 29, 7AM

I have been known to say that I would find the figure of the “activist academic” more plausible if academics hadn’t failed so abyssmally in the case of their own institutions. As I reflect on the idiocy of a potential “humanitaria... [politics]

5AM

A poll has been making the rounds indicating that a substantial number of Louisiana Republicans view Obama as primarily responsible for the Hurricane Katrina response: According to a Public Policy Polling survey, 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans say Pr... [politics of the absurd]

August 25, 9AM

It should be clear to my Twitter followers that I’m deeply skeptical of the nascent Global Center for Advanced Studied headed up by Creston Davis and Patrick Provost-Smith. It seems to me to be a repetition of the model of the long-standing Europea... [Academia]

August 24, 7AM

One part of the president’s new higher education plan that particularly worries me is the requirement to collect data on graduates’ job prospects. This is because I teach at a very small school that has the rare distinction of arguably having... [Academia] [Shimer College] [the last analysis]

August 20, 7AM

This weekend, I went on a Twitter rant in which I took the extreme position that Wikileaks had done no good whatsoever, then challenged defenders to prove me wrong. It took a while to get even one concrete example of a change directly attributable to the... [politics]

August 19, 10PM

Roberto Esposito’s Living Thought is a strange hybrid of a book. On the one hand, it’s an extremely erudite and yet readable history of Italian philosophy, but on the other hand, it’s also a creative and constructive work of philosophy.... [Benjamin] [Freud] [Keller] [Laurel Schneider] [Living Thought Book Event]

August 18, 8AM

Time-travel plots seem to fall into two broad categories. The first is a variation on Greek tragedy, where the very attempt to change past events actually itself causes what it was meant to prevent. (I like to tell my students that Oedipus Rex is actual... [The lighter side of AUFS]

August 16, 6AM

The twentieth century saw the advent of two heavily state-driven strategies for capital-intensive economic development: communism and neoliberalism. The difference is that communism focused on the development of fixed capital (above all, “heavy ind... [Communism] [neoliberalism]

August 15, 3PM

My summer came to an abrupt end on Monday, when Shimer College held its annual all-staff meeting — which was followed by two days of faculty meetings. In this brief window before classes start up next week, it seemed appropriate to reflect on this ... [The lighter side of AUFS]

August 13, 6AM

First, I’m alarmed by the fact that the discussion has been so dominated by white dudes who are sick of privilege discourse. That being said, I want to boil down my problem with the term as it has emerged out of that discussion. My problem is not ... [blog posts]

August 12, 5AM

Reader Joshua Carp alerts me to a project he’s working on called GradPay. It’s a brief survey that asks graduate students about their stipends and benefits (if they get any) and their teaching responsibilities. The results of the survey are a... [the last analysis]

August 10, 6AM

In an individualistic culture, it can be difficult to get people to recognize structural inequality without making them feel as though they are being accused of personal wrongdoing. Privilege discourse is one of the most widespread methods for bridging t... [ideology] [neoliberalism]

August 9, 5AM

Inside Higher Ed has published an expanded version of my post on grad school financial planning. I took the opportunity to make sure people knew that I was living an austere lifestyle and trying not to go into debt for ongoing expenses unless absolutely ... [the last analysis]

August 8, 8AM

In The Kingdom and the Glory, Agamben proposes that there are two competing paradigms in Western politics: political theology and economic theology. Two questions immediately arise. First, if the “theological” appears in both paradigms, why ... [Agamben]

August 7, 5AM

Periodically, we learn that employers need a particular set of skills and universities should re-tool accordingly. These in-demand fields command higher wages, and so students are encouraged to flock to them. Indeed, politicians often claim that produci... [Academia] [Economics] [the last analysis]

August 5, 6AM

When I was teaching Marx last year, I joked with my students that a job was such a terrible fate that I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. It wasn’t only a joke, though — until I got my academic job, I always hated having a job. I kno... [the last analysis]

August 4, 7AM

When I was in grad school, I faced near-constant financial problems. My income was barely adequate, and the variety of streams it came from meant that my access to the money I’d already earned was often delayed in unpredictable ways. My one advant... [Academia] [the last analysis]

