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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'm in Love with Wenderoth

Joe and I, check this, both use Roadrunner to teach the same thing: the withdrawal of the object. And we've been doing it for years.

Roadrunner so is philosophy by another means.



Another Ph.D Exam

Today, the marvelous Toby Bates. He is doing devices in Victorian children's narrative. You know, time machines and so on. Non-books in books. Toby is what you technically describe as a genius. A really pleasant one too.



Ecopoetics Conference CFP

This will be big.



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

GOOOd to be Alive

Some grad students are beginning to turn in their pieces for the grad class. It's very joyful. Performance pieces. Essays. I'm going to post some of Kevin's stuff, he calls it Hello Fukushima. Duskin Drum's glaciers. And this essay by Michael Martel on ... well I'm going to let him do his Ph.D. first. It's going to devastate.

OO Photography

By my friend Alan. One of his high school students did this photo of a dish of ice cream, kinda messed up. I wish I had it.

Hey Sorry the Class Cuts Out

WTF? Anyway one only loses about two minutes, in which I reiterate about Shelley and poetics and the future. It doesn't matter. The good stuff is the Keats stuff.

Romanticism 20: Keats and Shelley and OOO



OMG Allan Holdsworth's “Water on the Brain” starts this, which I was playing for a student who was curious about my Holdsworth hat. It has the best bass solo, by Jeff Berlin. And Chad Wackerman (great name for a drummer right?!).

Then I went into “What is an object?” and the class went quite well as you will hear...

I almost bought a version of the Wedgewood Portland Vase online. And I played a bit of Futurama.

Oh, This Version

(The Body Rock mix. How different can you get?)


This Makes Me Feel Nice since 1991

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Sound Crying

Hang out the flags a new world order’s on the way
Start singing now a song to greet the joyful day
Just when we thought
The time was right for celebrating
With music of the spheres
What’s this - another boat of fleeing refugees on
A sea of children’s tears

Once more the sound of crying
Is number one across the earth

We’re only men and women doing what we can
Sometimes I think that God is working to a plan
Then other times I swear that he is improvising
Discordant and remote
Another orphan baby in failed uprising
Another real bum note

Once more the sound of crying
Is number one across the earth

And if you’re listening up there
You could consider this a prayer
Well who am I to tell you how to run your business
Man, you could strike me blind
What kind of noise we gotta make down here
Before we destroy your peace of mind

Once more the sound of crying
Is number one across the earth

—Prefab Sprout

Guileless Gap

"In the post-meditation experience or meditation-in-action, when you are working with situations, there is no time to analyze, no time to hold on. At the same time, there is a gap. There is no time to refer back to oneself as “I am doing this,” no time to relate with me or ego awareness at all. There is just simple awareness. That awareness is regarded as the heart of meditation in action. It is compassion."
Trungpa Rinpoche




On the Reality of the Quantum State

Check it. Of course, this is music to my ears, since I've argued for a while that the only reason to cleave to the Standard Model is because you are a correlationist.

“I don't like to sound hyperbolic, but I think the word 'seismic' is likely to apply to this paper,” says Antony Valentini, a theoretical physicist specializing in quantum foundations at Clemson University in South Carolina....

Monday, May 28, 2012

Melting Objects

This is so what it's like to meditate (Sogyal Rinpoche):

"In meditation, be at ease, be as natural and spacious as possible.

"Slip quietly out of the noose of your habitual anxious self, release all grasping, and relax into your true nature. Think of your ordinary, emotional, thought-ridden self as a block of ice or a slab of butter left out in the sun. If you are feeling hard and cold, let this aggression melt away in the sunlight of your meditation. Let peace work on you and enable you to gather your scattered mind into the mindfulness of Calm Abiding, and awaken in you the awareness and insight of Clear Seeing. And you will find all your negativity disarmed, your aggression dissolved, and your confusion evaporating slowly like mist into the vast and stainless sky of your absolute nature."



Kant Thank You

Thank you everyone who helped me yesterday, whose names are too numerous to mention—but I'm writing you individually. Cameron Keys has a good observation in his comment on it:

Interesting choice of a passage, by the way.
Kant is presupposing the infinite universe of Newton. Assuming that our milky way is part of a milky way of milky ways, and so on, this "represents our Imagination with its entire freedom from bounds, and with it Nature, as a mere nothing in comparison with the Ideas of Reason..." This is an interesting moment, when Reason reduces Nature to "a mere nothing." Wow.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

I Can't Find this Kant

Help guys. I need to find the page range for Kant's analytic of the sublime in The Critique of Judgment ed. Pluhar (Indiana). In particular, I want the part dealing with infinity. I'm finishing my essay for Gerry Canavan and Kim Stanley Robinson and this is the one missing piece.

