Personal freedom is, in most senses, an illusion

“As with astronomy the difficulty of recognizing the motion of the earth lay in abandoning the immediate sensation of the earth’s fixity and of the motion of the planets, so in history the difficulty of recognizing the subjection of personality to the laws of space, time, and cause lies in renouncing the direct feeling of the independence of one’s own personality. But as in astronomy the new view said: It is true that we do not feel the movement of the earth, but by admitting its immobility we arrive at absurdity, while by admitting its motion (which we do not feel) we arrive at laws, so also in history the new view says: It is true that we are not conscious of our dependence, but by admitting our free will we arrive at absurdity, while by admitting our dependence on the external world, on time, and on cause, we arrive at laws.”

In the first case it was necessary to renounce the consciousness of an unreal immobility in space and to recognize a motion we did not feel; in the present case it is similarly necessary to renounce a freedom that does not exist, and to recognize a dependence of which we are not conscious.

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Process and Reality

Philosophy is the self-correction by consciousness of its own initial excess of subjectivity. Each actual occasion contributes to the circumstances of its origin additional formative elements deepening its own peculiar individuality. Consciousness is only the last and greatest of such elements by which the selective character of the individual obscures the external totality from which it originates and which it embodies. An actual individual, of such higher grade, has truck with the totality of things by reason of its sheer actuality; but it has attained its individual depth of being by a selective emphasis limited to its own purposes. The task of philosophy is to recover the totality obscured by the selection.

– Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, Pt. I, Ch. 1, sec. 6.

Žižek plagiarism scandal

Žižek’s plagiarism of a book review in a white nationalist magazine . There have been many important intellectuals who have had similar dust-ups with minor incidents of plagiarism. Heidegger and Kierkegaard, for example, and people still read them. Everyone reads other works and borrows ideas from them without necessarily citing every single idea – we legitimately don’t remember the original source.

To put a different angle on it, who would actually want to read a book with white nationalist ties? Who would want to cite a white nationalist magazine? There were times when intellectuals were hesitant to cite anything with Buddhist origin, out of fear of looking flakey. In literature, nobody in academia would admit to reading or directly talk about fantasy and science fiction, but their pretentious counterparts, “magical realism” and “speculative fiction,” are universally acclaimed.

On the other side, though, the rules of the academy are that credit must be given to non-original ideas – always. If you or I did this on a dissertation, our academic careers would be over. Heck, people left and right are disavowing any former support for the ideas of Colin McGinn after his sex scandal, and his mistake was outside of the scope of his intellectual thought.

I want to see how the dust settles on this. I don’t feel like this should be a career-ending black mark, but it does reflect Žižek’s sloppy approach to intellectual thought and scholarship.

Saara Markkanen & Elise Mélinand

We just hosted two excellent European musicians who played at Hopkins Ice House on Thursday, July 5th as part of their first US Tour!


Here’s a video of them playing at a previous host’s place.


Saara Markkanen & Elise Mélinand – True Love Wll Find You from Anton on Vimeo.


I just finished reading my first graphic novel today: Blankets by Craig Thompson. My first impression of the book just after I closed it was that it was mediocre. However, I did enjoy the graphic format of the novel. The drawings were well done, and they helped add a depth to the novel that might not have gotten through to the reader otherwise. The graphic novel certainly allowed the writer to experiment with form and tell the story in a completely different way. Frames that featured nothing but snow and trees, or contained nothing at all, captured the lonely feeing of adolescence perfectly. But, no matter how skillfully the artwork was done, it couldn’t make up for the poor dialog and weak plot. Without the drawings, the novel would have never made it through publication.

This leaves me not knowing what to think about the rapidly growing genre of the graphic novel. Part of me feels that instead of using words to paint a picture in the reader’s imagination, these writers are simply drawing comic strips along with their story to make up for the weak writing. On the other hand, if I look at these books from a more artistic perspective, I look at the juxtaposition of the pictures and frames and admire the effect they create for the reader. In the end, I think that a good graphic novel should have it all: an excellent plot, effective dialog, and great artwork. Because the graphic novel is a hybrid, their authors have to impress both art and literary critics. This may leave them at a disadvantage, but as the genre develops and matures, I think it could make for some very interesting works.