August 1, 2PM

I posted a couple tweets about clothing this afternoon, and since Craig expressed annoyance, I figured it would be a good idea to do a whole blog post! I joked to Craig that trying to conform to something like traditional men’s dress was an integra... [boredom]

July 31, 10AM

I have become increasingly frustrated with any discussion of the national debt — equally so with conservative scare-mongering and lukewarm liberal responses of the type “well, the deficit is a really serious long-term problem, but….̶... [Economics] [politics of the absurd]

July 26, 6AM

One of the most valuable parts of my summer seminar (which just ended yesterday) was that it gave me a chance to really work through Freud’s key texts on the drives. The one that has stayed with me the most is Triebe und Triebschicksale (Drives and... [Freud]

July 22, 10AM

It’s right in the name — the U.S. is a union of “states.” But what is a state in this sense? What makes a state a meaningful political unit? What’s more, what makes a state meaningfully sovereign, such that the powers gran... [politics] [Race]

July 20, 5AM

Yesterday during one of my Twitter rants, I reintroduced an idea I had floated several years ago: namely, that the creation of a corporation that could actively reorganize production while expanding could be a possible vehicle for leftist goals. After al... [Economics] [Marxism]

July 19, 5AM

Before the advent of Stand Your Ground laws, to claim self-defense you had to demonstrate that you genuinely had no other option. Violence was supposed to be a last resort, and even if the other guy clearly started it, you had no legal defense if you gra... [politics of the absurd] [Race] [Schmitt]

July 18, 5AM

America has a deep passion for declaring “wars” on abstract entities: the War on Drugs, the War on Crime, the War on Terror. It’s a strange usage, because traditionally, wars are carried out between two groups of human beings, rather th... [politics of the absurd] [Race]

July 17, 5AM

One thing that has jumped out at me in my recent study of Freud is his interest in the relationship between ontogeny and phylogeny. He really wants to be able to extrapolate from the personal histories of his patients to the origin of the human race R... [Freud]

July 16, 5AM

This quotation from 2 Thessalonians 3:10 is often trotted out to make the case against government benefits for the poor. What I’d like to do in this post is to clarify the context of this quotation to show that it cannot be construed to contradict ... [Economics] [eschatology] [politics of the absurd] [Saint Paul]

July 15, 4AM

Many people have been asking the rhetorical question, “What if Zimmerman and Martin’s races had been reversed? Would a black man be allowed to ‘stand his ground’?” It’s obvious that the result would have been very, ve... [fascism] [Race]

July 11, 5AM

Neoliberalism always presupposes production. It is not interested in how it happens or how to cultivate it — indeed, its typical strategies evince an assumption that it exists more or less automatically and the goal of the market is to find and rew... [neoliberalism]

July 10, 6AM

Yesterday in the DAAD seminar led by Eric Santner that I’ve been participating in, we talked about Triebe und Triebschicksale and Jenseits des Lustprinzips. Prof. Santner emphasized the fact that the concept of “drive” is more the name ... [Freud] [Heidegger] [Psychoanalysis] [Santner] [Zizek]

July 9, 6AM

Neuroscience has given rise to one of the most absurd and pathetic versions of reductionism ever seen, one that purports to “explain” one of the most complex realities we know — the subjective experience of consciousness — simply b... [Freud] [philosophy] [science]

July 8, 6AM

Crooked Timber has announced their ten-year anniversary, which reminds me that my ten-year mark passed a few days ago, on July 1. That’s right, I was blogging just slightly longer than Crooked Timber has existed! When I started The Weblog (with a... [blog posts]

July 7, 4AM

This may shock you, but when I was a child, I was a bit of a nerd. I enjoyed comic books, sci-fi, and fantasy. At a certain point I put such childish things behind me and began reading Serious Literature, but I think that I benefited a great deal from m... [life of the mind]

July 5, 7AM

We’re always trying to do our second reading first. We do background reading, we look at introductory works — in short, we want to somehow “already know” the text before reading it. We can also get ahead of ourselves while doing ... [Academia]

July 2, 5AM

It’s been four years since I finished my PhD, and lately I’ve been reflecting on how much things have changed since then, particularly how much they’ve changed since I got my permanent position at Shimer College. There was a moment when... [life beyond grad school]

