Do you have the urge to attain higher education, but don’t want to borrow exorbitant sums of money and cripple your financial future to do it? Well, you’re in luck because it’s Free University Week! As part of Occupy Wall Street’s birthday week, from September 18th to the 21st the Free University is facilitating more than 140 classes and workshops in Madison Square Park on topics like the global financial crisis, activism, social justice, and climate change.
A few past and present Verso authors will be teaching classes as part of this initiative—details are below, or visit here for a complete schedule.
In the New York Times, Simon Critchley has written a series of essays on the revelatory experiences and Gnosticism of Philip K. Dick, the sci-fi writer and "garage philosopher" who claimed to write and read "in the mind of God." Critchley writes,
Crazy as it doubtless must sound, I think that Dick's gnosticism responds to a deep and essential anxiety of our late modern times. The irrepressible rise of a deterministic scientific worldview threatens to invade and overtake all those areas of human activity that we associate with literature, culture, history, religion and the rest.
After using Dick's Gnostical worldview to explain the paranoid style of contemporary American politics, Critchley proposes an alternative to a pervasive determinism:
Ask yourself: what does one do in the face of a monistic all-consuming naturalism? We can embrace it, hoping to wrest whatever shards of wonder and meaning we can from inquiries into the brain or the cosmos sold as brightly colored trade hardbacks, written by reputable, often prize-winning, scientists. Or we can reject scientific determinism by falling back into some version of dualism. That could mean embracing a spiritual or religious metaphysics of whatever confection, or - if one is still nostalgic for the disappointed modernism of, say, Kafka or Beckett - by falling back upon a lonely, alienated self in a heartless world of anomie.
But perhaps another way is open, one that is neither entirely naturalistic nor religious nor some redux of modernist miserabilism.
The Faith of the Faithless, Simon Critchley's new book on political theology, continues to stir up debate across academia and the media with its critical and insightful take on the nexus of religion, anarchism and violence.
Creston Davis, writing for PoliticalTheology.com, sees Critchley's reading of Wilde's De Profundis as Critchley's "extraordinary insight": a profound understanding of the point in Wilde's imprisonment where "traditional, passive faith becomes activated on the ground-zero level of the subject-void who enacts faith aesthetically, creatively, and inventively". It was this moment, when Wilde had lost the most, that he could develop a "a political-subjective socialistic consciousness." As Davis writes,
The political and religious subject in Simon's book is the individual who discovers himself or herself paradoxically when they are socially lost, abandoned, and alienated from social norms and general consciousness.