amor mundi

Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Previews of Coming Attractions: Syllabus for My Graduate Seminar "Designs On Us" at SFAI This Fall

Designs On Us: The Politics and Anti-Politics of Design

Course Blog: http://designsonus.blogspot.com/
Dale Carrico: dcarrico@sfai.edu; ndaleca@gmail.com

Attendance/Participation, 15%; Reading Notebook, 10%; Presentation, 15%; Symposium Presentation, 10%; Final Paper, 50%

We find ourselves in a world we make, and find that we are made and unmade in the making of it. What are we to make of the abiding artifice that is "the political"? What are we doing when we are doing design and what do we do when we discern that design has designs on us? In this seminar we will think design as a site through which politics are done, but typically done by way of the gesture of a circumvention of the political. At the heart of this disavowed doing of politics we will contend with a perverse conjuration of "the future." The good life is a life with a future, and it is to the future that design devotes its anti-politics at the expense of the open futurity in the political present. Design as a site of "designation" is a gesture of naming as mastery, of reduction as revelation, of problems as provocations to instrumental technique and not stakeholder struggle, an aesthetic with its own paradoxical temporality, publicity, linearity, knowledge. Design as a site of the "designer label" is an indulgence in fetishism, of the commodity-form, an auratic posture, the psychic compensation of lack and its threat. To elaborate and pressure these propositions, we will spend quite a bit of time in the critique of three design discourses in particular: (one) "Green" design which would accomplish sustainability without history, (two) social software design which would accomplish democracy without participation, and (three) eugenic design which would accomplish life-enhancement without lifeway diversity. In your individual presentations I hope we will ramify our attentions to other design sites: comparative constitutions, fashion design, food styling, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, landscape design, "life coaching," and more.

Week One | August 28 -- Introductions

Week Two | September 4 -- Warnings, Maps, Keys

Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology
Jenny Anderson, The Great Future Debate and the Struggle for the World
Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, Race And/As Technology
Lee Vinsel, Design Thinking Is Sort of Like Syphilis: It's Contagious And Rots Your Brain
William Gibson, The Gernsback Continuum

Week Three | September 11 -- Biomimicy, Permaculture and Viridian Design

Bill McKibben, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math
Janine Benyus, A Biomimicry Primer
Cradle to Cradle Design Principles
The Land Institute Vision and Mission and Our Work
David Holmgren, Permaculture Design Principles
Bruce Sterling, Manifesto of January 3, 2000
Viridian Design Principles
Bruce Sterling, Last Viridian Note

Week Four | September 18 -- Green Urbanity and City Planning

Robert Bullard, Poverty, Pollution, and Environmental Racism
Laura Pulido, Flint, Environmental Racism and Racial Capitalism
Anthony Palette, Jane Jacobs Vs. Robert Moses
Mike Davis, Slum Ecology
Mike Davis, Sinister Paradise: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
Stewart Brand, How Slums Can Save the Planet
Deland Chan, What Counts As Real City Planning?
Annalee Newitz and Emily Stamm, 10 Failed Utopian Cities That Influenced the Future 

Week Five | September 25 -- Geoengineering and Techno-Utopian Capitalism

Paul Hawken, Natural Capitalism
Michael Albert, Natural Capitalism?
Marguerite Holloway: New York Squared: The Man Who Mapped Manhatten
Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space and the Stature of Man
Time Magazine on Geoengineering
Scientific American, Has the Time Come to Try Geoengineering?
Naomi Klein, Geo-Engineering: Testing the Waters
General Motors, Futurama, 1939: New York World's Fair "To New Horizons"


Week Six | October 2 -- Internet Histories: p2p as Democracy, e2e as Liberty

John Maynard Keynes, from "Europe Before the War" (a snippet will be posted on our blog)
Tom Standage on his book The Victorian Internet
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas, Chapter Three: Commons on the Wires
Yochai Benkler, Wealth of Networks, Chapter 12: Conclusion
Malkia A. Cyril, The Antidote to Authoritarianism
Saskia Sassen, Interactions of the Technical and the Social: Digital Formations of the Powerful and the Powerless  
Ian Bogost, Net Neutrality Was Never Enough
Emily Drabinski, Ideologies of Boring Things: The Internet and Infrastructures of Race
Zeynap Tufekci, How Social Media Took Us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump

