Monthly Archives: November 2014

TL;DR (HUM415)

If you revisit the remarks made by Omar Aktouf in Encirclement: Neoliberalism Ensnares Democracy you’ll find that he makes several points about education, capitalism, and humanism. Among these is that foundational works of world culture such as those by Aristotle are important because in absorbing the words of such figures we are supplied with the linguistic materials for our own reflection. The point is not that those others, over there, the ones who haven’t read Aristotle, are stupid. The point is that in the words of Deleuze “capitalism is profoundly illiterate”; or, put another way, capital desires only those forms of literacy which contribute to its expansion. Little wonder, then, that consumers may be more adept at reading ads than the novels of Victor Hugo.

You might also consider the paradox that in an age of compulsory schooling there are, Aktouf argues, fewer educated people. He advances this claim on the assumption that the mere mastery of technique is not knowledge in its profoundest sense. We train problem-solvers these days, who are capable of making calculations, rather than problem-framers, who can formulate what the problem may be.

Finally, it could be useful to reflect on what it means for an academic of Algerian heritage to be so adamant in the defense of French literature– among other forms of intellectual endeavor– as an end in itself. Algeria, you may already know, was colonized by France in the early 19th century and regained independence only after a terrible and costly struggle.

The Image/ Kpop Assignment (HUM415)

Choose one of the following prompts. Be advised, per Cremin, that while a choice my imply some degree of agency it does not necessarily mean that you are free.

1. Curate a Kpop video and analyze it as a symptom of/ response to the culture of contemporary capitalism. You should not, obviously, use a video we’ve already discussed in class. Use formal terms taken from the Lenos/Ryan pdf.

2. Create or curate an image that represents global capitalism, either some specific facet of this socio-economic system or in its totality (which is probably impossible but your effort might be really interesting). Explain why this image is an appropriate visualization of capitalism in a compelling, cogent, and informed fashion.

Due 11/20 by 8 pm. No late submissions.

iCommunism (HUM415)

“[I]t is the whole that is irrational rather than the part” (Cremin 32).

Compare this with Adorno: “The whole is the false” (Minima Moralia 50).

Or contrast it with a principle of ir/rationality, along the lines of The Assignment. Rationalization produces irrational behavior (Achilles, Polypheme).

According to the capitalist wordview meaning, responsibility, and action always reside at the level of the individual. This is the atomistic or “monadic” view of society. Global warming, then, as Cremin indicates, is posited not as the consequence of a mode of production but the aggregate impact of many self-interested individuals. People, not capitalist relations, are the problem. The answer is thus clear: to encourage and perhaps even coerce limits on population growth. We can think of this program as a kind of neo-eugenics because it’s obvious who is supposed to lower their birth rates.

Tomorrow let’s focus on the first two chapters of iCommunism and look at a few clips.