Undeath in the Ghost of Bushes: Postmodernism and Environmentality (mp3)



Respondent: Allison Carruth. Q&A: Allison Carruth, Karen Jacobs, John Crossley, me. Excellent audience members. Nice talk afterwards, in Tosca. There was a fun bit where I totally screwed up my words, and laughed. And also moments where people smiled at my berserkness. Here is a photo of me doing the talk. Notice how calm and together I am:



BTW, I should have said Sarah Lewison, not Levinson, on guerilla gardening.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Great Outdoors

"Imagine you were living in a house on the top of a mountain which was itself at the top of the whole world. Suddenly the entire structure of the house, which limited your view, just falls away and you can see all around you, both outside and inside. But there is not any “thing” to see; what happens has no ordinary reference whatsoever; it is total, complete, unprecedented, perfect seeing. This is how it feels when Rigpa is directly revealed."
Sogyal Rinpoche



Talk in SF Tomorrow

At the ALA in the Hyatt Regency, Embarcadero. By the feel of things I'm gonna regret leaving my jackets out of my luggage.

My talk is called "Undeath in the Ghost of Bushes"!

It's about ecology and it's sort of Nonhuman Turn talk part 2.

I think it's at 5pm.


Romanticism 19: Thomas de Quincey



Drugs, consumerism, possibility spaces, Kant on opium...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Joe Wenderoth's

You know the more I stay here, the more I admire it. It's a very creative space, this house Joe and Romana have. For some reason the engineer guy who lived here before had a thing about sinks. So he put three in the kitchen, and there are two in the guest room. The kitchen has granite. There are shelves with books on them and fairy lights. Prayer flags.

Bennett, Jordan, Morton in Randall Honold's Class

A good summary of what happened.

Cool Boredom

Located underneath the seat of your anxiety:

"Boredom is part of the discipline of meditation practice. This type of boredom is cool boredom, refreshing boredom. Boredom is necessary and you have to work with it. It is constantly very sane and solid, and very boring at the same time. But it’s refreshing boredom. The discipline then becomes part of one’s daily expression of life. Such boredom seems to be absolutely necessary. Cool boredom."
Trungpa Rinpoche



Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Staying at Joe Wenderoth's

I'm so happy to be spending the final two weeks of my stay in Davis with two of its most imaginative and creative people: Joe Wenderoth, then David Robertson.

Joe is an astounding poet and you must read Letters to Wendy's and The Holy Spirit of Life. He is a pusher of envelopes and a reducer of me to tears of laughter. Does the same in person.



Romanticism 18: John Clare (MP3)



Syd Barrett! Existence! Wounds! Whimsical horror! Class! Death! Rhyme! And robots!

Something You Don't Know about Priii

--is that the plural of Prius?

They have ridiculously good acceleration. It's because electric motors obviously only have one moving part.

Now you know why I really drive one...



ET Sighted

At the Vrin store opposite the Sorbonne. Thanks Angie!



The Ever-Popular Network Thing

HT Cliff Gerrish. I haven't seen it yet, and somewhat arrogantly I think I know how it's going to go...“We don't need ontology anymore, in fact, ontology might be A Bad Thing. What we need is to understand stuff—so here is some stuff I learned by participating in the last two hundred years of avant garde/experimental/leading edge art, which in the West is predominantly constructivist. Here is some science that underwrites it.”

We shall see if I'm correct.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hypnotic Speed

"There is a problem in thinking that you are supposed to be advancing in your practice all the time. You don’t have to constantly be on the road. If you have a flat tire, that is also part of the journey. Ambition makes you feel that you are not doing anything. There seems to be a hypnotic quality to ambition and speed, so that you feel that you are standing still just because you want to go so fast. You might actually be getting close to your goal."
Trungpa Rinpoche



Romanticism 17: Charlotte Smith



Goth! An ethereal realm just below beauty but above horror and disgust. Goth ecology.

Monday, May 21, 2012

OOO Class 8: Materialisms (Video, MP3)





We got way stuck into quantum theory from the first five minutes on...

