1. Owen brilliant on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. I’ve had this album for two decades, but Owen has made me hear it in a completely new way. Worth comparing with Cabaret Voltaire’s Voice of America and Red Mecca, and Front 242’s later ‘Funkghadafi’, the latter shamelessly and openly mining the mystique of the ‘terrorist Other’ for ‘pure sensation’. The Eno/ political line is fascinating, and worthy of further investigation. I wonder how Eno’s later advocacy of Rortian pragmatism (which he opposed, pointedly, to ‘fundamentalism’) connects with Bush of Ghosts‘ exoticization of Islam, and how both connect to his current anti-war stance. Also check out Owen’s new space (‘for fragments, the flagrantly unfinished, frippery of various kinds, links, polemics, pretty pictures, complaints about one’s health and things with similar lack of rigour’).
2. Three stunning posts by Dominic Fox. Militant dysphoria may be precisely the concept I was gesturing towards with my vague notion of ‘positive disengagement’. In their paper at the Zizek conference in Oxford last week, Lorenza Chiesa and Alberto Toscano quoted what could well become the militant dysphoriacs’ motto: ‘Enough with Hedone, we want Agape!’
3. Interesting parallel responses to the Reflexive Impotence post:
Mountain 7: ‘Reflexive Impotence and Depressive Hedonia – ‘an inability to do anything else except pursue pleasure’ – reopens the perspective on what some of us were witnessing at the time of this injuncture:
Blank response, an arrogant monied acceptance of the costs of higher education, organized action lacking the menace of violence that (as our French counterparts have shown) is almost always necessary to genuine protest.
Contrast. Frenzied excitement that greeted the opening of yet another aspirational bar. All plastic sheen, posturing and almost suicidal excess of alcohol.’
Blissblog: ‘Trader Joe’s–a Whole Foods-style chain of markets with delicious, healthful, incredibly cheap produce (nuts, coffee, wine, etc) plus prepared meals and budget-gourmet stuff (salsas, pasta sauces, etc) -recently opened to much fanfare in New York, and on the opening day there were queues round the block, people waiting hours to be admitted into what is at the end of the day a supermarket! It seemed weird–possibly a sign of the times–that the kind of anticipation/excitement once motivated by the release of an epochal album — Sgt Pepper’s, or in more recent years the new Radiohead or new Oasis album (when they were at their phoney-Beatlemania peak) would now be motivated by the prospect of organic cashews and Fair Trade Costa Rica coffee.’
4. Meanwhile, Bat sends me a link to a BBC story saying that ‘Goths are more likely to self-harm’. This interestingly compares with the Guardian piece I.T. linked to a while back which argued that ‘goths make the best pupils’. Both of these claims – Goths self-harm; Goths are the best students – square with my experience. It fits: both education and self-harm lie beyond the pleasure principle, and finding enjoyment beyond hedone is more than ever likely to make you an outsider. Most of the Goths I teach are voracious readers who have serious political commitments. The other significant exceptions to the depressive hedonic rule, by the way, are black Christians.
5. Everyone in London interested in theory should try to make this:
‘Alain Badiou, Being and Event
A book launch with Oliver Feltham, Justin Clemens and Alberto Toscano
To celebrate the recent publication by Continuum books of Alain Badiou’s 1988 magnum opus L’Etre et l’evenement, CSISP (Centre for the Study of Invention and Social Process) will host a round-table and discussion between the book’s translator, Oliver Feltham, and two scholars of Badiou’s work, who will collectively try to introduce some of the book’s principal themes – being as multiplicity, the idea of the generic, the naming of the event, the difference between presentation and representation.
Thursday 27th April
Venue to be confirmed
A reception will follow the discussion at 6pm
The event is free but please register in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org’