February 12 2015

--Looking forward to moderating a seminar about Kevin McLaughlin's illuminating new book, "Poetic Force: Poetry after Kant," at Brown University's Cogut Center for the Humanities, 13 March 2015. It's wonderful and sobering to read a book that teaches you that your close readings are not nearly close enough.


February 2 2015

Matt Senior, Carla Freccero and I have co-edited a special issue of "Yale French Studies" on the question of the animal which will be published shortly.


January 31 2015

--Looking forward to discussing Steven Miller's arresting book, "War after Death: On Violence and its Limits," this Friday at the Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture at SUNY-Buffalo.


January 23 2015

It was 1984 and I scored a press pass to the Toronto International Film Festival. I wrote reviews for the student newspaper under the nom de plume, Ramon Fernandez.


January 23 2015

Strangely, Tintin’s faithful dog, a small white wire fox terrier, is given different names in different languages. Among those names is . . . “Bobbie.”


January 18 2015

This one is for fellow readers of Levinas. --The name of the regimental dog who survived the last stand of the British and Indian soldiers against Afghan forces at the Battle of Maiwand (27 July 1880)?



January 16 2015

“[D]uring the brief intervals in which humanity can bear to interrupt its hive-like labours, let us grasp the essence of what our species has been and still is, beyond thought and beneath society: an essence that may be vouchsafed to us in a mineral more beautiful than any work of Man; in the scent, more subtly evolved than our books, that lingers in the heart of a lily; or in the wink of an eye, heavy with patience, serenity, and mutual forgiveness, that sometimes, through an involuntary understanding, one can exchange with a cat.” --Claude Lévi-Strauss, “Triste Tropiques” (1955)


January 11 2015

--Contemplating the restrained beauty of Jim Verberg's installation, "I see your point, and I understand your perspective – maybe there is no clear direction, no right or wrong answer. Maybe I’m just seeing it differently – or maybe we’re saying the same thing." Paper, fluorescent lights, wood and string, 2012.



December 30 2014

"How can they meet us face to face till we have faces." C.S. Lewis, "Till We Have Faces"


December 29 2014


December 28 2014


December 27 2014


December 26 2014

A day of rainbows. Imagine that.


December 26 2014

Immortal beloved.


December 26 2014

Heidegger: “When we say the lizard is lying on a rock, we ought to cross out the word rock . . . whatever the lizard is lying on is given ‘in some way’ for the lizard and yet is not known to the lizard as rock.” --"In some way." I want to pause where Heidegger pauses, tarry with the half-breath that he takes before he disavows the animal as poor in the world, as lacking a relationship to the rock as such. In anticipation of MLA, I’m thinking about the work, the burden, the aspirations of Heidegger’s emphases, pauses, and other diacritical markings made in or perhaps traced by the presence of the non-human animal.


December 26 2014

Where we are.


December 13 2014

Thank you, Ron Broglio and Mark Lussier, for graciously inviting me to share my work on the animal witness in Arizona State University's "Edgework Series" . . . and for arranging my talk to be recorded.

David L. Clark reading "What Remains to be Seen: Animals, Atrocity, Witness"


December 9 2014

La trahison des clercs.

Why There Would Have Been No Torture Without the Psychologists


December 11 2014

Canadian authorities knowingly and repeatedly delivered detainees into the hands of torturers.


December 11 2014

"I was dreaming of inventing an unheard-of grammar and music in order to create a scene that was neither human, nor divine, nor animal, with a view to denouncing all discourses of the so-called animal, all the anthropo-theomorphic or anthropo-theocentric logics and axiomatics, philosophy, religion, politics, law, and ethics with a view to recognizing in them animal strategies, precisely, in the human sense of the term, strategems, ruses, war machines, defensive or offensive maneuvers, search operations, predatory, seductive, indeed exterminatory operations as part of a pitiless struggle between what are presumed to be species. As though I were dreaming, I myself, in all innocence, of an animal that didn't intend harm to the animal." --Jacques Derrida, "But as for me, who am I (following)?"


