– Edmund Zagorin: Harman’s Latour: An Epiphany of the Obvious?

In a philosophical world of proliferating neologisms and the increasingly tangled concepts that they append to, there is certainly something to be said for simplicity. Ever since Occam’s Razor (the principle that “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily”) was incorporated as a principle of rigorous scientific thought, Western thinkers have refreshingly (albeit somewhat irregularly) attempted the occasional theoretical closet-cleanings designed to simplify both the substance and communicability of their ideas. In the era after the medium and the message have long been co-habitants and more, Graham Harman’s recent treatise on the metaphysics of Bruno Latour represents exactly such a closet-cleaning, with a monumental scope and ambition. Harman, as a Heideggerian philosopher, a contemporary intellectual category defined by the man who once famously quipped that “making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy”i, must be well-aware of the allure of simplicity for his readership, who maybe simply overtaxed by complex jargon and the billowing frills of superfluous conceptual verbiage. And especially where hard sciences (or ‘natural philosophies’) are concerned, this allure of simplicity is not without good reason. Early in the twentieth century, the philosopher of science Karl Popper argued that pragmatic and aesthetic concerns aside, Occam’s Razor could be justified theoretically by the criteria of falsifiability, arguing that since more simple theories inevitably apply to more cases than complex ones, that they are therefore falsifiable to a greater degree, and therefore capable of greater empirical truth. In other words, to be simpler, for any theory, is to be truer.

Download Full PDF: Zagorin – Harman’s Latour (Review)

Volume II of Semiphagy and Call for Papers

Semiophagy: Journal of Pataphysics and Existential Semiotics is pleased to announce a new volume of articles, artwork, and reviews. Semiophagy is also now accepting papers, artwork, and reviews for peer review. The general theme of our next issue will be “The Disembodied Hand: Signs of the Body”:

Inundated by the media spectacle surrounding Michael Jackson’s death, we are reminded that much of this pop star’s power and ubiquity stemmed from his careful use of iconographic images. Take, for instance, his sequined gloved hand. From the white glove of a clown to that of a cop, the Hamburger Helper mascot to Mickey Mouse, an illuminated hand has a certain existential appeal that surpass ordinary significance and reveals the threshold of a more powerful order. As if disembodied from its own flesh, a gloved hand seems to float before the body, drawing the gaze of others and arresting their movements (e.g. the eye of the hamsa; the white glove of a traffic cop). Likewise other parts of the body have been used by artists and statesmen as icons of their various regimes: Dali’s lips-couch, Carroll’s Cheshire grin, the eye of Ra, the boot of Italy, Hitler’s saluting arm, etc. Accordingly, Semiophagy invites articles that explore the existential allure of these incorporeal body parts and their theoretical implications. From Lacan’s phallus to Deleuze and Guattari’s floating eyes of the ‘white wall/black hole’ system, Bataille’s Story of the Eye to Žižiek’s Organs without Bodies, many philosophers and theorists have tried to place these severed parts. Building on their work, what is the power and allure of a disembodied organ?

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The Symptom in Theory – Symposium – Call for Papers

8th September, 2009

Location: Room 0.31, Humanities Building, Cardiff University

Conference organiser: Aidan Tynan

Some of the most influential theoretical contributions of the last several decades have sought to formulate the relationship between the body and its symbolic environments through the concept of the symptom. Perhaps the most influential of these was Lacan’s conception of speech and desire, in which the symptom, as signifier, discloses a set of meanings which disturb conscious discourse. Deleuze and Guattari’s subsequent insistence that schizophrenia should not be interpreted in negative terms, as the signs of a breakdown, but as the positivity of desire breaking through to a new, possibly revolutionary, plane of existence specifically attacked the psychoanalytic notion of the symptom by tying it to the structures of social repression. Beyond these debates, the symptom has figured in the theory of literature, historical materialism, embodiment and sexuality, and dialectics. This symposium seeks to situate the concept of the symptom in relation to these theoretical and political issues in order to ask what the symptom means for us today. How has the concept of the symptom persisted and how can it help us understand the relationships between pathology and thought, desire and language, praxis and theory, politics and art in our present age? The event will consist of a small number of concurrent panels, plenary panels, and roundtable discussion. Contributions engaging critically and polemically with Deleuze from a range of diverse backgrounds are especially welcome. Submissions will be considered for inclusion in a special issue of Deleuze Studies.

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The International Society for the Study of Time: Fourteenth Triennial Conference – Origins and Future

Monte Verde, Costa Rica, July 25th-31st, 2010 – CALL FOR PAPERS

The International Society for the Study of Time (ISST) seeks proposals for presentations at its 2010 conference in the cloud forest of Costa Rica, on the theme of Origins and Futures. The ISST, renowned for its interdisciplinary scope, welcomes contributions from all scholarly, creative, or professional perspectives. Synthetic, foundational work is especially welcome.

All Information here.

Resonance(s): A Deleuze and Guattari Conference on Philosophy, Arts and Politics

SantralIstanbul, location provided by Istanbul Bilgi University – April 22nd-24th, 2010
information on application and registration here
Deadline for applications: September 1st, 2009
Panel proposals, individual proposals and performance proposals are encouraged but not limited to following areas:
Un-gestalt, Détournament, Spectacle/Specular, Noise, Perversion, Madness, Schizo-analysis, Hysteria, Histrionics, Addiction, Altered states, Actual/Virtual, Immanence/Transcendental, Dialectics, Nomadology, Affect/Percept, Noumenon/Phenomenon, Time/Matter, Ressentiment, Macro/Micro Perceptions, Quantum, Becoming, Year Zero, Micro-politics, Minor literature, Ritournelle

New Online Magazine “Semiophagy” – Call for Papers

Semiophagy is an interdisciplinary forum for scholars, artists, and activists to engage in semiotics, broadly construed. More than abstractly saying what signs are generally, Semiophagy pushes the concept of the sign toward questions of praxis. Instead of asking ‘what’ a sign is, it questions ‘how’ we discover and interpret signs in the first place.
Semiophagy aims to trace the being of signs from their phenomenological emergence to their existential significance, asserting that insofar as all signs must be interpreted, the search for every sign’s meaning is a creative urge expressed as art. This includes but is not restricted to philosophical and critical inquiries, visual works, pataphysical experiments, manifestos, comics, spoof ads and articles, dada, ethical treatises, as well as the history and myth of semiotics itself.
For possible publication in Spring of 2009, submissions to Semiophagy MUST BE RECEIVED BY MARCH 1ST, 2009.

Semiophagy is a blind, peer-reviewed publication. More Information here

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