Alan Watts Latour Litany

HT Jordan Peacock:

What, then, is Life; what is Reality, that it may inspire us with devotion?" If we regard it as a particular way of living or as a particular kind of existence and accord our devotion to that, what are we doing? We are revering its expression in great personality, in the behavior of those whom we consider "real persons." But here is the snag. When we revere real personality in others, we are liable to become mere imitators; when we revere it as an ideal for ourselves, here is the old trouble of wanting to make yourself great. It is all a question of pride, for if you revere Life and Reality only in particular types of personal living, you deny Life and Reality to such humble things as, for instance, saltshakers, specks of dust, worms, flowers, and the great unregenerate masses of the human race. We are reminded of the Pharisee's prayer, thanking God that He had not made him sinful like other men. But a Life, a Reality, a Tao that can be at once a Christ, a Buddha, a Lao-tzu, and an ignorant fool or a worm, this is something really mysterious and wonderful and really worth devotion if you consider it for a while.

Buddha on Withdrawal

"The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground."

Rice Webpage

Here's what we've got so far.



Help Me Finish This Essay!

All my books are in transit between Davis and Houston.

I'm trying to a find a page number in a decent edition of The Fellowship of the Ring.

It's the part (I think it's part 2 chapter 2) where Gandalf says “He that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”

You can email me or just post a comment here.

DIY

One of the objections to OOO, I think, is purely institutional. Not even to do with the content of institutions, but with their dynamics as systems, with some human psychology thrown in as part of the basic energy that circulates in them.

Systems, like other beings, exist in a state of tension between inconsistency (existence) and consistency (absorption into some other system). To maintain the system, there must be some kind of constant reinvention-while-remaining-the-same: inertia.

It seems as if some scholars, in particular those emerging with freshly minted Ph.D.s, are keen to establish themselves, quite naturally, within the inertial system of the humanities. This involves, in the main, triangulating oneself in relation to one's main adviser and one's secondary sources. These sources tend to be Elders of the tradition in which one seems to find oneself. Thus when I started out, it was acceptable to triangulate myself via my main teacher and Derrida or Marx. But not so much Deleuze and Guattari. It was 1992, and they were not yet considered Elders, but rather disruptive brothers who might pull things in a very different direction. This was difficult for me, a huge fan of their work.

This seems to be happening with OOO. A small group of siblings versus the Oedipal tension of triangulation. (One of the triangulation points can now be, but need not be, Deleuze and Guattari, rather ironically, for those who know their work as an assault on Oedipus.)

Our other sin appears to be to do with not-being-French. Distance is required for accurate triangulation, and French texts supply this for us Anglo-Americans, just as brie triangulates jack cheddar.


Alex Reid's Computers and Writing Keynote

Looks good!

Backwash

I'm up and walking, sitting, drinking coffee at half past six am. What is this rush? In part it's my body on autopilot—there has been a lot of a adrenalin these last few weeks, buying and selling a house in record time (six weeks) will do that to you.

But behind this, there is a “flight from myself” going on, as Heidegger would put it. Transition churns up basic anxiety, your best friend who accompanies you everywhere. It's an interesting acid, it burns through joy, hope, fear, anger, sadness, everything. I am propelled by this across Earth. With my GPS on my phone I feel like a voyager, like De Quincey setting out across London following the stars. A flaneur.

My Volume Piece

Very well edited. When I got to the part about chocolates, it made me laugh aloud! It's about sadness as an ecological affect.



Saturday, May 19, 2012

Lynn Keller on Hyperobjects

...and Evelyn Reilly's Styrofoam. It's a great looking talk. I'm sorry I couldn't go to two panels at once. I am unable to achieve quantum coherence at this scale I'm at in this life.

"Ethical claims can come from anywhere"

A great post on ethics from Scu at Critical Animal.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Relationscapes

Oh sure, we may not see eye to eye on the ontology, but what a pleasure it is to read Erin Manning's incredibly well put together essay on Dorothy Napangardi. Having just written my first essay on Aboriginal art, I see exactly where Erin is coming from on this. I wish I'd read it before I wrote. It's very evocative of the art itself.

Houston: Some First Impressions

Messy. After years of carefully regulated and manicured suburbia, this is an excellent quality.

Delicious. I'm going to “burst smilingly” like the Duke of Gloucester in King Lear.

Friendly. Good humans seem to populate this place.

Humid. My flaking skin and spasming lungs are enjoying it. Each grain of pollen is encapsulated in a water droplet, for my security.

