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Theory Is Like a Surging Sea

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ISBN: 9780692283950 Year: Pages: 104 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0108.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:38
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In a 1917 letter to Gershom Scholem, Walter Benjamin writes, “Theory is like a surging sea.” This small book takes more than its title from that line—it takes that line as a point of departure in Erich Auerbach’s sense, an Ansatzpunkt, as a compositional principle so that what follows can be read in its entirety as a gloss on the remainder of Benjamin’s sentence: “Theory is like a surging sea, but the only thing that matters to the wave […] is to surrender itself to its motion in such a way that it crests and breaks.” That motion, in the pages to follow, takes up in its sweep two threads: it folds an episodic meditation on the negative and the problematic into a series of singular interrogations exemplary of the positive being of the problematic, the objective being of problems and questions, in a movement of implication and explication between poetry and philosophy in the tradition of what’s come to be known as theory. Theory is like a surging sea because it’s as part of a revolutionary tradition that it crests and breaks.

A Rushed Quality

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ISBN: 9780692426562 Year: Pages: 326 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0103.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: History
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These fragments collected here (in 2 books, “A Rushed Quality” and “Bodying Forth”) belong neither to philosophy nor to poetry — and yet they are for the most part focused on a substantial area of overlap between these two venerable disciplines, vis-à-vis the question, “What is it like to be X?” Philosophers like to fill in the X with something exotic like a bat or a dolphin, or even an Artificial Intelligence, while poets tend to fill it with something else, equally exotic, namely themselves. For the diffident and introspective author of A Rushed Quality and Bodying Forth, the X, while definitely human, is perhaps someone in general, equally distant from and equally intimate with both the writer and the reader in the very moment of their eponymous activity. The start of it all was the perception of what was called the “rushed quality,” as something persistent and bothersome and of which there was no question of its ever being shed. Rather than evaded or denied, it was welcomed because it seemed for the first time since childhood to mark a structural occurrence presenting a new metaphysical datum. As it happened, this quality proved very elusive in its mature bothersomeness and the inquiry into it soon turned into a sort of quasi-theoretical fascination, which took as its main theme the fate of pure subjectivity — the utterly unfunctional, utterly useless, utterly dispensible feeling of being. The rushed quality is perhaps merely the sense of it draining away, or its long-sustained decrescendo.

[Given, If, Then]: A Reading in Three Parts

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ISBN: 9780692298374 Year: Pages: 116 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0090.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:40
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[Given, If, Then] attempts to conceive a possibility of reading, through a set of readings: reading being understood as the relation to an Other that occurs prior to any semantic or formal identification, and, therefore, prior to any attempt at assimilating, or appropriating, what is being read to the one who reads. As such, it is an encounter with an indeterminable Other, an Other who is other than other — an unconditional relation, and thus a relation to no fixed object of relation. The first reading by Jeremy Fernando, “Blind Reading,” unfolds through an attempt to speak of reading as an event. Untheorisable in itself, it is a positing of reading as reading, through reading, where texts are read as a test site for reading itself. As such, it is a meditation on the finitude and exteriority in literature, philosophy, and knowledge; where blindness is both the condition and limit of reading itself. Folded into, or in between, this (re)reading are a selection of photographs from Jennifer Hope Davy’s image archive. They are on the one hand simply a selection of ‘impartial pictures’ taken, and on the other hand that which allow for something singular and, therefore, always other to dis/appear — crossing that borderless realm between ‘some’ and ‘some-thing.’ Eventually, there is a writing on images on writings by Julia Hölzl. A responding to the impossible response, a re-iteration, a re-reading of what could not have been written, a re-writing of what could not have been read; these poems, if one were to name them such, name them as such, answer (to) the impossibility of answering: answer to no call.

