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Preview: Justin Erik Halldór Smith

Justin Erik Halldór Smith

Nunc enim sermo de toto est

Published: 2018-03-16T11:45:12-04:00


Un remède


Prenez fleurs de romarin Électuaire de succotrin Prenez scrupule de zédoaire Ajoutez fleurs de primevère Prenez pivoine, mélisse, reglisse Betoine, euphorbe, queue d'ecrévisse Prenez racine de couleuvrée Rhubarbe choisie & pulvérisée Prenez cubebes, axonge, agaric Mastic, angélique, olymel scillitique Prenez os de coeur de cerf Bezoar de vache de mer...

Why Cosmism? Why Now?


I wrote about the recent revival of Russian cosmism by the techno-futurist intellectual dabblers of Silicon Valley, for Tank Magazine. To read the whole piece, go here. Russian cosmism, it seems, is having its moment. In Paris I recently met a friend who edits a certain glossy magazine devoted to...

Onfim the Artist


For the latest issue of Cabinet I wrote about 13th-century birch-bark gramoty, Slavonic letters and manuscripts that together attest to the remarkable literacy of medieval Novgorod. Of particular interest to me are the gramoty attributed to a certain Onfim, a schoolboy who had the singular habit of illustrating his grammar...

The Anthropocentric Idealism of Judith Butler


Those who, with Judith Butler, deny a distinction between sex and gender, however they may think of themselves, are either classical philosophical idealists, or they are anthropocentrist human-exceptionalists, and thus heirs to the legacy of the Christian theological model of the human being. Consider this from a recent online ‘syllabus’:...

William H. Gass, Philosopher (1924-2017)


I wrote a commemoration of William H. Gass for n+1, focusing in particular on his training as a philosopher and on the significance of this training for his life's work. To read the whole thing, go here. William Howard Gass, who died on December 6 at the age of 93,...

Olonkho, Lines 29-82


This is a translation of some of the early lines of the Olonkho, the Sakha (Yakut) national epos (on my longstanding interest in this, read more here and here). I worked directly from the Sakha text, but also relied heavily on an earlier Russian version, which comes down to us...

Notes on Social Media and Autocracy


[To appear, in some modified version, in my forthcoming book, Irrationality: A History (Princeton University Press, 2018)] Over the last few weeks we have learned that part of Russia's intervention in the 2016 US election included placing ads on Facebook that spanned the political spectrum: some were in support of...

Le Naturel et l'inné


Résumé d'une conférence donnée au colloque de rentrée du Collège de France, le 20 octobre 2017. Pour voir le programme du colloque, cliquez ici. Jusqu’à présent, la collision de la philosophie européenne avec des systèmes de savoir indigènes à l’âge classique a été peu étudiée. Je propose ici d’examiner la...

Notes on ъ


In Old Church Slavonic there were two letters representing short vowels. These were called ‘yer’, and there were two species of them: the ‘front yer’, ‘ь’, and the ‘back yer’, ‘ъ’ These were reduced into ultra-short vowels in the modern Slavic languages, and eventually into signs that can’t really be...

A Conversation With Steph Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith, The Nation's New Poetry Editors


Originally posted at 3 Quarks Daily. On August 7, The Nation announced the appointment of Steph Burt and Carmen Giménez Smith as its new poetry editors. Beginning in the Fall, they will be soliciting and commissioning a wide range of American and international poetry, and will begin accepting submissions on...

Punching Down


From the most recent issue of The Point Magazine. To read the whole piece, go here. I recently found myself at an academic conference that featured a presentation by graduate students on “combating racism with humor.” We were made to watch a video clip of a theater piece they had...

The Stockholm Conspiracy


(A translation of Gabriel Daniel, Histoire de la conjuration faite à Stokolm contre Mr. Descartes, Amsterdam, 1696). While Monsieur Descartes was living peacefully at the Court of Sweden, whither his virtue, his dedication to the truth, his great genius in the sciences, and the high reputation that he had acquired,...

More on the Search for Intelligent Life


It is hard to read about SETI and more recent related projects looking for intelligent life in the stars without discerning in them certain silent presuppositions about what counts or should count as intelligent life on earth. In particular, the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life is almost always taken to...

On Plants / De Stirpibus


Wolfenbüttel, 27 May, 2017. How many beings are in this picture? Imagine you are in an urban park. Look around. How many animals do you see? I’d imagine you see a few birds, a dog or two, perhaps some insects, and a dozen or so humans. Now how many plants...

A Cold Take on Comey's Firing


Until the American media and public stop simply lurching from one outrage to the next, with apparently no cumulative wisdom or even memory, we will continue to live in an outrageous political reality. In this respect Donald Trump is the president that the culture of non-stop social-media outrage deserves, of...

The Art of Moulting


(Forthcoming in RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics) Can we easily distinguish between what the scorpion does when it moults, and what we human beings do when we, say, sculpt the human form in stone? The most common means of distinguishing between the two sorts of production is that the human sculptings...

A Theft


Your heart burns for me so and your body and your soul burn with desire for me and for my body and my face. Here is what I am referring to: Selivanko and Mikheiko and Yakovets Boldykin took my three-ruble horse, and the leather saddle of a ruble and a...

Liberal Alarmism


The liberal center-left in the US has never been more alarmed. The antiliberal left has never been cooler. By ‘cool’ here I mean that its members have honed a mocking and casual disdain of the center-left’s alarmism, with a massive proliferation of memes and jokes about the illusory character of...

Embodiment: A History


This book is now available for order from Oxford University Press. I would add it to the sidebar to the right of this page, along with the Italian translation of The Philosopher, if I knew how. This task would involve some fairly complex html coding, which I always left to...

Louis Riel, "Dissertation on Monads" (1885)


Signed “Louis ‘David’ Riel,” this short text, titled “Mémoire sur les Monades,” was written when Riel was in prison awaiting execution in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1885. Translation originally published in Cabinet Magazine, Issue 49. What is there? There is God. What else is there? There are the things that God...