December 9 2014

That's nice, Pope Francis, thank you for that reassurance. But I'm more worried about what animals are compelled to endure getting to heaven. Ever read William Blake's "The Chimney Sweeper"? "So if all do their duty, they need not fear harm."

It's a dog's afterlife: Pope Francis hints that animals go to heaven


December 8 2014

--Writing again about the dog, "Bobby," or "the last Kantian in Nazi Germany," who accosts Levinas's memory. So help me, this animal will never leave.


December 4 2014

"There is no doubt an animal thank you or mercy." --Jacques Derrida, "To Forgive"


November 11 2014

Jacques Khalip, Steven Miller and I hold a seminar on Steven's illuminating and troubling book, "War After Death: On Violence and its Limits," at SUNY-Buffalo's Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture, 24 November 2014.


November 11 2014

Delighted to be a featured speaker at "All Things Great and Small: Interdisciplinary Interspecies Community" (15-18 November 2014), a conference organized by Ted Geier and the UC Davis Interdisciplinary Animal Studies Research Group. I’ll be presenting work out of my new project, “What Remains To Be Seen: Animal, Atrocity, Witness.”

And to round things out at Davis, I’m also giving a talk on 17 November 2014 entitled “On the Promise of Peace: Kant’s Wartime and the Tremulous Body of Philosophy.”


November 6 2014

Petroglyph at Broken Arrow Cave, Canyon Point, Utah (6000-1200 BCE)


November 6 2014

Outside Broken Arrow Cave, southern Utah.


November 6 2014

A categorical imperative I cannot, strictly speaking, meet.


November 5 2014

--Some things that we loved seeing this morning during our hike in the high desert of southern Utah.


November 4 2014

Where we are.


November 4 2014

The Flatiron Peak, Superstition Mountains, near Apache Junction, AZ.


October 24 2014

--Delighted to be giving this talk at Arizona State next week: "What Remains To Be Seen: Animals, Atrocity, Witness." The essay from which it is drawn will be out in Yale French Studies next year.


October 9 2014


October 9 2014

On the tenth anniversary of the death of Jacques Derrida, I hope friends will forgive me for remembering something I wrote in 2007 for a special issue of SAQ ("Late Derrida"), edited by Ian Balfour:

"What does it mean to fall in love with a writer?"

Your last letter to me (there were only a few) almost didn't make it, having been misdirected to Wales before being sent to me in Canada. Did I in fact ever receive it? Was it for me? I cannot see for the tears. There--where?--you spoke of not having "the time or strength" to begin certain new projects. "Ce sujet est magnifique, j'aurais tant aimé prendre part au numéro spécial que vous y consacrez," you wrote; "Malheureusement, le temps et les forces me manquent trop pour que je puisse même y songer. Avec ma reconnaissance et mes voeux les plus cordiaux. . . ." Your defencelessness made and makes me tremble. Why? In your absence, this without-force of "time and strength [les forces]" feels irrepressible. You were the one who taught me, as if in a private seminar, that the time and strength of Trauerarbeit cannot be fathomed and cannot not be fathomed. For the work of mourning is a matter of the without-force of time and strength, the refusal, at once tender and vigorous, simply to harness death and the dead to a question of time and strength. To the extent that the work of mourning is in defiance of arithmetic, it is not only work. The work of mourning is a matter of work and of something other than work. That is what makes the phrase terrible and confusing, as you often said. That is why, when I mourn you, I am at a loss for loss, unsure of when or how to mourn. For you who went before me, always before me. And I come to understand, fitfully, that this incompetence will be the death of me. "What is this 'without force,' this state of being drained, without any force, where death, where the death of a friend, leaves us, when we also have to work at mourning force? Is the 'without force,' the mourning of force, possible?" It is with this question that you left us, "like rich and powerful heirs, that is, both provided for and at a loss, given over to being forlorn and distraught, full of and fortified by him, responsible and voiceless"(WM, 144).

