Thursday, April 29, 2010

Middlesex Horror

I, like many others, am concerned and horrified that Middlesex University has decided to cut its Philosophy Department entirely. As An und Für Sich notes,
the entire situation bodes extremely badly for the fate of all research into continental thought, regardless of department.
Infinite Thought has posted details of the Save Philosophy at Middlesex campaign, which includes a petition as well as a Facebook group.

A friend of mine who is also studying 'critical theory' / European philosophy with me at the moment commented the other day that it often feels like we are being "inducted into a dead-end". Graham Harman has made a similar comment - this is 'canary in a coal mine' territory.

Let's hope this stupidity is reversed.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

In Chicago

After a preliminary walk around the neighbourhood in which I'm staying, I feel pretty exhausted, so I thought I'd write a blog post about my travels so far. My travel blogging will probably be a haphazard thing.

Right now I'm staying at International House at the University of Chicago. I can't put any photos up as I haven't gotten the memory card for my camera working yet. Going to buy a memory card for the camera was in fact the first thing I did. It seemed illegitimate somehow to be a tourist without the possibility of taking photos.

I then took a stroll through streets of the campus, past prim-looking gothic houses, to visit Robie House. Carrying on the spirit of the day, this was also a bit of a non-starter, as there are no tours of the house running until tomorrow morning. But still, I gawked at the outside of the house, Lonely Planet in hand. The brickwork is beautiful: very long, thin bricks, much longer than they are wide. These are the dimensions of the whole building - flat and long. The design is so restrained that it hurts. Interestingly, there is also some leadlighting in the windows. This seemed an odd conjunction to me - decorative windows in a spare, modern building. I can't wait to go for a proper tour tomorrow morning.

Of course, America is full of Americans. This is my first trip to the States, and so I am not yet familiar with total immersion in these scenes which are so familiar from a lifetime of TV and film exposure, yet also alien because, well, I've never actually been here. The neighbourhood I'm staying in is very picturesque. Lots of well-tended little gardens doing things that are appropriate for Spring - small plants budding and so on, bare trees with hints of the first buds of spring, etc. I suppose it is well-tended because it is a university campus - we will see what downtown Chicago is like tomorrow.

Being Australian seems to be working out for me. I am very much enjoying the novelty of having an 'exotic' accent. Yes, already I have fielded questions about kangaroos and whether or not I have seen American films.

The flight was, of course, never ending torture. By the time I got to bed I'd been up for 36 or 37 hours. I also seemed to pass through customs about 10 times - each time a different form, removing my shoes again, taking more things out of my bag to be x-rayed.

The other thing I did this afternoon was to visit the Seminar Co-op Bookshop. It is the most amazing bookshop I have ever been to. Already I have bought four or five books. I could stay there forever. I had to leave mainly from fear that I would get lost in there and perish from starvation. So many interesting books.

I am undecided as to whether I will head out to dinner or just eat the bag of Nobby's Nuts I got at Melbourne airport and then fall asleep in my room. I should probably head out and order a meal, right?