Artistic. We are literally around the corner from the Rothko Chapel, etc. etc. etc.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

This Is Not My Beautiful House





The Loss of a Garden

Oh no, I have to say goodbye to my garden. It was so good and I've always always loved gardens. Letting things grow. Not a drop of pesticide was used.


































Monday, May 14, 2012

The #OOO Hashtag

I pointed out to Ian Bogost earlier today that if you follow #OOO, you get all kinds of amazing things, spontaneously. Some of them, like one in a thousand, are a smart remark about us lot, but the other 1999 are wonderful examples of things: intentional objects, hates, loves, flirtations, physical objects and so on and so on. Here are just a few I pulled just now:

https://twitter.com/#!/sophieepughh/status/202074532725526528

https://twitter.com/#!/gale_henry/status/202059974719967233

https://twitter.com/#!/chloesingletonx/status/202021861532504064

"You're One Click Away from a REAL Education"

Apparently this is one of the ads that comes up when you watch the OOO class on UStream. When one of the students pointed this out, much hilarity ensued. I wish I'd still been recording.

Trucks!

Three huge one I think are involved in this move. The first took the Mazda today. My son Simon got to operate the hydraulic lift that elevated the van to the top level of the truck: pretty much the ideal act of a 3-year-old.



Romanticism 16: The Eolian Harp (MP3)



...materialism, immanence, psychology, and Spinoza, and all that jazz.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Graham Harman: "Everything Is Not Connected" (MP3)

Nice title Graham!

This Is a Good Adrian Paragraph

From his #c21nonhuman wrapup:

"I heard rumors repeatedly of a blogosphere ravenously watching and waiting for the two camps to come to blows, to have some kind of showdown. While that never happened, courageous voices poked their heads to say “hey!” from time to time when they saw openings for a deepened mutual engagement. The “heys” can easily be misinterpreted: “why are we fighting?” can sound like “why are you fighting?”, “why are we (still) doing this?” (for instance, holding such conferences at all) can sound like a dismissive reply to “why are you doing this to us (generating anxiety in an anxiety-driven nation/world)?”, pokes at professional jealousy can sound just like professional jealousy, digs at academic citation practices can just sound smug. In the end, I most admired those who spoke from their heart (eat yours out if that sounds trite)."



Ivakhiv on My Talk

He did a better job than I did I think! He gives a good flavor of the Q&A too.

One thing I enjoyed a lot was that there was a lot of laughter.



Nonhuman Turn Wrapup

...a nice one by Adrian Ivakhiv. It was very nice to meet him.

I posted a comment whose second paragraph was this:

Ian and I are still scratching our heads a bit, having launched no criticisms in our talks or in our discussion at the conference, of anyone. We did hear some criticisms of OOO, in several talks, and an announcement by the organizer that this was not an OOO conference. But I can’t for the life of me think of a moment at which we did likewise. Hey ho.






Romanticism 13: Wordsworth (MP3)



Sorry this is out of sync!

Romanticism 15: Hegel (MP3)

Romanticism 14: Kubla Khan (MP3)

In Dialogue with John Protevi

...the master of political affect, who had the same surge of excitement/adrenalin as I did when reading the "Hug the Monster" piece on global warming (see below). Here are his questions concerning how climate scientists should speak at the next big press conference, and my crude answers:

1) how to mobilize affect even while respecting the limits to precise micro-level prediction attendant on nonlinearity? ("just exactly how high are the seas going to be in 2100? we really don't know exactly, but here's a range of values with probabilities for each" doesn't exactly grab people's attention).

ANSWER: "Unpredictably violent. Imagine not an angry reaction to fossil fuel burning, but a deranged psychopathic one. The unknown factor is why it's so scary."

2) how to convince scientists to issue sober doomsday warnings?

ANSWER: "Reasoning with people has the adverse and surprising (for you) effect of insulting their intelligence. It also makes people feel they have to change their beliefs (much as you don't like to hear your ideas described as beliefs). You have to walk people through a series of experiences that are psychologically equivalent to accepting global warming."

3) how to publicize those warnings in a way that avoids denial / panic, and that can be channeled into constructive collective action?

ANSWER: "If you care about someone, you just help them, no matter what. Frame your warning in terms of caring, not about abstractions ("collective civilization" was mentioned on ABC but sounds too science fictiony), but about human beings--you and your neighbors"






Saturday, May 12, 2012

Hug the Monster

A new rhetorical strategy from climate scientists, congruent with what I've been saying: time to freak, in public! And make people freak, as much as possible!