Adieu, mon ami, you whom I never dared to call "friend."


October 8 2014


September 22 2014

For your consideration.


September 17 2014

"Oui, l'animal, quel mot!" --Jacques Derrida, "L'animal que donc je suis"


September 4 2014

Got this wonderful gift from a former graduate student in the mail today, wow. Now, if only I could figure out a way to walk and smoke at the same time (see previous posting)....


September 4 2014

Thanks to the generosity of many friends, I'm now at 87% of my fund-raising goal of $3600 for the Toronto Weekend to End Women's Cancer Walk! First thing Saturday morning, Tracy and I begin our 60k trek through the city. As always, the first 30 involves rain. http://www.endcancer.ca/site/TR/Events/Toronto2014?px=2345947&pg=personal&fr_id=1481


August 30 2014

"Suppose that I live in harmony and friendship for four years with a cat: and then it delivers a philippic." --J.L. Austin


August 22 2014

David's Toronto Weekend to End Women's Cancers Walk

I send heartfelt thanks to those of you who have so generously supported my participation in this year’s Toronto Weekend to End Women’s Cancers Walk. That 60k Walk is now less than two weeks away. In the last few weeks, I’m delighted to say that I’ve raised $3,125, or 87% of my goal of $3600. $3600 was the amount that I raised last year, thanks to the combined efforts of dozens of friends, colleagues, and loved-ones like you.

For those of you who are considering contributing to my walk and to this great cause, now is the time to act! Here’s the link:


With best wishes to you all,



August 19 2014

--Last night on the shores of the Labrador Sea. Tracy and I lay together on a gigantic billion year old granite rock, "looking at the stars forever." Thinking about William Blake, who saw an enormous dark cloak, upon whose underside those same stars were but painted illusions.


August 19 2014

Reading very good graduate work amid the desolately beautiful peace of the Fogo Island Inn.


August 14 2014

When you are madly trying to finish a difficult essay about the gaze of the animal, it helps to have one squished between you and the back of your chair.


August 9 2014


August 7 2014

Nice feline ripostes to the dreadful "I don't need feminism" meme.


August 3 2014

I'm walking the Walk again this year...the Weekend to End Women's Cancers Walk. The WEWC is a brisk, two-day, 60-kilometre stroll through the streets and neighborhoods of Toronto. Tracy and I will do this thing, along with about four thousand other souls, 6-7 September. And I'm looking for your gracious support. Many thanks!

David L. Clark's Fundraising Page


July 31 2014

Scott David Ellison, "Badger" (2014) Acrylic on panel,12.5" x 9"


July 31 2014

Before slowly putting a cigarette out on the back of his wrist, German filmmaker Harun Farocki looks into the camera and says: “How can we show you napalm in action and how can we show you injuries from napalm? If we show you an image of napalm injuries, you will close your eyes. First you will close your eyes to the pictures. Then you will close your eyes to the memory. Then you will close your eyes to the facts. Then you will close your eyes to the entire context. If we show you a person with napalm burns, we will hurt your feelings. If we hurt your feelings, you'll feel as if we'd tried napalm out on you, at your expense. We can only give you a weak idea of how napalm works.” From NICHT löschbares Feuer (Inextinguishable Fire, 1968/69)


July 27 2014

"What Derrida teaches is that without an unteachable we cannot teach and are not teachers." Thomas Dutoit

David Pulumbo-Liu, “Why Show the Dead?”


July 26 2014

“The sleeping dog has no right besides its insistent occupation of space. Yet, we know that this may be wrenched from it in a moment. What is this existence, this right to be, that precedes (or exceeds) property?”

Sreshta Rit Premnath, “The Sleeping Dog” (or “Brown Dog”).


Video from “Plot,” an installation at GALLERYSKE, Bangalore and The Bindery Projects, St Paul.


July 23 2014

"Telegenically dead."


July 22 2014

Asymmetrical warfare.


