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Showing posts from January, 2012

Lalibela: a version

Lalibela is very impressing. Cathedral size churches carved on rocks. An attempt to put together the refuge of a cave and the spirit of congregation of a church. Maybe caves were natural churches as Niemeyer thought when he planned an ecumenical church for Brasilia – a concrete cave. Lalibela's idea was different: use the matter of a cave and bring the church in. Not that the church is only a form, but it is an affordance of many shades of matter. Concrete, for instance, and stone – but in Lalibela the king wanted to carve them. He wanted to build a place for pilgrimage to replace Jerusalem – a new Jerusalem. But new Jerusalens are built on memory, where is hanging dreams, mixed tales, lapses of imagination, abundance of imagination and sheer lies. The city of stones could be made by carving inside the stone. Now, they say the kings in the Zagwe dynasty were quite eager to play some role in the middle east conflicts – at the time, the invasion of Jerusalem by the Crusaders. Lalibe

Object-oriented ontologies vs materialism: what is at stake 3 (Ontogenesis)

Been reading Le Clézio's essay on L'extase matérielle (Gallimard, 1967). It is a big praise on the powers of matter beyond what is merely actual. He pictures matter as reminiscent of a time with no struggles - where there is nothing to hate and yet nothing to understand. No object. No crystallised being. A time, that is not an archaic moment but rather an epoch to be claimed, where everything was at stake and nothing had beginning or end. Yet this is not a time gone, he goes. It is rather a time always present. He says there is a world of objects, the world where he finds himself being one of them, a subject. But there is a simultaneous world of matter - a piece of heaven or hell that lies about. It is like sleep where the objects are the objects of dream. Le Clézio insists that he is talking about matter, about a material substract to all objects. The issue concerning ontogenesis is whether objects need something else to provide for their origin. Hamilton Grant claims that som

Epistemic virtues could be not first-personal enough

A piece of work that I started years back in a conference in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada found a home in the Croatian Journal. Drawing on Bernard Williams' idea that sometimes an appeal to virtues is insufficiently first-personal. I thought that sometimes one can also find cases of epistemic bad faith when one fails to believe following (first-personal) inclinations and prefer to follow third personal epistemic norms (believe something because, say, science says so or grant a logical procedure that is not part of your reasoning or something you understand). Surely, beliefs are complicated things as they always involve transparency (I know what I believe through thinking about the world, not through thinking about myself.) But I think epistemic virtues could also fail to be first personal enough.

Ethiopia: a paradise for anarcheologists

We're in Axum, the land of the queen of Sheba and the emperor Menelick, her son with Solomon, who brought the ark of the alliance from Jerusalem and founded an empire around the Graal. It is Zion for the Rastafarians who flee from around the world including Babylonian Jamaica to come and celebrate Hailie Selassie, the last emperor of the Solomonic dynasty. To me, this is a paradise for anarcheology. Makes me remember Zouzi Chebbi, in Paris 8 last March commenting that the different between fact and version is blurred when once crosses southbound the Maghreb. The Beta Israel are the descendents of the big court of Menelick (the first) who followed him from Jerusalem, maybe together with the lost tribes and some converted along the way. As for the Christians, maybe they are early converts, maybe the descendents of the hosts of Jesus, maybe the ones who went preach up north in the upper shores of the Red Sea. Ethiopia is often cleaned away from the official versions of those religious

Intuition, mind-reading and matter

Watching Avatar over last Christmas, already years after the hype, I was thinking of the scene where the earthling is taught to ride the flying horse by concentrating his thoughts on where he wants to go. It is common in plots where nature is somehow directly accessed and more integrated to human ways to feature some measure of mind reading. I then started wondering how do I go about mind reading. I wanted to be very open to possible episodes of matter reading – salt detecting water, ticks registering mammals, bees seeking flowers, a ball reading off the presence of a wall and animals noticing body temperature variation. What is the content of what is read is a common issue in both mind and matter reading. Does the tick read off a species or an increase in comfort? Or could we circumvent the content issue altogether by saying that they merely react? The frog reacts to the passing fly – but what does it react to when it reacts to the passing fly? The problem with mind reading – like the

Object-oriented ontologies vs materialisms: what is at stake 2 (the transcendental)

Following up on the frictions between the object and the matter pole, I was thinking a bit about the transcendental, which is somehow connected to the previous post on objects and concepts, matter and non-conceptual contents. There is a similarity between those who appeal to matter and those who posit a transcendental level that makes whatever appear possible. Hamilton Grant endorses Deleuze's transcendental volcanism and claims that matter is the stuff that folds and unfolds itself in things. Object-oriented ontologies, on the other hand, posit no special dedicated realm of the transcendental - the conditions of possibility for objects are to be found among objects, maybe among other objects but still among objects. There is no transcendental refuge beyond them, ontogenesis - and this means mainly the origin of objects - is to be done in an object-oriented manner: which objects give rise to which objects. In this sense, the absence of a transcendental promotes a flat ontology wher