I spent some time on the Mad Decent website after hearing of this news, and while I won’t bore you with every detail of the record label’s sprawling online presence, since this is a tumblr after all I’d be remiss to not direct you towards Diplo’s Top 50 Hot Girl Tumblrs.
Oh and if you read all that stuff I wrote about art and philosophy yesterday, here’s a possible counter-argument. This article by fellow New School’r Patricia de Vries discusses the dialectical photography of fictional archive making and the space between fiction and non-fiction in photography. After reading it against my comments from yesterday I still wonder if we can call the work itself philosophicalwithout a discussion of it, or if it is the discussion of photography that is the philosophy.
Well for those that like where I’m going with this - that is living up to the name of the blog - I’d offer some more food for thought, this time in audio format. On October 22, 2009, Jurgen Habermas, Judith Butler, Charles Taylor, and Cornel West met at SUNY-Stony Brook to discuss secularism and the power of religion in the public sphere. Their lectures were all recorded and the audio is available here. Habermas is a little difficult to make out, but if you want to read his remarks you’ll have to buy the book that resulted from the conference. Charles Taylor’s discussion in particular is quite relevant to my interest in piecing together a workable balance between religion and politics in the West and beyond.
OK and just to end things on a musical note, thanks to Pitchfork for sharing this James Blake x Drake mixtape James Drake.
I for one am super-stoked that The Stone is back in action over at The New York Times. I devoured every single column in its previous run and was somewhat surprised to read of its demise. For those that don’t know, The Stone is about philosophy, and its written by philosophers for an educated public. It comes out about once a week, though its quite normal for an author to write a mid-week response to some of the commentators, of which there are many. Really the comments section is the most incredible part of the column. While the most recent column, Costica Bradatan’s Philosophy as an Art of Dying, only racked up 41 responses, I’ve seen some controversial columns on topics like animal intelligence and determinism compel hundreds to share their often highly developed thoughts with their fellow readers.
Further, The Stone is moderated by Simon Critchley, the chair of the Philosophy department at my university, The New School for Social Research. While I’ve never had the good fortune of enrolling in one of his seminars I have had the opportunity to see him speak in the regular Thursday night philosophy speakers series at the University. He also co-taught a course on tragedy with Judith Butler last semester, which is pretty far out.
Much of what I read is philosophy or at least engages with philosophies in order to understand or explain earthly phenomena, so any popularization of philosophy is OK with me even if its the anti-revolutionary ethics of Sir Edmund Burke, or a conservative-theological reading of Hegel. Though I have not seen it yet, I understand that Terrence Malick's new film, The Tree of Life, is deeply philosophical. Also, when Werner Herzog dropped by the Colbert Report the other day, it didn’t take long for things to get quite deep:
Which brings me to my point. I once saw Cornel West speak and he said that the importance (or at least one of the importances) of Plato was that he taught that philosophy must go to school with artists, musicians, and poets, but that ultimately Philosophy must distinguish itself from aesthetics through reasoned contemplation of the world. Less creation, more investigation.
Today, philosophy is not so very important to most people, and in the US, where film is the dominant art form, many (if not most) connect more readily with film - fictive or not - and examples from film often belay a persons understanding of conduct, society, or perhaps even themselves. I think that there is nothing wrong with this, I agree with West, philosophy must go to school with the arts and learn from them. At the same time a distinction must be made between fantasy and reality, not to necessarily prioritize one over the other, but, in order to get work done, to put one in service of the other. To this end I would say that fantasy is absolutely necessary - the imagination is where new ideas come from - and that when push comes to shove I might concede that philosophy is in many ways secondary to imagination. It evaluates the ideas that the imagination presents and contemplates the practical dimensions of new ideas.
In fact there is no problem here. Today philosophy and the arts happily co-exist, what are critics but philosophers of art? I think that there is a necessary distinction though between artist and philosopher though, even the most conceptual art with philosophical intentions. This is not to say that the same person cannot be both an artist and a philosopher, of course they can. Just not at the same time.
This has already turned into a ramble, so I’ll leave it here, hope to see some comments, and even if I don’t let’s call this a to be continued post. But because this is a music blog, I would be remiss not to add that John Zorn's own NYC venue is also called The Stone. It’s a unique venue that does 2 shows a night, 6 days a week, usually for $10 a set. Also, there is nothing for sale there except for live music - no beer/food/merch at all, at least that’s how it’s been each time I’ve visited.
Every month has a different “curator” who selects all of the acts for that month, which represents the far reaches of avant-garde and experimental music. Tomorrow night John Zorn himself plays, so perhaps I’ll see you there, and then afterwards we can philosophize about the meaning behind his sax-skronk.
so in closing, here’s some good Zorn vids from over the years: