Wednesday, 20 February 2013


I'm re-blogging this from Feminist Philosophers, as I was somewhat ashamed at not knowing the name Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. I was similarly shamed by my seven year old daughter a couple of weeks ago when, at bedtime, she asked me to name ten women who had discovered or invented something. I think I did somewhat better than she expected, rolling off Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace and Rosalind Franklin quite quickly (atlhough I didn't get Franklin's name quite right either), but it was painful not being able to do it and even more disheartening that at the tender age of seven she expected me to fail. So, dad will be endeavouring to do a better job of this in the future.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Time And Relative Dimensions In ... Gender

A well-conceived and enjoyable mix of alternate history, feminism and fandom is available here. Probably best appreciated by Brits, this is a parallel television universe that I would love to be able to tune in to. I think all of the choices map very well on to their male Gallifreyan counterparts. Of course, if there is a television series that captures the crossover between speculative and weird realism for me, it would be the 1979-1982 BBC series, Sapphire and Steel. Withdrawn objects, vibrant matter, time as an object and agentival, a being that exists in every photograph ever taken. Scary, weird fiction/realism at its televisual best.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Philosophy as Spiritual Ordeal

For any philosophers, academic or otherwise, who have bracketed or repressed the category and practice of “spirituality” from their thinking, I would strongly suggest that you consider looking at Joshua Ramey’s new book The Hermetic Deleuze. I won’t try and summarise a book that I haven’t read in its entirety yet, but there are an excellent series of discussions of the book at An und für sich here, here and here (and also here, here and here). In part the book is concerned with the hidden role of hermeticism and, more broadly, esoterica and spirituality in Deleuze’s philosophical oeuvre. But the scope is certainly broader than this, extending to an all too frequent awkwardness with and denial, erasure or suppression of the “spiritual” in much philosophical discourse and practice.

Suffice it to say that I have found this provocative and troubling. Why? Because I have certainly engaged in such a process of self-censure with regard to spirituality myself. While a lot of my earlier years were spent reading esotericism, gnosticism, hermeticism and occultism, I have been incrementally distancing my philosophical self from such potential contaminants to reason for twenty years now. And this is despite teaching both philosophy and contemporary incarnations of such esoteric traditions at university. I only started to forcefully question the viability and value of this bracketing quite recently: first when I started to revisit and then teach Daoism after a long absence, then when I came across Isabelle Stengers surprising, pragmatic Marxist and pro-Deleuzean engagement with feminist witchcraft, and also when I was called out on the issue in a book review of my Goddess as Nature by Sarah Penicka-Smith. I’ve been dodging my discomfiture with “spirituality” and its relation with philosophy for too long, and Ramey’s evocation and prescription of philosophy as spiritual ordeal may be an idea that I can accept.