Picks of the Week

“Obama’s victory is a sign of history in the triple Kantian sense of signum rememorativum, demonstrativum, prognosticum. A sign in which the memory of the long past of slavery and the struggle for its abolition reverberates; an event which now demonstrates a change; a hope for future achievements. The scepticism displayed behind closed doors even by many worried progressives – what if, in the privacy of the voting booth, the publicly disavowed racism will re-emerge? – was proved wrong. One of the interesting things about Henry Kissinger, the ultimate cynical Realpolitiker, is how utterly wrong most of his predictions were. When news reached the West of the 1991 anti-Gorbachev military coup, for example, Kissinger immediately accepted the new regime as a fact. It collapsed ignominiously three days later. The paradigmatic cynic tells you confidentially: ‘But don’t you see that it is all really about money/power/sex, that professions of principle or value are just empty phrases which count for nothing?’ What the cynics don’t see is their own naivety, the naivety of their cynical wisdom which ignores the power of illusions.”

– Slavoj Žižek

The picks of the week from around the web.

  • London Review of Books: Slavoj Žižek on Obama, the Financial Crisis, Capitalism. The rockstar philosopher provides a humane critical perspective on the financial crisis and demonstrates that even hardened leftists with no illusions can weep at the promise, if not the reality, of the recent American election. Must read.
  • Topspin Media. Ian C. Rogers on the music industry and the transition to digital media. If you’re interested in digital media and how they’re going to affect intellectual property, this is a thoughtful — and hopeful — piece. (Thanks Dirk).
  • New York Times: On the Obama campaign’s use of social networking. While we’re at it, let’s combine the subject matter of the two previous links, shall we? This is a fascinating short piece on the Obama campaign that not only goes some way towards explaining its success, but offers interesting perspectives for the future of the democratic process.
  • Tokion: Panter’s Playhouse. Fine interview with artist and cartoonist Gary Panter, conducted by cartoonist CF. Great for its focus on the artist’s creative processes.
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