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Showing posts from 2011

God Against The Maelstrom: Fundamentalism and Modernity.

Fundamentalism is a term that originated in the United States. Early in the 20th century, Protestant groups adopted the designation to differentiate themselves from forms of liberal Protestantism and secularists (Jones, 2010). The recent coinage of fundamentalism suggests that its development is related to modernity, and while fundamentalist movements are characterized by their commitment to traditional belief-systems, they are often highly innovative adaptations to the modern experience. In this paper, the relationship between fundamentalism and modernity will be analysed; first by elaborating the concept of modernity and then reviewing the theoretical literature on the defining characteristics of religious fundamentalism, which will be tied together with two specific case studies: Protestant fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism. It will be shown that religious fundamentalism is a defensive strategy employed in response to the uncertainties and rapid shifts of modernity.

Henry Miller Asleep and Awake

Tom Schiller's documentary on Henry Miller, the author of The Tropic of Cancer, and the intricacies of his bathroom walls.


And then the day came,
When the risk to remain tight
In a bud
Was more painful
Than the risk
it took
to blossom.

- Anaïs Nin.

E.P. Thompson's 'Queen of The Humanities': Class Theory and Historical Materialism.

E.P. Thompson’sThe Poverty of Theory is a critique of Louis Althusser’s structuralist interpretation of Marxism and it’s relation to discipline of history. In this critique, Thompson defended his formulation of the materialist conception of history, the importance of historical analysis and an outline for the proper use of conceptual abstractions. Thompson’s theoretical framework, that favoured the “empirical idiom”, underpinned his historical work on the English working class. His discussion of working class experience between the 1780s to the early 1830s became a crucial reference point in the class theory of the Marxian tradition and generated much contention and debate with his assertion that class is neither a “structure” or “category”, but a “historical relationship” that is not reducible to economic relations. Thompson attempted to reintroduce human agency into the study of class and redress the failings of economic reductionism that stemmed from the base-superstructure mod…


From an essay written quite some time ago, but I thought i'd draw attention to it:

"The punk sub-cultural style developed in a social malaise of urban youth suffering from unemployment and marginalisation, they reacted by exercising their power to offend and disrupt the social order (Hebdige, 1988, p. 18). "Fuck" and "Cunt", words eschewed by mainstream culture as highly offensive obscenities were a stock standard of punk lyrics and publications (Triggs, 2006, p. 73). This represented an affront to the cultural norms and practices of the mainstream culture and legitimate language used by the respectable classes."

The lecturer had ticked all the way down the side, somtimes twice - no ticks for this part, but still....

Hemingway on Writers.

From Hemingway's 'Death in the Afternoon':

"If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. A writer who omits things because he does not know them only makes hollow places in his writing. A writer who appreciates the seriousness of writing so little that he is anxious to make people see he is formally educated, cultured, or well-bred, is merely a popinjay. And this too, remember: a serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl."

Tim Minchin's Storm

Absolutely brilliant, a hilarious ‘beat’ poem that nails how I feel on a number of subjects. Check out Tim Minchin and some of his other stuff.

Human Rights and Cultural Relativism.

The modern view of human rights is the result of successive struggles within Western society. Hence, in historical terms, human rights are a ‘Western’ construct. However this does not undermine the claim of cross-cultural validity, but merely problematizes the issue of cultural rights and their relation to the universal claims of the human rights tradition. This tension and the normative variety of cultural relativism have been crucial points of contestation in human rights theory. Thus, the extent to which human rights are inherently ‘Western’ in character is of vital importance to their practical implantation across cultural divisions. To address this issue, the historical origins of human rights will be briefly sketched and their cross-cultural legitimacy will be evaluated to determine the appropriate cultural designation of human rights.

The question of historical origin, Micheline Ishay argues, is complicated because selection of this point ipso facto “privileges a specific st…

“No Maps for These Territories”

Traversing through cyberspace today, I came across a little gem “No Maps for These Territories” featuring the man who coined the term cyberspace, cyberpunk novelist William Gibson. It’s a meditation on our nature as ‘mediated’ human-beings, the extent of technological saturation in our quotidian lives and our desire to produce extended networks of prosthetics. Not to mention, he delves into the process of writing and the nature of fiction, of the relationship between our conscious self and the unconsciousness. Well worth the watch, enjoy.
EDIT: The youtube user who had hosted this removed it. However, here is the trailer:

"Should The Bible Be Taught To Children?"

I saw this one on PZ Myers’s blog and I had to share it around. Wonderful to see someone so young engage in some critical thinking. It warms my heart.

A Tortoise Meandering Around on a Balcony.

What’s the Aesopian insight of this little clip? It's perhaps the greatest film on YouTube. Except perhaps for this clip, which is essentially Vice magazine in motion.

My channel: Subjectivity101.

Michael Hudson on Reagan.

Michael Hudson delivers a brilliant cutting analysis of Reagan’s economics, reform of the tax system and post-Reagan class war in the United States. If you haven’t seen or heard of “The Real News Network”, you should most definitely take a look. They provide a hardnosed and progressive take on contemporary events, vastly removed from the flippancy of much cable news analysis.

-Previously on “A Night of Dostoevskian Smiles and Sadean excesses”, take a look at “Minsky and The Financial Crisis”.
The picture is of a pro-Wikileaks protest in Sydney. I don’t know who took the photo. The angle of the shot,the interplay of foreground and background, and the fact that everyone seems to be animated and smiling endear this picture to me.

Tariq Ali on The History of Pakistan.

"Harry Kreisler welcomes writer and journalist Tariq Ali for a discussion of Pakistan and its relations with the United States. He places the present crisis in its historical context exploring the origins of the Pakistani state, the failure to forge a national identity, the inability and unwillingness of Pakistani leaders to address the country's poverty and inequality, and the role of the military in the country's spiral toward violence and disunity. Tariq Ali highlights the significance of the U.S. relationship throughout Pakistan's history and analyzes current US policy and its implications for stability in the region."

Incitement to Murder

Given the Tucson assassination attempt on Gabrielle Giffords by Jared Lee Loughner, we should all be aware that political discourse tinged with violent innuendo and subtle suggestions have consequences. In the case of Julian Assange many U.S. commentators have openly called for his assassination. This site here catalogues many individuals who have called for, or suggested, violence against Assange (sourced) and it makes for an interesting read.

Here’s a couple of the quotes:

“"A dead man can't leak stuff...This guy's a traitor, he's treasonous, and he has broken every law of the United States. And I'm not for the death penalty, so...there's only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch." – Bob Beckel.

"Julian Assange is a cyber terrorist in wartime, he's guilty of sabotage, espionage, crimes against humanity -- he should be killed, but we won't do that." – Ralph Peters.

"Why can't we act forcefully against WikiLeaks…