June 26, 11AM

I want to begin by saying that the Supreme Court decisions today in favor of gay marriage are an unambiguously positive thing, a step forward for justice and equality. While I am skeptical for various reasons of the gay rights movement’s strategic ... [neoliberalism] [family values]

8AM

In his essay on “Fetischismus” (Studienausgabe, vol. III, pg. 383), Freud’s first example is a puzzling one: Am merkwürdigsten erschien ein Fall, in dem ein junger Mann einen gweissen “Glanz auf der Nase” zur fetischistische... [Freud] [translation]
Yesterday, one of the participants in the DAAD Summer Seminar I’m a part of, Jennifer Hosek of Queen’s University, shared a valuable foreign-language teaching resource that she’s helped to develop: LinguaeLive. The site is a way of givi... [Language] [teaching]

June 25, 7AM

This season of Mad Men was not much fun. Not that they ever really are — but this season was sad in a different way, a more anxiety-provoking way. We’re all sick of Don Draper by this point, sick to death of his compulsions, his past, his al... [Mad Men]

June 21, 5AM

Which comes first, balance or imbalance? Which is more primordial? Many would have it that balance comes first, that there is a preestablished harmony that is then disturbed, often by human willfulness. In our contemporary world, for instance, many wou... [Agamben] [Christian Theology] [Economics] [Freud] [Hegel] [Lacan] [Psychoanalysis] [Zizek] [Zupancic]

June 19, 1AM

I’ve been reading Karen King’s What is Gnosticism? as part of my research for the devil book. A challenge I’m facing is that I believe that patristic polemics against Gnosticism are a very important point of reference for understanding ... [Gnosticism]

June 18, 5AM

Christian Thorne has a really great essay on Zizek up, which promises to be the first of three. He argues that the main point of Zizek’s work is to provide a way out of the deadlock of enjoyment on the left — neither the ascetic and over-inte... [Agamben] [Zizek]

June 17, 5AM

[Disclaimer: I do not claim or attempt to say anything original here. I'm just trying to think through Marx's theory. I realize this is an area where I've put my foot in my mouth in previous posts, and I'm open to correction.] Marx’s labor theory ... [Marx]

June 16, 8AM

I just scrolled through the last 200 comments left here. Out of the last 100, only three appeared to come from women and only one came from a commenter I knew to be a person of color. Of the next-oldest group of 100, there was much greater diversity, st... [blog posts]

June 13, 8AM

What’s the deal with the final syllable of Bewusstsein, the German word for “consciousness”? It seems as though the more natural formation would be something like Bewusstenheit — I’m not aware of other words that substitute ... [translation]

5AM

After the recent revelations about the extent of NSA spying, many responded by saying that only a naive idiot wouldn’t assume that such things were already going on. And in a lot of ways, that’s true — the executive branch in general, a... [politics of the absurd]

June 10, 5AM

Perry Anderson has a good piece in the most recent New Left Review contextualizing the Obama administration in the broader sweep of postwar U.S. politics. It provides an account of the economic factors that I more or less bracketed in my post on the U.S.... [politics]

June 8, 5AM

Voyou recently pinpointed one of the peculiarities of Game of Thrones: Part of the problem here is the audience judging the characters by contemporary liberal-democratic norms, but the more serious problem is that, although, as fans like to remind us, the... [ideology] [Television]

June 7, 5AM

What is it like to be a torturer? Certainly some of them are just sadists, and they will naturally gravitate to that kind of work. What about the “good people,” though? What about the people who are initially repulsed by what they’re ... [politics]

June 6, 8AM

Speculations IV is now available. Among the many interesting articles, one can find my modest reflections [PDF] on the inherent dangers of academic blogging as a medium. Filed under: blog posts [blog posts]

4AM

Every summer, I come down with a case of existential angst. As the immediate demands of the school year slow down and the space for some self-directed work opens up, it seems that broader questions inevitably open up as well — what is the point of ... [Christian Theology] [Economics] [neoliberalism]

June 5, 5AM

The white abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was also a strong proponent of women’s rights. In 1853, he was at a women’s rights convention where a man complained that the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments unfairly impugned men’s c... [blog posts]

