Take it away Terrence…
wiil watch this. I used to have a few of his books. I remember partic the account of the trip to Peru(?).
Fantastic! I really enjoyed this one.
cool, hallucinogens are an interesting rorschach test, some feel like they are a window/key to the Reality of things others just find in them a visceral understanding of how our everyday consciousness is in large part a chemical process.
Sadly this reminds of blogs these days as well. It’s all about in-groups/out-groups, who is friends with who, and who controls the power. Blogging politics really makes me sick, and as much as we protest the ideas mentioned in the video that you posted, those protesting those ideas are just as guilty in terms of how they follow “icons” on the blogs, in academe, whatever fashionable philosophers, etc. etc.
hey Leon, I’ve done what I can to squash such all too human tendencies in our relative sphere of commenting exchanges but I think that unless people come to realize that there are some differences in faiths/intuitions/orientations that cannot be overcome by debate than we will be stuck in the old gossip mill. I say find the areas of common interest to work on and leave the rest, there is much good work to be done and limited time/resources. just my 2cents
I try, I try. It’s frustrating because (over at footnotes2plato) there is an exchange concerning theism and religion that was a non-starter (i.e. in James’ terms, the option “wasn’t live.”) If that’s the case we should all just pack our bags and go home *if* on the fundamental issues discourse can’t even take place (especially if there are alternatives in mind – because low and behold (!) there *are* other forms of theism than the traditional orthodox kind).
The a priori cutting out of what doesn’t fit OUR mold borders fascism, plain and simple. We interpret the world in terms OUR x, WE found x YOU ARE NOT x, x explains everything else away, everything is an x: x ecology, x politics, x aesthetics, x literary theory (but of course there shall be no x theology!) All else is an OUTSIDER, anything other than x is WRONG, and we HAVE A GENUINE PHILOSOPHICAL DISAGREEMENT (which is never coherently stated, by the way) with anything other than x! We are x!!! Long live x!!! Destroy all non-x!!! That’s fascism, ignorance, and bigotry, and it definitely feeds blog politics. It’s probably the most close-minded thing that I ever have seen, and it borders the sort of hysteria behind racism and homophobia.
Reclaiming one’s “mind” (per the video) – that is, being an individual, I think, is squashed when it comes to blogs and blogging politics. One’s view has to be “approved”, and forbid you are a theist or even approach these ultimate issues with theism in mind. As Matt pointed out, there are those who are at the very least open to to theism, but those are *rare* admissions – forbid there is dissension in the ranks.
The point is: all too often you *can’t* be an individual in the blog scene. There is a little twitter circle, a little blog circle, and despite front-door signs saying, “Let’s all approach these issues together! All on board”, what one *really* finds is the in-group/out-group politics, conformism to shoddy ideas, and alot of just “buying” into (often contradictory) theses and alot of endorsing (endlessly, shamelessly) some horribly written books with pretty bad arguments. The sad part is that the large majority of this is perpetrated by misled graduate students, who unfortunately just don’t know any better.
I certainly want to give everyone the space they need to express differences of opinion, vent frustrations, and even call people out on inconsistencies on fundamental issues if need be. Even I can’t entirely identify with your experience I certainly don’t want to limit the types of views that are included in the dialogue. But my experience in the blogging community has been quite different than the one you describe above. Sure there have been a few sticky moments of intense debate (expected), much of which is fed by the poor structure of the comment medium and the anonymous nature of the internet. On the whole, though, these few bad moments are outweighed by what I see as the major advantages. Some of these include the basic narcissism that I think possesses every writer: the desire to be read. For me this narcissism extends to both critical and favorable readings of my work, both of which feed into the developmental process of my writing. Other good points include a greater awareness of young writers who are producing really interesting work that traditional forms of press would never alert me to (you being a prime example). I have a vested interest here as well and make not pretentious about not wanting to get my ideas out there. I don’t have institutional support, which I am actually fine with given that I can cut out the middle man and talk to many of the writers that interest me directly. Hooray for blogging.
That’s not at all said to invalidate your experience but rather to suggest that maybe it’s not representative of everybody’s experience. In my case, I know that I occupy a fairly middle-of-the-road approach to issues regarding religion etc. coupled with an obnoxious pluralism that draws me to all sorts of interesting, contradictory perspectives (and saves me from being drawn into as many conflicts, those this does still happen). Of course, I have my sticking points (e.g., I do have a tendency to go overboard with the eliminativists) but the responses I’ve got from the blog community have actually helped me to temper and deepen these positions rather than make me feel like I can’t express them. In a lot of ways I think the blogging community is one of the best things to happen to philosophy since the printing press, but I also don’t think it replaces academic philosophy. Interent philosophizing is more like a post-conference trip to a bar or cafe where conversations can go on and on (and on and on) then it is a venue to produce robust philosophical treatises (again, constraints of the medium). Just like in the real world, there are certain neighborhoods, bars, or cafes where you can expect a certain flavor and tempo, if those don’t suit you I would just steer clear of them.
One place where I do disagree with your comments rather strongly is the last bit. I find it a little tedious the way you make points like ‘blogging is misleading grad-students who don’t know any better.’ Ray Brassier made the same point a year or two ago and I think it’s just arrogant and assumes that people can’t think for themselves when it’s more likely that they just have a different point of view from you and a very different background. I think you do a fine job of standing up for your position and expressing it on your own site, a testament to the values I wanted to promote by posting Mckenna’s video above.
Yes, in-groups/out-groups can by a tyrannical obstacle to letting ideas out but I’m not sure it’s as bad you are making it out to be given the benefits that come along with blogging.