Week Seven | October 9 -- Cyberlibertarianism

Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, California Ideology
Paulina Borsook, Cyberselfish
John Perry Barlow, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace
Eric Hughes, A Cypherpunk's Manifesto
Tim May, The Cryptoanarchist Manifesto
Shannon Mattern, Databodies in Codespace
David Golumbia, Zealots of the Blockchain
Katherine Hayles, Liberal Subjectivity Imperiled: Norbert Weiner and Cybernetic Anxiety
Bruce Sterling, Maneki Neko

Week Eight | October 16 -- Privacy/Publicity; Or, Privation/Publication

David Golumbia and Chris Gilliard, There Are No Guardrails on Our Privacy Dystopia
Flavia Dzoden, When White Fears Become Big Data
Digby (Heather Parton) The Netroots Revolution
Dan Gillmour, We The Media, Chapter One: From Tom Paine to Blogs and Beyond
Clay Shirky, Blogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing
Aaron Bady, Julian Assange and the Conspiracy to "Destroy the Invisible Government"
David Brin, Three Cheers for the Surveillance Society!
Tressie McMillan Cottom, The Real Threat to Campuses Isn't "PC Culture," It's Racism
Madeline Ashby, Domestic Violence

Week Nine | October 23 -- Revolution, Acceleration, Singularity, Seduction

Jaron Lanier, One Half of a Manifesto
Jason Sadowski, Potemkin AI
Jedediah Purdy, God of the Digirati
Vernor Vinge, Technological Singularity
Nathan Pensky, Ray Kurzweil Is Wrong: The Singularity Is Not Near
Michel Bauwens, The Political Economy of Peer Production
Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek, #ACCELERATE Manifesto
Yuk Hui, On the Unhappy Consciousness of Neoreactionaries
Marc Steigler, The Gentle Seduction

Week Ten | October 30 --  Regulation, Reform, Regret

Frank Pasquale, from The Black Box Society
K. Sabeel Rahman, The New Octopus
Trebor Scholz, Platform Cooperativism
Karen Gregory, From Sharing to Cooperation: Lessons from Mondragon
Audrey Watters, The Regrets Industry
L.M. Sacasas, The Tech Backlash We Really Need
Evgeny Morozov, The Perils of Perfectionism
Justin Reynolds, Designing the Future
Hal Foster, Design and Crime

Week Eleven | November 6 -- Posthumanisms and Neoliberal Eugenics

Peter Cohen, dir., Homo Sapiens 1900
C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
Critical Art Ensemble, Eugenics: The Second Wave
Slavoj Zizek, Bring Me My Philips Mental Jacket
Eskow, RJ Homo Futurus: How Radically Should We Remake Ourselves -- Or Our Children?
Amy Goodman Interview with Harriet A. Washington, author of Medical Apartheid
Maggie Fox, Drug Giant Glaxo Teams Up With DNA Testing Company 23andMe
Jasbir K. Puar, The Right to Maim: Disablement and Inhumanist Biopolitics in Palestine 
Octavia Butler, The Evening, the Morning, and the Night (handout)

Week Twelve | November 13 -- screening, dir. Pedro Almodovar, All About My Mother
Donna Haraway, Manifesto for Cyborgs

Week Thirteen | November 21 -- screening, dir., Hiroyuki Kitakubo, by Katsuhiro Otomo, Roujin Z
Alison Kafer, Imagined Futures from Feminist, Queer, Crip

Week Fourteen | November 28 -- Symposium I

Week Fifteen | December 5 -- Symposium II  Hand in final papers and notebooks.

Today's Random Wilde

In old days books were written by men of letters and read by the public. Nowadays books are written by the public and read by nobody.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, August 17, 2018

Friday Feeling


A Public Option for Financial Services

This is a great idea, to which I will append the two added notions that branches of the public bank should be located, among other places, in United States Post Offices (further embedding in the social fabric and hence better insulating these vital public services from incessant reactionary right attacks) and that a system for public financing of elections could eventually be facilitated through the dispersal of a set, equal amount of public funds to every citizen through their public banking account earmarked for expenditure on their preferred candidates...

