Search Results for 'open access'

I’m always surprised when i hear people attack open access publishing. There are no rational arguments as to why print based texts and journals are superior to open access texts, but there are plenty of rational reasons for open access publishing. Some seem to think that open access publications are less reputable and should count less towards tenure. Personally I think if you’re writing and speaking for tenure you might be in the wrong line of work, but that’s another matter. Such people seem to forget that Harvard went open access back in 2008. Perhaps Harvard is a second rate institution, but that seems like a difficult case to make. All that should matter is the peer review process. Are the editors qualified to peer review the material handed their way and do the directing editors only elect others to peer review articles who are qualified to do so? If so, there’s no difference or issues here. This is certainly a more rigorous process than the one involved in some of the vanity presses some academics publish their books with.

Others argue that digital print can easily be lost. This is an odd argument, as books can be burned (Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura was reduced to one copy by Christians that sought to destroy the book), and 2) most open access texts are released in both print and digital formats.

The arguments for open access publishing are obvious: open access books are ecologically friendly, reducing damage to trees and damage produced by carbon emissions due to shipping, they significantly reduce the cost of publishing, and they allow ideas to circulate freely, rather than be locked away in journals that are difficult for many to access either because they are extremely expensive or have small print runs. Opposition to open access publishing indicates both a lack of ecological awareness as well as an economic classism that approves those with little means (often graduate students, but also people outside the academy) being denied access to thought. In other words, the expensive price of print journals and articles is a material mechanism that re-produces certain class and social relations in knowledge production (those that have the means or a good library available get to participate, those that don’t don’t).

From a sales angle, however, I’ve been surprised to discover that open access publishing actually seems to increase sales. The Speculative Turn has been a wild success. It crashed Re.Press’s server the night it was released, and has hovered around the 40-60 thousand sales rank on Amazon consistently since it was released a year ago. This is extraordinary for an academic text, especially given that anyone can access it for free. Graham’s Prince of Networks has done similarly well. It’s difficult to yet say how The Democracy of Objects will do in print form, but so far the internet traffic has been very promising.

I’m very eager to see how O-Zone does once it is up and running over the next couple of years. Eileen Joy’s Postmedievalism, an open access journal, has been tremendously successful and is internationally recognized both in the field of medieval studies and outside of it. Some have griped about the advisory editors of O-Zone, expressing ire over the fact that the undergraduate Marisol Bate is on the team. First, they fail to realize that it was Marisol who first approached Kris and I with the idea of developing the journal. Second, the credentials of the editors both within the world of OOO and in academia as a whole are outstanding. All of the people involved in the journal are people who have made significant contributions to OOO in the form of publications, organizing conferences, and who have made significant contributions to “thingly” thought. In putting together the advisory board our considerations revolved around representing a number of different disciplines and practices, insuring good gender parity, and depth of accomplishment. We selected people with whom we have closely worked or whose work we are intimately familiar with.

Third, our philosophy seeks to honor a variety of different perspectives both from within academia and from a variety of different disciplines in academia, and outside of academia. In many respects, this goes back to the original disciplinary attude of Graham, me, Morton, and Bogost. Graham and I are philosophers, Morton is a lit person, and Bogost researches technology, video games, and digital humanities. All of us have worked intimately at conferences and online from a variety of disciplines and practices ranging across artists, ethnographers, architects, novelists, musicians, geographers, historians, lit people, activists, poets, etc, etc, etc. Moreover, in the blogosphere we have cultivated a space that sidelines academic rank or belonging to academia at all, and that instead engages other in terms of the quality of their thought, work, and contributions. We have sought to capture that spirit in our editorial board, including people from a variety of disciplines as well as artists and activists. Marisol, an extraordinary thinker and person, falls into this category of activism, and is someone who fights human sex trafficing (in ways that have actually caused risk to her life and damage to her person), figts on behalf of her indigineous Hawaiian people against colonial invasion, and is involved in fighting capitalist exploitation with OWS. That’s a pretty qualified person to comment, with others, on certain political and activist submissions that come our way.

