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Robert Bork

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Robert Bork last won the day on March 24 2006

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About Robert Bork

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  1. Any counter-argument making use of an existentialist author will be either non-responsive or will fail to generate much offense. Many existentialist concepts are assumed in post-structuralist criticisms that are popular today, and a lot of those authors cut their teeth on the hides of the existentialists. Although it's probably not worthwhile as an argument, existentialist works are worth reading to add a perspective on your life, to appreciate how philosophy got to where it is today, and so you can get past it while you're young. Allow me to make a crude analogy that will make the previous response a little clearer. Consider a stapler. The existence of the stapler, as an rectangular metallic object, comes before its function (or essence) as a machine that clips together pieces of paper. Further, the stapler can have many possible functions or essences--a doorstop, a murder weapon, a fidget to dispel anxiety while talking on the phone. The essence of the stapler is determined not by its formal existence as a block of metal, but by human capacity of choice and innovation, which may always craft new or changing purposes. The alternative claim, that essence precedes existence, presumes that there is a stable identity or purpose for objects. In the case of our stapler, the stapler is first conceived in an ideal form as a stapler and then brought into material reality, where it is always bound to be a stapler and nothing else. A great deal of 20th Century philosophy has been devoted to criticising this kind of thinking, which depends upon some fixed and external thinker or value that orders objects, and which tends to default again and again into stifling idealism. Hence, existentialism's common, but not necessary, association with the absence of God.
  2. You've given me a lot to respond to. I must apologize, I don't have as much time to devote to this post as you. To answer your question re: Derrida/Foucault, I exited the discussion because the debate is a very complicated one and I don't want to have it for its own sake at this time. To save time on formatting, "zarathustra" will appear in bold and "Robert Bork" will appear in italics. To save space, I am truncating or summarizing zarathustra's points. They're right above mine if you want to read the whole thing. An excursion into deconstruction concerning the phrase "absolute law." The phrase was poorly qualified on my part. I wish to modify it: for the smooth function of contract capital, the written word must function as something very near absolute law, even if such is impossible. Some fungibility is always present when time, oversignification, and lawyers intervene, but that fungibility must be kept to an absolute minimum for capital to circulate and for capital to serve as a means of payment across extremely long periods of time. It won't do if a 30-year mortgage is broken because the borrower unearths a previously secret meaning for one of the words, or finds that the contract disassembles itself. I suppose the meaning of "written word as absolute law" is really "written word as a black box that we all promise not to look into." And, since we are clearly very far into the territory of deconstruction, I will indulge the possibilities for deconstruction as an anti-capitalist project: if clear signification is the guiding principle of payment, then deconstruction broaches the the possibility of crisis by obstructing the flow of payment. As you say, writing tells capital to piss off. Derrida made fun of Americans for sticking with deconstruction, but maybe we should make fun of him for ditching it too soon. Some stuff about potentiality and contingency. I had trouble picking a clear argument out of here. It seems that you are arguing against a pure impulse to destroy what has been done, and I'll agree with that and clarify further later down. I am not really sure we can even talk about perfecting debate outside of some teleological structure, which I think is not going to hold up and would be privy to what we are currently involved discussing. In what sense is there a drive to perfect debate? What would the perfection of debate look like? Might not that be up for debate? Moreover, if it is the case that recording and archiving leads to upping the stakes of the game would, according to the logic of your ostensible alternative, we would be left with the destruction of debate it seems. I guess what I am asking is if debate is pointless then why debate, why does it exist, why are we debating, why are you offering reflections on debate? Clearly there is some point, even if debate is a game, that might make it necessary to write and to contribute to the archiving practice that you want to destroy. Hence, the rather pointed question comes up, if this is the way you feel, if this is an argument, which I am saying it might be but I am not going to hold you down to that since pre-empted it saying this was just a reflection, then why contribute to the archive? In placing the suggesting of destroying the archive within the archive are you not participating in upholding the archive, adding to it, making a demand that something must be saved even if what must be saved is the demand not to save, not to archive, not to raise the stakes of the debate game? I am not arguing for the end of debate as an activity, only that debate NOT operate in a teleological structure. It is my assertion that debate is moving itself toward an end, which I might call "total information acquisition." The amount of information used as an input in debate, produced as an output of debate, and fed back into debate is increasing substantially, and I think that most parties in the debate world are contributing to that race. The very fact that the self-styled acts of rebellion in debate are metadiscourses about information access (who gets it, how we classify it, who classifies it, what counts) supports