I think that might have been my favorite thing that plopped out of my mouth unbidden in the Q&A at #c21nonhuman: “I know, I should have talked about love, not fear.” Happily it got a big laugh.

Bambification

Some more words about Bambi. We Lit and Media types are Bambis because we take criticism as about one's style in toto, and we take that to be about our ego. This is not less rigorous than philosophy, but more so, and in a bad way. Nothing is allowed go get away scot free. Whatever is said is taken as a symptom of someone's ego, as ego adornment.

What is interesting about people who grew up in philosophy rather than in English is that they are somewhat prepared not to take things quite so personally.

Of course, this doesn't mean they don't have emotion. They do, but they might be more tolerant of disagreement and debate.

We Bambis however are paid to analyze the total style of a poem or other artefact.

Now again, imagine Derrida on Twitter. Imagine you have just called him a name, or painted him with a style—imagine how much glee you will feel when he reacts frustrated.

More Intuitions on Hegel

“that clumsy and nauseating charlatan, that pernicious person, who completely disorganized and ruined the minds of a whole generation”

“a commonplace, inane, loathsome, repulsive and ignorant charlatan, who with unparalleled effrontery compiled a system of crazy nonsense that was trumpeted abroad as immortal wisdom by his mercenary followers”

Schopenhauer

If that's too intense for you, try this very simple and devastating one by Steven Shaviro:

...it has long seemed to me that any modern philosophy needs to begin with a counter-defense of Kant against Hegel. In the terms of SR, evidently, Kant is a weak correlationist while Hegel is a strong correlationist. Hegel’s argument against Kant is very much a form of correlationist argument — it is basically Stove’s Gem — to affirm something is to posit it and thence to know it. Hegel is simply saying that, by thinking that there are things outside of our thought, we are thereby bringing them into our thought. This is precisely the argument that SR most strongly rejects. 

Imagine Derrida Was a Blogger

Apropos of nothing, my dad played violin on “Who Killed Bambi”—I was proud of him for playing with the Pistols. 

At #c21nonhuman, one of us recalled an online spat last year during which OOO was brought to task, again, for its sensitive members, as the result of some responses to “questions.” The recaller expressed puzzlement as to why on earth OOO'ers would have reacted that way to a list of innocent questions.

I think this represents a kind of sympathy failure. I'm now seeing on Facebook, which happily I'm not on, a discussion that seems to be playing to what we OOO'ers supposed was the case at the time, that there was more than a thread of somewhat sadistic glee that aggressive people had been outed.

The name for this glee is passive aggression, mixed with a bit of Schadenfreude—everyone likes a good old rubberneck of others' pain. It has to do with the new media in which these things are staged.

Online whatever brings a whole new dimension of something or other to the way we interact. What it does, I think, is to prevent the kind of slowness assumed when we read books and put them away on the shelf, think about who wrote them, and then maybe meet them several months later. I'm not saying that the internet makes things metaphysically present. It's more like it supplements books and papers in a way that short-circuits something. There is more room for projection, because there is less time for things to percolate. It works with human brains in ways that bring forth the amygdala and its dopamine and fight or flight and so forth.

For my money, the online thing supplements the usual thing by adding a phenomenological layer of sincerity to it all. Which is different from saying that people are sincere, but rather that people are inescapably shrink wrapped in themselves, and this becomes obvious the more online fora propagate.

Sometimes I've seen live debate go this way—art historians are often prone to it. But it happens now in all kinds of extra settings whose contours perhaps we haven't quite caught up with, or in particular I haven't.

The trouble is that losing your cool is so obvious now, and we mustn't ever lose our cool, right?!

Here's the thing. Imagine a philosopher. This philosopher is used to the cut and thrust of debate—I remember, having been brought up in the more Bambi-like areas of the humanities (media, English), how shocked I was when I first encountered that about 20 years ago: “I'm not satisfied with your point on x, but I accept your point on y.”

I had thought that attacks on positions were attacks on people, which several on the discussion, and on the current Facebook thread on last year's discussion, seem to think too, from the looks of it. They seem to think that scoring a hit because you ruffled some feathers is a worthwhile thing to do and has some kind of scholarly meaning.

What we are dealing with is something like a Lyotardian differend. There is a pure asymmetry between the way the expectations work between the media studies and English type of a scholar, and the philosophy type of a scholar. 

Imagine how frustrated philosophers can get about this, especially if they have been sensitized by many of these “just questions.” I recall Levi on Facebook a few weeks ago, metaphorically beating his head against a wall, because some dissing of OOO as opposed to Marxism had gone down.

