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What I’m Reading: Barbara Carnevali, “Against ‘Theory'”

Shared Article from The Brooklyn Rail

Against Theory

A simulacrum of philosophy has risen in university departments all over the world: theory, fake philosophy for non-philosophers.

brooklynrail.org


A simulacrum of philosophy has risen in university departments all over the world: theory, fake philosophy for non-philosophers . . . a sort of collective thinking, of a koine, well-known to anyone who teaches in a field of the humanities at a university: a mix of ideas and phrases . . . blended into one melting pot, in varying doses and combinations. . . . Formed in a DIY fashion inside a limited thematic agenda–power, gender, desire, the subject and the multitudes, the dominated-dominating couple–theory is defined and recognized mainly by its pragmatic use. Those who cultivate it, coming from other disciplinary sectors–mostly comparative literature, art theory and criticism, and cultural studies–seek to justify their own research inside a wider and more “committed” framework, that is programmatically turned towards the challenge of the present. . . .

Differently from philosophy, which functions under long, frustrating timings, and very rarely reaches any certainty, theory is quick, voracious, sharp, and superficial: its model is the reader, a book made to help people make quotations from books that are not read. Exactly for that reason, it functions as a common language and a ground for transdisciplinary aggregation. Those who teach risky subjects such as aesthetics and political philosophy have begun to worry a long time ago. . . . The main weakness of theory is the loss of all the specific attributes, which have allowed to define philosophy in its different traditions: it does not have the rigor, the clarity, the solidity of definitions and argumentations, which characterizes the practice from a formal viewpoint; it does not have the ability to raise truly defamiliarizing questions, and, above all, it does not have a taste for a passionate search for truth. Not only does theory not exceed the doxa, but it produces a second level thereof. Therefrom comes the paradox of a radical gesture, which becomes a habitus, conformist and predictable.

–Barbara Carnevali, Against Theory,
The Brooklyn Rail, 1-Sep-2016

Shameless Self-promotion Sunday

It’s time for some winter weather here in East Alabama; time also for winter holidays. Since I’ve been off-duty from classes, I’ve taken some time to get away for a little while from the reading I have to do, and on to some of the reading that I’ve wanted to do; also some preparatory writing for the comments that I’m slated to deliver at next month’s Molinari Society session at APA Eastern Division in Baltimore. (We’ll be talking about the rights of refugees; and of immigration more broadly.) I have a novel to read that I’ve just started in on and some long-simmering tech projects I’ve been getting caught back up with. And as always I am trying to keep in practice with my Portuguese, Spanish and German.

If this is a time for catching up, it is a time also for Shamelessness. Happy Sunday to all, and I hope you know what to do: What have you been up to lately? Got anything big coming up? Anything you’ve been working on? Write anything? Leave a link and a short description for your post in the comments. Or fire away about anything else you might want to talk about.

Sprawl as Social Engineering

Shared Article from Forbes

America's Ugly Strip Malls Were Caused By Government Regulation

Why concentrate all the fast food chains?

forbes.com


America’s Ugly Strip Malls Were Caused By Government Regulation

Scott Beyer, Forbes

There is a common architectural language that I’ve found while traveling America. . . . Major roadways turn into strip malls fronted with parking lots and endless stretches of chain retail. These strip-mall arterials exist nationwide . . . . The common wisdom is that they result from “the market,” as monuments to American capitalism and consumerism. But that is a big fat myth—they have been forced into existence by government regulations.

Indeed, many of the regulations that prevent livelier downtown areas also harm the potential of low-density, outlying, suburban ones, by mandating that retail stay confined into this strip mall model. Below is a list of these regulations, which are enforced to various degrees across America, explaining the uniform look of our municipalities from coast to coast.

  • Single Use Zoning . . .
  • Minimum Parking Requirements . . .
  • Setback Requirements . . .
  • Density Limits . . .

Read more at Forbes

–Scott Beyer, America’s Ugly Strip Malls Were Caused By Government Regulation
Forbes (August 26, 2016)

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