this, at least in my own estimation. Debate is, ultimately, a game, and it is valuable as a game. It is worthwhile because nothing happens at the end: we talk, win, lose, hang out, eat, get drunk, screw, sneak text messages (oh the irony), swap shit, and go home. It is NOT "the real thing", whatever the real thing will be for debaters later on. It is practice. It is a chance to experiment and learn with almost zero cost for screwing up. More information gives debate more downsides without more upsides; we spend more time cutting cards, more money going to camps, more eyestrain on the internet, but debate is still just practice for all of these things. The scaling back of our archival efforts helps to place the costs of debate back into proportion with the rewards. It also helps debaters jump in at the appropriate level of competence. If every file ever from everywhere is available, then we start our careers with Derrida instead of a Spending DA. That is more than almost anybody can handle. I can't make so radical a suggestion as "we should destroy 'the archive.'" It is not my place to decide for others the appropriate balance of recollection and loss, only to broach the subject, since you brought our recordkeeping practices up. I think it is interesting that many squads have a party at the end of the year where they throw things away. It bring Bataille to mind. Anyway, it always seemed to me that archiving is a distinctly individualistic choice, and that the words 'autarchy' and 'anarchy' were taken up by the wrong disciplines. Perhaps debate does produce something, perhaps it is part of an economy of production that requires the labor of its participants, perhaps the flow, cross-x.com, edebate, etc. archives this labor and this economy of production, puts it circulation, but if it does all this it can only do so if its destruction is always already a condition of possibility, is always already haunting these acts themselves and, in a certain sense, also driving them to become more efficient, more technical, more precise, reaching towards some undefinable and perhaps unthinkable perfectability...a perfectability that not only does not exist but is that which emerges in the face of the inability to perfect and hence the greater demand for perfection. And what have we done and who is this we? You and I, judges, coaches, debaters, lab leaders and lab assistants, labs, camps, universities, high schools, the debate community...where is this we and what have we done? The demand for archiving, saving, the economy of production highlighted in your post all point towards something, brought up in your last sentence, which is to say, we are always already not prepared and this prepares us in some way and we are always already prepared and this unprepares us in some way. Finally, this whole notion about "and I will call it flowing" will be saved for later. Production is everywhere and unavoidable, of course. Corny though it is, my concern is to produce for human empowerment! I may not be able to go through another round of this discussion, apologies in advance.
  3. Forgive the excursion below, it isn't really meant to argue for anything. It's just a reflection. My initial thoughts were with Jorge Luis Borges' essay "On the Cult of Books," where he provides a short treatment of the increasing veneration of writing and inscription throughout history. Although Borges doesn't speak of economy in his writing, it is an issue that is certainly lurking. With the exception of the cabbalistic reverence of word magic, the increasing importance of writing is strongly correlated to centralized forms of political administration and capitalistic modes of production. In particular, the written word must be absolute law in a fully manifested form of capitalist production, where money's primary function is as a form of payment, and where there is a substantial temporal lag between one part of a transaction and another--that is, when the economy is a contract economy. We certainly live in such an economy now, and the creation and storage of transactional information is more important than ever before. As Marx might say, our material reproduction is encumbered to more previous reproductions than at any previous point. Deleuze and Guattari also emphasize the importance of writing as a central function of capital, although they imbue it with a quality that goes beyond mere economic necessity. I cannot help but feel that the importance of writing in debate encumbers our activity to its past in a negative way. Putting technical (and strategic) ramifications of flowing aside, I want to think of the archival issues. Flows, files, edebate and cross-x posts, etc., are all saved, and particularly in the laptop age, flows are saved in a digital, manipulable, movable, storable form. The implication of this record, both implicitly and explicitly, is that it should be kept and studied. This impulse to perfect debate through information glut comes out in many ways, although at the moment I think of the current open source evidence movement and the common practice of using flows to redeliver and refine past speeches. Although I applaud many of the aims of such improvement programs, I am also suspicious of the idea that more textual information will continutally propel debate to new heights. In my view, one of the central virtues of debate is that it is pointless and prone to error. Without the harsh glare of our own historymaking efforts, we are free to make mistakes and let others make those same blunders later, in the same low-stakes environment where we did. The more intensely we record and archive, the more we up the stakes of our game. This post has shaped up immoderately, it seems, but I am not necessarily attacking the practice of flowing so much as its integration into much larger productive loops, or the necessity that flowing and flows be productive beyond the confines of the round itself. I am leaving off to others the question of the flow in the round. Instead, I focus on our unconditional right to destroy what we have made after we are finished, for the sake of ourselves and those to come, who aren't prepared to read about what we've done!
