Monthly Archives: December 2013

Excerpt: Excommunication

December 4, 2013
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Excerpt: Excommunication

An excerpt from Excommunication: Three Inquiries in Media and Mediation by Alexander R. Galloway, Eugene Thacker, and McKenzie Wark *** From the editors’ Introduction: The field of media studies today generally understands media along two interconnected axes: devices and determinacy. On the one hand, media are understood as synonymous with media devices, technological apparatuses of mediation such as the phone, the file, or the printing press. And yet such technological devices are imbued with the irresistible force of their own determinacy. Media either determine a given social, cultural, or political dimension, or media are themselves determined by the social, cultural, or political. Media makers affect media consumers and thus establish hierarchical relationships with them, or media-savvy individuals express their own desires by way of the tools and machines that extend their will. For media studies generally, media are, in short, determinative devices, and they are thus evaluated normatively as either good influencers or bad influencers. Consider the major traditions that continue to inform media studies today. With the Frankfurt School and Adorno and Horkheimer’s theses on the culture industry, one finds an emphasis on media as technologies of domination. The extorted reconciliation of the pop song or narrative is determined by the apparent equivalence of commodity . . .

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Excerpt: Outsider Scientists

December 3, 2013
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Excerpt: Outsider Scientists

An excerpt from Outsider Scientists: Routes to Innovation in Biology, edited by Oren Harman and Michael R. Dietrich *** INTRODUCTION Both intellectually and institutionally, the life sciences occupy a fascinating middle ground between the physical and exact sciences on the one hand, and the social sciences and humanities on the other. If biology were an animal, it would be a duck-billed platypus—something that appears chimeric, yet is fully rooted in its own historical lineage of accumulating adaptations, tinkering, and change. Like that strange aquatic mammal, “half bird, half beast,” its features point to its origins and ecology. Biology as a science has come into being as a patchwork, assuming its present visage as a consequence of myriad interactions between different traditions of knowledge, method, and philosophy while maintaining an overarching quest for understanding of the natural world. Indeed, historically, many researchers have come from outside biology to ask fundamentally biological questions. These outsiders have played a crucial and defining role in the growth of modern biology; they have brought new skills and ideas to the “inside” and have thus added something new to biology. As a consequence, biology can feel sometimes as if it is a strange hybrid—with a bill, a flat . . .

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Excerpt: Contesting Nietzsche

December 2, 2013
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Excerpt: Contesting Nietzsche

An excerpt from Contesting Nietzsche by Christa Davis Acampora *** Homer is Nietzsche’s exemplar for two key crucial concerns throughout his works: creativity and power. The potency of Homer’s poetic transformation of human toil and struggle both fascinated and spurred Nietzsche to try to capture and command the same kind of force. Nietzsche’s Homer is not simply the founder of a certain form of culture; he is a revolutionary, a reformer, someone who effects a tremendous revaluation. Thus, it is important in Nietzsche’s account that Homer is late. Here, late means that Nietzsche regards the emergence of what is classically considered Homeric as standing at the end of a significant period of cultural development rather than at the beginning. Nietzsche regards Homer as having overcome dominant cultural traditions that developed prior to his arrival on the scene. Thus, he considers Homeric literature to be a late development in Greek culture rather than its founding moment. The life of struggle, previously portrayed by Hesiod as a kind of punishment for all . . .

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