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

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Harvard Talk Intro

For Monday. It's for the school of international relations, hence the first two sentences:

What could be more international than thinking about the current ecological emergency? And would could have more to do with relations? Since ecology just is the thinking of relationships between beings. Very large scale phenomena that I call hyperobjects are now forcing us to think these relations on spatial and temporal scales that far exceed habitual modes. The beings that we are concerned with also include beings in the far future, beings that are not human, and beings that coexist with us in a radical symbiotic sense. Some of these beings are not obviously sentient, some of them are not strictly alive.

Humans have now arrived at a cognitive, ethical, political and ontological crisis because of the increasingly obvious existence of nonhumans that populate social space—that have occupied it, to use that potent verb, from the start, that did not exist in some pristine Nature outside of social space. Some of these beings are so large—biosphere, climate—that we find ourselves on the inside of them, like Jonah in the Whale. This discovery has powerful ethical and political consequences. In this talk, I'm going to walk through some of the qualities of this emergency in which we find ourselves. In particular, I'm going to focus on how not only has Nature as a thing “over yonder” evaporated, but that what is called present is also now untenable according to current habits and specifications. This talk is in roughly two parts. In the first I'm going to explore the sheer fact of coexistence, by investigating melancholia, which I consider to be a default mode of sentient being. In the second part, I'm going to talk about the emergence into social, psychic and philosophical space of what I call hyperobjects.

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