As I’ve argued before, there’s a very nasty tendency among proponents of each discipline to treat their own discipline as a master-displine that is the foundation of all other disciplines and everything else. The rhetoricians cry that everything involves rhetoric and therefore rhetoric is “first philosophy”. The historians retort that everything involves history and therefore history is “first philosophy”. The philosophers claim that everything involves being and knowledge so therefore their discipline is first philosophy. And so it goes. Kris, Eileen and I are involved in trying to create something called post-disciplinarity where it is recognized that all of these disciplines are local knowledges, partial views on the world, where it is recognized that the artist, engineer, designer, and activist create knowledge and thought every bit as much as the scholar, and where a space can be opened where these divergent lenses can come to resonate with one another and generate new innovation in thought, art, design, and political engagement. We’re tired of talking with authoritarians that want their discipline or practice to be the master-science and who wish to subordinate everything else to their master narrative. Instead we want transversal forms of communication where delight and inspiration can be taken from the work, inventions, amd discoveries of others and where there’s no longer a question of foundational disciplines.


Over at Ktismatics John has an interesting post up making the case that we have direct access to our minds. John writes:

In my post I summarized some of the empirical evidence supporting the contention that much, if not most, human cognition takes place outside of conscious awareness. However, I decidedly did not propose that all of cognition is unconscious. We consciously attend to things, reason, solve problems, assemble stored memories, plan, evaluate information. And we’re self-reflexive about it: we are consciously aware that we’re reasoning, problem-solving, etc.

Doesn’t this mean that we have direct access to our own minds, at least to some extent? I’d say yes. If’ I’m aware that I’m solving a problem, and if both my awareness and my problem-solving are mental processes, then my mind has direct access to some of its own activities. If we’re consciously aware of the activities and outputs of our own consciousness, then that’s not just direct self-relation but also direct self-awareness of the self-relation. Consciousness is an emergent property of brain activity; unless we believe in the soul or some form of panpsychism there is no source of consciousness other than brain activity. So consciousness has to be in direct relation with the unconscious brain activity that generates it — doesn’t it? — even if that direct relation doesn’t take the form of conscious awareness of brain function. My hand is in direct connection with itself, even if it can’t hold itself in its grip. A bridge is in direct connection with itself, even if it can’s support itself on itself.

Yes and no. The claim that we do not have direct access to our minds is not the claim that our minds are not dependent on our brains, but rather that our introspective accounts of our mental activities are unreliable guides to how these mental activities function. In other words, the thesis that we can have knowledge of how our mental states function through self-reflexive conscious awareness of our internal states is here challenged.

read on!

For those who have asked when the paper/.pdf version of The Democracy of Objects will become available, the answer is soon! Final revisions were wrapped up last week, so I suspect it will be any time now. As for the delay, this is the first book released in the series so there’s been learning involved, they have an all volunteer team, and I caused them a number of headaches with how I composed the book. I wrote it first in open access software. That didn’t work for them, so I transferred it over to Word. This created all sorts of bizarre hidden code that they had to fix. The Open Humanities Press people have been absolutely fantastic and, as I understand it, there’s a boatload of future books to come out in the series.

Working with Bogost, Harman, and Morton over the last few years has been an amazing and intense experience. We interact almost daily and during this time we’ve edited books together (The Speculative Turn and The Democracy of Objects), organized conferences, formed editorial boards for presses and journals together, proofed a number of each others papers and various other things. We’ve encouraged each other, helped to develop each others ideas, fought with each other, and consoled one another. And during this time, we’ve seen something small and marginal expand all over the place and develop in directions that none of us ever expected. There’s now a journal devoted to object-oriented studies, and two presses deeply sympathetic to OOO and SR (OHP and Edinburgh), all of which we have built together. Before deciding to put The Speculative Turn together with Nick Srnicek, I never even imagined (literally) that anything like this would be possible. Indeed, when I proposed it to Nick, I initially conceived The Speculative Turn to be a Deleuzian rejoinder to speculative realist thought, pitching Deleuze as a realist and materialist. I conceived myself as primarily some combination of a Lacanian, Deleuzian, and Badiouian. I really had no idea that this would be a life and thought changing project, leading me to become something of a philosopher rather than a scholar of other thinkers. It’s been quite a ride, intellectually invigorating, productive of a sense that this work is meaningful (rather than just plugging away to pad the CV for jobs and tenure), and I expect bright things in the future. I’m especially pleased at how multi-disciplinary it’s all become. As saccharine as it sounds, when you reach out to the world in a kind, generous, respectful and enthusiastic way, it often reaches back. It’s vitally important to believe that constraints are never so set in iron that alternative ways of living and doing things aren’t possible. Absent that belief, no attempts to do things differently are ever made and action simply reproduces those iron constraints.

