Words and Wonder

Love, law, and god may manifest themselves diversely in space and time; but the necessity of verbally posing such problems as “She loves me – she loves me not?” or of articulating a proof/disproof for divine existence/absence suggests, as literary types and continental philosophers cannot resist reminding us, that love and all other holy elements of life shine into us through the unwieldy and unpredictable medium of language. That the Texas Penal Code manifests itself as a mass of verbiage hints that the same textual conduit mediates even evil. Yet if language is the reality of thought, language also fails … Continue reading Words and Wonder

Scientific Discovery & Process Theology

Scientific Discovery and Whitehead’s ‘Consequent Nature of God’ in an Integration Model Over the course of a long life spent exploring the relationship of science and religion, Ian G. Barbour (1923-2013) mapped four models of interactions between scientists and theologians: conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration.[1] Conflict describes the epic clash of perspectives evident in media hype at least since John William Draper’s 1874 publication of the dramatic History of the Conflict Between Religion and Science, [2] coming as it did in the wake of the intellectual ferment surrounding Charles Darwin’s 1859 publication of the Origin of Species.[3]Indeed, versions of the … Continue reading Scientific Discovery & Process Theology

Review of Pippin’s Philosophy by Other Means (Athwart)

I recently reviewed Robert Pippin’s latest collection of essays, Philosophy by Other Means: Philosophy in the Arts and the Arts in Philosophy (University of Chicago Press, 2021) for Athwart. It’s always a privilege to work with the fantastic editors over at Athwart. Here’s a link to the review: https://www.athwart.org/pippins-apology-for-a-philosophical-reading-of-art/ Continue reading Review of Pippin’s Philosophy by Other Means (Athwart)

Update: The Bonfire Has Been Doused, the Students Can Stay

My two previous blog posts have just been rendered mostly irrelevant — and I couldn’t be happier about this turn of events. As reported by Clare Roth, Janelle Lawrence, and Janet Lorin for Bloomberg, “The U.S. backed down from a high-profile confrontation with Harvard University, MIT and hundreds of other colleges over foreign-student visas, ending a standoff that could have sent thousands of students back to their home countries and left schools scrambling to plan for the fall.U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs on Tuesday announced that the government had agreed to rescind a new policy requiring international students to take at least … Continue reading Update: The Bonfire Has Been Doused, the Students Can Stay

The New Book-Burning: International Students in the Age of Trump

To all my friends who – by virtue of birth, naturalization, cosmic accident, Providence, or whatever – happen to be American citizens, my international student friends could really use your help. Why am I asking you? International students do not have the privilege of voting in the United States. It is up to us as Americans to keep this country true to the values that have attracted bright minds to these shores for generations. As many of you know, I am a PhD student at the University of Texas at Dallas, the leading destination for international students in the Lone … Continue reading The New Book-Burning: International Students in the Age of Trump

James Joyce’s Ulysses: Nihilist Nadir (or) Zenith of ‘Homo Ludens’?

Ulysses impresses and disturbs. With each re-reading, I am impressed by the sheer meticulousness with which James Joyce artfully assembles such a sprawling mass of details. I am disturbed by a case of literary paranoia. If every novel must be both this grand and this banal, then Joyce’s literary genealogy leads ultimately to something like David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King — a similarly grand account of mundane life, but one cut short by the author’s suicide. (Incidentally, Ulysses includes two attempted suicides. Leopold Bloom’s own father succeeds, via drug overdose. When Ruben Dodd’s son survives after jumping in the … Continue reading James Joyce’s Ulysses: Nihilist Nadir (or) Zenith of ‘Homo Ludens’?

Le pas au-delà – Maurice Blanchot’s Morbid Masterpiece

« La mort, nous n’y sommes pas habitués. » [“To death we are not accustomed.”][1] With this bleak pronouncement Maurice Blanchot begins his 1973 collection of fragments Le pas au-delà. Giorgio Agamben has described Maurice Blanchot as the writer who answered for the survivors of World War II a question raised afresh in every generation: Is writing still possible? And if so, how?[2] To the reader unfamiliar with Blanchot’s oeuvre, Agamben’s commentary raises yet another question: Why would Blanchot consider writing’s possibility questionable in the first place?             Maurice Blanchot (1907-2003) belonged to a generation that lived through the Nazi terror and … Continue reading Le pas au-delà – Maurice Blanchot’s Morbid Masterpiece

Above the Law, Outside the Law: Giorgio Agamben on the U.S. Presidency, Refugee Crises, & Impeachment

Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life , translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998) has become a classic of continental political philosophy. Agamben builds an elaborate superstructure around the elemental concept of homo sacer. In Roman tradition (as interpreted by Agamben, that is) homo sacer referred to an outlaw banned from society, devoted (sacer) to the gods but nevertheless protected from the ritual human sacrifice practiced in ancient European societies (p.12, 47) (evidence of which keeps emerging from Danish bogs). While the folks who became “bog bodies” were carefully protected until the moment of ritual murder, the homo sacer experienced the precise … Continue reading Above the Law, Outside the Law: Giorgio Agamben on the U.S. Presidency, Refugee Crises, & Impeachment