In 1955, French sociologist and philosopher Pierre Bourdieu was conscripted into the French Army and deployed to Algeria during the country’s war of independence from France. Bourdieu, who is often read for his work on the reproduction of social power through education, was also a prolific photographer. In a recent blog post from Columbia University Press, they share some of the amazing photos he had captured while in Algeria. Bourdieu previously studied philosophy at France’s prestigious École Normale Supérieure and began to do ethnographic work while in Algeria. After his year of military service, he stayed there to research and teach. Bourdieu notes in an interview that he had signed a contract with Kodak should his academic pursuits prove unfruitful. He began taking photos not only to document what he had seen for reference material, but also to capture scenes he found appealing. Part of this documentation was on the loss and poverty as a result of the war. Bourdieu recalls meeting
Meanwhile on Twitter.
In this excerpt from Robert Pfaller’s “On the Pleasure Principle in Culture: Illusions Without Owners,” the author discusses the functioning of interpassivity and enjoyment. Pfaller uses sitcom laughter (via Zizek) to illustrate his point: At the beginning of the 1990s, when the art world was dominated by a seemingly omnipresent discourse about ‘interactivity’, Slavoj Žižek made an extremely astute comment that was a signi] cant break from the discourse. He maintained that television sitcoms using ‘canned laughter’ are actually laughing at their own jokes and funny situations on behalf of the viewers. According to Žižek, viewers can be perfectly amused without having to follow the content of the sitcoms, and even without having to laugh. Read below, and check out the book here.
In August 2012, Nadya Tolokonnikova of punk-protest band Pussy Riot was sentenced to jail over charges of “hooliganism” for staging a protest in a Russian Orthodox church in which they sang, danced, and urged the Virgin Mary to get rid of Vladimir Putin and become a feminist. During her time in prison, which lasted a little over a year despite international protest, Nadya engaged in a thought-provoking exchange of letters with Slovenian theorist Slavoj Zizek on capitalism, philosophy and prison. Poking fun at Slavoj Zizek’s crotchety demeanor is one of the favorite pastimes here on Critical-Theory, but I’ve always wondered if beneath the misunderstood, disheveled ogre there was in fact, a caring Shrek waiting to be uncovered. And, well, it might be true. The amazing exchange of letter,s compiled in the forthcoming “Comradely Greetings,” sheds light on the philosophy that backs Nadya’s activism in addition to humanizing a philosopher that is well-known for his public displays of
I first came across Rick Roderick’s lecture series, Self Under Siege—Philosophy in the 20th Century, at the end of a long, disillusioning study session in graduate school. YouTube’s thumbnail image of the bearded, drably attired man crouching over a rigid dais suggested a mild tedium wildly incommensurate with the actual experience of watching the video. Rather than the lucid, studied intensity and sublime hilarity Roderick enacted in his talk, I expected something dryly informative that might compensate for the unwarranted neglect of proper book-learning I had assumed. Roderick’s thick West Texas accent (he was originally from Abilene) and casual references to fast-food chains, daytime talk shows and the like proved difficult to reconcile with the fact that he was primarily talking about very dense, even abstruse critical theory—the kind that only the erudite or severely pretentious claim to meaningfully understand. Roderick, however, had an obvious gift for demystifying the most
Slavoj Zizek, Slovenian critical theorists extraordinaire, has drawn the ire of academics after a blogger alleged that he had plagiarized from a white supremacist magazine. It all started when Steve Sailer was intrigued by a particularly lucid portion of a 2006 article entitled “A Plea for a Return Différance (with a Minor Pro Domo Sua).” Soon after, this blog posted a side-by-side of the Slavoj Zizek excerpt in question next to a book review by Stanley Hornbeck. Screengrab from http://withendemanndom.blogspot.fr The text in question is a review of a Kevin Macdonald book entitled “The Culture of Critique.” That book, which analyzes Jewish culture, drew predictable attention from anti-Semitic and racist groups, including the white supremacist American Renaissance magazine. Stanley Hornbeck wrote the article in question for American Renaissance in 1999. Of course, that raises the question: Why is Zizek reading the American Renaissance? One Redditor hilariously asked if Hornbeck and
Are you a good person? Well, first, what is good? And can we really commend good behavior in a world where one seeks to uphold the social contract for their own benefit? Also, Hegel. That’s the message from Clickhole’s latest front-page quiz. Clickhole is a new site from The Onion. Whereas The Onion mocks traditional newspapers, Clickhole has set its sights on websites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy with articles like “This Stick of Butter is Left Out At Room Temperature; You Won’t Believe What Happens Next” and “7 Differences Between The TV Version of the World Cup and the Novel.” In “Are You a Good Person,” survey-takers are berated for every choice, where there are no right answers. Finally, in the last question, they are asked: “You’re about to get your 8-year-old daughter the toy chemistry set she’s wanted for weeks, but at the store, she suddenly decides she wants a big stuffed bear instead. What do you get her?” Regardless of the answer, survey-takers are served up this response:
In this video, Alain Badiou and Joe Litvak perform a scene from “Ahmed the Philosopher” about a curmudgeonly French demon who takes joy in informing for the police. Besides being a philosopher, Badiou also dabbles in writing plays and novels. This play appeared in English in the book “Ahmed the Philosopher: Thirty-Four Short Plays for Children and Everyone Else.” Each short story involves Ahmed the Philosopher, a “seductively trenchant philosopher” and explores a concept from Badiou’s philosophical works. I also can’t mention enough that Badiou claims to be writing a screenplay for the life of Plato and hopes to enroll Sean Connery and Brad Pitt. Seriously. Filmed in 2011 in Germany, Badiou plays the part of the demon, with Litvak playing the role of Ahmed the Philosopher. Badiou’s character is a recluse who spends his days writing letters to the French authorities about suspected criminals. The demon fancies himself a proper Frenchman - to which Badiou accompanies every reference
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