The Democracy of Objects is now listed at the Open Humanities Press Website. The picture to the right is a bit of the gorgeous cover that Tammy Lu designed. Somehow she managed to perfectly capture the affect of what I’m trying to think, weaving motifs that are simultaneously cultural, natural and that have an Asian feel in a tangled network. As I was growing up, our Korean, Chinese, and Japanese friends would always remark that our house was more Asian than theirs. Perhaps this aesthetic comes out in my writing or perhaps it’s just Tammy Lu’s work. Either way I’m delighted.

A number of people have written me asking when it will finally be released. The answer is that I don’t know. At this point, we’re very close. There are a few editorial changes to be made and some formatting issues to be fixed, but overall it’s ready to go. Remember, this is the first open access book that University of Michigan Press has put together and that it’s all been done through volunteer work. I like that. I like all of it. I like it that it’s democratic in the sense that no one will have to buy it if they’re not so inclined and that they’ll still have access to it if they want that access. I like it that it will leave a minimal ecological footprint. I like it that it will be able to circulate throughout the world in both digital and paper form. I like it that we all did this together. I hope that others will also follow in my gesture and contribute to the New Metaphysics Series with Open Humanities Press. It will come out in three forms: HTML for easy reading online, .pdf so you can download it on your readers, and in a paper form with that beautiful cover.

I like this book and I like myself much more in this book. The tone is my own, but it is far less antagonistic and polemical than the tone that inhabited Difference and Givenness. Difference and Givenness was the book of a graduate student. I don’t mean to demean graduate students by any means. Yet reflecting on my own experience, I think our work is often characterized by a certain tone and set of concerns. Insofar as we then exist in a certain unpleasant social circumstance (joblessness and namelessness) we often enact what might be called “prison logic”. It is sometimes said that the person newly incarcerated in prison should pick a fight with the biggest guy in the yard so as to establish respect for ourselves in prison. This is often how it is with early writing. You want to take on everyone, pick fights, to establish your place in the prison yard. You puff your chest up to show how big you are (and, of course, you don’t know you’re doing this) so as to establish a place for yourself. On the other hand, youthful writing is often motivated by a desire to gain mastery of the field and tradition. Thus the tendency is to trace everything in a thinker or a discussion back to the work of others that have come before. The graduate student is to be forgiven for these ways of relating to others and philosophy because they’re in their own milieu of individuation that generates its own singular problems specific to that form of social life and the problems it faces, but this is not an attitude or form of relation that should be celebrated, encouraged, or reinforced.

read on!

Knowledge Ecology has written a post following up on my post, Graham’s, and Tim’s. In his post, Tim asks an interesting question:

This nice post on Knowledge Ecology distinguishes well between blogging and publishing as separate distinct environments. Yes.

But then we do have to ask, why the threat? Why the need to put blogging down?

First, for me there’s no way that blogging can replace academic publications. There are things that I can do in an academic publication that I just can’t do on a blog. The Democracy of Objects for example, develops a sustained argument over about three hundred pages. It went through a substantial editing process, is well referenced, and develops its argument in a concentrated manner. Blogs work very differently. On the one hand, blog posts are far shorter and are more scattered. Where a book or an article develops a sustained argument or analysis of concepts, the arguments of a blog shift from day to day, hour to hour, bouncing around all over the place. On the other hand, published work is a statement of an author’s, theorist’s, or thinker’s position up to that point, whereas blog posts are far more experimental and probing. Clearly there can be no hard and fast distinction here, but I tend to think of my work here as a sort of “working through” where I am developing concepts and lines of argument and submitting them to public critique and discussion, whereas I think of my published work as something like “reports” on the claims that I’m willing to stand by and that have been polished as a result of this dialogical process.

read on!

Among the interesting observations Luhmann makes in The Reality of the Mass Media is that of the manner in which the mass media construct a world. Here it’s necessary to proceed with caution. The point is not that the mass media produce the earth. Rather, the point is that the mass media construct a social world that becomes the horizon of how we relate to one another and the earth. As Luhmann writes,

…the contribution of all three forms of mass media communication [reporting, entertainment, and advertising]– and this is where they converge –can be said to be in creating the conditions for further communication which do not themselves have to be communicated in the process This applies to being up-to-date with one’s information just as it does to being up-to-date culturally, as far as judgments about values, ways of life, what is in/what is out of fashion are concerned. Thanks to the mass media, then, it is also possible to judge whether it is considered acceptable or provocative to stand apart and reveal one’s own opinion. Since the mass media have generated a background reality which can be taken as a starting point, one can take off from there and create a profile for oneself by expression personal opinions, saying how one sees the future, demonstrating preferences etc.

