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The University of Western Ontario, October 1: Nietzsche Workshop 2011

The UWO Political Science department will be hosting its annual Nietzsche Workshop on October 1.  Its theme will be Nietzsche, Ecology, & Technology, and its guest speakers will include Horst Hutter, Arthur Kroker, Scott Bakker, and Ed Keller.  It will take place from 1:30 to 6:00pm, followed by an hour-long reception upstairs.  See here for further details.

Because seating is limited, those attending will have to register beforehand by contacting the.nietzsche.network@gmail.com.  They need your name and your academic affiliation.  For those wishing to (re)read  any of his texts beforehand, Librivox has an excellent selection of free Nietzsche audiobooks available for download.

The following video may serve as an optimal advertisement for the workshop:

In other news, the Theory Centre has shanghaied me into getting an academia.edu profile here.  I’m completely flattered.  I’ve posted my Canada-India Trade Manual there, which I’m still quite satisfied with, and I remain convinced that a knowledge of India (which is projected to become a world superpower by 2050) is pertinent for all social theorists.

New Blog: Exchange Value

In a scintillating bricolage of Žižek, Marx, The Economist, and Bloomberg (the latter two of which he critiques mercilessly), the author of Exchange Value dissects the recent trendiness of quasi-socialist sympathy in prominent business magazines. This excellent blog just started on September 10, as of now having only one post, with more promised in the near future to continue the author’s aforementioned analysis, though in the trend’s more subtle manifestations. Credit to A Grub Street Hack for the link.

On a side note, there seem to be a great deal of very well-done blogs on Tumblr, including Weltende (by a law student cum theoretician), Mattermorphosis (on media & virtual reality), The Last Mutations (a gorgeous microblog by the author of Archive Fire), and The Infinite Conversation, though there are many more to be discovered.  I particularly like how Tumblr is so much more amenable to simple posts, e.g. a picture with a short comment, letting the reader use the materials at hand to construct (or at least approximate) for themselves the author’s thought.  In Lyotard’s terminology, it tends more toward figure than discourse, the former being a more fluid passage of thought than the rigid conceptual thinking Lyotard feels has striated the space of philosophy throughout its history.  An entirely different crowd is attracted to such figural media, and indeed an entirely different intellectual, many of whom, for better or for worse, stray away from academia (even if they are impeccably well-read), not to mention modernist lebensprojekten & the divorce of affect and rigor.

Perhaps in the future, lengthy tomes will be passé, and ‘microtheory‘ (books of maxims & pithy quotations) shall be all the rage.  Currently, however, the literati still retain their hegemony in academia, for which they will fight viciously until the last ivory tower intellectual is strangled with the entrails of the last advertiser.  (In other words, microtheory, if it ever becomes popular, will always be ‘vulgar’ in comparison with scholarly theory, since the latter is here to stay.) ‘Electric thinking’, as I term McLuhan’s audial-tactile paradigm, is pervading theoretical systems in a seemingly inexorable manner.  (I can think of no other explanation for Bourdieu’s popularity; for example, I believe McLuhan specifically uses the word ‘field’ to describe how audial-tactile thinkers perceive the world.)  There will always be a place for the intellectual who can navigate at will among paradigms, however.  But of course, this is a matter of theoretical praxis; neither can suffice alone.

The University of Western Ontario, September 21: Bernard Stiegler on Attentional Forms

To anyone who will be near London, Ontario next week, Bernard Stiegler will be delivering a lecture on attentional forms.  Of course, given the tendency of academic titles to be entirely unrelated to the subject matter of the lecture, it could quite frankly be about anything.

Bernard Stiegler is best known in the English-speaking world for his books Technics & Time (3 vols.) and For A New Critique of Political Economy.   He is also the founder of Ars Industrialis, a political/cultural group which calls for an “industrial politics of spirit.”

For those wishing to quickly get the gist of Stiegler’s thought, I direct you to his lecture “Contribution to a New Critique of Political Economy,” as well as Alexander Galloway’s overview of Stiegler accompanied by his handy glossary of Stiegler’s terminology.

Interesting Products

A Primer on Neuromarketing


Neuromarketing is one of the latest paradigms making itself felt in the sphere of marketing. Its premise is simple: given the vast amount of inaccuracy in data-collecting methods (e.g. disparities between stated preference in surveys & revealed preference in purchasing), a more objective means of assessing consumer responses is to use neurotechnology to get straight to the heart of the consumer. Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and Electroencephalography (EEG) are utilized while exposing consumers to products and advertisements, and their cognitive responses are recorded and interpreted. Significant progress has been made, but due to the current expense of neurotechnology (not to mention the legal issues surrounding it, as in the case of France), neuromarketing companies are relatively scarce, with 13 worldwide as of 2007. (One of the more prominent companies, NeuroCo, charged $90,000 per study in 2005 [Mucha, 2-3].) Nevertheless, many powerful companies have begun to enlist the service of neuromarketers, such as Hewlett-Packard, Frito-Lay, Google, Motorola, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Nestlé, Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, L’Oréal, and Fox, for issues ranging from the optimal color of packaging to the effectiveness of movie trailers. Inevitably, the widening availability of such technologies has lead to much bombast and panic, particularly fears about locating the “buy button” in the consumer’s mind, forcing them to buy things they don’t need or eat until they’re obese. In this essay I hope to briefly explain the technology in use by neuromarketers, to address some of the fears (groundless and justified) about neuromarketing, and to highlight some cases of neuromarketing in practice.
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