In contrast to many liberals, who view truth and power as often opposed, Nietzsche believed that what we understand as “the truth” is itself always a function of power — the power to dominate how people think about reality. In this view, competing conservative and liberal accounts of global warming, health care, and the Iraq war are part of larger power struggles over describing reality. Nietzsche would ask us to be skeptical of those claiming to be simply telling the truth. Efforts to declare some accounts about reality to be true and others false is always a power move. He meant this not as an indictment of power; he considered the will to power to be the essence of life itself. Instead, he was denouncing the notion of truth as innocent of power plays.
While not going so far as to say that all accounts of reality are accurate, he was saying that all truths must be understood as both perspectival and contingent. Because we all have different bodies, origins, histories, and standpoints, we all have different perspectives and accept different things as true, frequently changing our views over a lifetime. This view foreshadowed the view endorsed by much of today’s cognitive science, social psychology, and behavioral economics, which view reason as more a slave to instinct and power than the other way around.
Nietzsche leaves us with a notion of objectivity as multiple, fractured, partial, and contingent:1
There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective “knowing”; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our “concept” of this thing, our “objectivity” be.In place of God’s eye we would have countless eyes with divided perspectives, unconsciously projecting mental preconceptions onto external reality. What results is a kind of deep pluralism — not simply the recognition of different socioeconomic standpoints, but also an acknowledgment of the ways in which these perspectives are shaped by animal instincts, culture, and ideology. If we want the fullest picture of a thing, we need to consult other people’s perspectives, and the more we consult, the better. -- Kathleen Higgins, "Post-Truth Pluralism: The Unlikely Political Wisdom of Nietzsche." (September 2013)
Benton, Michael Dean. "Thinking ..." Dialogic Cinephilia (December 10, 2017)
Bernstein, Barbara. "Sacrifice Zones (Part 1)." Making Contact (October 18, 2017) ["Since 2003 a rash of proposals have surfaced in communities throughout the Northwest to export vast amounts of fossil fuels to Asian markets via Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. If these plans go through the Northwest would become home to the largest oil terminal in North America, the largest coal export facility in North America, and the largest methanol refinery in the world. This week we present Part One of Sacrifice Zones by Barbara Bernstein. It’s the first in a two-part series on the pressure to transform a region of iconic landscapes and environmental stewardship into a global center for shipping fossil fuels. Bernstein investigates how proposals for petrochemical development in the Pacific Northwest threatens the region’s core cultural, social, and environmental values."]
---. "Sacrifice Zones (Part 2)." Making Contact (October 25, 2017) ["Since 2003 a rash of proposals have surfaced in communities throughout the Northwest to export vast amounts of fossil fuels to Asian markets via Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. If these plans go through the Northwest would become home to the largest oil terminal in North America, the largest coal export facility in North America, and the largest methanol refinery in the world. As the fossil fuel industry turns up its pressure to turn the Pacific Northwest into a fossil fuel export hub, a Thin Green Line stands in its way."]
Cassidy, Brendan and J.D. Duran. "Coco, Lady Bird, Top 3 Movies About Tradition." InSession Film #249 (November 2017)
---. "I, Tonya / The Breadwinner." InSession Film (December 2017)
Farid, Mujahid. "Release Aging People in Prison Campaign." Law and Disorder (November 20, 2017) ["The number of persons 50 years and older in New York State has risen more than 98% since 2000; it now exceeds 10,000—nearly 20% of the total incarcerated population. This reflects a national crisis in the prison system and the extension of a culture of revenge and punishment into all areas of our society. The organization Release Aging People in Prison, or RAPP, works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice by getting elderly and infirm people out of prison. Led by Mujahid Farid, a 2013 Soros Justice Fellow who was incarcerated for 33 years in New York before his release in 2011, RAPP focuses on aging people in prison, many of whom are long-termers convicted of serious crimes. Many of these human beings have transformed their lives and developed skills and abilities they lacked before incarceration. They could be released from prison with little or no threat to public safety. Yet many are denied release, often for political reasons, and they needlessly remain imprisoned into old age. These elders could return to their communities if current mechanisms such as parole and compassionate release were correctly utilized. We also support legislation in New York to correct the parole system and increase the number of releases."]
