January 31, 2011

Holloway on Fractures

Came across an excellent passage in John Holloway's new book Crack Capitalism that is highly relevant to this blog:

"Imagine a sheet o f ice covering a dark lake of possibility. We scream 'NO' so loud that the ice begins to crack. What is it that is uncovered? What is that dark liquid that (sometimes, not always) slowly or quickly bubbles up through the crack? We shall call it dignity. The crack in the ice moves, unpredictable, sometimes racing, sometimes slowing, sometimes widening, sometime narrowing, sometimes freezing over again and disappearing, sometimes reappearing. All around the lake there are people doing the same thing as we are, screaming 'NO' as loud as they can, creating cracks that move just as cracks in ice do, unpredictably, spreading, racing to join up with other cracks, some being frozen over again. The stronger the flow of dignity within them, the greater the force of the cracks."

Man, Controller of the Universe by Diego Rivera

I had something to say about this but I got to lazy. Will post tomorrow. Enjoy the art.

"Screw Your Mother!" - Links and comments on the Egyptian situation

If you have not been completely glued to the reports about the current situation in Egypt, then you need to get on it now. The Huffington Post has been a great resource for up to date reports also Graham Harman's blog has been amazing on providing on-the ground analysis and definitely worth keeping track of.

The Scu has a good post at Critical Animal relating this to the Iranian Revolution, and providing an intriguing distinction between a demonstration and an experiment.

It is good to see that the Egyptian population is not satisfied by reforms and concessions that the state is willing to offer. They are in full realization that the government is not "their" government but owned by the very outside forces that benefit from an illegitimate sovereignty. I think the we are not just on the cusp of a revolution here in Egypt but on the cusp of a global movement as a whole, the situation in Egypt in a great example of a global revolutionary resonance machine that began with the 06 riots in France, to the 08 Greece demonstrations, and now to Egypt. Jean Baudrillard phrased it best in his 06 article The Pyres of Autumn:

"The superiority of Western culture is sustained only by the desire of the rest of the world to join it. When there is the least sign of refusal, the slightest ebbing of that desire, the West loses its seductive appeal in its own eyes. Today it is precisely the ‘best’ it has to offer—cars, schools, shopping centres—that are torched and ransacked. Even nursery schools: the very tools through which the car-burners were to be integrated and mothered. ‘Screw your mother’ might be their organizing slogan. And the more there are attempts to ‘mother’ them, the more they will. Of course, nothing will prevent our enlightened politicians and intellectuals from considering the autumn riots as minor incidents on the road to a democratic reconciliation of all cultures. Everything indicates that on the contrary, they are successive phases of a revolt whose end is not in sight"

Hypertangible Philosophy

"Lines of fracture, inversions, splits, rifts: there is, as it were, a line beyond which, for every expanding system - every system which, by dint of exponential growth, passes beyond its own end - a catastrophe looms."
- Jean Baudrillard, The Intelligence of Evil

To begin with I need to say that I have never felt completely comfortable writing about myself, there is something unsettling about revealing and explaining what might constitute yourself, an awkward intellectual undressing, that ends up seeming like a contrived strip-tease to somehow save face. With that being said my name is Hank Stolte. I come from an impossibly small (my graduating class contains 57 kids) rural Texas town named Thorndale, a town that is just what you would imagine it to be - filled with extreme right-wing/religious/populous sentiments. Probably due to this fact I have always felt more at home with any one who fell outside of these quite rigid and exclusionary categories.

My foray into critical though and philosophy was born through my participation in high school debate, when during the summer between my 8th grade and freshman year I happened across something called the "Nietzsche K" on a site devoted to the activity of debate cross-x.com (an excellent site,btw ). Now a discussion of how high school debate operates or what a "K" is are discussions for other times and places, the important thing is that this chance encounter with a certain dead German philosopher has put me on a trajectory that I am still highly engaged in. After I had read the short spinets of Nietzsche that made up the debate argument, I wanted more, so i got my hands on all the Nietzsche I could find and devoured his works in short time. A while after this the great game of debate introduced me to Marxism and other areas of anti-capitalism, most notably the writings of Slavoj Zizek. After an intellectual upbringing in Nietzsche and an adolescence in Marx my thought turned in probably the only way that was left - I discovered Jean Baudrillard and the rest of the post-68 gang, who still dominate most of my reading time. Other authors i have delved in include Paul Vrillio, Georges Bataille, Giles Deleuze, Felix Guarttari, Micheal Hardt, Antonio Negi, and (to save time) all the others in Brian's list of influences, except Kincheloe and hooks.

Its easy to describe my critical background, but my political grounding is a little more problematic. I would be hard pressed to admit to any political grounding, my ideas normally fluctuate depending on what is influencing me at the time. I don't care to much for teleological and dogmatic ideologies, but it would be safe to say that I probably near the Radical Left, if not in politics than at least in spirit. No matter what I believe is a good strategy for combating it at the time, I will always be put off by forms of violent exclusion. And this is probably how I will treat my participation in Lines of Fracture.There will probably never be a coherent meta-theme to my posts, rather I plan on approaching this blog as an expression of those fluctuations in my thought.

This is an approach I am not only taking in my individual post, but one i hope the blog as a whole embodies. An approach that hopes each post -whether it be scattered thoughts, esoteric prose, commentary on current events, or structured critical analysis- can be the starting point for trajectories that open up spaces for new ways of thinking, no matter how small these spaces may be. That we on this blog can generate ideas that can exploit the stress points of a system, crack and shatter previously solid ground, widen existing schisms, and become the ground work for larger processes of undermining and reorganization  - these are lines of fracture.

