The writer Michael Jacobs (who died in January 2014) has a piece in today’s Observer about Las Meninas, the famous 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez analyzed by Foucault in The Order of Things. Several very nice details from the painting are reproduced. Apparently this is an extract from his last book.
Update. This link was broken when I initially posted this earlier today, but here Ed Vulliamy talks about finishing the book by Jacobs after he died:
Michael recalls that it had been a book by French philosopher Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, written in 1966, that led him to look again at Las Meninas. Foucault wrote about the “corporeal gaze” of Velázquez himself, which creates “a condition of pure reciprocity” between painting and viewer. He added: “As soon as they place the spectator in the field of their gaze, the painter’s eyes seize hold of him, force him to enter the picture, assign him a place at once privileged and inescapable.” This idea of the “corporeal gaze” sent Michael back to Madrid to see the painting, whereupon he resolved to write the book.
Shannon Mattern has just placed online the syllabus for her great-looking new course “Maps as Media.”
Here is the course’s opening statement:
Maps reveal, delineate, verify, orient, navigate, anticipate, historicize, conceal, persuade, and, on occasion, even lie. From the earliest maps in cave paintings and on clay tablets, to the predictive climate visualizations and crime maps and mobile cartographic apps of today and tomorrow, maps have offered far more than an objective representation of a stable reality. In this hybrid theory-practice studio we’ll examine the past, present, and future – across myriad geographic and cultural contexts – of our techniques and technologies for mapping space and time. In the process, we’ll address various critical frameworks for analyzing the rhetorics, poetics, politics, and epistemologies of spatial and temporal maps. Throughout the semester we’ll also experiment with a variety of critical mapping tools and methods, from techniques of critical cartography to sensory mapping to time-lining, using both analog and digital approaches.
I must say this looks really fabulous and I wish I could take some if it myself! Some great readings and fascinating images are available at her course website here.
The headline makes this sound rather like an Onion piece:
Stanford scholar upends interpretation of philosopher Martin Heidegger
After a lifetime of studying the German philosopher’s groundbreaking works, Stanford Religious Studies Professor Thomas Sheehan concludes that Heideggerians’ obsession with Being misses the point.
But the story itself is about Thomas Sheehan’s new book and seems serious enough.
Sheehan argues that the “being paradigm” is a relic of a time when scholars and students had only limited access to Heidegger’s corpus. This emphasis on Being was established “when very few of Heidegger’s works were published – only about a dozen in German, some translated into English and some not. Now there are two library shelves’ worth of his published work, some 90 volumes.”
This is all written in press release style, and readers may prefer to draw their own conclusions about the place of Sheehan’s book.
Nice piece by Sam Kinsley on computing the human, referencing a piece by Kelly Gates at Aeon. There’s a lot of interesting material right now on algorithmic lives, as I call it, and I’ll be speaking about this in a couple of places this summer, including the RGS/IBG and a drone workshop in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Lots to think about.
Speaking of SPQR (see previous post) made famous in many a Roman movie, one of my favorite maps was the one at the front of every Asterix book. This shows the indomitable Gauls holding out against the invading Romans. The latter had their territorial claims represented by a huge flag driven into the ground bearing the SPQR banner. If a true scale was being used it was probably several hundred miles high, something which intrigued me at the time (especially the cracking of the ground around the base).
It’s one of the first maps I remember paying attention to as a child.