via The Roosevelt Institute
NEW YORK, NY – In a new report, the Roosevelt Institute calls for the establishment of an alternative option to the currently privatized financial sector. The report, A Public Option as a Mode of Regulation for Household Financial Services in the United States, co-authored by Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mark Paul and Loyola Marymount University Assistant Professor Thomas Herndon, outlines why a new approach to household financial services is necessary and how it could be structured.
The report documents that a large segment of America today is badly served by the traditional financial sector, with 19.9 percent of households being under-banked. A household is deemed under-banked when it either has no access to a checking or savings account at an insured financial institution or has such unreliable access to these entities that it must rely on predatory, high-cost alternatives like payday lenders and pawnshop loans. With basic access to the financial sector a pre-requisite for full participation in the 21st century economy, these exclusions effectively leave nearly one in five households economically stranded. Communities of color are disproportionately harmed by these exclusions.
To ameliorate this economic divide, the report advocates the creation of a public option for finance in which the U.S. federal government would establish a public bank that provides basic transaction services and consumer credit. In addition to meeting the immediate needs of the under-banked, this approach would have the added benefit of setting a new baseline standard for conduct and practices of the entire financial sector. In effect, it would be a bottom-up regulatory tool based on a new and improved floor in how banks can operate and would thus encourage healthy competition in the market.
“In America, it is really expensive to be poor, and our current approach to banking reinforces this harmful dynamic,” said Mark Paul, Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and co-author of the report. “A public option for banking would empower millions of families by giving them a foothold of financial stability. It would also make it much harder for private-sector banks to continue getting away with abusive practices like excessive fees. In one major restructuring of finance, this public option would make our economy more inclusive and bring about a healthy, constructive dose of true competition.”
“Imagine a life with no direct deposit, no visits to the ATM, and no auto-pay on the monthly bills you’d rather forget,” said Thomas Herndon, co-author of the report. “These hardships are just a snapshot of what it’s like to be unbanked—a challenging reality for millions of people in the United States. During the New Deal, this country helped offset the failures of the private banking industry by creating a new set of regulations and public alternatives. By walking away from that progressive spirit and commitment, we ended up with the dysfunctional and exclusionary economy we see today. It’s past time for policymakers to act bold and meet this challenge head-on.”
For years, the Roosevelt Institute has been a leading voice calling for an overhaul of the U.S. banking industry and the need for these changes to bring about a more equitable, broadly prosperous economy. In 2016, the Institute released Untamed: How to Check Corporate, Financial, and Monopoly Power. Paul has contributed to the Institute’s research on how new rules would bring about a better economy. His recent report Don’t Fear the Robots: Why Automation Doesn’t Mean the End of Work was covered in The New York Times and Politico. Last year, Herndon released Liar’s Loans, Mortgage Fraud, and the Great Recession, which documented fraud and consumer protection abuses in the securitized mortgage industry.

Previews of Coming Attractions: Syllabus for My Digital Democratization, Digital Anti-Democratization Course At SFAI This Fall

Critical Theory B | Fall 2018
DIGITAL DEMOCRATIZATION, DIGITAL ANTI-DEMOCRATIZATION

Instructor: Dale Carrico: dcarrico@sfai.edu, ndaleca@gmail.com

Course Blog: http://digitaldemocracydigitalantidemocracy.blogspot.com/2018/08/our-syllabus-digital-democratization.html
Meetings: Mondays, 4.15-7pm, August 27-December 3, 2018, 16A Chestnut Street Campus
 
Rough Basis for Final Grade (subject to contingencies): Participation/Attendance, 10%; Reading Notebook, 10%; Co-Facilitation, 10%; Toulmin/Precis, 10%; Symposium Presentation, 10%; Final Paper, 10pp. 50%

Course Description

How did the promise of peer-to-peer participatory democracy devolve into twitter harassment, doxxing, toxic comment sections, and zero comments? Is techno-progressive "disruption" merely reactionary deregulation, venture capitalist "innovation" merely marketing hyperbole, futurological "acceleration" merely social precarization, tech's vaunted "sharing economy" merely a digital sharecropping society, its "openness" vacuity, its "participation" another form of television? How did early legal and political squabbles over privacy and property online set the stage for our current distress? How might the "end-to-end principle" defining internet architecture across its many layers comport with the ideologically reactionary figure of "negative liberty" playing out in generations of anarchic, spontaneist, populist online activism? What are the politics of a digitality figured as an immaterial spirit realm, when digital networks abet financial fraud and military surveillance via an "internet" powered by coal smoke, accessed on toxic landfill-destined devices manufactured by wage slaves in overexploited regions of the real world? Setting aside the logical possibility and engineering plausibility of "artificial intelligence" does AI as a rhetorical trope in legal and cultural discourse facilitate and rationalize unaccountable algorithmic mediation and muddy our thinking about "autonomous" weapons systems? How does social media facilitate the transformation of factual disputes over climate change, harm reduction, and the macroeconomics of public investment into polarizing culture wars? Are there appropriate and appropriable techniques at hand through which democratizations might resist these degradations? Might "The Future" still be more evenly distributed? Can we still count on the street finding its own uses for things?

