Tag Archives: conference

Going to London for Hegel

The campus of University of London, Birkbeck

The campus of University of London, Birkbeck

I know I’m a few months late in posting about my visit to Europe, and more specifically, my attendance of the conference on Hegel at the University of London, Birkbeck held in May, entitled “The Actuality of the Absolute: Hegel, Our Untimely Contemporary”. I’m pretty sure that the conference was organized by Slavoj Žižek.

From the audience at the conference.

From the audience at the conference.

The first note I took in my notebook happened during Žižek’s opening remarks. He said, “No tasteless, dirty jokes from me….This is pure..” I had to write down something he said to show his seriousness about the subject matter, to push away certain connotations that he is a mere jester.

In these opening remarks, Žižek gave us a few points. The first being the broad categories of readings of Hegel. There used to be two main camps of reading: conservative and revolutionary. Now, Žižek points out, there is a new category of reading on the rise, that being the Liberal Hegel. Žižek points to the Robert Pippen at the University of Chicago, and the so-called Pittsburgh Hegelians. This camp has the characteristic of speaking of a deflated Hegel. For Žižek, this liberal reading was to be the enemy of the work presented at the conference. The other point brought up is the question as to what materialism today. There is Naturalistic Materialism, Discursive Materialism—on this Žižek said, “The Deconstruction era is over”—, and “New” (so-called) Materialism, about which I’m not sure what he meant, but he mentioned a phrase “vibrating matter” with regard to it. Finally Žižek closed his remarks with a musing that maybe to be a Marxist today is to revert Marx’s materialism back to Hegel—perhaps Hegel was more materialistic than Marx.

At the conference there were people recording the presentations. Those recordings are now available online. I highly recommend listening to the many presentations given over the course of the three days. I’m probably going to listen to them again soon. Perhaps my studying in the interim between the time of their recording and now will help me better follow their ideas.

Conference on Hegel at Birkbeck, University of London

There’s going to be a big conference on Hegel at Birkbeck in May, entitled “The Actuality of the Absolute: Hegel, Our Untimely Contemporary”. The event’s description asks an interesting question:

What if the ridiculous image of Hegel as the absurd “absolute idealist” who “pretended to know everything” is an exemplary case of what Freud called Deck-Erinnerung (screen-memory), a fantasy-formation destined to cover up a traumatic truth? The task of the symposium will be to unearth aspects of this traumatic truth.

It’d be interesting to attend this one. I’m sure Slavoj Žižek’s presentation will be fantastic. His tome Less than Nothing is still sitting on my bookshelf, but I’m working towards it.

Upcoming Conference, “Rethinking Work”

In March 2013, The Marxist Reading Group will be hosting their annual conference at the University of Florida. This year’s conference will be on the ideas surrounding work. To quote a bit of the prompt:

Thus, this conference proposes to follow Marx’s imperative to exit the “noisy” public sphere “where everything takes place on the surface and in full view of everyone” and instead enter “into the hidden abode of production” so that we may better understand the political power of the word “work,” the concept it signifies, and its material consequences for workers and non-workers around the world.

I wish I could check it out since there are already some interesting thinkers among the keynote speakers including Fredric Jameson, and Kevin Floyd—one of my professors at Kent State.

More information can be found here.

Recent P. K. Dick Conference in Germany

A conference at TU Dortmund University in Germany, entitled “Worlds Out of Joint: Re-Imagining Philip K. Dick” just ended yesterday. Although I’ve only read one of his novels (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), this would have been an interesting conference to attend. It looks like the papers are in English, which is a bit surprising, but I suppose it might have drawn less international visitors if German were prioritized. I’m also assuming that English is well known there, given its ubiquity.

MLG in Vancouver, BC

campus of Simon Frasier University

campus of Simon Fraser University

I just got back from Vancouver today. It’s a strange thing to know that I woke up today a few thousand miles away from where I am now.

I was staying in the residences at Simon Fraser University, which could possibly be a forgotten alien spacecraft, given its futuristic Brutalist architecture. Fellow conference-goers dubbed the campus, “The Moon” for its stark features and the sense of loneliness one feels there.

The Marxist Literary Group’s conference was fantastic and exciting.

Today in the cab ride to the airport, the taxi driver asked me if I drank chai tea, to which I told him that I had tried it. He told me that he has his own brand of it, and pulled out a package of chai tea leaves with his name in the brand name. It was an odd conversation to have at 6am.