The “52 week, 24 hour” University.

On 7 May 2014 The Northampton Chronicle & Echo reported that: “The University of Northampton has unveiled plans to dispense with the traditional three-month student summer holiday and move towards a “52-week, 24 hour” campus arrangement.”[1]

The newspaper reports a rather fascinating but potentially disruptive and revolutionary notion . If on the one hand the report of the alleged proposal is factually accurate, in Kuhnian[2] terms the proposal would amount to as yet undiscovered ‘paradigm to shift’ and one unsustainable by any credible evidence, quite consistent with Kuhnian theory.

If, on the other hand, the Northampton Chronicle is reporting an ideological (im)position seeking to articulate an expression of bare power, that is quite a different matter. As we know, statements of belief, especially those ‘religiously’ held as matters of fundamentalist principle, are not by definition capable of rational critique or analysis. Such statements owe their existence and justification to the potentiality and the politico-juridical actuality of pure violence. Continue reading

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Digital media and altered states.

cropped-Banner

Recently I came across copies of a couple of my popular legal articles published by the Northampton Chronicle & Echo in April and June 2009. It came as a shock to discover that the newspaper no longer publishes printed papers on a daily basis and is no longer even printed in Northampton. We may reflect on whether technology has altered our perception of the spaces surrounding us and those we make, how we express ourselves and how we interact with our experiences. 

‘The law aims for a clean break’
Northampton Chronicle & Echo – 24 April 2009

Chronicle clean break

The history of the Chronicle & Echo, (The Chron) a well-liked local daily newspaper, mirrors the trajectory of many a printed paper in analogy with creative expression of ideas: a trajectory taking it from predictable public everyday local spaces to private and yet omnipresent existence. There is no doubt that the dematerialisation of the printed word by digital technology has altered our states of perception and of our self-expression.

A brief glance at the history of The Chron offers an example of such transformation. The paper was established in 1931 from a merger of two weekly and two monthly papers. And one could say it was the precursor of modern-day political coalitions: the original Chronicle was a Tory and the Echo was a  Liberal paper [1].

It asserted its physical and geographical existence in a strikingly visible architectural presence symbolising local endeavor, political and social identity and local sovereignty. Until 1970’s The Chron was published out of its striking Art Deco offices overlooking Northampton’s famous Market Square.

In 1978 it moved to brand new purpose built offices in Upper Mounts boasting the most up to date computerised printing presses [2].  On 26 May 2012 it ceased daily print publication. And now it is printed only a weekly basis and in Peterborough.

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The Politics of Higher Degree Supervision. Or: why Einstein would never get his PhD!

Albert-Einstein-albert-einstein-28258168-1920-12001I am currently being ‘trained’ as a PhD supervisor, and this article is a short reflection based on some work on the course. But to start with a caveat: my intellectual background lies in the humanities and law, and in this context my comments are necessarily limited to the humanities and legal research.

The course is interesting, and it made me question to what extent it is possible for universities to introduce formalised accredited systems for generating research outputs and research training. Are formalistic systems institutional responses to the instrumentalisation of intellectual endeavour and research? It made me wonder whether what is assumed to be ‘effective’ research degree supervision aiming to help research students plan, undertake, complete and disseminate their PhD research can in fact contribute creatively to the body of human knowledge and promote original findings. Continue reading

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A Short Note on Interpretation of Legal Texts.

Explosion“In the final analysis, it’s my assessment that this worthwhile opportunity to humanly rehabilitate effectively enough, now is nigh. Enough over-zealous legal deterrence. Continuation of my punishment thus only negates society’s tentative reforms, exceeding equitable treatment.”

So writes Harry Starks in the fictional letter to The Times [1]. We can interpret Starks’s letter on two levels: as a fictional letter in itself implicitly accepting its veracity as a self-contained text colluding with the author, or on another level as a piece of allegedly external (true) text located within a piece of fiction, in collusion with the fictional character. What are we to do? We can read the letter as an independent self-contained text in itself yet at the same time, when the text ceases to have any obvious connection with our-known reality, as a coded message to the internal logic and plot of the fictional piece of work, reflecting the author’s own reality. Continue reading

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On Blogs and Totalitarianism

Hyperspace_exitNot long ago I started this blog but with considerable trepidation. I wondered what I could write about and whether anything I write about would be of any possible interest to the general but random reader in hyperspace and worried about the time involved. However, rather to my surprise it has been an exciting experience.  In this post I will try to reflect on the experience, describe my first ever post and try to develop some fresh connections between notions of legal positivism, democracy, ideology and economic totalitarianism.

The inspiration for my first ever post came from reading Ana França’s article published in the New Statesman on 27 June 2013.[1]  She described the way that the democratically elected government in Hungary used its overwhelming majority in parliament to amend existing constitutional protection for basic rights and freedoms, such as for instance freedom of expression, quite against the interests of the citizens and ultimately the long-term national interest. Continue reading

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Dinner at Lincoln’s Inn

lincolns-innOn Friday 1 November 2013 I was invited by the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn for its annual Law Tutor’s Forum and a rather sumptuous dinner.

An Inn is an association of lawyers mainly barristers organised for mutual support and education of barristers. Lincoln’s Inn is fortunate in being able to occupy about 11 acres of prime central London historical property behind the High Court and next to Lincoln’s Inn Square since about 1422.

The evening opened with a short talk on the current proposals for the reforms in legal education and training followed by a discussion.  The main concern revolved around the question of regulation of the way lawyers provide legal services to the public in the face of the political dominance of market ideology and whether, in the face of the ‘market’, the legal profession should continue to be regulated at the training stage following academic stage of legal education. Currently the Solicitors’ Regularity Authority and the Bar Standards Board between them regulate access to practice in the legal profession by assessing not only competencies but also ethical and professional standards. Continue reading

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On Resistance and narrow boats

P1030327On a rather wet evening last Friday, 8 November, 2013, I walked along a short stretch of the  Regents Canal at Kings Place, to the main campus of Central Saint Martins for a symposium ‘On Resistance’ and the launch of Professor Howard Caygill’s latest book entitledOn Resistance: A Philosophy of Defiance[1]

The event was organised by the London Graduate School and CRMEP[2] in association with Art & Philosophy @ Central Saint Martins. The glittering panel included Professors Jacqueline Rose, Peter Hallward, Costas Douzinas, Michael Dillon and Howard Caygill.[3]

The speakers told us about the possibilities of subjectivities of resistance, the transformative potentialities on the body politic of such events as The Occupy Movement, the August 2010 riots in London, or the Silent Man in Turkey, and even the socio-political significance of the 1960 riots in Paris. Continue reading

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Democracy and rule of law: The Hungarian goulash.

parliamentIn middle of Budapest, on the bank of the Danube facing Buda, stands Hungary’s Parliament.

It is a spectacular building, a stunning  political ‘cathedral’ of a building designed to honour the gods of democracy and late 19th Century Mittel-European culture and identity rising from the ashes of crumbling empires.

The presently rather strained and difficult relations Hungary is experiencing with the European Union (‘EU) follow significant constitutional changes introduced over the last two to three years which appear to effectively abolish the rule of law and democracy in Hungary. The episode also helps to illustrate the inherent weakness but also the strength of the dialectic in the idea of Europe, refreshing our appreciation of the ideas of rule of law, democracy and brute power politics. Continue reading

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