Imagine Derrida was a blogger—by the way, I'm happy to be thought a deconstructor, Derrida liked my first book and so forth, so don't get in a muddle; okay, imagine it's Deleuze, with whom The Ecological Thought was happily compared, by one of its readers (was it that obvious?). At such a juncture, he might be tempted to write “As I have fucking said about a thousand fucking times on this fucking blog, rhizomes...” 

Therein is the trouble you see. It's easy to “ask innocent questions,” frustrate people and then run away laughing at the frustration. Here is a nice Blake poem about it:

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears
Night and morning with my tears,
And I sunned it with smiles
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine -

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning, glad, I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

Blake is putting you in the mindset of a psychopathic god who wants his creation to suffer, and passively aggressively arranges it. But he might also be anticipating the ways in which online communication can end up like a kind of road rage.

On the original post, Aaron commented:

All good points, Tim. But take it from an insider: media studies is not always so Bambi-like. Or if it is, it's often in the manner depicted here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXCUBVS4kfQ 

Yes, that was indeed my point. It's just that Godzilla is more honest. 

An OOO Allegory

I'm finishing my essay for Jeffrey Cohen. I wrote it partly as an allegory about how OOO came to be. It's about the ocean and what lies beneath it. Kant discovers this ocean.

What seemed to be the depth of an ocean of reason is for us a small region of appearances that flow from things.

Maybe this is the threat of OOO--at least I'm arguing that it's really upside down, a true reversal of correlationism, as if what seemed to be below the scary cold ocean waves was really up above looking down into a child's pail of water.



Hegel Anxiety

I was teaching him today. I have this intuition about Hegel. His anxiety about the fissure in reality Kant detects is expressed in his constant stance of "this is already figured out"--you know he knows how it will go from the opening pages of the Phenomenology.

The idealist move--"I am thinking the gap, so there is no gap, I know the thing in itself"--seems suddenly to me to be an expression of anxiety.

What Lacan says about him, that Hegel was the most sublime of hysterics, makes some sense to me today in a new light.



Friday, May 11, 2012

Jordan Peacock on #c21nonhuman

An excellent narrative, I'd wager. And some excellent thoughts.

If You Want to Talk Causality

I'm having a discussion or two about my OOO topic of choice, causality.

If you want to talk about it with me, can I suggest first that you study quantum theory?

Any contemporary theory of causality worth its salt needs to account for the stuff that happens down there.

I recommend an actual QT textbook. Einstein's favorite was David Bohm, Quantum Theory (1954), so you can start there.

Read that first then get back to me.



Heads of State

Thanks to the magic of this thing called "the Internet" my dear old friend Dave Hallett just wrote me, from the valley of Oxenford. Dave and I were briefly in a band he called Heads of State (good name). He was a terrific drummer and had a soft spot, as do I, for Bill Bruford. I'm so happy he did that!



Levi Bryant on Climate Change

Bingo.



Creation Is a Rare Form of Destruction

Dismantling my office, I'm happy with how willing I now seem to be simply to chuck stuff in the bin. It wasn't always the way--I often clung to things like a waif with a spotted hanky.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Move Me

The movers have to stick to a certain schedule. This is mostly because there is a mass exodus from California right now. Even if we can't move into our new place on exactly the right day, the movers are now obliged to do their thing. Very nearly was the minivan loaded on a giant truck today--except it was the wrong sort of truck and the van would've broken it. D'oh!



Prince Charles Does the Weather

Somehow this is perfect. What could be more evocative performance of the collapse of the horizon than to have an heir to the throne as the weatherman? HT Alex Pruteanu.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Danger of Bitterness

Watch out scholars!

In a sad mood the disciples then asked the Jetsun to preach for them the sufferings of the asuras.

In response, he sang:

Great are asura's sufferings.
Misled by malignant thoughts,
To all they bring misfortunes
Knowing not their true Self-mind
Their deeds are self-deceiving,
Their feelings coarse, their senses crude,
Deeming all to be their foes,
Not even for a moment
Can they know the truth.
Evil by nature, they can hardly bear a loss;
Harder is benevolence for them to cherish.
Blinded by the Karma-of-Belligerence,
Never can they take good counsel.

All nature such as this is caused
By seeking pleasures for oneself
And bearing harmful thoughts towards others.
Pride, favouritism, vanity and hatred
Are the evil Karmic forces
That drag one to a lower birth,
Making sinful deeds more easy.

