Tag Archives: postmodernism

Improvisation, Nude: The Emperors of Contemporary Art and Art Criticism Have No Clothes. Is that Okay?

Would somebody please, please, please save the art world from itself? Jed Perl, the great art critic, recently gave it his best shot, writing an Emperor-has-no-clothes piece for The New Republic: The cash registers are ringing and that’s the only … Continue reading

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Saint Ranieri, Meet George Jetson: Deconstruction Illustrated with a Catholic Painting

__________ What is deconstruction? In postmodern theory, deconstruction (in a nutshell) is the undoing of an author’s controlling intentions by time and audience reception. This can only happen because texts are made of parts, not coherent wholes. Over time, parts … Continue reading

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Steven Pinker Embraces Scientism

At The New Republic, Steven Pinker comes out swinging against those who direct the pejorative term “scientism” at atheists and agnostics. Pinker thinks that, just as gays turned tables on the bigots and came to embrace the pejorative term “queer,” atheists … Continue reading

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Thinking Critically about Critical Theory

First thought. The broad takeaway insight of postmodernism is the following: there is always more in a text than the author knows or intends. This goes rather nicely with Nietzsche’s claim that “there are no facts, only interpretations.” But before … Continue reading

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Anti-Science and Conspiracy Culture: Is Postmodernism to Blame?

How much responsibility should postmodern academics assume for America’s pervasive anti-science and conspiracy culture? A helpful route into thinking about this question is Bruno Latour’s 2003 essay, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters … Continue reading

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Bruno Latour’s Question: Are There Things We Shouldn’t Deconstruct?

In his essay, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern” (2003), historian of science Bruno Latour (b. 1947) worries that the intellectual atmosphere in the humanities—in which many scholars, including him, have … Continue reading

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Emer O’Toole Says Shakespeare is Globally Popular Because of Colonialism

If a student were to ask me why people, the world over, read and put on performances of Shakespeare’s plays, I would basically say the following: A difficult achievement is universally recognizable. Shakespeare has done something, aesthetically and imaginatively, very far … Continue reading

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Critical Thinking Watch: Is Jonathon Keats’ “Copernican Art Manifesto” Serious?

—– Jonathon Keats, “conceptual artist,” has written an art manifesto worthy of an Onion News parody, and yet I think he’s actually serious. His manifesto is getting some straight press (such as from Wired magazine) and he’s accompanied the manifesto with the kinds of … Continue reading

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Andre Glucksmann One More Time

I think this is a great quote. It comes from the French philosopher, Andre Glucksmann: Socrates’s uncertainty revealed a rupture that gave birth to philosophy. The divine word is a mystery; it can mean everything or nothing. Zeus neither speaks nor … Continue reading

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Mental Health Break

A near perfect video (and with great lyrics): From the lyrics: But in time a thought comes tugging on the sleavage of our minds: perhaps no perfect way exists at all, just many different kinds.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            . O but if it’s … Continue reading

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Try Something New This Weekend

Don’t be afraid. How about learning to paint?

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Nietzsche’s checkmate: does atheism lead to totalitarianism?

A.C. Grayling, an atheist author that I tend to otherwise love, calls the idea that atheism gave birth to communism and fascism a theist “canard.” But, as an agnostic who has been doing a good deal of Nietzsche reading lately, I’m not … Continue reading

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Are Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek Authoritarian Leftists?

At Dissent, Alan Johnson worries that two revered intellectual theorists, Alain Badiou and Slavoj Žižek, are increasingly sounding—it’s hard to be polite about this—old school authoritarian: I propose to write a series of posts on what I will call the “new authoritarian … Continue reading

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A Great Quote on Theory Sludge

This quote comes from Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, writing in the New York Times Book Review recently: The study of literature as an art form, of its techniques for delighting and instructing, has been replaced by an amalgam of bad epistemology … Continue reading

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Sam Harris cuts through the fog of Nietzsche’s fact-value distinction

In a powerful attack on Nietzsche’s fact-value distinction and the oft-repeated canard that it is dangerous to derive an “ought” from an “is,” in the video below Sam Harris argues that, in fact, we know perfectly well what things make for human flourishing, … Continue reading

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Jacques Derrida for Beginners

And a critique of phallocentrism: Jacques Derrida: [Differance ] governs nothing, reigns over nothing, and nowhere exercises any authority. It is not announced by any capital letter. Not only is there no kingdom of differance, but differance instigates the subversion of every … Continue reading

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As Non-Empirical Languages, Do Philosophical Systems Have Greater Epistemic Validity Than Theological Systems?

I would say no. When we are dealing with non-empirical (that is, non-scientific) languages, I don’t think that you can give substantially greater epistemic weight to the conclusions of philosophers over those of theologians. When I think of some of the … Continue reading

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Evil to Him Whom Evil Thinks

And beauty to her whom beauty seeks.

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Trippy

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A Victor Shklovsky Defamiliarization Gesture: The Bust of Caesar Set Alongside the Bust of a Woman

    The Caesar bust is at the Huntington Library in California; the female bust is by Renoir.

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