The social function of the mass media is thus not to be found in the totality of information actualized by each (that is, not on the positively valued side of their code) but in the memory generated by it. For the social system, memory consists in being able to take certain assumptions about reality as given and known about in every communication, without having to introduce them specially into communication and justify them. (RM, 65)

Put in Heideggerese, Luhmann is alluding to the manner in which the mass media produces “das Man” or the “everybody knows” that underlies shared social reality. This is not something that can be assumed to be there at the outset, but is rather something that must be produced or built. This das Man, in its turn, renders possible new forms of social relation. To see this consider two villages, existing prior to mass media, existing hundreds of miles apart. Here spatial difference is crucial. Under conditions of spatial distance such as this there’s no possibility of a world. The reason for this is that flows of communication are highly constrained in time due to these features of distance.

read on!

I am pleased to announce that Open Humanities Press will be publishing the proceedings of the Georgia Tech Object-Oriented Philosophy symposium edited by Ian Bogost and myself. In addition to contributions by the four of us, the collection will include contributions by people who either witnessed the event or who were sadly unable to attend. As it stands the collection will include contributions from the following thinkers:

Katherine Behar
Ian Bogost
Levi Bryant
Melanie Doherty
Graham Harman
Katherine Hayles
Adrian Ivakhiv (blog here)
Steven Shaviro

Our hope is that Jane Bennett will contribute as well given the close proximity of her work to our own, though we haven’t heard back from her yet. I’m extremely excited by this collection and am especially pleased that it will be available in both an open access format and book form. We plan to collect the first drafts of the papers somewhere between mid-June and the end of June so the collection should be available fairly soon.

I’m very pleased to announce that Paul Ennis has founded a new open access peer reviewed journal devoted to object-oriented ontology. From Another Heidegger Blog:

EDIT: Thanks to the Open Humanities Alliance ‘Speculations’ has moved from an idea to a fully operational online peer-reviewed open-access blog. This means we can move toward stage 2: submissions.

Looks like we’ll have an OOO journal (online and open access) in the coming months.
I think I’ve managed to wrangle some submissions from Ian, Levi and Graham. Now if you don’t want this to be some kind of OOO love-in you best get writing those critical responses to OOO. If you do e-mail and let me know. I’ll be mailing most of this blog’s readers anyway hassling them for submissions. You might as well just give in and send me a possible paper.

Provisional title: ‘Speculations’
(I’m stressing the word provisional here…)

Open Humanities Press finally has a page up for the New Metaphysics Series:

Open Humanities Press is pleased to launch a new series in continental philosophy published in conjunction with the University of Michigan Library’s Scholarly Publishing Office. Each New Metaphysics book will be freely available as an electronic book (open access) and as reasonably priced paperbacks.

The world is due for a resurgence of original speculative metaphysics. The New Metaphysics series aims to provide a safe house for such thinking amidst the demoralizing caution and prudence of professional academic philosophy. We do not aim to bridge the analytic-continental divide, since we are equally impatient with nail-filing analytic critique and the continental reverence for dusty textual monuments. We favor instead the spirit of the intellectual gambler, and wish to discover and promote authors who meet this description. Like an emergent recording company, what we seek are traces of a new metaphysical ‘sound’ from any nation of the world. The editors are open to translations of neglected metaphysical classics, and will consider secondary works of especial force and daring. But our main interest is to stimulate the birth of disturbing masterpieces of twenty-first century philosophy.

The series is edited by Graham Harman and Bruno Latour. Rumor has it I’m to be one of the consulting editors, but I’m not sure what happened with that. At any rate, it looks like I really need to get cracking with The Democracy of Objects as it is to be published in this venue.

mole_400I am extremely excited to see that Re.Press has announced the edited collection Nick, Graham, and I are putting together. Contributors will include Ray Brassier , Nathan Brown, Levi R Bryant, Gabriel Catren, Manuel DeLanda, Iain Hamilton Grant, Martin Hägglund, Peter Hallward, Graham Harman, Adrian Johnston, Francois Laruelle, Bruno Latour, Quentin Meillassoux, Reze Negarestani, Nicole Pepperell, John Protevi, Nick Srnicek, Isabelle Stengers, Alberto Toscano, and Slavoj Žižek.