June 4, 4AM

Los Angeles Review of Books has published a piece of mine on How to Read Agamben, a kind of sequel to How to Read Žižek. Next, I’ll start working my way through how to read philosophers closer to the middle of the alphabet — perhaps Nancy? ... [Agamben]

June 3, 6AM

In the first-season episode “The Hobo Code,” which in many ways is the most important of the series, Don Draper is selling Peggy’s copy to a reluctant client. He goes on the offensive, asking them to leave if they aren’t serious a... [death of God] [Freud] [Gnosticism] [Mad Men] [Television]

June 2, 6AM

One of the dominant themes of the first season of Mad Men is Jewishness. In the very first episode, Sterling Cooper is courting the Jewish department store Menken’s, which is trying to convert to a more mainstream luxury format under the leadership... [Judaism] [Mad Men] [Television]

June 1, 5AM

This post is dedicated to @EmergentDudeBro. I have been known to mock the New Atheism, for example by suggesting that reading Marx will “blow their minds.” My reason for saying this, of course, is that Marx responded to his generation’s... ["the church"]

May 30, 5AM

My post on the ontology of academia seems to have been widely misunderstood. Indeed, this was so much the case that it pushed me to the brink of despair about blogging as a pursuit — a dynamic that people’s insistence on reading my descriptiv... [Academia] [Agamben] [blog posts] [ontology] [Schmitt]

May 29, 8PM

For the last five years or so, I have had an ongoing project of trying to visit as many stops on the Chicago “L” system as possible. I have developed a series of rules for myself in this regard: Sincere usage: I cannot go to the stop simply ... [public transit] [The lighter side of AUFS]

May 28, 4AM

Via @traxus4420, I find a piece that is basically the opposite of my ontological analysis of academia: a call for the abolition of credentials. One of the most fascinating things about it is that it comes from the late 70s, but feels very timely. What ... [Academia]

May 25, 6AM

This morning, I posted a series of tweets mocking The New Atheism. It was probably inevitable, then, that I got embroiled in a long discussion with a white dude who was very concerned to clarify that they’re not all like that. And I’m sure t... [boredom]

May 22, 4AM

Last night, I presented this paper (PDF) to the Paul of Tarsus Interdisciplinary Working Group at Northwestern University. In it, I try to situate The Highest Poverty in relation to Agamben’s work since The Kingdom and the Glory, and at the end, I ... [Agamben] [Economics] [Negri] [neoliberalism]

May 21, 5AM

Last year’s instructors of Humanities 1 (Art and Music) developed a new format for the class that is loosely organized around Ovid’s Metamorphoses, a text that has inspired a lot of art and music and is also in large part about human creativit... [art] [Heidegger] [hermeneutics] [husserl] [syllabi]

May 16, 2PM

Next Monday and Tuesday, the Paul reading group at Northwestern will be hosting two talks, one by me over Agamben’s Highest Poverty and the other by Aidan Tynan over Deleuze’s relationship to Paul. Details “below the fold.” ADAM ... [Paul Reading Group events]

May 15, 5AM

Yesterday on Twitter, I ventured the hypothesis that the U.S. form of government is, most fundamentally, not a constitutional republic, but a variant on the party-state form — the difference being that there are two parties instead of just one. Thi... [politics]

May 14, 6AM

Fair enough: Mad Men has been on for a long time, and there was bound to be a backlash at some point. What’s interesting to me, though, is the form the backlash has taken. Over and over, people are saying: okay, we get it. The symbolism is heavy-... [Mad Men] [Television]

May 12, 11AM

This time around, it’s not a ridiculous compound, but a single word: “Blase.” It’s the word used to refer to a financial “bubble,” but it also has another meaning: “blister.” The advantages of “blist... [Economics] [translation]

May 10, 12 PM

I’ve been interviewed in Review 31. It starts out with Awkwardness and Sociopaths, but it then branches out into questions of how I see the more properly academic side of my work fitting together with them. I found the interview helpful for thinki... [Interviews]

9AM

I have spent a lot of time with Agamben’s Kingdom and the Glory, but until this time through, I was always baffled by the structure — the whole thing seemed to jump around quite a bit, and the motivation for the investigation of glory seemed d... ["Il Regno e la Gloria" Notes] [Agamben]