SPOTLIGHT

  • War, Peace, Wealth, and Recognition

    By: Dan Corjescu Is the world making more love than war these days? And if so why? It is a question that three great contemporary intellectuals have either indirectly or directly wrestled with in their life's work. The first of our intellectuals is Francis Fukuyama. In his celebrated debut book, The End of History and The Last Man, Fukuyama argued with great verve and imagination that Hegel's nineteenth century insights into the mystery of human history were relevant to better understanding the political nature of our times. Through the interpretive filter of the Russian-French philosopher Alexander Kojève, Fukuyama explained that History's trajectory was bent towards individual freedom and recognition. In this story, the rise of modern science and technology are not enough to explain the historic spread of democratic governments and the passionate belief in human rights. Science can produce a vibrant consumerist society but only the strong human desire for the recognition of ones self-worth in the eyes of others can explain the demand for political liberty. Similar to Fukuyama, is Michael Doyle's work on “the Democratic peace”, which is itself partly based on the philosophical works of Immanuel Kant and Thomas Paine. Doyle, and others, began to notice in

  • Ragnarök in the Norse Myths and the Power of Dystopic Fatalism

    The Norse myths are singular among mythic narratives for a fascinating reason: the gods lose. They do not just lose a treasure, nor just a battle. They lose everything. Fatalism, the idea that the future has already happened in the sense that it is fixed, feels primitive to the modern mind. Dystopic Fatalism, the belief everything we have known and have experienced will one day be annihilated in a disaster of apocalyptic proportions, seems even more distasteful. And yet, it may be the only thing left with any hope of saving us from ourselves.

  • The Ecstatic Agony of Jeffrey Toobin

    Mr. Toobin is a celebrity.  Therefore, he has no right (as it were) to lower himself to our level or at least not in such a way that we are made aware of it. Discretion is the better part of ardor, especially for those in the public eye. Since those who wield power (control over other people’s destinies) belong to the priestly caste of society, they must relinquish the life of the peasant in exchange for their rank as sanctified members of the hierarchy. The peasant is no better than an animal; the priest must not descend to the level of the peasant, or be witnessed doing so, lest the peasantry become disillusioned, and begin to question their lack of status, let alone, rebel against priestly authority. That violates the tacit social contract (or unstated Freudian bargain) that we make with our living symbols of supernal grace.

  • Recognition by the Father: Montreal’s Favorite Son Leonard Cohen and an Ancient Story of Homecoming

    The themes of homecoming and the father-son relationship have received a lot of literary attention recently. Marilynne Robinson just published Jack, the fourth novel in her Gilead series, about the Ames and Boughton families’ complicated stories of homecoming, fatherhood, and sonhood in an American small town beset by racial and religious tension. The tensions between fathers and sons, and the son’s struggle with finding his way back home are timeless and cross-cultural, and trigger some of the deepest issues we have with identity and belonging. Look to any cultural literary tradition, whether of the West, the East, or the Middle East, and you will find tales of fathers, and those sons who attempt to find their way back into their recognition. Songs by the Canadian musician Leonard Cohen, who died four years ago at the age of 82, suggest that he grappled with the father-son relationship, and with the emotional desire for home and homecoming. Cohen might not at first seem to have much in common with an ancient Greek figure, but a comparison yields rich and provocative similarities between Cohen and Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s poem of homecoming, the Odyssey. Odysseus, a fictional warrior with talents, like Cohen, as a language-artist, is better-known for his homecoming as a husband, but he ultimately returns to his broken father as the honored and beloved son. Homer’s and Cohen’s poetry have some surprising parallels on this theme. The fictional character of Homer’s ancient epic and the real-life contemporary poet and musician speak to each other across time and space.

  • Silence as Speech: Reading Sor Juana’s Primero Sueño in the Light of her Final Silence

    Sor Juana’s silence is difficult to “read,” but it is easy to hear. What can it show us about the way the absence of speech can itself be a mode of participation in public discourse?

THEORY

A Case for Immortality

By |June 12th, 2020|0 Comments

Our transient lives are governed by what I would call “mortal time”, an idea stretching its way through Western philosophy from Heraclitus through Socrates to at least Heidegger. It is a time curved to a specific end in death. All our society, culture, and even science is bent by our mortal temporal curvature. Our lives are sorted out and planned according to our inevitable decline and eventual total physical disappearance. The lens through which we view our entire existence is death, our consciousness is therefore a thoroughly mortal one.

Of Friendship and Politics

By |May 16th, 2020|0 Comments

The First World War traumatized the political and cultural life of Europe, especially in the German speaking world. Heidegger's, Jasper's, Freud's, Junger's, Hesse's (not to mention Hitler's) inter-war works are unthinkable without this bloody caesura in European history. In a profound sense, the inter-war period in Germany (but not only) could be viewed as a psychic expression of what we would call today: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of the more notable of these dark intellectual manifestations was Carl Schmitt's The Concept of the Political. Yet Carl Schmitt is closer to us than we are usually likely to admit.

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PRACTICE

Immigrant media guru struggles with Kikuyu vernacular African media television station in the diaspora

By |June 12th, 2020|0 Comments

What place should vernacular stations have in the diaspora landscape? Are they instruments to preserve cultural heritage or vehicles to sharpen ethnolinguistic cleavages for African migrant communities that have had decades of post-colonial conflict between them? What is true, is that the question of vernacular language in the African diaspora community broadly, is both a bridge and a barrier to bringing the African community together.

The Soleimani Assassination: What We’re Missing

By |June 5th, 2020|1 Comment

Post-9/11, assassination has become a new norm in the asymmetrical conflict between states and terror groups. While the appropriateness, if not justness, of targeting terror leaders is still a matter for debate, the killing of Soleimani is an escalation of the use of assassination.

Of Friendship and Politics

By |May 16th, 2020|0 Comments

The First World War traumatized the political and cultural life of Europe, especially in the German speaking world. Heidegger's, Jasper's, Freud's, Junger's, Hesse's (not to mention Hitler's) inter-war works are unthinkable without this bloody caesura in European history. In a profound sense, the inter-war period in Germany (but not only) could be viewed as a psychic expression of what we would call today: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. One of the more notable of these dark intellectual manifestations was Carl Schmitt's The Concept of the Political. Yet Carl Schmitt is closer to us than we are usually likely to admit.

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JUSTICE

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ARTS & LETTERS

Thoughts Within the Coronising Siege

By |May 12th, 2020|1 Comment

This is the 2nd pandemia of global capitalocene (1st was/is the temperature and sea-level rise, but it's so slow banks don't worry).  So we’re in kinda „medical pre-fascism,“ for the rulers a very welcome excuse for the future: only police and pass-holders on the streets, no unruly demonstrators, approaching total control

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