Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Stuck in Glue? Try This





Nasturtiums

Why do I love them? They are just so so beautiful. They were everywhere in Cali and it's even easier to grow them down here on the Texas coast.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Term "Anthropocene"

You can download it here. There's a whole lot more on this in Dark Ecology too.

Jittery

It's almost like this:

"Anything but grasping the conch. Any moment other than the obvious one at which humans started burning loads of fossil fuels!"

There's some kind of weird Oedipal logic to this. Like no one wants to say the big bad obvious thing.

Like we quite happily say "capitalism" and we quite happily say when it started. Despite the very accurate Braudelian shading of that concept and that start date. Like we admit there's loads of capitalisms, then there's big bad official capitalism, "since 1784" as they say below certain store names. (Marx says the steam engine, etc. Word.)

And there are terms for saying it started earlier or never started. Such as Whiggish history.

Just for a mo I thought we were all about to get seriously into working with science and scientists. But somehow the old school managed to get its correlationist paws on stuff and it's back to endlessly fuzzing and namechecking concepts and people (and not lifeforms) before we say anything at all, which we'd rather not. Heaven forbid we do our job. Better to talk amongst ourselves. Safer. My mistake...

Friday, February 5, 2016

Why Not 1784?

Why are some humanists so very concerned not to date the Anthropocene when the atmospheric and geology people proposed dating it?

For instance, one suggested date is the beginnings of a certain phase of European colonialism, which some put at about 1610. (Which I don't particularly understand in any case, but that's another conversation.)

But this isn't about what's the most big bad nasty thing that humans did to other humans (and there are plenty of other candidates). And of course, those actions did something to nonhumans--creating monocultures, moving nonhumans around Earth either deliberately or accidentally (breadfruit, squirrels).

I'm going to say something now, and some of you are going to think this means I don't care about postcolonial theory or worse.

That's not enough. That doesn't significantly change Earth's crust. Stratigraphy is the science of defining layers in Earth's crust.

And certainly this is not about when some humans started planning or imagining bad things. Francis Bacon's violent language about mining, or something like that. Again, if you want to look for the first “bad ecological thing planned” you might need to go a way further back than that. What about medieval fantasies about the spice islands, which in the end generated the East India Company? Roman, or Greek, or Babylonian colonial propaganda? What about Platonic nihilism? Or reductionism of any kind? Or domestication of animals?

If we go on like that, we are only going to end up with the Fall version 2.0.

So we'd still be on a mission from agricultural-age religion, which might be a problem in itself. This has to do with “Something went wrong in our being, something exactly there and then, and this something is a twist in the fabric of things, a twist often called evil.” We're talking about hyperobjects. We're talking about massively distributed physical stuff here, which can't be pinned down. Evil corporations? We summon them into being and buy their stuff. Americans? Everyone wants air conditioning. Colonial expansion? Agricultural logistics are all about that and those logistics didn't just emerge in Mesopotamia, suspiciously the very region where the Garden of Eden is located.

The trouble, in part, is that for ever we humanists have been treating imagining and planning as on a par with doing and acting. (Oh dear, now you think I have an “unquestioned binary” between imagining and doing or whatever. I've read Of Grammatology and I consider myself a Derridean, very much so. We're in a different sort of domain here, where I'm simply saying that imagining that what I'm doing right now is sucking a lollipop doesn't account for the fact that I'm typing a sentence. I'm pretty sure my old office mate Jacques would in fact agree. He's not a nominalist. And even a nominalist would probably agree.)

It's because of the default correlationist mode we've all accepted for two hundred years, which often ends up in a gravity well where we are quibbling about labels. It's very very hard for us to see this, but Anthropocene isn't a label exactly like that. It's not in the domain of “We [the human subject, human history, human economic relations, human will, human Dasein...] get to decide what counts as real, and these decisions are of course political, so we should first and foremost decide what counts as real according to our particular politics.”

Can you see how this might be said in a mode that's part of the problem? And that it will end up with arguing about exactly the most politically progressive record store label, for the millionth time? Rather than, say, mentioning polar bears?

And thus that there's a politics of trying to fantasize about jumping to a level where you can see and analyze everyone else's politics? It's called cynical reason and it's designed to exclude polar bears.

In the bigger picture, the scientific date isn't about finding fault with (a particular group of) humans for human-on-human violence (which is real and part of the picture) and human-on-nonhuman violent ideas or plans (which is of course also part of the picture).

This is about depositing layers of carbon compounds in Earth's crust. To do that in such a way as to create a powerful stratigraphic signal, you need to be mining coal with steam engines.

Could we just listen to that, for a moment? Could we just reflect as to why we are surprised/shocked/outraged, and whether that might be a little bit our problem or maybe even a lot our problem?