Garvie, Clare. "Perpetual Line Up: Unregulated Police Face Recognition in America." Law and Disorder (November 20, 2017) ["The presence of surveillance cameras across the United States has enabled targeted facial recognition surveillance at essentially any place and any time. Each day law enforcement puts in place more and more cameras, including CCTV cameras, police body cameras, and cameras on drones and other aircraft. The FBI’s Next Generation Biometric Identification Database and its facial recognition unit, FACE Services, can search for and identify nearly 64 million Americans, either from its own databases or through access to state DMV databases of driving license photos. It’s likely that government agencies will soon be able to pinpoint your location and even with whom you’ve been, just by typing your name into a computer. The release of Apple’s IPhone X has drawn scrutiny to this technology. Despite civil liberties and privacy concerns, there are few limits on facial recognition technology. In March 2017 Congress held a hearing to discuss the risks of facial recognition surveillance. There is concern that facial recognition can be used to get around existing legal protections against location tracking, opening the door to unprecedented government monitoring an logging of personal associations, including protected First Amendment-related activities. Knowledge of individual’s political, religious and associational activities could lead the way to bias, persecution and abuse. As with many technological advances, there are benefits, too. Facial recognition can assist in locating missing persons or for other public safety purposes."]
Gonet, Adam and Joakim Thiesen. "Vampyr." Masters of Cinema Cast #55 (February 22, 2017) ["The first sound-film by one of the greatest of all filmmakers, Vampyr offers a sensual immediacy that few, if any, works of cinema can claim to match. Legendary director Carl Theodor Dreyer leads the viewer, as though guided in a trance, through a realm akin to a waking-dream, a zone positioned somewhere between reality and the supernatural. Traveller Allan Gray (arrestingly depicted by Julian West, aka the secretive real-life Baron Nicolas de Gunzburg) arrives at a countryside inn seemingly beckoned by haunted forces. His growing acquaintance with the family who reside there soon opens up a network of uncanny associations between the dead and the living, of ghostly lore and demonology, which pull Gray ever deeper into an unsettling, and upsetting, mystery. At its core: troubled Gisèle, chaste daughter and sexual incarnation, portrayed by the great, cursed Sybille Schmitz (Diary of a Lost Girl, and inspiration for Fassbinder’s Veronika Voss.) Before the candles of Vampyr exhaust themselves, Allan Gray and the viewer alike come eye-to-eye with Fate — in the face of dear dying Sybille, in the blasphemed bodies of horrific bat-men, in the charged and mortal act of asphyxiation — eye-to-eye, then, with Death — the supreme vampire. Deemed by Alfred Hitchcock ‘the only film worth watching… twice’, Vampyr’s influence has become, by now, incalculable."]
Glenn Greenwald is one of my favorite journalist/commentators (if pressed I would easily place him in a list of ten essential thinkers we should pay attention to). I've been following him through his early Slate days providing commentary on Constitutional issues (he was a constitutional lawyer and had cases before the Supreme Court), his stint at The Guardian writing on security/surveillance issues, his role in the aftermath of the Edward Snowden leaks, and his work at The Intercept. In these two videos from the Lannan Lectures he demonstrates why he is so important to thinking through the issues/problems of our current moment as not being unique to the current administration and cutting through the BS of our binary political (dis)order.
Greenwald, Glenn. "Glenn Greenwald." Lannan Lectures (September 27, 2017) ["Glenn Greenwald is an investigative journalist and author. A former constitutional lawyer, he founded the online global media outlet The Intercept with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill in 2014. He is the author of several best sellers, among them, How Would a Patriot Act?; With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful and the recent No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Surveillance State. Greenwald has received numerous awards for his investigative journalism. In 2009 he was awarded the Izzy Award by the Park Center for Independent Media for his “path breaking journalistic courage and persistence in confronting conventional wisdom, official deception, and controversial issues.” In 2010 he received an Online Journalism Award for his investigative work on the arrest and detention of Chelsea Manning. In 2013 he led The Guardian’s reporting team that covered Edward Snowden and the NSA, which earned the newspaper the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service. Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013."]