  4. Robert Bork

    D&G K

    I think my work on this forum is done.
  5. Respecting post #1: In my view, one of the most substantial sources of conflict is that Foucault is not really talking about "madness itself." He is carefully describing the broader circumstances that surround and socially constitute "madness": confinements, techniques, displacements, blah blah blah. This has the effect of casting a mold of madness' form within the social world without probing the inner structure at all, which is precisely the point. Madness, as a subjective experience, remains something which seems largely unexplored in Foucault, and that is perhaps the truly contentious point for Derrida. Derrida, as a thinker of subjectivity in the pure sense, wants an investigation of the inner workings, while Foucault is trying to pursue an entirely different course of enquiry. Foucault is not trying to "give voice" to oppressed persons, he is examining the role of an idea (madness) with respect to the development of another idea (civilization). If anything, Derrida is making an error in assigning far too much of a normative and active purpose to a project that is, at its core, very cold. Writing a history of madness itself, or an account of madness itself, is certainly an A+ thing to do, but I do not see that happening here.
  6. Since a bunch of people decided to anonymously leave me negative rep, I will explain why this guy sucks: he wants other people to do all of his work for him. Not only to tell him what page to cut, but also to post the cards from those pages so he doesn't have to print anything out or transcribe it. That's rough! This thread is particularly bothersome to me because this thread wasn't about evidence, it was a substantive discussion about the arguments of these authors. Send away evidence leeches.
  7. Here is a reupload of the Kato article http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=2H8R5LXTATCDS2L8A2BX6CF708 And here is the Derrida article http://s64.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=0RVY9AAUMP7X91YYAK1LK5DMFU
  8. If you insist on getting up to your neck in a destratification debate, you can do it without reading Deleuze and Guattari. A while ago I posted Manuel De Landa's "A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History" on here, and he talks quite extensively on the subjects of destratification and material flow--in fact, that is the entire topic of the book. You can get a unusual spin on historical materialism that is similar to that of Deleuze and Guattari, but without having to get into their unique and difficult linguistic terrain. De Landa focuses mostly on network theory and mathematics, but makes basically the same argument: explosive destratification of society tends to give rise to a new form that is as stratified and repressive as the previous form, if not moreso. As a few examples, among many, he offers Venetian merchant capitalism and British industrialization. That being said, I echo Zack. You can't read a piece of evidence like this and magically win the round. Such a card needs to be accompanied by some extremely good analysis.