It's as bad as global warming denial I'm so sorry to say. It has the same discursive format. Something doesn't fit our world so we deem it unreal or evil, badly intended, part of a conspiracy.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Paris Talk on Monday

It's for this, Façonner l'Avenir. At the École des Arts Déco.

Am I Being Seduced by a Not Necessarily Human Sexuality Vortex

...or am I just trying to interpret this song?

This song is about interpreting songs. Sounds so innocent when you put it that way, no?

I just love how this is a narrative, a special kind called noir, where the narrator is paranoid that she or he is half creating (at least) what is happening. Narratives can't say everything all at once, which tells you about how you can't access all of a thing all at once.

The full ambiguity of the aesthetic experience on display here. Which is how OOO objects appear in general, so you have been warned :)


Adrián Villar Rojas

While I was in Stockholm last year I saw his work, and about ten minutes after falling in love with it I heard that he was a big fan of my stuff. Go figure! He does all kinds of amazing things, ecological things, and this is one of them.


After All These Years

BBC, you really do need not to pronounce names in ways that resemble the following:

“Hello, my name's Barrack O'Bama, proprietor of O'Bama's Turf Cutting. And this is my friend, Shed McNeill.”

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Britain, the Texas of Europe

1. Slightly isolated part of a continent.
2. Used to be someone else's.
3. Oil.
4. Weird blend of politeness and coerciveness. (Texans even more polite--yes that's right--shock horror.)
5. Ornery defiance.
6. Rather resolutely right wing.
7. Believing weird stuff (eg austerity).
8. Everything referred back to simulated state identity. British strawberries, Texan boots, cowboys, the monarchy...rodeos...
9. Always thinking about separating from Europe.
10. Would hate to be described in terms of something else in a phrase such as "Britain, the Texas of Europe."
11. Would be better as part of Mexico/France.

Keep going folks!

12. Mega wealth discrepancies.
13. Surprisingly broken infrastructure.
14. Tax and the lack thereof.
15. Punishment formats and beliefs.

Take it from a Brit who lives in Texas.

Where the analogy falls apart:
Food. Despite what it says about itself Britain is not Texas in that regard. This is where my stomach lucks out.

Irrational and Violent

Imagine if you're from Maine and you move to California. Imagine that for some reason welfare/benefits are different in CA -- which in some cases they are.

Imagine there's a CA rule that you can only get the benefits you got in Maine, at the Maine dollar amount.

Imagine how that couldn't even be suggested, because of the rules that govern a federation such as the USA.

Now consider that the Conservative Party of Britain is proposing only giving benefits at the amount an "immigrant" (aka someone from somewhere else in Europe) could expect from their state of origin.

Imagine you are an intrinsically brilliant person from say Lithuania who can speak three languages fluently.

Imagine how this proposal makes you feel.

Britain, the Texas of Europe, busy sawing itself off the tree that allows it to think of itself as somewhat high up and covered in leaves.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Michael Marder on Censorship

Michael Marder with a very powerful piece on censorship in Israel. Loyalty oaths may eventually be involved.

I remember in Colorado where all employees of CU had to sign a loyalty oath. Luckily I didn't have to, there was a loophole for foreigners, which I was at that point. The thing being, you weren't allowed to be a communist and employed by the state.

You Can Entangle Temporal Parts

...as well as entangling two things that are spatially separated!

A particle will behave according to its state in the future. And not because of some underlying system to which the entanglement of temporal parts can be reduced.

If that isn't beginning to convince you that time is in the aesthetic dimension I don't know what is.

Cliff!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Petroleum Manga

A wonderful review of a wonderful book by wonderful dark ecological Marina Zurkow. I put something in about plexiglass chairs.

Those petroleum manga are amazing because everything from sex toys to cellophane is made of something fossil fuelly.

Blankets and Manifestos and Björk and Kara Thompson

At first Björk and I were thinking of making her manifesto with me into a flag, and then a blanket, rather than printed on paper. Like maybe black velvet-like with blue and green thread. We liked the blanket idea because you could wrap it around yourself all cozy like and sensuous and you wouldn't be able to see all of it all at once (OOO!). Also, Björk thought that the collision of ancient and modern tech (blankets with email looking like email) would be awesome and I agreed.

So we got pretty keen on this blanket idea, and at once we started this blankie-off where we exchanged many many wordless emails with paintings and images of people with blankets. I sent Linus and Moomintroll and Björk sent Leonora Carrington, and it went on for some time hahaha...She won :)

Maybe one day...For now, here's Kara Thompson, who used to study at my previous job in California, with a great piece about blankets. So cool for me and Björk that she talks about them as media!