July 15 2014

"The examination of what is just is carried out only when there is equal necessity on each side. Where there is one who is strong and one who is weak, the possible is done by the first and accepted by the second." Thucydides, "History of the Peloponnesian War"


July 6 2014

Neeko, my sister-in-law Melissa's lovely puppy.


July 5 2014

Truer words rarely spoken.

Joseph Beuys, "I Know No Weekend" (Ich kenne kein Weekend), 1972: "Multiple of a bottle of Maggi seasoning and paperback book "Critique of Pure Reason" by Immanuel Kant, mounted inside suitcase."


June 24 2014

Currently at MASS MoCA: Anselm Kiefer, “The Women of the Revolution (Les Femmes de la Révolution),” 1992/2013. Described as “Lead beds bearing the names of famous French women…” Wish I were there to see this installation, but thanks to Jacques Khalip, who is.


June 18 2014

Not what Derrida means by the experience of being "seen seen" by animals. Or perhaps it is exactly what he means.

When Their Sad Ads Stopped Working, One Animal Shelter Tried a New Idea That Saved a Lot of Dogs


June 17 2014

"He's not much of a dog. But who is?" (Lucy van Pelt to Charlie Brown...thanks to Anne McCarthy for that line!)


May 29 2014

--Just remembered today that the first German words that I ever heard were from my father: Schwerpunkt and Schwerpunktprinzip. Both terms come from the battle tactics of the Blitzkrieg. “Find the Schwerpunkt,” he would say, “and pour all of your armour into that gap.”


June 14 2014

Neeko, having just arrived in his new home in Toronto. Abandoned in a garbage dump in Northern Ontario, rescued by volunteers, fostered by a family in London, Ontario, and today lovingly adopted by my sister-in-law, Melissa.

Let us glean this life from waste, unwasted.
Let us arrive together at the deserved and deserving oikos.


May 29 2014

"A violation of right in one part of the world is felt everywhere." Immanuel Kant, "Toward Perpetual Peace"

Sign the Petition: University of California: Divest from Gun Makers


May 25 2014

Watching the bumblebees worry the newly bloomed canopy of the maple tree in our backyard and wondering if there is a biological dispotif in which energy rather than power is what knits their world to the worlds of others. Charles Darwin on what he charmingly calls “the web of relations” of which “humble-bees” form a part: “The number of humble-bees in any district depends in a great degree on the number of field-mice, which destroy their combs and nests;...Now the number of mice is largely dependent, as every one knows, on the number of cats; and Mr. Newman says, 'Near villages and small towns I have found the nests of humble-bees more numerous than elsewhere, which I attribute to the number of cats that destroy the mice.' Hence it is quite credible that the presence of a feline animal in large numbers in a district might determine, through the intervention first of mice and then of bees, the frequency of certain flowers in that district!”


May 23 2014

Trigger warnings: a sign of the pervasiveness of a culture of security and securitization, of being compelled to live and work as actors in a theater of security. I'll wager that there is a connection between displaying liquids in carry-on luggage in airports and displaying "threatening" content in books in university curricula. --More Sicherheitswahn, "security craze."


May 21 2014

Trigger warning for Kant's Critiques. Better to have said: "Danger: May lead to thinking about thinking, doing, and hoping."

Publisher Places a Politically Correct Warning Label on Kant's Critiques


May 18 2014

Sounds like a fantastic idea to me. Not that I know a single thing about children.

'Kant for Kids': translating "Perpetual Peace" into a Children's Book


April 28 2014

--Dispirited to see commercials featuring "wearable tech" in which students--mid lecture--are shown giddily sending and receiving texts using their "wrist phone." The commercial is itself a scene of education in which a telecommunication giant schools undergraduates into believing that they would rather consume than concentrate. Let's just say that I'm glad I'm not in the classroom again until 2016. And when I return, I may just ask students who want to parse Facebook, play Candy Crush, or watch porn to sit in a designated area in the back rows. Does anyone remember "Smoking, or Non-Smoking?"