Week One  | August 27 | Introductions 
                                                                                                    
Week Two | September 3 | Labor Day Holiday

Week Three | September 10 | Declarations of Independence

-- Short Trip to the Library
            
Week Four | September 17 | Histories of the Internet

John Maynard Keynes, from "Europe Before the War" (a snippet will be posted on our blog)
Tom Standage on his book The Victorian Internet
Lawrence Lessig, The Future of Ideas, Chapter Three: Commons on the Wires
Flavia Dzoden, When White Fears Become Big Data
Emily Drabinski, Ideologies of Boring Things: The Internet and Infrastructures of Race
Maggie Fox, Drug Giant Glaxo Teams Up With DNA Testing Company 23andMe
Saskia Sassen, Interactions of the Technical and the Social: Digital Formations of the Powerful and the Powerless
Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology

Week Six | October 1 | Cyberlibertarianism

Yochai Benkler, Wealth of Networks, Chapter 12: Conclusion
Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, California Ideology
Paulina Borsook, Cyberselfish
Eric Hughes, A Cypherpunk's Manifesto
Tim May, The Cryptoanarchist Manifesto
Shannon Mattern, Databodies in Codespace
David Golumbia, Zealots of the Blockchain
Landon Winner, The Cult of Innovation
Katherine Hayles, Liberal Subjectivity Imperiled: Norbert Weiner and Cybernetic Anxiety

Week Seven | October 8 | Privacy and Privation

David Golumbia and Chris Gilliard, There Are No Guardrails on Our Privacy Dystopia
David Brin, Three Cheers for the Surveillance Society!
James Boyle, The Second Enclosure Movement
Corey Doctorow, You Can't Own Knowledge
Evgeny Morozov, The Perils of Perfectionism

Week Eight | October 15 | Publicity and Publication

Dan Gillmour, We The Media, Chapter One: From Tom Paine to Blogs and Beyond
Clay Shirky, Blogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing
Noah Berlatsky Interviews DeRay Mckesson, Hashtag Activism Isn't A Cop-Out
Aaron Bady, Julian Assange and the Conspiracy to "Destroy the Invisible Government"
Alex Kaplan, Shorenstein Report Identifies Steps for Stemming the Spread of Fake News
Bruce Sterling, Maneki Neko

Week Nine | October 22 | Revolution, Acceleration, Singularity, Seduction

Jaron Lanier, One Half of a Manifesto
Jason Sadowski, Potemkin AI
Jedediah Purdy, God of the Digirati
Vernor Vinge, Technological Singularity
Nathan Pensky, Ray Kurzweil Is Wrong: The Singularity Is Not Near
Alex Williams and Nick Srnicek, #ACCELERATE Manifesto
Yuk Hui, On the Unhappy Consciousness of Neoreactionaries
Marc Steigler, The Gentle Seduction

Week Ten | October 29 | Regulation, Reform, Regret

Frank Pasquale, from The Black Box Society
K. Sabeel Rahman, The New Octopus
The Economist, The World's Most Valuable Resource Is No Longer Oil But Data: The Data Economy Demands a New Approach To Antitrust Rules
Trebor Scholz, Platform Cooperativism
Karen Gregory, From Sharing to Cooperation: Lessons from Mondragon
Audrey Watters, The Regrets Industry
L.M. Sacasas, The Tech Backlash We Really Need

Week Eleven | November 5 | Final Paper In-Class Workshop

Week Twelve | November 12 | Meet Your Robot God

Screen film, Colossus: The Forbin Project

Week Thirteen | November 19 | Symposium (First Sessions)
  
Week Fourteen | November 26 | Symposium (Second Sessions)

Week Fifteen | December 3 | The Language of the Future
Poetry Reading, Concluding Remarks (Hand in Final 10pp. Paper and Reading Notebooks)

Jenny Anderson, The Great Future Debate and the Struggle for the World
Laurie Anderson, "The Language of the Future"

Course Objectives:

One -- Introduce students to Science and Technology Studies, New Media Studies, Network Theory, Digital Humanities and situate these in respect to broader critical theoretical discourses: Marx on fetishized commodities, Benjamin on auratic media-artifacts, Adorno on the Culture Industry, Barthes on naturalizing myth, Debord on the Spectacle, Klein on the logo, and so on.