---. "The U.S. Media Yesterday Suffered its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages: Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened." The Intercept (December 9, 2017)
Greenwald, Glenn and Tom Engelhardt. "A Conversation." Lannan Lectures (September 27, 2017)
Jagernauth, Kevin. "The Square Sweeps European Film Awards." The Playlist (December 10, 2017)
Jennings, Tom and Mike White. "Pickup on South Street." Masters of Cinema Cast #56 (December 28, 2016) ["Samuel Fuller's sensational film noir casts a steely eye at America in the dawn of the Cold War, and brings 1950s New York City alive on the screen in a manner rarely equaled in the annals of film. In one of his greatest roles, Richard Widmark plays Skip McCoy, a seasoned pickpocket who unknowingly filches some radioactive loot: microfilm of top-secret government documents. Soon after, Skip finds himself mixed up with federal agents, Commie agents, and a professional stool pigeon by the name of Moe (played by Thelma Ritter in her finest role this side of Rear Window). With its complex ideology, outrageous dialogue, and electric action sequences, Pickup on South Street crackles in a way that only a Sam Fuller movie can, and is widely considered one of the director's finest achievements."]
O'Berry, Anne. "Lawyers You'll Like: Anne O'Berry." Law and Disorder (November 13, 2017) ["As part of our Lawyers You’ll Like series we’re joined by attorney Anne O’Berry, she’s the Vice President of the Southern Region of the National Lawyers Guild and the author of The Law Only As An Enemy: The Legitimization of Racial Powerlessness Through the Colonial and Antebellum Criminal Laws of Virginia. While in law school, she served as Director of the Women in Prison Project at Rikers Island, where she taught incarcerated women how to prevent termination of their parental rights. Anne clerked for federal judges in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, including Judge A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, with whom she co-authored an article on the law as a tool of oppression against slaves and free blacks in pre-Civil War Virginia and taught civil rights and South African apartheid law at the University of Pennsylvania. She later taught Race and the Law at St. Thomas University Law School in Miami, Florida. In the last 12 years, Anne has served as counsel at a Florida law firm that specializes in class action litigation, particularly in the areas of securities, consumer and economic fraud, as well as some environmental and privacy rights litigation."]
Stanley, Jason. "Introduction: The Problem of Propaganda." How Propaganda Works. Princeton University Press, 2015: 1 - 26. ["Our democracy today is fraught with political campaigns, lobbyists, liberal media, and Fox News commentators, all using language to influence the way we think and reason about public issues. Even so, many of us believe that propaganda and manipulation aren't problems for us―not in the way they were for the totalitarian societies of the mid-twentieth century. In How Propaganda Works, Jason Stanley demonstrates that more attention needs to be paid. He examines how propaganda operates subtly, how it undermines democracy―particularly the ideals of democratic deliberation and equality―and how it has damaged democracies of the past. Focusing on the shortcomings of liberal democratic states, Stanley provides a historically grounded introduction to democratic political theory as a window into the misuse of democratic vocabulary for propaganda's selfish purposes. He lays out historical examples, such as the restructuring of the US public school system at the turn of the twentieth century, to explore how the language of democracy is sometimes used to mask an undemocratic reality. Drawing from a range of sources, including feminist theory, critical race theory, epistemology, formal semantics, educational theory, and social and cognitive psychology, he explains how the manipulative and hypocritical declaration of flawed beliefs and ideologies arises from and perpetuates inequalities in society, such as the racial injustices that commonly occur in the United States. How Propaganda Works shows that an understanding of propaganda and its mechanisms is essential for the preservation and protection of liberal democracies everywhere."]
Taylor, G. Flint. "Lessons From the Greensboro Massacre." Law and Disorder (November 13, 2017) ["Thirty eight years ago, on November 3, 1979, 35 heavily armed members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi party drove nine vehicles through the city of Greensboro, North Carolina, and opened fire on a multi-racial group of demonstrators who were gathering at a black housing project in preparation for an anti-Klan march. Using semi automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols the Nazis and Kukluxers fired 1000 projectiles in 88 seconds killing five march leaders and wounding seven other demonstrators. Most of the victims were associated with the Communist Workers Party, a multi racial group which had been organizing in the south for workers rights in the cotton mills and against the Ku Klux Klan. The Greensboro police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were all aware of the planned attack. Four TV stations captured the massacre on video. A reluctant local district Attorney obtained six indictments under pressure from the Greensboro Justice Fund which had been organized by the windows of the victims, and the public outcry. A six-month trial resulted in the acquittal of all six defendants. Then a reluctant Reagan administration Department of Justice tried nine of the Klansmen and Nazis on civil rights conspiracy charges. After a three-month trial all nine were acquitted. A year after the massacre a civil rights suit was brought on behalf of the 16 victims. It exposed the depth and contours of official involvement. After an extraordinary dramatic 10 weeks civil trial a southern jury finally convicted a good number of the actors in the massacre. The verdict was national news."]