April 22 2014

Friends who are also members of the MLA, I warmly encourage you to cast your vote on the "right to entry" resolution that is currently before us. The resolution is in support of the MLA urging the US Department of State to contest Israel’s denial of entry to the West Bank by American academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.

The online ratification ballot is available below. (Of course, you will need to dredge up your MLA username and password to vote!) http://t.e2ma.net/message/uf0eg/u3euwh


29 March 2014

Pearl fishers
In azure seas
Deep waters
Washing the isle of the dead
In coral harbours
Across the still seabed.
We lie there
Fanned by the billowing
Sails of forgotten ships...

-Taking up Derek Jarman's "Blue," the last classroom I'll be in until January 2016. There should be a word to describe that out-of-body feeling you get when you realize that your complexly passionate attachment to a text is not shared by your students.


1 April 2014

Looking forward to giving a talk on Kant next month at the annual workshop hosted by the Center for 18th-Century Studies at the University of Indiana. This year's gathering in Bloomington is convened around the question of "hospitalities." I've got a lot to say about that. Too much.



29 March 2014

To celebrate Ross Woodman's inimitable presence in the Canadian art scene going back to the 1960s, Tracy and I today acquired Sky Glabush's mysterious new work, "Display" (2013), graphite on paper, 97” x 58.5." Torontonians, the show at MKG127 is a marvel. http://www.mkg127.com/current/current.html


21 March 2014

Mourning the loss of my mentor and beloved friend of almost forty years, Ross Grieg Woodman. He taught me to have faith in knowledge and a passion for all that is not knowledge. There will never be another like him. Tracy and I grieve with Marion, to whom he was married for fifty-five years. He signed each of his precious letters to me with this phrase: "I am joined with you in this unending labour, love, Ross."


17 March 2014

Thank you Carla Freccero and Matthew Rowlinson for graciously inviting me to speak on your 2015 MLA panel on "Animal Poetics." Here's my abstract:
"'A going along with-- and yet not:' On the Poetry of the Unlived.”

When in "Of Spirit" Derrida pays scrupulously close attention to the work of quotation marks in Heidegger, he teaches us to read philosophical discourse slowly and closely in ways that are conventionally associated with the consideration of poetry. My paper begins not with Heidegger’s quotation marks but with a strange dash in his 1929-30 biology lectures, a moment of hesitation or faltering, a breath or half a breath, at the precise moment in the text in which he finds himself in the proximity of a non-human animal---a dog who lives in the home, who runs up the stairs, and who lies under the table. The animal’s relationship to the human is, as Heidegger says, "Ein Mitigehen, eine Versetzheit–und doch nich," “A going along with, a transposedness–-and yet not.”

Heidegger’s remarks are often treated as the locus classicus of his long-standing refusal of non-human life, a vivid example of his fussy incoherence about the difference between Dasein and other ways of having or not having a world. But to do so is to ignore the ways in which the text here gives itself over to an other. What is the significance of this curious thickening of the philosopher’s language and the faltering of its rhythms at the moment that the imagined animal is made to appear? And who or rather, much more precisely, what hesitates at this moment . . . for we would do well to resist the almost overwhelming temptation to read the dash anthropomorphically, i.e., as the singular expression of a writerly intention, “Heidegger’s” intention. What would it mean inhumanly to attend to the turn, to transposedness, and to the movement of thinking, itself unthought? And how to regard that turn as not for us, here, at the exact moment in which the text wavers about the putative nature of “us”? What is it about the animal, if there is such a thing, that forms the occasion for this irruption of insentience and what Claire Colebrook might call “unlived affect”? What if the “animal,” all too quickly identified (and thus normatively administered) as the occasion of “life,” in fact evokes the interruption of the unlived? Where in philosophical discourse do we see analogous arrivals of “life without life, of witnessing without vision” (Colebrook, “Earth Felt the Wound” 55)? Something–a mark, the phenomenalization of a difference, a kind of materiality without matter--wells up in Heidegger’s text. But to go along with this “yet not,” and to tarry with it, like an animal, I wager, we will need to learn to read as the poets do, "wie die Dichter es tun."


