(That’s an early review from a commenter over on IMPOSE).
I posted a transcript of a Slavoj Zizek talk last night at the endangered St. Mark’s Bookshop. The talk is as meaty as a Zizek rant can get in an hour. Topics covered include a theoretical discussion of melancholy, mourning and prohibition, and how they apply to the Occupy Wall Street protests as well to the state of the left and modernity, in general; the problematic relationship between democracy and globalization, and how the protests and Anne Applebaum fit into this; the obscene pact of Zionism; the true 99%; a new multi-centric world where countries like India, China and South Korea are buying tracts of land from countries that can barely feed themselves; and lots more.
As soon as I read Development As Freedom, I decided Amartya Sen was one of my heroes. And since the chances of me getting more stupid every year is extremely high, I’ve taken to the idea of re-reading it each year as a way to provide much-needed nourishment to my brain; but most of all, to continue to make sense. Its vision is so complete, simple, free of controversy and politics, appealing to the best of human nature, and rational without compromising on ethics that if it ever replaced the bible (it’s my bible), I’d expect the world to explode of over-perfection. Needless to say, I cannot wait to get to his new book, The Idea of Justice, which Sylvia Nasar introduced as a lifetime’s work (she modestly introduced herself as a “journalist” but she’s also the author of John Forbes Nash’s biography, A Beautiful Mind).
The talk took place at Old St. Patrick’s Youth Center and moved back to McNally Jackson book store for signing. It was filmed for C-SPAN so hopefully the video will be available soon. Lots of photos included here.
Dave Eggers will sign copies of his latest books: Zeitoun, a non-fiction account of a Syrian-American immigrant and his extraordinary experience during Hurricane Katrina; The Wild Things, his book based loosely on Maurice Sendak’s picture book, Where the Wild Things Are, and the screenplay by the same name, co-written with Spike Jones; and McSweeney’s, No. 33: The San Francisco Panorama, a Sunday-edition sized newspaper, featuring the work of Art Spiegelman, Dan Clowes and Chris Ware, among many others.
Slavoj Zizek has a new book out on Verso Books: First As Tragedy, Then As Farce; a title borrowed from Marx’s “correction” of Hegel’s idea that history necessarily repeats itself: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great events and characters of world history occur, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
So Verso teamed up with the Brecht forum yesterday to pack the 900-seat Great Hall at Cooper Union with an audience that sold the event out well in advance. At $10 each, that’s $9000, though it seemed like quite a few tickets were bought at the $15 option, which included a copy of the book. That sure is philosophy operating at the level of rock stardom, but we learned that Verso is trying to replace the “Elvis of Cultural Theory” quote with “The most dangerous philosopher in the West” in marketing Žižek. Fittingly, the author’s new website operated by Verso states that the event had to stop when it did because of a bomb threat. Sure, I’ll believe the 10% of truth, 80% of liberal arts theater and 10% of marketing potential in that.
Being at the Brooklyn Book Festival—which I also attended in its year of inception, and which has clearly multiplied its prowess since then—was rejuvenating. Really, it’s not a bad place to be at on a Sunday when you’ve been feeling brain-dead for months. I only wish I’d gotten there soon enough to catch more panels than I did.
The annual Brooklyn Book Festival returns to Borough Hall this Sunday (forecast is sunny), featuring a multitude of vendors, panels and workshops, and covering a wide range of interests: fiction, poetry, biography, comics, politics. Admission is free, but a ticket must be picked up for select events, such as the Poetry, Pop, and Hip-Hop panel, where Thurston Moore and Lupe Fiasco, amongst others, discuss “how poets, songwriters and rappers push language in new and essential ways”. See full schedule
Since you can pick up a ticket only an hour prior to each event, and the turnout was great last year, making it into ticketed panels one after the next will probably be impossible. Here are the ones I’ll be trying to get into.
Filmmaker Astra Taylor, whose debut was the documentary Zizek!, has been touring with her latest, Examined Life, which has brought her back to New York as limited screenings resumed yesterday at Symphony Space. You really can’t go wrong when you’ve brought together a fresh selection of eight contemporary philosophers to devote a high density 10-minute segment to each one; but in addition to that, the personalities have been curated with careful thought to whose idea bounces off whose, and effective cinematic decisions have been deployed, the prominent one being the attempt to take philosophy out on the streets and put it in motion, so that it feels like the ideas are awakening in a social space (the park, 5th avenue, the lake, the airport, etc), instead of being presented to us in the form of stationary talking heads positioned in some well-lit room.
I’m only on page 23, but I already love The Picture of Dorian Gray (by Oscar Wilde), starting from the preface. I enjoy this paragraph so much that I’ve read it three times already. It’s the first one in Chapter 3 of the unabridged edition:
In these words of George Orwell, from his 1940 essay “The Lion and the Unicorn”, how I feel about a lot of people; most notably one outgoing President, but more suitably, another that almost was:
One thing that has always shown that the English ruling class are morally fairly sound, is that in time of war they are ready enough to get themselves killed. Several dukes, earls and whatnots were killed in the recent campaign in Flanders. That could not happen if these people were cynical scoundrels that they are sometimes declared to be. It is important not to misunderstand their motives, or one cannot predict their actions. What is to be expected of them is not treachery, or physical cowardice, but stupidity, unconscious sabotage, an infallible instinct for doing the wrong thing. They are not wicked, or not altogether wicked; they are merely unteachable. Only when their money and power are gone will the younger among them begin to grasp what century they are living in.
But really, you should continue for a little bit of George Orwell hilarity on socialism and bombs:
Of the several noteworthy gatherings hosted this year by New York Public Library’sLive from the NYPL series, the last one I attended was Zadie Smith’s lecture on “Speaking in Tongues”. Poking right away into the nature of lectures and how a novelist is faced with “tonal challenges” when attempting to deliver one, she rolled her premise out: whereas a speech demands a singular true voice, a novelist–whose area of expertise is the imagined, after all–speaks his truth in a diffused voice filled with multiple personalities. But is this ability to be many-voiced, moving from one register to another, also useful for citizens and Presidents, and not just novelists?
hooves on the turf is a mostly-music blog based out of brooklyn. i can be reached at hoovesontheturf [at] gmail [dot] com - please send me your lovely music as an attached mp3 or an mp3 link. if i like what you send, i'll be sure to ask for more.
Aqua: Love TEEN. Man they can sing. Cool. Different.
Suraj Joshee: Sarahana, Loved the video. You captured the simple raw essence of the music and band really really...