Ripening Karma brings (to them)
An instinctive hatred;
Failing to distinguish right from wrong,
They can hardly be helped by any means.
Bear, oh my disciples, this in your minds
And meditate with perseverance all your lives!




Review of Me and Jane Bennett

...in the LA Review of Books, very well put together.



Monday, May 7, 2012

Why Can We Have Physical Laws and Paradigms? Because of Real Things

Take it away Bill Benzon.

Your Confused Mind Is a Sensual Object

Imagine you are sitting in front of a glass door that leads out into your garden, looking through it, gazing out into space. It seems as though there is nothing between you and the sky, because you cannot see the surface of the glass. You would bang your nose if you got up and tried to walk through, thinking it wasn’t there. But if you touch it you will see at once that there is something there that holds your fingerprints, something that comes between you and the space outside.

In the same manner, the ground of the ordinary mind prevents us from breaking through to the skylike nature of our mind, even if we can still have glimpses of it. We have to break out of the ground of the ordinary mind altogether, to discover and let in the fresh air of Rigpa.
--Sogyal Rinpoche


OOO Class 6: Causality

This was an absolute humdinger of a class. With an incredible presentation by Mrinmoyee Bhattacharya.




Video feed broke up about half way through, but at a convenient point--I recapped and nothing was lost. You've always got the MP3 in any case. Part 2:


Live stream videos at Ustream

Darius Kazemi on Alien Phenomenology

He likes it! I don't agree with him about carpentry however. I think the way carpentry works is by tapping into how causality works. In this sense, it's deeper than art, in the same way that kitsch is deeper than beauty. You'll have to listen to my latest class podcast to figure that out : )

Rare Forms

The Challenger space shuttle, according to Jon McKenzie's piece at The Nonhuman Turn, became obsessed with some lines from Nietzsche.

Health is a rare form of sickness. 

From which it hypothesized:

Reality is a rare form of disaster.

I continue:

Life is  a rare form of death. 
Beauty is a rare form of kitsch. 
The Mona Lisa is a rare form of Michael's Christmas ornament. 
Art is a rare form of carpentry. 
Tragedy is a rare form of comedy. 
Da-sein is a rare form of objects. 
Language is a rare form of painting. 
Derrida is a rare form of OOO. 

Longchenpa on Phenomenological Sincerity

Comedy is ontologically prior to tragedy, I think you'll find:

Since everything is but an illusion, perfect in being what it is, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one might as well burst out laughing!
— Longchenpa

This somehow made its way into the OOO class today. 

Onion Anxiety

Jane Bennett showed me this. Chimes with my Nonhuman Turn talk.



OOO Class Livestream


Streaming by Ustream

"Chairs Suck. All of Them."

HT Lauren Klein of Georgia Tech. Read to the end. It's pretty OOO. If you've sat for hours on a meditation cushion you'll intuitively understand how chairs are agents.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Punchline of My Nonhuman Turn Talk

At least that's according Graham Harman and me:

Facts are nothing on the face of things: what a perfect OOO insight. Facts, the factical, facticity, are on the side of illusion and shadow play, precisely because there are real things, real things that they don't touch

Martin Heidegger Corner

On standing in front of a tree and wondering about it. Thanks to Enowning:

What is the use of such questions concerning a state of affairs which everybody will in fairness admit immediately, since it is clear as day to all the world that we are standing on the earth and, in our example, face-to-face with a tree? But let us not slip too hastily into this admission, let us not accept and take this "clear as day" too lightly. For we shall forfeit everything before we know it, once the sciences of physics, physiology, and psychology, not to forget scientific philosophy, display the panoply of their documents and proofs, to explain to us that what we see and accept is properly not a tree but in reality a void, thinly sprinkled with electric charges here and there that race hither and yon at enormous speeds. It will not do to admit, just for the scientifically unguarded moments, so to speak, that, naturally, we are standing face to face with a tree in bloom, only to affirm the very next moment as equally obvious that this view, naturally, typifies only the naïve, because pre-scientific, comprehension of things. For with that affirmation we have conceded something whose consequences we have hardly considered, and that is: that those sciences do in fact decide what of the tree in bloom may or may not be considered valid reality.

Friday, May 4, 2012

They Are Here: My Nonhuman Turn Talk





Here it is! With lively Q&A.

