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

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Underground Ecocriticism Liveblog 24

Ben Woodard, “Between the Cyclone and the Vortex: Schellingian Thought for an Ecological Politics.”
Bennett: materialism + politics, bordering on the causal
suggesting a politics from the point of view of ontology
Materialism vs Hegel and Marx; Spinoza >> Deleuze
Particular relation of nature to politics << particular relation of thought to nature
>> Schelling
Bennett: powers are thing powers
strategic anthropomorphism
Can politics be considered an ecology?
Are her ontological reservoirs doing her job?
eg Bennett dismisses epistemological concerns as they are inherently self interested
But the question of how the self can act and thus forget the world with the use of epistemology
look at the strategic anthropomorphism: disregard for cold ontology and her dismissal of epistemology
anthropomorphism appears as a natural tendency that then justifies her politics
difference between powers and things
combinatorial politics: Spinoza
abandoning epistemology while having strategies within that monism is contradictory

Spinoza and the Politics of Renaturalization: Sharp
nature that works against typical uses and suggests a reservoir for addressing animal rights
ontological flatness: philanthropic posthumanism
endorsing Deleuzian procedure of equating renaturalization with joy
agency is affective; a transindividual network
affect is neither emotion nor not emotion (!) its function as a political force is troublesome
she does argue that analyzing causes is a condition of politics, and emerges out of it
but can't give the critical apparatus for this

Is is only that the Deleuzian form of ontology is not importable to politics
or that you can't stitch IS to OUGHT
Schelling: "I have become a Spinozist" but despite this his published remarks are more measured
Spinozism of physics, noting Spinoza's struggle with subject-object relation; notes Spinoza's struggle with dogmatism
Ignores "personality" (Schelling's term)
Praise and crit of Spinoza orbit his notion of necessary unity; totalizing creative and unthinkable

Critique of immanence, and the quietism that relates to Spinoza's radical mechanism
"sends thought into retirement"
For Spinoza god is perfect and creates from that, while for Schelling freedom preexists all being, even god 
mind and extension don't interact but merely mirror the affects that pass between

Schelling sees immanence punctuated by the transcendental; being escaping thought; this transcendental is not stable, but is marking a break between regimes of immanence. our thinking can transgress them but only to a particular extent
Spinoza, "just immanent being" (Schelling's term)

Like Jacobi Schelling charges Spinoza with nihilism, for making the will the source of freedom into a thing
Could be saved by importing dynamics
Less of a realist than Spinoza
freedom as the dynamism that is the creation of thought and nature, constrained by sedimented actuality
wrestling with time and absorption of time against constraints
what is a Schellingian politics

Iain Grant: priority of being over thinking; the unprethinkable--totally outside of thought non-concept that may or may not become thinkable
being precedes thinking must be part of eco politics (vs greenwashing)
can't be a cover for avoiding ought
Schelling is an idealist most concerned with the world

how can Bennett grant humans capacity for arbitration
How can Sharp imagine a polis without brim or edge
they can't account responsibility of being in a world of things

transcendental dynamism: freedom << nature as a kind of symmetry break
not an airy concept but gives grounds, an inaccessible process that enables existence
unprethinkable chaos
this may seem to make the world flat but can't account for the thick skin of time over each object
local engagement is not the only answer but not worthless
thought must be organized -- it can't be mechanical to the point of failure
we don't know the limits of thought
we only think in terms of objects; so thought occurs through us

ontology constrains politics but doesn't forbid
construction of actualities is required to even begin to think a problem as big as the ecological crisis
appeal to the activity of objects in order for thinking to happen

tech production << natural production so you can think more through latter

aesthetic problem of nature: cute versus ugly, view versus longevity
posthuman and inhuman aesthetics
and what nature means as force of all forces only deducible from things
we can't bathe in nature for political ends
in the end it will undo you
no system cropping out of learned heads will save us

ecological politics with inhuman aesthetics
choice between melancholic or distractive disaster
or how nature thinks through us
we are not ensuring human survival but thinkability

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