Articles from 06/2013

18 June 2013

The Final Irony

'Isn't it ironic?'

You hear it all the time - and, most of the time, actually no, it isn't. It's more likely to be: hypocritical, cynical, lazy or coincidental. But what is irony and why did pundits think it would die two years ago, after September 11? Zoe Williams meticulously, sincerely, un-ironically, hunts it down

Taking its name from the Greek: eironeia (dissimulation), irony consists of purporting a meaning of an utterance or a situation that is different, often opposite, to the literal one.

Maike Oergel,…Read

short story

I can't really explain it myself, why I find myself sitting more and more often in the most un-alluring café in Brussels, in the "Berlaymont" building, on the ground floor of the headquarters of the European

Commission. Not that there aren't any other eateries in the city. There are even very good ones. Brussels' gastronomy can't be praised highly enough.

But I sit more and more often in this cafeteria, from which it's not possible to carve out a coffee house essay to save one's life. No table service;…Read

The Pop Culture Manifesto

William Irwin on philosophy as/and/ of popular culture .

We can loosely define popular culture as artifacts and subjects of mass interest and appreciation. Popular culture does not exclude people from appreciating it on the basis of class or formal education. This is perhaps a necessary, though not a sufficient condition for popular culture. ‘Mass interest and appreciation' is admittedly indeterminate, though hopefully not troublesome. How popular does popular have to be? No fixed answer can be given. One size does not fit all. The British sense of ‘pop' sheds light on the issue. In…Read

Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute Interesting

Most of us read or look at art in order to feel something—to experience sensations perhaps unavailable to us in everyday waking life. But it's not just our feelings. Encountering the visions of the past, we also begin to acquire a sense of how people used to feel as well. Perhaps they lived in more interesting times, where every plot moved deathward or toward maudlin ends. Or maybe their works deadpan an aloof, utterly demystified view of the world, where the only way one feels anything at all is in short, intense bursts of euphoria. Nothing…Read

Shall We Dance —Japanese Style

Masayuki Subo: the director of the popular movie, “Shall We Dance?” explains about the difficulties of bringing his Japanese movie to American audiences, in spite of the communication differences between the two cultures. Subo says that, when he had finished making the movie, he had no idea how popular it would become world-wide.

A married man (Koji Yakusho) is attracted to a woman (Tamiyo Kusakari) and is drawn towards her through their mutual interest in ballroom dancing. The movie displays a balanced combination of Japanese culture with a universal theme of middle age…Read

Small Talk

I recently found myself sitting across a table from a stranger, chewing awkwardly in silence. It was a familiar scenario: a hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop with not enough tables and me sitting alone, assenting readily when an older woman asked if she could share my premium slice of real estate. She sat down and we both began to eat, eyes studiously averted— quickly, the silence became unbearable. Lovely day out, isn't it, she ventured. Oh yes, I agreed enthusiastically. Perfect temperature, and sunny too. Just beautiful. This was talk, yes, a verbal exchange between two interlocutors—but…Read

Teaching Philosophy vs Teaching To Philosophise

Pablo Cevallos Estarellas reviews the  developments that caused professional to triumph over amateur philosophy in education, and proposes a way forward.

If to do philosophy is to ask questions of a special kind about central human problems and then to grapple with them in a rigorous way, most people can in principle learn how to philosophise. This means that unlike most academic disciplines, philosophy has two legitimate manifestations: the professional practice of philosophical inquiry, with reference to the canon of historical philosophical works, and the amateur practice of philosophical inquiry, without reference to previous  philosophy.…Read


The modern world is awash with words. Through our mastery of natural forces, human beings can send their thoughts in written form instantly across the planet. Words have great power and through them we conjure up realities, more or less imaginary, to believe in. We can often get so lost in these edifices created by language that they become seen as living, breathing things.

'Legal fictions' provide examples of this such as the corporation, which in many systems of law is considered to be a person. A strange kind of person indeed,…Read