I conceived the collection one drunken night as I was cooking dinner, full of warm and euphoric sensations from the chardonnay I was drinking (yeah I know, lame, but for some reason chardonnay makes me very euphoric, sentimental, expansive, affectionate, and happy whenever I drink it), and flush with excitement from reading Meillassoux’s After Finitude and from encountering Graham’s work, much to my embarrassment, for the first time. Prior to that, I only knew of Graham as the guy from DePaul (Loyola’s Continental rival) who had published a book fresh out of grad school and who was wearing a fidora in his books cover picture, i.e., I encountered him as an object of my envy and ressentiment. The original title of the collection was to be Post-Continental Realisms, but that title quickly got shot down– rightfully –by Bruno who observed that we have far too many “posts” in philosophy. “Let’s just do philosophy, eh?” At any rate, with the project fresh in my mind and wine diminishing my judgment, I immediately contacted Nick Srnicek, whose work I admire tremendously, who knows far more about the speculative realists than I ever will, and who I also owed for so generously citing me in his thesis.

Nick and I set about contacting the “big four” (Brassier, Grant, Harman, and Meillassoux), as well as others doing important work with a realist orientation (Stengers, DeLanda, Johnston, Hallward, Badiou, Protevi, Hagglund, Pepperell, etc). We were shocked and overwhelmed by the enthusiasm with which our proposal was met. Along the way we struck up a friendship with Harman and he did so much work promoting the collection that there was no way we couldn’t make him an editor. Graham is a work-horse, filled with enthusiasm for everything he does, and a mover and shaker. I really don’t know where he gets the time to do all that he does while also doing such creative and original philosophy.

As I sit here today, not even a year later, watching the articles begin to roll in, I am amazed by how much this project has changed my own thought process and philosophical orientation. One of the things I really like about this collection is that it is a work written by moles and being published by moles. Here I am not using the term “mole” in the sense proposed by Jon Cogburn, but rather in the sense of the old spy movies as someone who infiltrates a foreign organization and undermines it from within. On the one hand, nearly all of the contributors to this collection are moles in the sense that they are on the fringes of mainstream Continental philosophy, somewhat excluded from academia and traditional Continental scholarship. What made this strange alliance of moles possible– as moles are generally solitary creatures –was the internet, which allowed for networks of burrows to be formed, creating the possibility of strange cross-fertilizations of ideas and philosophical orientations that are otherwise so disparate. Although moles are generally peaceful creatures, content to burrow and feast on the grubs and delectable roots they find, nomadic mole armies are fearsome forces, despite their myopia. Indeed, their myopia or devotion to burrowing lines of flight are their strength.

On the other hand, Re.Press is a mole press, publishing the work of authors and thinkers that otherwise would have a great deal of difficulty getting their work published by more mainstream Continental presses, due to the manner in which these works tend not to be organized around commentary on a particular thinker. In this respect, the name “Re.Press” is a double entendre, capturing Freud’s dictum that repression is always accompanied by the return of the repressed.

However, if Re.Press is a mole press, then this is because through open access publishing that makes its texts available to the general public online, it allows for networks of burrows to be formed, alliances to be forged, that would otherwise be significantly restricted by exclusive paper publishing. Like the scene in Fight Club where Ed Norton’s character beats himself up, the voice-over remarking that something has been growing around and behind his boss that couldn’t be seen, open access publishing as well as blogs allow for mole collectives to be formed that skirt the established hierarchies of the academies and the morphogenetic role they play in defining the canon. If you read Peter Gay’s biography of Freud you discover that a mere handful of psychoanalytic theorists managed to transform the world through weekly meetings in Freud’s living room over coffee. The internet intensifies the formation of such networked assemblages and alliances. Moreover, it is high time that we Continentalists shoot back at ridiculously priced presses like Continuum and Palgrave that both inhibit the propagation of thought, hurt academic careers by keeping the work of emerging authors in obscurity due to the price of their texts, and that promote a sort of implicit elitism by restricting readership to those that can either afford the texts or who have access to a good library. And, of course, there are all the ecological issues behind paper publishing as well.

As far as my own contribution to this project goes, I’d like to express my great thanks to Jon Cogburn, Nick Srnicek, Reza Negarestani, John Protevi, and Nathan Gale for the exceedingly helfpul comments they gave me on my article “The Ontic Principle: Outline of an Object-Oriented Philosophy”. While not shirking on critical comments, all of you have been extremely encouraging and helped me to better develop my own vague intuitions. I owe all of you.