Two -- Discuss "science" as one among many forms of differently warranted belief (others: moral, legal, familial, instrumental, religious, ethical, political, subcultural, aesthetic); discuss "technoscience" as a particular and usually at once reductive and imperializing figuration and narrativization of the scientific; discuss "technology" as the collective elaboration of agency, not so much as a constellation of artifacts and techniques but as familiarizing and de-familiarizing, naturalizing and de-naturalizing investments in artifacts, techniques, and events with significance in the service of particular ends.

Three -- Discuss access-to-knowledge (a2k), end-to-end (e2e), many-to-many, peer-to-peer (p2p) networks, formations, ethoi as occasions for democratizing and anti-democratizing technodevelopmental social struggle; discuss "democracy" not as an eidos we approach but as ongoing interminable experimental implementations of the idea that people should have a say in the public decisions that affect them; discuss "democratization" as the struggle through which ever more people have ever more of a say in the public decisions that affect them.

Four -- Discuss the connection of a2k/p2p-formations and media/network theories grappling with these to relational, social, participatory aesthetic and curatorial practices and theories.

Five -- This course takes as its point of departure the insight that the novelties and perplexities of our experience of emerging p2p-formations are, on the one hand, clarified when understood in light of the unique formulations of Hannah Arendt's political thinking but also that these novelties and perplexities provide, on the other hand, illustrations through which to better understand Hannah Arendt's political thinking in its own right: Discussions will include her delineation of the political (as a site other than the private, the social, the violent, the cultural), her notion of the peer (as someone other than the citizen, the intimate, the colleague, the subject, the celebrity), and her accounts of civitas, revolution, public happiness, futurological think-tanks and AI, and totalitarianism both as manifested historically in Nazism and potentially in neoliberalism.

Today's Random Wilde

Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Previews Of Coming Attractions: Syllabus for My Undergraduate Critical Theory Survey Course This Fall At SFAI

CS-300-01:
The Point Is To Change It 
Spring, 2018, San Francisco Art Institute

Instructor: Dale Carrico, dcarrico@sfai.edu; ndaleca@gmail.com
Course Blog: http://thepointistochangeit.blogspot.com/
Mondays, 1-3.45pm, 8/27/18--12/7/18



Rough Basis for Grade: Att/Part, 15%, Reading Notebook, 15%; Co-facilitation, 10%; Midterm Precis/Toulmin Schema, 20%; Final Paper, 5-6pp., 40%.

Course Description:

"The philosophers hitherto have only interpreted the world, but the point is to change it." -- Karl Marx

"Feminists are no more aware of different things than other people; they are aware of the same things differently. Feminist consciousness, it might be ventured, turns a 'fact' into a 'contradiction.'" -- Sandra Lee Bartky

"Artists inhabit the magical universe." -- William Burroughs

This course is a chronological and thematic survey of key texts in critical and cultural theory. A skirmish in the long rivalry of philosophy and rhetoric yielded a turn in Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud into the post-philosophical discourse of critical theory. In the aftermath of world war, critical theory took a biopolitical turn in Arendt, Fanon, and Foucault -- a turn still reverberating in work on socially legible bodies by writers like Haraway, Spivak, Butler, and Puar. And with the rise of the global precariat and climate catastrophe, critical theory is now turning again in STS (science and technology studies) and EJC (environmental justice critique) to articulate the problems and promises of an emerging planetarity. Theories of the fetish define the turn of the three threshold figures of critical theory -- Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud (commodity, sexuality, and ressentimentality) -- and fetishisms ramify thereafter in critical accounts from Benjamin (aura), Adorno (culture industry), Barthes (myth), Debord (spectacle), Klein (logo), and Harvey ("tech") to Mulvey and Mercer (the sexed and raced gaze). We think of facts as found not made, but facts are made to be found and, once found, made to be foundational. Let us pursue the propositions that fetishes are figures we take to yield false facts, while facts are figures we have fetishized to yield paradoxical truths.