  9. I'm going to take a position that may break with the normal stance, but I think it deserves some consideration: you should limit your perms to your REAL understanding of both the proposed alternative and of the perm that you're trying to deploy. Perm debates have a tendency to get extremely messy, and that's usually because--in addition to the attendent non-competitive theory debate--there is very little meaningful discussion about how the perm(s) work. I think this is a byproduct of poor understanding. Rorty debates tend to be the best, if most formulaic, because most debaters tend to have a solid understanding of his arguments and their ramifications. Other perms, not so much. If you haven't read the author of the criticism and the author of your perm, just don't do it! Going into the round, you know the most about your affirmative case. Why not prepare to defend your case on its own merits, in its own ontology, especially given the substantial advantage in understanding and experience you will have in such a debate. You are instantly giving up your best ground if you shift a debate from your case to "krishna", which everybody knows equally well. Remember: the team that knows more wins, regardless of the volume of evidence or almost any other factor, so make sure that the debate stays on subjects that you know.
  10. It only takes two fingers to hit ctrl + c and ctrl + v
  11. I don't know that I completely agree with you, either, because of the specific context of this discussion. Despite all of my wishes to the contrary, debate is a formalized activity, and I think that I am willing to tolerate the existence of some of those forms in order to start with a meaningful platform for learning and dialogue. To me, debate is play, and for it to function, there needs to be some ad hoc agreement of rules. That is not to say an agreement upon values (beyond the values that implicit in any set of rules), but an agreement upon a communal space in the sense of Mead or, if you like, later Habermas. I understand that there are significant problems with that, not least of which that it puts the cart in front of the horse in a lot of ways, but I think it accurately reflects the artificial nature of CX debate itself: the cart is put in front of the horse by somebody else, and then debaters need to invent a way to push it. If debate did not exist especially to provide a place with lowered stakes for discussion, I would probably err much closer to your view that "one world" isn't the desired starting point for discussion, if it is even possible. However, I prefer to think of debate as an incubator or academy, and I like to imagine that people glean insights and methods from their experience here and apply them to other circumstances. My apologies for this rambling prelude, we really seem to differ about the purpose of kritiks, as opposed to a broader practice of criticism which operates under fewer constraints. I think, also, I underdeveloped my view about free interaction of ideas from the previous post. I am envisioning less "bringing criticism into the policy sphere" much more bricolage, or frenzied appropriation and interaction among every idea available. From my first encounters with cultural theory, I have always been impressed by its widespread ability to reference and synthesize disparate ideas. That is particularly so when those evocations and syntheses are executed not to for the sake of erudite wankery, but for the sake of confusing, virtually impassible fecundity of ideas. My desire, really isn't to say "bell hooks' job is to criticize khalilzhad", in policymaking, technocratic, or burdensome sense, but moreso to see what she might say about him, if somebody gave the two the chance to smack against one another. Apologies also for this response, which feels really perfunctory. It's all I have time to manage now!
  12. Don't construct a different world for your criticism to live in, and don't construct an abstracted, straw version of the affirmative plan that you knock over with your criticism. The moment that you try to recast the world in which the debate occurs, you are more or less assuring that a messy argument about worlds is going to happen, because you are putting the affirmative team in a very threatened, unbalanced position: you are saying they aren't allowed to talk about or access most of their case, because it operates in a different universe from yours. That's totally unnecessary. Your original authors are writing in the "real world." No matter how disconnected academic writing may be from things that actually take place, that writing is still talking about things they way they happen, and why those things should change. You can present those ideas without pulling the rug out from under the affirmative team, and I believe that your ideas will be strengthened for really clashing against the affirmative's issues, even if they are very different. Why not debate the merits of hegemony versus the merits of feminism, or [x] big stick impact vs. [y] huge critical project? It can be done, and in fact, it is done through writing quite often. The results might be a little more chaotic than you'd like, but that's the price you pay for a really "free" exchange of ideas. Moreover, I think that it more accurately reflects the way we really live, and the way we actually reason. We evaluate questions holistically, in extremely complex and often strange value schema, and in those schema very different propositions of very different scale can collide and interact, which is wonderful. That's how we live--on ever-sliding scales. As we sit in a debate round, we are never JUST thinking about "the policy impacts" or "the in-round implications", or existing in a world of one or the other, but both, and it is silly to partition them. If you are familiar with Deleuze and Guattari, I am envisioning a "plane of consistency", where widely disparate materials enjoy a moment of equity.
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