9 March 2014

For some, the greatest misdeed Paul de Man ever committed was dying before he could be killed.


6 March 2014

--So proud of Roshaya Rodness, who taught her heart out last night, offering a three-hour lecture on trans-life in my Queer Theory course. She asked: "Is something queer happening to you in this course? Are you what queerness is thinking about, rather than the subject who thinks about queerness?" --Couldn't sleep in the company of that lure to thought.


4 March 2014

"If Heidegger had had a dog, how would they have been together?" (Andrew Benjamin, "Of Jews and Animals")


14 February 2014

In honour of Valentine’s Day, and in solidarity with those of us lucky enough to be teaching undergraduate courses in gender and sexuality, I’ve attached sixty pages of notes about Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. These notes—written for 3rd-year students--are meant to supplement the course lectures . . . but they’ve become a place for me to work out how to talk about desirous life. http://www.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~dclark/documents/courses/3aa3/3AA3-14.SQCB.nts.pdf


3 February 2014

" . . . This still leaves the category of homme-sick animals ["les animaux en mal d'homme], thereby called domestics [d'hommestiques], who for that reason are shaken, however briefly, by unconscious, seismic tremors." Lacan, "Television" (1974/1987)


29 January 2014

The fact that my childhood cat was an orange tabby named Sigmund Freud ("Siggy") probably says a great deal.


20 January 2014

Today, and on a global stage, the Prime Minister didn't hesitate to vilify the university. He could have spoken of peace and reconciliation, of teaching and learning, and of the roles that students and professors can play in the unending and difficult labour that lies ahead. Instead, in broken sentences, he advanced the war on thought. "In the Western world [anti-Semitism]...takes on a more sophisticated form. With some intellectualized arguments on some campuses. This is the new face of anti-Semitism."


13 January 2014

Zoe and Miranda.


6 January 2014

--Delighted to be sharing some recent work on Goya's "Disasters of War" at the MLA in Chicago this Saturday. I've attached a copy here. Thank you, Miranda Burgess, for organizing the panel and for inviting me to speak on it.



3 January 2013

As those of us who are teachers prepare for the new semester, I forward these animots from Michael Hardt's "Commonwealth:" "Let's have done with worker bees, then, and focus on the singularities and becomings of wasp-orchid love!"


31 December 2013

The inimitable Deborah Britzman speaking at her induction into the Royal Society of Canada: "opening the emotional world of teaching and learning to what it doesn't know, or what it cannot bear to know, or what it cannot tolerate knowing."
Deborah Britzman, York University


25 December 2013

Stopping by woods...


30 November 2013

I’m not afraid to say that I wept watching this short film of remembrance by Ira Sachs, a film whose unsentimental insistence on the act of looking invites us to see through tears. But I find myself wishing that I knew much more about what tears are, about the strange work that they compel us to do. Derrida helps: “Deep down, deep down inside, the eye would be destined not to see but to weep.”

Last Address: Remembering NYC Artist who Died of AIDS


22 November 2013

Henry Giroux at his forceful finest, speaking truth to power. Proud to be his colleague and friend.

Full Show: Zombie Politics and Casino Capitalism


21 November 2013

Must resist the all but overwhelming temptation to drop everything (writing, marking, teaching, vetting, eating, sleeping) and attend to these seminars.

The Death Penalty, Volume I (The Seminars of Jacques Derrida)


16 November 2013

Giant feral cat tracks, Katouche Bay, Anguilla.


15 November 2013

Tracy and I are delighted to have acquired Faith La Rocque's "High Acceptance" (2013), copper sheet, wood, Himalayan salt tiles, SAD lamps (72 x 29 x 24 inches, edition 1 of 3).


7 November 2013

I send warmest congratulations to Deborah Britzman on being made a member of the Royal Society of Canada. What an extraordinarily well-deserved affirmation of the enormous gift of knowledge that you have given us and continue to give us. I am hardly alone in saying that your work, not to mention your encouraging and rigorous scholarly example and your willingness to tarry with the very thought of education have taught me so much, forever transforming not only my understanding but also my experience of what it means to teach and to learn. I’m proud of you, Deborah, and proud to know you.