                Provisional Schedule of Meetings

                Week One | August 27 | Fact, Figure, Fetish
Maps, Stories, Warnings by Way of Introduction


                Week Two | September 3 (Drop/Add Deadline is September 7) -- Labor Day Holiday

 
                Week Three | September 10 | Ancients and Moderns, Margins and Centers
                Week Four | September 17 | Nietzsche and the Fetishism of ressentiment
--supplemental Selections from The Gay Science 

                Week Five | September 24 | Marx and the Fetishism of Commodities
Marx on The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret Thereof from Capital
--supplemental Marx and Engels, Theses on Feuerbach and Marx on Idealism and Materialism
                Week Six | October 1 | Freud and Sexual Fetishism

Sigmund Freud, Fetishism

Excerpts from Freud's Case Study of Dr. Schreber: 1, Psychoanalysis and Scientificity; 2,  Storytelling;
3, Psychoanalysis and Patriarchy (Homosociality and Homosexuality); 4. Psychoanalysis Brought to Crisis.

                Week Seven | October 8 (midterm grading period ends) | Commodity, Aura, and Culture Industry
Walter Benjamin, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility 
Adorno and Horkheimer, The Culture Industry 
                Week Eight | October 15 | Nature As Fetish; Or, Ideology Is Structured Like A Language
Roland Barthes, Mythologies 
Workshop: The Toulmin Schema 
--supplemental Daniel Harris, The Futuristic
                Week Nine | October 22 | Being to Having, Having to Appearing, Appearing to Branding
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle
Naomi Klein,
Taking On the Brand Bullies from No Logo

--supplemental Naomi Klein, Patriarchy Gets Funky
 
                Week Ten | October 29 (Hand in Precis/Toulmin) | "I just knew it had to be something like this."
Screen and discuss, "They Live," dir. John Carpenter

                 Week Eleven | November 5 | The Magical Universe
William Burroughs, Immortality 
Valerie Solanas, The SCUM Manifesto
--supplemental William Burroughs, On Coincidence

                Week Twelve | November 12 | Racial Fetishism and the Gaze (last day to withdraw with a "W" is November 9)
Frantz Fanon, Selections from Black Skin, White Masks
Laura Mulvey,
Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema

Kobena Mercer On Mapplethorpe 

               Week Thirteen | November 19 | Intersections
Audre Lorde, Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference

The Combahee River Collective Statement

Judith Butler, Introduction and Chapter One from Undoing Gender

Donna Haraway, A Manifesto for Cyborgs

Carol Adams, Preface from Neither Man Nor Beast and Manifesto

                Week Fourteen | November 26 | Technofetishisms
David Harvey Fetishism of Technology

Hannah Arendt, The Conquest of Space
CS Lewis
Abolition of Man (you need only read Chapter Three)
--supplemental  Hannah Arendt, Action and the Miracle of Forgiveness

                Week Fifteen | December 3 | Fact, Figure, Fetish in Planetary Assembly
Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic
Bruno Latour,
To Modernise Or Ecologise?

Gayatri Spivak, Theses on Planetarity

Course Objectives:
 

I. Contextualizing Contemporary Critical Theory: The inaugural Platonic repudiation of rhetoric and poetry, Vita Activa/Vita Contemplativa, Marx's last Thesis on Feuerbach, Kantian Critique, the Frankfurt School, Exegetical and Hermeneutic Traditions, Literary and Cultural Theory from the Restoration period through New Criticism, from Philosophy to Post-Philosophy: Marx, Nietzsche, Freud; the postwar biopolitical turn in Arendt, Fanon, and Foucault; and the emerging post-colonial, post-international, post-global planetarity of theory in an epoch of digital networked media formations, anthropogenic climate catastrophe, and intersectional associations.
 

II. Survey of Key Themes in Critical Theory: Agency, Alienation, Aura, Cisheteronormativity, Critique, Culture Industry, Discourse, Equity-in-Diversity, Facticity, Fetish, Figurality, Humanism/Post-Humanism, Ideology, Intersectionality, Judgment, Normativity, Performance, Planetarity, Post-Colonialism, Queerness, Race, Recognition, Resistance, Scientificity, Sociality, Spectacle, Textuality, White Supremacy.
 