January 30, 2011

post-tangible philosophy

Brian D. Gonzaba here,
I'm your friendly neighborhood Critical Constructivist/wannabe post structuralist
Blues singer, future educator, and debater. I went to millard south and ran critical arguments. I've never had any formal training in the traditional aspects of debate and had to learn it later on (i know most of it all now don't worry). I came in to debate and the first thing i did was gain knowledge in the works of Georges Bataille. the first topic I ever debated was the poverty topic from 2009-2010, went strait to my first varsity tournament at KCKCC not knowing anything about the real structures of a debate round/tourney and ended up dropping in the bid round (bragging rights). In the two years debate experience I have I like to pretend like I know what I'm talking about now.

When it comes to critical debating I have done just about every aspect of it, started off as what some would call a "project debater" eventually in a year's time people started calling it "Performance Debate", I just call it life. I also like to think that I am pretty submersed in the literature of some critical revolutionary intellectuals, along with crazy avante garde ks (as evident by some of the arguments my team is known to run).

I guess you could call me a "PoMo standpoint debater", or a "performance nihilist"
a lot of my goals this year involve bridging the gap between pedagogical liberatory praxis and nihilism.

my three main authors are
spanos (read every book)
freire (read every book i could find)
kincheloe (critical constructivism)

but here's a list of authors i have read

hooks (notice I spelled it without caps)

I look forward to telling yall some stuff

Intangible Philosophy

What up, my name is Adam Lipton. I am a junior in High School in San Antonio, Texas which is not exactly the most thrilling place to live on the planet. Ill keep my bio/intro short. The goal of my writings here is to let loose ideas in my head. I dont have a set theme but I think I will discuss current event quite frequently as well as discussions on whatever other subjects I am thinking about. Chris/Hank/Brian do not know this yet but after reading this post they will- I hope to have a section on my part of the blog for all four of us to have discussions on event or ideas as well as have short rants where we write back and forth with each other. I dont hope to have answers to the complex questions, but i do hope to open up space for communication that is typically frowned upon elsewhere. I hope that my blog will fulfill my role as an intellectual guerrilla to point out the flaws in the world we currently live in an attempt to bring those flaws to light. I believe that good thought provoking discussions are awesome and I encourage readers to post comments/email me and we can use those comments/questions as new starting points for "Lines of Fracture."

I wana give a big thanks to Hank for inviting me to this project and to Chris for letting me be a part of it.

Just on a side note I have terrible spelling/typing skills so forgive typos.

Tangible Philosophy

Hello, my name is Chris Leonardi (this should have been tragically obvious by my user name.) I'm a senior in High School in Dumas, TX (pronounced "middle-o'-nowhere") and have been involved in policy debate for coming-on four years now. This experience with policy debate has created a very unique exposure to the world of philosophy and critical theory for me (almost entirely because of Hank and his brother), and is what has led to this collaboration between myself, the Tank, Adam, Gonzaba and others who may contribute in the future. I'll be going to college next year in one of two institutions with top 10 communications programs where I'll work to receive my PhD in political communications studies.

My background in policy debate is rather mixed, and admittedly, boring. I've only ever attended a handful of competitive tournaments, some of which I've won and some of which I've lost, but more wins than losses, which is always a good thing. I won't go into any kind of history of accomplishments or medals or seeds or war stories: mostly because it has nothing to do with this blog, but also because that would be egotistical. Ask if you must.

My background in philosophy, however, is directly relevant, and I will expand on it (at length when necessary.) I began my reading in a very difficult and interesting place: after being defeated on a Nietzschean criticism in a debate round my freshmen year by Hank's older brother Preston (He probably remembers the round, semis of some local on the Africa topic) I decided to read up on this "philosophy" business and see how it was relevant to policy-making. I began with what my parents told me was the beginning of philosophy: a copy of Plato's "Republic". Since then my interest in philosophy has always been tinged with a normative spur to apply our thought to the political. My interests span from Nietzschean explorations of aesthetics and ontology to Marxist strategies of revolutionary organization in contemporary resistance to Deleuze/Guattari's writings to Derridean/Artaudian notions of language. My appetite for thought is interminably expansive. Even if I'm not familiar with a body of work, I'll begin to read it at a mere suggestion or a slight pique of interest. My main focus, out of all of these categories above, is the works of Deleuze and Guattari and their applications to the modern process of politics and the composure of space. While this will (hopefully) be a large part of my field of study in the field of communications as my degree progresses, I aim to use this blog to explore the finer points of how political and communicative/ontological space are formed through the physical aspects of space.

Which brings us to this blog. If you take nothing else from this blog, take this: always search and question new ways to apply the leviathan-esque metaphors and nebulous ideas of writers and thinkers to the world in very particular, active ways. I intend to provide such an outlet for the generation of new lines of thinking that fracture the contemporary frames of reference that form both our physical and metaphysical space by introducing questions and problems about the application of our thought to the world around us.

Welcome to Lines of Fracture: stay awhile and enjoy the view. I take this name as a means of, not of translating thought into action, but of an irreparable blending of the two. Philosophy should not be something left to "high thinkers" and "scholars" - we are all scholars. Thought is the single most potent weapon in human history, and the refusal of the masses to wield it only represents a death of politics. This is a reclamation of philosophical thought for the every-man: let's begin.

Chris Leonardi