Friday, June 14, 2013

Robin: "Arbeit Mach Frei"
Taking workplace feudalism up a notch
A New York-based real estate firm Rapid Realty has offered its 800 employees a 15% pay raise if they tattoo the company’s logo onto their bodies, and the offer is snowballing, according to CBS New York. So far, nearly 40 employees accepted the challenge, AOL Jobs reported.

Employees who agreed to get inked said getting a substantially larger paycheck was motivation enough to get a tattoo. In a video, Brooklyn-based broker Adam Altman said the ink would be a reminder to work harder.  “I don’t see myself going anywhere, and if I have it on my arm, it’ll force me to keep going and working hard [sic],” Altman said.
repeats: "Technocrats don't know what cosmopolitanism is, they only know what they want it to be."

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Graham Harman was in town a few weeks ago.  A spiel then some beer, with a few people. Interesting that he defends art as such.  He mocked analytic philosophy, and said Jerry Fodor had written an op-ed somewhere complaining that more people read Shakespeare than philosophy, when philosophers, using himself as an example, were much better writers. I haven't found the op-ed and it's hard to imagine Fodor being so stupid, but Harman used that to defend literature as philosophy not philosophy as literature, to defend Shakespeare not Derrida.

Still, as a philosopher and therefore defending philosophers and their ideas as models, he's forced to make two moves, both following an anthropocentric or biocentric fallacy.  He extends experience and sense to a description of the material world [from memory]: "Fire cannot know the texture or the smell of cotton, it only knows that cotton burns." Art is our happy doomed attempt to describe every aspect of cotton as we experience it and relate to it in any context: as wet or dry, in war and peace. But the infinite multiplicity of our experience of objects then becomes the impossibility of objects as such; Harman's arguments become religious.  And this is only because for Harman, as the biologist Richard Lewontin would say, words and not objects are the matter.  Novelists use stories to describe the world; philosophers make worlds out of wordplay. The world is not wordplay.

Secondly, even if perspectivism is our reality, he needs some way for us as philosophical beings to have access to the universal, so even if fiction writing is philosophically valid it remains secondary to philosophy as designs in the mind of designers take precedence over experience.  Philosophers look for first causes because they need to identify with them. Harman can't escape the desire to identify with the maker of the master plan.  Most novelists, actors,  legal advocates (if not legal philosophers), and many scientists are happy playing in the muck, avoiding -again referring to Lewontin- “idel specoolations”. And artists even as designers are designers among designers, arguing superiority first and foremost as craftsmen.

Harman's a great fan of Latour, whom he described as "a very serious Catholic".  I told him he was a humanist; he was nonplussed. I said not by the 18th century definition, which is almost anti-humanism, but the original, Renaissance, definition. I said "Erasmus". He said "Thomas More" and smiled. "I never thought of that".

I told one of his fanboys it was all nothing new, but that it was good. It's necessary to balance commitment and irony, and it's a hard thing to do. To my surprise his eyes widened a bit and he agreed. Call it progress.

But philosophers fantasize a unified consciousness, and that's the mistake. Harman's recent book is on Lovecraft, less a literary artist than a literary illustrator, and as a friend said, Harman's not a great writer.
Still, he's a writer.

repeats.  Zadie Smith: "But to live variously cannot simply be a gift, endowed by an accident of birth; it has to be a continual effort, continually renewed."

On Latour and David Chalmers etc. repeats of repeats, recently and linking back.

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