In the Marketplace of Illusion (book chapter)

From the opening chapter of Global Academe: Engaging Intellectual Discourse, published January 31, 2012, by Palgrave Macmillan

In the Marketplace of Illusion: The Public Intellectual in a Landscape of Mediated Humanness.

The question of what role the intellectual should play in society has evolved into an automatic controversy that summons the simplest answers and the most entrenched prejudices. The passion for showing off democratic tendencies while not devoting adequate energies to their exercise has led to an ingrained hostility toward successful thinkers who work to channel their energies into the production of analyses that might make evident the subtle truths the rest of us are living, that—by extension—means they issue to us an ethical summons, a call, a reminder of the commonness and the humanness of our special human frailties, of our obligations and of what would constitute a better social expression of our selfhood. […]

The full and integrated self must be successfully concrete and also successfully intangible, an abstract potential actualization, filtration, flirtation or implementation matrix, a complex of complexes, a visionary accomplice capable of honest self-seeing and authentic self-propagation. “Conscious reflection is the doubling over of this dynamic abstraction on itself. The order of connection of such dynamic abstractions among themselves, on a level specific to them, is called mind” (Massumi 32). But how can one live the details, the would-be facts of the everyday, and also face the haunting existential crisis of coming to grips with the self as an insubstantial substance, the mind as a groundless ground? […]

Continue reading “In the Marketplace of Illusion (book chapter)”

Borders Closure is Green Light for Bookstore Innovation

Borders Books and Music was a place of pilgrimage for book lovers, music lovers and people who loved to sit with coffee and read, chat or peruse magazines they might or might not buy. It has played a vital role in the distribution of books of both wide and narrow market interest, and has driven the cathedral-warehouse paradigm of big bookstore chains. Its failure, however, opens the field for more innovative, more reader-friendly experiments in book selling.

Some have argued that Barnes and Noble was changed by its competition with Borders. Barnes and Noble has long been a leader in the big bookstore sector. But Borders, in many places, went bigger. It stocked everything that might fit into the mainstream book, magazine and music market, and was aggressive in putting full-size cafes in its bookstores, where patrons could sit and read books, whether they bought them or not. Continue reading “Borders Closure is Green Light for Bookstore Innovation”

Writing & Naming: the Medicine of Acquiring Knowledge


Through the work of writing, I have learned first and foremost that nothing is what it tells us it is, because there is always another level, another way to play at naming, with reality, to bend untruths to be more true, as medicine, as savior, as demon filtered for taste, as a ritual mark of remembrance of tensile perceptual realities, disputed, fought for and reclaimed. There is a line after which language becomes less a tool for understanding and more a mechanism for undermining it, but that line is constantly in motion, and in language, as in physics, we now understand “reversibility generally does not exist”, as per Poincaré.

Writing teaches a person about language, in a very deep and sensory way, but language also teaches a person about existence in the human sense, existing as a human being, as an individual who is capable of not only perceiving and manifesting, but also articulating an identity. That, to some extent, is our most recurring, most insistent, most necessary and yet problematic, reason for engaging in serious explorations of language usage: how to articulate the untestable reality that is the human self.

Continue reading “Writing & Naming: the Medicine of Acquiring Knowledge”

Jaguar y cascada (libro)


Joseph Robertson
1ª edición: 23 marzo 2010
ISBN: 978-0982649107

Este libro, la tercera colección de poesías en castellano por Joseph Robertson, junta poemas tanto filosóficos como de amor con ensayos cortos y un cuento lírico. Es a la vez la obra más ambiciosa y más íntima del poeta, y marca un momento de cambio de enfoque en su obra y en su visión poética. Aquí siguen unos extractos del texto:

La poesía es la frontera donde el lenguaje de uso común contacta con significados futuros, y en el proceso, cuando mejor logrado, invita a entrar en el presente  una riqueza de verdades trascendentes. La poesía se involucra en todos los usos del lenguaje, aunque pueda haber tendencias populares sugerentes de que sólo las nuevas modas valen, de que la poesía es más clásica que actual : muchos artistas musicales ahora hacen el papel, incluso conscientemente, del historiador mítico o trobador vagabundo, pero la poesía no se limita a estos propósitos.

Continue reading “Jaguar y cascada (libro)”

Does Anyone Know What Capitalism Is?

Is capitalism legalized greed or an organic model of resource allocation?

Capitalism is “survival of the fittest”… capitalism is rooted in the idea of merit; everyone should be compensated according to his or her contribution (to the common good?)… capitalism is about the movement of capital; the more it moves, the richer everyone gets… capitalism is an upgraded feudalism, where the capitalist is an overseer of an abstract terrain made up of investments, not of arable lands… capitalism is democracy; the free spirit of an open society requires capitalism to support the liberties of individual citizens, and protect against government overreach… capitalism is virtue… or, capitalism is the absence of virtue…

These are just a few commonly held ideas, not all compatible with one another or with reality as we know it. Depending on point of view, we find ourselves favoring or opposing some aspect of something we call capitalism, with sometimes radical swings in the underlying reasoning of our political philosophy — we being Americans, generally. And across the world, the same questions come up time and again: one nation’s democratic marketplace, rising tide that lifts all boats, is seen from a poorer nation as an upgraded feudalism, a new age of empire.

Continue reading “Does Anyone Know What Capitalism Is?”

Internet Access Must Be a Human Right

Access to the internet must be a basic human right, across the globe, for a number of reasons. First of all, legitimate, transparent democratic processes of government require in today’s world that information flow freely and that citizens be empowered to share information and to find information, according to their choices and their needs.

Socio-economic barriers to such free flow of information are just another kind of information control that establishes dangerous demographic stratification into privileged and marginalized groups. Governments across the world are using web filtering technologies to censor the information available to their citizens and crack down on dissent.

Continue reading “Internet Access Must Be a Human Right”

The Fiction of Automatic Wealth is Bankrupting the U.S.

America’s banks have, over the last decade, entered into a dangerous fictional world of projected automatic wealth in which they expect that all payments they might receive will without fail materialize, regardless of circumstance. They treat the human beings with whom they have major financial relationships as if they were nothing more than endless fonts … Continue reading The Fiction of Automatic Wealth is Bankrupting the U.S.

The Evils of the Purge: Crushing Dissent & the False Promise of Finality

The Khmer Rouge sought to establish a red Khmer empire in Cambodia, with some ambitions of expansion beyond the nation’s borders, by stamping out any human life or mind that varied from the project, as narrowly conceived by Pol Pot and his murderous regime. The “killing fields” that ensued, with the mass slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million people, were an attempt to establish a new break in time, the time before and the time after the purification —as the regime proposed— of all Cambodia.

Beyond Utopia, it was a lust to fashion a paradise built on millions of purgatories. It was the paradox of a violent Heaven, a wisdom of intolerance, a corrupt purity, an abstraction drowned in the blood of innocents. In order to establish absolute power, either for themselves or their ideology, a purge was undertaken that would attempt to eliminate nearly all people of learning, leaving by one count only 4 highly trained Cambodian legal minds remaining.

Continue reading “The Evils of the Purge: Crushing Dissent & the False Promise of Finality”