Escargotesque, or, What Is Experience

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ISBN: 9780692373880 Year: Pages: 116 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0089.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
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“Experience” is a concept paradoxically deployed to accentuate the aconceptual. Although thinking, knowing, reflecting, and analyzing are kinds of experiences, invocations of “experience” typically direct our attention to what is immediate, embodied, unrepresented, unthought, even unthinkable. And yet, whether by learning experience, traumatic experience, life experience, mystical experience, or all of these, we hope most fervently that our experience will teach us, transform us, become part of us. Why do we strive to find, profit from, and possess experience while insisting upon experience’s intellectual elusiveness? What do we intend when we petition (and re-petition) experience for truth, for growth, for strength? To whom or to what do we sing when we sing experience’s song? Escargotesque, or, What is Experience? asks why both our lived experiences and our mythologies of experience so often fold inward, repeat, return. Departing from his unusual experience of working as a garbage-collector in the West African country of Benin, M.H. Bowker converses with several champions of experience (from Michel de Montaigne to John Dewey, from Søren Kierkegaard to Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Simone Weil to R.D. Laing) to pose radical questions about the intentions and dynamics that guide our quest for experience, intentions and dynamics that are more destructive and more melancholy than celebrants of experience would care to admit. Across Escargotesque’s six loosely linear parts, fragments of prose memoir intersect with poetry, sketch art, philosophical reflection, cultural criticism, and psychological examination in ways that both evoke and unsettle the thinking person’s experience. Escargotesque both testifies to an experience and reveals surprising fantasies driving the modern and postmodern turn to experience as a source of truth and hope. Such fantasies include the sacredness of even the most violent ‘pure experience,’ the necessity of supplicating experience’s objects, and the ultimate demise of the one who experiences.

Critique of Sovereignty, Book 1: Contemporary Theories of Sovereignty

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ISBN: 9780692282403 Year: Pages: 112 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0114.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
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Using the Western tradition of metaphysical and political thought as a backdrop, Critique of Sovereignty (a work in 4 volumes) re-examines the concept of sovereignty in order to better understand why our ethical values and technical capacities often seem so divorced from our lived realities. On the one hand, ostensibly self-enclosed entities like the nation-state and the person are rhetorically bolstered as sites of technical agency and/or moral responsibility. On the other hand, these same entities appear fragile — if not purely fictional — in relation to ever ongoing tidal processes such as the migration, diffusion, and conglomeration of bodies, capital, ideas, etc. While some of our institutions might work some of the time, they always seem to work differently than we like to think they do. Accordingly, the forging of more humane institutions might very well entail if not require ways of thinking that strive to undo the self-imagined binds, exceptions, and sureties of thought for the sake of embracing a continuity with all that withers, decays, and falls away. Book I, “Contemporary Theories of Sovereignty,” compares the varied interpretations of sovereignty given by a range of 20th-century political theorists (Maritain, Foucault, Derrida, Schmitt, Agamben, Hardt, and Negri) with Jean Bodin’s initial outline of the concept, rendered at the outset of modern political thought in the 16th century. The analytic framework of sovereignty encountered in these comparative readings provides an initial point of departure for unfolding a method of critique appropriate to the concept of sovereignty. Sovereignty is an ideal starting point for a critique of the deadlocks between thought and reality for a simple reason: it doesn’t actually exist. When it serves as a guide to action, sovereignty may be regarded as a particularly captivating fantasy. The closer it appears, the further it recedes, and, too often, the more vigorously it is pursued.

Speculations VI

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ISBN: 9780692593974 Year: Pages: 332 DOI: 10.21983/P3.0122.1.00 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
Added to DOAB on : 2019-06-12 09:24:37
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In this sixth issue of Speculations, a serial imprint created to explore post-continental philosophy and speculative realism, a wide range of contemporary philosophical issues pertaining to the contemporary philosophical scene is touched upon, from the continental realism of Tristan Garcia, Graham Harman and Quentin Meillassoux to the ‘new realism’ of Maurizio Ferraris, from Lacanian and Laurellian speculations to the synthetic philosophy of Fernando Zalamea’s mathematics

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