One other note:
I think as philosophers, theorists, etc. etc. it’s easy to be misled, turn to an online source or crowd for validation and to feel “accepted” when establishing a theory, or when subscribing to one. This is different from doing philosophy “in person” whether at conferences or in seminars, or face to face in conversation. Doing philosophy *online* (from what I’ve seen in the past year) means being more easily influenced by something that others (or seemingly “everyone”) is doing when new ideas, new trends, what’s “in” versus what’s “out”, crops up instantaneously and then changes the next day.
When it comes to culture, blogs, twitter, facebook etc. all propagate mass thinking in many ways more efficiently than television. Television is yesteryear: the online “mass influence” effect of ideas is now the norm. I hardly think that one can be an individual philosophically with a cult online “social” presence, especially with the effect that that presence has. Sadly, philosophy is not immune to this effect: we are influenced by others immediately through text rather than personal interaction, through comments and tweets rather than by sustained engagement and critical response that is slow and reasoned. Being an individual, philosophically, is harder and harder when it comes to online media. One’s ideas are vetted, accepted, quarantined, usually judged in 150 characters or less or simply by “what’s out there” in the blogs.
Culture is like that too. Ideas become mass produced, hollow and accepted without critical thought. Culture is not critical, it goes on “glances” and “appearances.” We “glance” at wikipedia, we spend less than 10 seconds or so reading blog posts (why posts aren’t recommended to be longer than 300 words). Of course there are the “ups” to doing philosophy online (open access, publishing your own material, ideas getting across quickly). But I am talking the *social* nature of doing philosophy online. It can get ugly.
Online social culture will *react* against those asserting their agency, opposing the “popular crowd.” If you choose to be yourself, the little twitter circles will chatter, or worse yet, the powers that be will assert some feigned indifference and “ignore you” – which according to social online presence is the modern day form of ostracizing someone. Hilarious.
Truly online social presence has a more negative than positive affect on *doing* philosophy in a social setting: and I mean the real hard work in philosophy that goes into having a face-to-face conversation (*not one* of the people who have criticized me the way the do online would have done so to my face – this happened in email), working on issues, and personally interacting with others. None of that is present online. What I see is ego-stroking, public love fests, putting one’s self over, shameless self-plugs, and other various forms sociopathy.
To me what you say sounds about right. My experiences aren’t the norm, no doubt. I agree too: perhaps saying that graduate students cannot think for themselves is abit arrogant. Obviously they can, and are well capable individuals. But…fashion still does reign supreme on the blogs and grad students far too often are influenced by it.
Does blogging have its advantages? Absolutely. But I think your point that blogging is not academic philosophy rings true. I think also that the larger question (for me at least) is, what is the point of blogging philosophically? What I take to be the point is at such odds with what some (not all) other bloggers in our circle take to be the point that there is just a mismatch of opinion about the issue. And I really disagree with the opinion that someone *can* master the “blogging mini-treatise” – that is patently false. Blogging philosophically must be something else if, from what I am told, blog posts must be something like less than 300 characters to keep a readers attention. I am not sure philosophical blog posts *can* be scanned, but correct me if I’m wrong here.
I think what frustrates me the most is when I read something passed off as philosophy on a blog that is rather flippant and undefended. It is probably my fault for expecting it to be defended – and I am learning that blogs aren’t the place to do that. Your comment somewhat alludes to that.
So, yes, hooray for blogging. Academic freedom, publishing without institutional support, Open Access, networking, and on and on. I agree with that. I think my previous two comments were indeed venting frustrations about the politics that I (and probably too many others) have experienced. I have a situation, everyone knows it. Blogs can be a great place to vent with due discretion. So, for example with my declining health and anger concerning it, the fact that what I love (online) is saturated with politics makes things appear worse than they are. Other bloggers (like you) call that all and keep me focused. This is good.
It’s interesting because recently I was considering altering the shape of my own blog. I read various things about what blog-readers want to see: personality, emotion, a feeling, in short, *a person* (which, considering philosophy, this is very interesting). I have a story today and usually get my most visits and clicks when I tell that story. So I am torn on the issue. Do I reveal my personal story (with discretion)? People can learn something, certainly. But do I tell it? Hmmmm. That’s a thought.
But thanks for allowing me to vent spleen. It may not be the norm, but if I am honest I can’t say that I haven’t received emails from more than a few stating that the blogging politics can get out of hand. (These people usually tell me to ignore it.) Usually I l do augh it off, but sometimes it just gets too ridiculous, especially when it comes to something close and personal to me (my belief in God).
As an aside, and to close, the few times that I have interacted with Ray Brassier have been exceptional. Even though we are pretty much completely at odds about, well, everything, I genuinely respect the man and he has appeared respectful to me. There’s a way to be courteous to people through the internet, and for my tastes blogs (and twitter, facebook) just have this uncanny ability to allow people to be discourteous. But email has that ability too if you aren’t careful.
But again, my venting is over. Moving back to the original topic … It was a good video that you posted. If anything in this comment is pertient please by all means address.
in my experience these kinds of gossip-bonding are the social in person norm (and are destructive but not literally sociopathological but sadly largely constitutive of most ‘normal’ social interactions) and shape most of what passes for philosophy (and other fields of course) in the academy, blogs are often interesting in that one gets to ‘see’ the personalities at work behind the written words, to see how their explicitly philosophical views bear familial resemblances to their tastes in other areas and their rough psychological type/stance. Without being reductionistic I think there is much work to be done in understanding philosophy/thinking as auto-bio-graphic.
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