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This category contains 44 posts

Marx on nonsense

“Either this man is dead, or my watch has stopped” (Marx). I’ve been wrestling with C.S. Peirce’s idea that any moment of communication is potentially made up of three aspects that he labels firstness, secondness and thirdness. Here, the philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) comes to my aid. Deleuze invokes Marx  — not Karl Marx, but … Continue reading

Nonsensical signs

“A tweeting egg! This struck Alice as very odd; she had only ever heard of birds being able to tweet. But then again, birds did come from eggs, so it made sense they should have this ability from the outset” (52). That’s Alice’s first impression of Trumpty Dumpty sitting on a wall in the satirical … Continue reading

On being clear and distinct

Who would not advocate for clarity and distinctness in communication? It’s a big deal in American politics at the moment, as pundits wrestle with the president’s messages that are anything but. The opposite of clear and distinct is something like obscure and blurry, like being in a cloud, where you can’t see properly and forms … Continue reading

Politics as art

Art can bring into sharp relief aspects of life and the world to which people (some of us) previously paid little attention. Art can accomplish this through an ecology of signs — pointing stuff out i.e. by making direct reference. But art also informs by presenting the opposite to what we art lovers might expect as the object of … Continue reading

Extreme tweeting for professionals

The presence of an unregenerate tweeter in the White House places social media in the spotlight. The current state of the White House reveals it as an extreme locus of power, division, anxiety, instability, temper, ignorance, deception, self-interest, and antipathy. Trump’s use of Twitter provides an excellent case study illustrating what people can do with social media, and what it can do to them. Why should any … Continue reading

Is post-truth politics a thing?

The term “post-truth politics” was coined by journalist David Roberts in an article in Grist in 2010. The use of the term is convenient shorthand to indicate disagreement with some current political circumstance. The term also comes into play as a way of accounting for the strange unregulated world of social media. The term also helps mainstream media outlets account for their declining role as gatekeepers to truth, … Continue reading

Cute and cuddly

Who could miss the palpable cuteness of puppies and kittens on YouTube, and their mass produced surrogates in cartoons, video games, on logos, as branded accessories and as soft toys. The word “cute” is an abbreviation of “acute,” meaning clever, keen-witted, sharp, and shrewd, according to the OED. In her extensive exploration of cute as a viable contemporary aesthetic category, … Continue reading

Cover up

The cover is out. The book follows in January 2016. The cover indicates the starting point of the book, which is travel. What we do with our mobile devices reproduces what by now are common, ubiquitous, and habitual practices. To immerse yourself in sound and screen-based digital devices makes the journey go faster, provides opportunities to catch … Continue reading

Indexcess

Indexcess is the space you are in when unable to stop indexing your manuscript. There’s always another word to include. The start of the process is known as indexcitation, when the cataloguing of your ideas presents as an exciting challenge. Near the end you reach indexhaustion. (Indexpress is when you are doing it on a train.) Here’s … Continue reading

Profoundly bored

Since I acquired a smartphone (5 years ago) there’s been no such thing as down time. Five minutes waiting for a bus used to seem like an hour. Now it’s barely enough time to check an email. Last weekend’s Guardian magazine featured an article about what we gain by recapturing empty time, when nothing happens, and we just wait. Apparently, “Aimlessness, … Continue reading

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