7 November 2013

Thanks, Rei Terada, for pointing me to Sandman #18, "A Dream of a Thousand Cats."


2 November 2013

Francisco Goya, "The custody of a criminal does not require torture" (Etching and burin [c. 1810-14]).


27 October 2013

Faith La Rocque, "Crystal Ladder" (2011), clear quartz crystals, rope, twine. Saw this installation again yesterday, this time at the Toronto International Art Fair. Tracy and I wish we could give it a home, our home.


20 October 2013

"It might be an old destroyed city." An unnamed Taliban farmer's response to a journalist's question about where or what Canada is.


4 October 2013

Preparing notes for a course on queer theory that I'm teaching next semester, I unearthed a small cache of photographs that stopped me in my tracks.


28 September 2013

Delighted to be speaking, along with Mario Ortiz Robles, at “Nonhumans and Sympathy,” a symposium organized by doctoral students at the U of Maryland-College Park. My talk is entitled: "Animals in Spite of All: On the Insentient Witness."


24 September 2013

Images of "The Fallen," an ephemeral installation by Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss, marking the UN’s “Peace Day.” 9000 silhouettes of bodies were stenciled on the Normandy beach in memory of the soldiers (German and Allies) killed during the D-Day landings.


21 September 2013

"Jacques Derrida with Bear," Gordon Lester (2003, gouache on paper).


13 September 2013

In 1795, Kant notes that the end of war does not entitle the victor to a sabbatical from thinking but instead marks its intensification in the risky mode of an entreaty, a prayer for forgiveness. The peaceableness of the powerful means inhabiting the vulnerable position of the supplicant, asking for a pardon for pursuing the “barbarous means of war” and worse, for wallowing in “joy at having annihilated a great many human beings or their happiness.” Peace, he says, should be a Day of Atonement.


11 September 2013

"--Honesty in openly admitting one's doubts; repugnance for pretending conviction where one feels none..." Immanuel Kant, "On the Miscarriage of all Philosophical Trials" (1791)


11 September 2013

Thanks, Sharon Sliwinski for sharing this image with me. --The philosopher and the philosopher's familiar.

Adorno is 110 today! A portrait of the philosopher as a young man with a dog, with thanks to Anders Ramsay.


8 September 2013

60k done and done. Over $7600 raised between the two of us. Thank you friends for your support. We walked the first 30k though unrelenting cold rain but the second unfolded under a clear azure autumn sky. Such an affirming and peaceable experience. To walk this together. To be wrung out together.


6 September 2013

The cost of retiring the total accumulated student debt in Canada is equivalent to the “life-cycle” price of thirty-three of sixty-five F 35 Joint Strike fighter planes that Prime Minister Harper insists, against all evidence, that the country needs.


5 September 2013

How children see me.

How children see me


31 August 2013

I'm struck by Socrates' patient insistence that justice is irreducible to the vioilent sifting of the world into enemies and friends. Socrates concedes that benefiting familiars and harming foes is elementally the practice of political "man," but what concerns him is how readily Polemarchus confuses that practice with doing justice. If there is a nobility in helping acquaintances and attacking strangers, it is, as Socrates notes, the nobility of dogs. And who would not want to be a noble dog?


29 August 2013

Reading Plato's "Republic" at the Fogo Island Inn, Joe Batt's, Fogo Island.

28 August 2013

--A big thank you to NASSR colleagues and friends who responded with such critical generosity to my new preliminary work on Goya ("Goya's Scarcity"), a copy of which is linked here. À suivre.


17 August 2013

Acquired these two pieces today, captivated by their restraint.

Jennifer Rose Sciarrino,
"Achromatized Polygons 1"
"Achromatized Gradient 1"
(Archive pigment print, 2012) 28.5" x 22.5″


12 August 2013

I'm fund-raising again for the Weekend to End Women's Cancers.