III. Survey of Key Critical Methodologies: Critique of Ideology, Marxism/Post-Marxism, Psychoanalysis, Foucauldian Discourse Analysis, Critical Race Theory, Gender Theory, Science and Technology Studies, Environmental Justice.
 

IV. Connecting theoria and poiesis: thinking and acting, theory and practice, creative expressivity as aesthetic judgment and critical theory as poetic refiguration, etc.

Today's Random Wilde

Music makes one feel so romantic -- at least it always gets on one's nerves. -- It's the same thing, nowadays.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Vacation?

I've handed in grades for the last of my summer intensives and mean to take a few days off before I begin prep for Fall in earnest. My father (from whom I have been long estranged as he Fox Newsified in his retirement during the W. years and from whom I was then even more resolutely estranged when he succumbed rather tragically and utterly shockingly to rapid early onset Alzheimer's a few year's back) has had a serious and possibly mortal fall in his treatment facility back in Atlanta and I am much preoccupied with questions of the frailty of our bodies and our bonds with one another at the moment. Students are complaining of B+s in the usual manner as all this is going on, which feels a bit comically surreal as usual, but who knows what pressures the latest highly put-upon generation must be feeling beneath their mountains of debt and with so few prospects left by the ravages of the psychotic Boomers and undereffectual (largely coming down to a matter of inadequate numbers of us, I fear, as simple as that) GenXers like me. The endlessly revolting and stupid and ugly crimes and treasons of Trumpublicans continue on as we rail, and teach, and march, and simply wait out these few months ahead to see whether or not our fellow-citizens will turn the tide in November, as we're biding our time pretending we have time to bide as the land burns and the seas poison and the skies choke with soot as the diversifying secularizing rising generation gathers its rage and its love to build a diverse, equitable, sustainable democratic polity from the ruins of the cruel scared greedhead bigots of the straight white right. I'm feeling a bit better these days, sleeping better, still comparatively fit, less depressed and panicked, but, man, man, oh man, the shit sandwich that is the present world is doing my sanity no favors at all...

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Grading

Grading finals again today. So far, all is going well. It is quite hard not to adore my students, especially when they are really making an effort. Usually I grade to the soothing sounds of Sibelius, but yesterday I graded listening to Big Freedia all afternoon, and I suspect grade inflation may have resulted along with more grinning than is usual for a grading marathon. Hoping I have some time to work on one of my fall syllabi as well today, because the beginning of term is coming on fast. No rest for the wicked.

Today's Random Wilde

If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn't. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, August 10, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily


Thursday, August 09, 2018

Last Day

Today is the last class of this summer's intensives at Berkeley. Yesterday went better than I feared, enthusiasm for the material distracted me from my cold and all went well enough. Today we're screening "An Inconvenient Sequel," Al Gore's recent follow-up to "An Inconvenient Truth," which I taught in the first week. Together, the films form a kind of rhetorical frame within which much of our elaboration and critique of environmentalist theories, practices, identities, arguments has been pitched. Criticism of the many limitations and blindnesses and complacencies and self-promotional weirdnesses of the first, more successful film, are sure giddily to proliferate in our discussion of the second film, now that weeks of our readings have wonderfully radicalized my students on these questions. I have a steep slope of grading ahead and syllabi to whip into shape for the upcoming Fall (already looming less than two weeks ahead), but mostly right now I want to sleep and watch stupid shows on television and stroll the neighborhoods while the summer sun still shines. Even with the worst of my insomnia behind me, this summer slog has left me feeling quite exhausted.

Today's Random Wilde

Everything popular is wrong.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Teaching Today

Staving off a summer cold that wants to confine me to bed with two more days of lecture to perform and a pile of finals to get through first. My body is protesting twelve weeks cramming three weeks of intensive instruction into each one all this season long, I suspect. It's been a pretty good summer, but relentless. Yesterday my energy was seriously ebbing throughout lecture and I fear today is going to be like pushing through a concrete wall. On the final day we're screening and discussing a film, which takes a little pressure off, so it's a matter of slogging through the swamp today, making sure I cover the syllabus material and attend to their final worries and just get to a couch and under a cover with something hot and wholesome in my stomach as soon as may be. The subject is technofixes and smart cities and geo-engineering and futurological nonsense, which disgusts me without enthusing me these days (as witness my lack of writing about it here in the shit stoopid epoch of Trumpublicanism).

