A Tale of Three Mommies: Sarah Jaffe and Adam Kotsko discuss Star Trek: Discovery

[Editor’s note: This continues the conversation between Sarah Jaffe and Adam Kotsko about Star Trek: Discovery that began with this post. Now that we have caught up on our backlog, we are tentatively planning to do a conversation on each individual episode. Today’s installment is Season 2, Episode 3: “Point of Light”.]

AK: That… was a weird one.

SJ: Mommy issues to go with our daddy issues!

Clearly this Family shtick is the thing
As an episode I think it was the most coherent so far this season but like also WHAAAT

AK: Yeah, that was nuts — but much better-paced than the first two.
That was more or less Game of Thrones in space.

SJ: I have not watched Game of Thrones!

AK: Oh wow. You’re so lucky! I kind of hate Game of Thrones.
Basically, the factors that reminded me of Game of Thrones were the aesthetic of the Klingon spaces, the use of “the old ultra-violence,” and the fact that the episode was a formless grab-bag of plots.
Continue reading “A Tale of Three Mommies: Sarah Jaffe and Adam Kotsko discuss Star Trek: Discovery

Daddy Pike: Sarah Jaffe and Adam Kotsko discuss Star Trek: Discovery

Editor’s note: Welcome to the first of several informal chats between Sarah Jaffe and Adam Kotsko on Star Trek: Discovery. This first chat covers the first two episodes of the new seasons, as well as the shorts—but the first season inevitably comes up as well. Sarah is a new fan who came to Star Trek through Discovery, while Adam is a hardcore Trek completist who, unlike many longtime fans, is an ardent, though not uncritical, supporter of the new series. This conversation begins in the middle of a conversation about the “Short Treks” shorts. Unconventional punctuation and line-breaks are retained in the interest of authenticity.

SJ: also I have weird feelings about the short that was basically the star trek version of that joaquin phoenix movie where he falls in love with an ai

AK: That felt really random.

SJ: I feel like the shorts must all thread back up somehow? except maybe the Harry Mudd one which already does
which also may have been my favorite

AK: It was the most entertaining.
The Tilly one kind of made no sense? I think it should have been a full episode (or at least a b-plot) — it just moved too fast and felt slipshod to me.
SJ: yeah. I liked the character! I was intrigued! and then…
but I hope that one connects up the most I guess
AK: I hated the voiceover in Saru’s short — it felt like they didn’t trust the audience
SJ: I also liked Saru but like, wtf is this “you can never go back, you are a v v special kelpian, the rest of your people just have to go on being fucking oppressed” fals econsciousness shit

AK: They had to gerrymander the scenario so that Saru and only Saru could go — otherwise he’d be a monster for abandoning his sister
I guess it fits with Giorgiou following the rules to a fault — like when she spent the whole premier uselessly floating there.
Really, Saru should have mutineed and retreated.
What is the past participle of “to mutiny”? Mutinied?

Continue reading “Daddy Pike: Sarah Jaffe and Adam Kotsko discuss Star Trek: Discovery

Neoliberalism’s Demons: The Complete Multimedia Experience!

I have been regularly posting professional updates on my personal site, but a comparison of traffic stats indicates that perhaps not many people are seeing those. Hence I am reupping my link to a lecture, with lengthy Q&A, that I did a couple weeks ago with the Open University of the Left in Chicago. Also of interest is this radio interview I did with Doug Henwood for Left Business Observer, and another I did for This is Hell on WNUR 89.3FM in Chicago.

My year in review

The biggest thing that happened this year was that Neoliberalism’s Demons was published (and it remains available direct from the publisher or from our evil retail overlords).

To me, this felt like a slower year, as I held back from diving into major new projects in the wake of completing Neoliberalism’s Demons last year — not only to stave off burn-out, but to keep the project fresh in my mind for when the time came to begin promoting and discussing it after publication. But there were some definite milestones. I participated in my first national conference session on my work, an “author meets critics” panel on The Prince of This World at the Western Political Science Association conference in San Francisco in March, and I had a similar event on Neoliberalism’s Demons at the University of Copenhagen in December. I travelled more than in any previous year of my life, including my first trip outside the Western world. All told, I gave talks in Milwaukee, San Francisco, Munich, New York, Copenhagen, and Karachi (Pakistan), as well as Chicago and Naperville.

I published a handful of shorter pieces this year as well. Ones that I’m particularly proud of are my two pieces for n+1, “The Prequel Boom” and “The Political Theology of Trump.” Blogging remained slow, but people also seemed to like my political theology reading list.

On the translation front, my translation of Agamben’s Karman: A Brief Treatise on Action, Guilt, and Gesture was published (publisher link) and I completed production work on a forthcoming translation of his Creation and Anarchy: The Work of Art and the Religion of Capitalism (preorder link). I also engaged in a major project where I am attempting to read (and take detailed notes on) Agamben’s complete works in as close to chronological order as I can discern — as of today, I have made it up to 2011 and hope to catch up to the present day within the next couple months. It is likely that a book will emerge from this work eventually. In other language-related news, I continued to keep up with biblical Hebrew, making my way through Genesis, most of Exodus (save the two repeated passages on the construction of the tabernacle), and the bulk of Judges (only two chapters left as of today).

In terms of teaching, the merger with North Central opened up opportunities to teach in different formats. Over the last couple terms, I developed a successful first-year seminar course centered on the Faust legend, and my proposal to teach a course on the Qur’an in the honors program next academic year was accepted. Within the Shimer program, I am proud to have taught the senior capstone course for the first class to graduate from North Central. I also helped to coordinate a curricular reorganization and revision that will take effect next fall, which will hopefully make our curriculum more interdisciplinary and diverse while preserving our existing strengths.

So even after a “slow year,” I feel pretty tired.

The Rest of the World, pt. 2: Guest Post by David Kishik

[Editor’s Note: The following is the second part of a guest post by David Kishik, whose The Book of Shem: On Genesis Before Abraham was recently released by Stanford University Press. Part 1 is available here.]

It is unknown when exactly Genesis was written, but we can say with sufficient certainty that it was, in the eyes of whoever wrote it, a fourth-millennium composition. Put differently, it is a product of the middle of history, or a Wednesday around noon, so to speak. From this perspective, the axis around which history revolves may coincide with the very introduction of the text under consideration, along with the singular God at its center. This three-thousand-year-old midpoint is like the apex of a rainbow: the moment when thinking about the generative beginning of the world gives way to meditations about its idle ending. At this zenith, which is older than Socrates, the world begins its slow decline.

Continue reading “The Rest of the World, pt. 2: Guest Post by David Kishik”