Shoppers Drug Mart 2013 Weekend to End Women's Cancer


4 August 2013

Costa Rica also has no standing army. And the country will soon have no zoos. I think that both are connected. Both are promises of peace.

Costa Rica Announces Plans to Close Zoos, Release Animals


3 August 2013


13 June 2013

Krista Berga, "Mourn the seeds, burn the now" (text, ink on found paper)


12 June 2013

Looking at Goya's "Saturn Devouring His Son" (1820-24), thinking about the struggle unfolding in Turkey, the carnivorous virility of the wars on youth.


12 June 2013

My feeling is that MOOC and its cognates flourish in a militarized culture.

"In the wake of former Booz Allen employee Edward Snowden's revelation about the NSA's massive (and uber creepy) surveillance scheme, I've started to wonder what else this strange company has been up to. A lot, it turns out."
Occupy Education Press: Booz Allen and Online Surveillance


11 June 2013

Smoking cigars with the inimitable Deborah Britzman at Sharon Sliwinski's home, thank you!


11 June 2013

Thrush Holmes, "Deer House" (mixed media on panel, 7' X 10' [2007])


7 June 2013

"Education on the Computer Model" -- The Globe and Mail

More MOOC mania, this time from the president of Carleton University: "Favourite faculty members will gain 'rock star' status and be known internationally." Where to begin parsing that incoherent fantasy? (Let's set aside the cringe-worthy use of the term "rock star," a term which neither me nor my students could use unironically. Before updating the university, President Runte, please try updating your vocabulary!) What a laughable appeal to the craven interests of her own faculty, imagined to be motivated by a desire to be recognized or rather as recognizably "great" or consumable. She forgets that most of us have no interest in becoming entertaining favourites modeled on the media-industrial complex. (And in my experience neither do many of our students, who resent being patronized as mindlessly seeking likeable professors.) What about affirming the teaching of unpopular ideas (i.e., "slower" and "inefficient" ideas) and uncommon sense? What about treating unpopularity as something other than a pedagogical privation?

The more I think about it, the more I see the connections between the militarization of culture and the fetishization of "faster, more efficient" education.

The critique of MOOC is not anti-technological and anti-change, although of course the advocates of MOOC love pushing that hot-button, i.e., invoking the fantasy of the "professor resistant to technology," i.e., fussily old-fashioned. Really? The current classroom is already saturatedly "technological," and has been since Socrates---he too immersed himself--or found himself immersed--in prostheses, spectralities, equipmentalities, communicative rationalities (and irrationalities) and techne. Professors today work with "technology" every day. I for one am open to "technology" because teaching is impossible without it. And I'm not alone in being open to change, indeed, radical change in the university.

Will MOOC mean the end of classroom interactivity? In a theory class last semester (during a long interactive discussion about MOOC), I was cautioning students about describing interactivity in the flesh and blood classroom--of the sort that they were at that moment exemplifying--as unmediated or unhaunted. It's a question, I think, of negotiating differently mediated educational relations. What I think is revealingly symptomatic about MOOC-talk is its anxious hyper-formalism, its phobic distinterest in the question of what might too quickly be called "content." How we are going to teach in the future displaces the question of what we teach...or rather, it determines, in advance, what we will teach, the very limits of the teachable. The idea of a radical "technological" change in the university inoculates the university against other kinds of radicalism: for example, the notion of transforming the university into a site of robust social critique, a "platform" broadcasting, among other things, a sustained critique of Canadian militarism.


6 June 2013


I was admiring the work of the stone-mason labouring away on my neighbour's new front porch. --Third generation in the trade, he told me, while he wiped the dust off the veiny granite that he had laid. What do you do for a living?, he asked. --A professor, I said, I'm an English professor. With a kind smile, he replied: well, I guess you have a lot of time on your hands, what with tenure and all. I said nothing. But out of my memory sprang a line from Williams that I had not read in thirty years: "Saxifrage is my flower that splits/ the rocks."