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

The basis of optimism is sheer terror.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Teaching Today

Setting up a debate between Mike Davis and Stewart Brand on slum ecology as a kind of post-millennium sequel to the mid-century debate between Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses and a set up for tomorrow's discussion of technofixes and futurological derangements of environmental praxis. Yes, I still teach anti-futurology even if I no longer write about it much these days, here at any rate... It's the last week of summer intensives and I'm feeling a combination, twelve weeks in, of exhausted burnout and anxious anticipation of fall courses beginning with nary a respite to recover in. A couple of student presentations remain to be done, evaluations will happen some time today or tomorrow depending on the pacing of the lectures, who knows if students will be keeping up with the readings and ready to discuss them as they scramble to complete their final projects. Everybody is ready to be done. And given the subject matter, we're all cooked anyway.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Today's Random Wilde

Life is a nightmare that prevents one from sleeping.

Sunday Walk And Upcoming Teaching

Lovely long walk to the rose garden after brunch at our diner. The Morcome Ampitheatre of Roses is having something of a second wind, it would seem: blooms are multiplying deliriously again in the August sun, there were more blooms and there was more fragrance in the air since we've strolled there in the early spring. As usual, we shared this vast magical place of fountains and shady lanes and elegant geometries of orange and yellow and cascading purple with fewer than a dozen other Oaklanders under that tight sheet of pure blue sky. Such a miracle of a place. This afternoon, I'm reading works on ecological city planning and technofixes from geoengineering to digi-denialism for Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, we're screen the recent sequel to Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, a film I've never taught before or even seen! Since we began we AIT, the sequel brings us full circle as we finish up this six-week intensive. Yes, this is the last of twelve weeks of summer teaching at Berkeley this year. I'll admit I'm feeling quite breathless, cramming three weeks' instruction into every week for nearly three months straight. I'm ready for a break and a birthday -- unfortunately, I've got just under two weeks between the last of my summer lectures and the first of the fall, with final grading and syllabus reframing to get done in between. No rest for the weary!

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Star Trek News

The news that Patrick Stewart is returning as Jean-Luc Picard for a future series about a Picard somewhat transformed by the passage of twenty years' time (as have we all) is exciting -- although I would be even more excited were it a series developed for anything but the additional subscription service that has kept me waiting for Star Trek: Discovery all this time, refraining from releasing DVD and blu-ray sets for sticks-in-the-mud like me (and, mind you, the overwhelming majority of tee vee viewers still) who don't stream everything via Netflix and Amazon and so on. I would be truly thrilled by a stand-alone series in which Picard takes on the unresolved politics of warp-drive as an environmentally-destructive practice on which the Federation as it is constituted nonetheless indispensably depends... Perhaps his experience as Kamin in "The Inner Light" might make him an activist grasping the environmental analogies here, perhaps using and threatening his reputation as flagship captain to push against the grain of the Federation's self-righteous hypocrisy here (and elsewhere) and tangling him up with unexpected allies (Klingon women scientists, secret technocratic matriarchal power behind the imperial boy's throne would be one personal pet theory I'd like to see elaborated too). Also, more queers, more civilians, fewer humanoids, fewer soldiers, and no more daddy issues or grown ass men who can't treat women professionally, please.

Barbara Lee Speaks For Me Daily

Friday, August 03, 2018

Not A Thing

For the first time in weeks I have spent a day doing pretty much nothing. Skipped exercise (back ache), skipped working on next week's lectures, just nuzzled a purring Penny next to her shifting pool of sunlight on the bed, listening to music and catching up on a couple episodes of my favorite podcast, The Read, reading some more from Becky Chambers' rollicking new novel Record of A Spaceborn Few, taking it easy, looking forward to watching Dr Who and then possibly Barbarella high with Eric tonight over pesto tortellini and peanut M&Ms. Next week I'll be grading final projects and starting to panic about syllabi and upcoming Fall courses, but for today I am refusing to look at garbage cruel racist sexist homophobic ignorant death-dealing greedhead Trumpublican news of the day and just living life like it's summer break under a shining sun for just a little bit...

Barbara Lee SpeaksFor Me Daily