Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON
LECTURE ONE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d__In2PQS60
LECTURE TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al7O2puvdDA

ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ONE THROUGH TEN ON IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE



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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NAVEL GAZING


One of the least appealing characteristics of blogging is its ephemeral nature.  Everything evanesces.  Snarks and selfies go viral and last for the lifetime of a Mayfly, while serious writing might just as well have been communicated by Native American smoke signals.  This was brought home to me by reading Irving Finkel’s The Ark Before Noah, which deals in mesmerizing detail with writing that was painstakingly etched on clay tablets and consequently has endured for as much as five millennia.

In the past few days I have been re-reading several of the multi-part tutorials that I posted on this blog several years ago.  Despite having been written and posted seriatim, they were the crystallization of many years of reading, thinking, and teaching – intended to endure, not, like Mission Impossible assignments, to self-destruct after fifteen seconds.  I will say, without a hint of false modesty, that they stand up quite well upon re-reading.  They are all stored on box.net, and have evidently been looked at by at least some people [the essay most often consulted is The Thought of Karl Marx, which I confess pleases me.]

It would be a violation of the implicit norms of the medium for me to re-post them – rather like an anxious Assistant Professor publishing the same journal article twice in a desperate effort to pad a tenure file.  So I will simply invite my readers to follow the link at the top of the page to box.net and take a look.  Think of yourself as browsing in a second-hand bookstore.

2 comments:

Jerry Fresia said...

Against the notion that "everything evanesces," I would posit that much of your blogging bounces around in the brain for quite some time.

For example, in your July 4 piece on academic collaboration you write, "Necessarily, it seems to me, a co-authored work... cannot have an authentic and distinctive voice." I found this blog intriguing because it helped me to better understand the the failure of so many contemporary collaborative aesthetic productions (executive or industrial artists collaborating with curators, corporate heads, investors, marketing types, etc) to achieve that distinctive voice. But then I wondered about concerti or ensembles, such as string or jazz quartets, where a distinctive voice seems to emerge out of the collaboration. Why does one collaboration seemingly mute the distinctive voice while others seem to encourage a voice that is more than the collaborative parts?

My first thought is that in the first instance (the collaborative efforts of a Jeff Koons perhaps) we find that toxic mixture of Taylorism and the profit motive, whereas, in the second, the collaboration seems to have been intended to achieve a voice or sound that is, indeed, more distinctive yet than any of the voices of the individual assembled players.

Academic collaboration, however, doesn't seem to fit into either of my categories. With your thought still very much present, I remain puzzled.

decessero said...

What a beautiful, thought provoking comment, Jerry! It is the quintessential reply to our Prof's lament about the supposedly short-lived nature of his posts. So often a thought of his is a seed that then germinates. In this instance it led to a wonderful, and articulately expressed conundrum. Thank you.