Talking Heads video: 



They Are Here

"I Provide the Evil"

Sadly there is no readily available video of Peter Cook as Satan and Dudley Moore as the hapless Stanley Moon who sells his soul for seven wishes, so this part of a transcript will have to do. It puts me in mind of my talk this afternoon for some reason:

Scene: the Devil and Mr. Moon up a tree. The Devil has a jar full of wasps. They are observing a group of hippies communing below them.

MooreI thought you were gonna make me happy.
CookI never promised you that. that's up to you.
I just gave you 7 wishes for one measly little soul.
I'm only doing me job.
MooreYour job? 




Making people miserable?
CookNo. giving them the chance to be happy.
It's god's idea.
MooreDon't confuse me with religion.
CookYou see, his theory, and I'm not knocking it, is that in order for people to be really good, they have to make a free choice .. and choose good.
Look. (Hippies playing fifes in a field)

I'm a vital part of his plan. [grins]
I provide the evil. 

[Wasps buzzing, hippies fighting them off] 


Moore[Laughs] ah, you rotten, nasty-minded troublemaker.
Ohh.
Those nice, gentle flower people grooving along quietly, and you have to come and mess it up.
CookYou could do something about it.
MooreHow?
CookWhy don't you give them one of your wishes?
MooreWell, because they're mine, and I've only got 5 of them left.
I'm not falling for any more of your tricks, thank you very much.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Erin Manning on OOO

At The Nonhuman Turn, Erin Manning has fired a shot across our bows, us OOOers I mean.

The mishearing is provocative. I'm not sure if I'm going to intervene yet. But it seems to me that what happens is that, hamstrung by the metaphysics of presence, process philosophy thinks OOO posits relations as somehow outside of things. Things are really present, and processes are really present, so relations must be outside things for OOO, which means that it's evil.

In sum, processes are present in a better way than present objects.

The difference is that OOO is not a metaphysics of presence. For us, process philosophy just is reductionism.

I'm Having a Funny (Nonhman) Turn

I guess Richard Grusin is introducing this shebang right now. There is an awful lot of media in this room. Displays of Earth, woodland reflected in mirrored elevator doors, letters suspended in something like a tokonomo display on the left hand side. I'm guessing there are about 500 people in here. Displays of sculpture and photography and computer animation by (in part) Erin Manning and Brian Massumi.

Any Color You Like

This accommodation used to be a Ford factory where they made Model T's until 1927. Talk about nonhumans! It has a certain brutalist charm. Now I have slept both in a car dealership (postindustrial I guess) and a car factory.



A Materialist and an Object-Oriented Philosopher Walk into a Bar

This is the title of Jane Bennett's talk here tomorrow. But it also happened, to me and Ian and Steven Shaviro, as we walked into what turned out to be the pleasantly right around the corner-ness of Von Trier, which has a good beer garden. A different glass or tankard for each beer. A multiplicity of forms!



Buddhism and Phenomenological Sincerity

Check it, you nihilists:

"If you are trying to attain Joe Schmidt-hood, egohood, it is problematic. Joe Schmidt-hood is stubborn, aggressive, and speedy. On the other hand, Joe Schmidt-ness is quite reasonable; such a Joe Schmidt is not looking to attain Joe Schmidt-hood at all, but rather a could-not-care-less existence. That Joe Schmidt has a natural sense of dignity.

At that point, Joe Schmidt or Karen Doe has achieved some genuine understanding of him or herself. It may not be a full-blown accomplishment, but at that point, Joe and Karen begin to relax and feel good about themselves. Step by step, the situation evolves and becomes cheerful and humorous at the same time. Karen and Joe enjoy life. They eat good food, they enjoy how they dress, how they walk, how they talk, how they live."
Chogyam Trungpa


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Talk this Friday

So my talk at The Nonhuman Turn will be about the video by Toni Basil of Talking Heads' "Crosseyed and Painless." It has always haunted me. I now think I know why.



Ultraviolet and X-Ray

I'm so happy Ben Woodard is in the Prismatic Ecologies volume. He's doing ultraviolet (aiding evolution and harming life) and I'm doing X-rays or gamma rays, whatever you prefer.



Mind as Object, Oh Yeah

"There is a famous saying: “If the mind is not contrived, it is spontaneously blissful, just as water, when not agitated, is by nature transparent and clear.”

I often compare the mind in meditation to a jar of muddy water: The more we leave the water without interfering or stirring it, the more the particles of dirt will sink to the bottom, letting the natural clarity of the water shine through. The very nature of the mind is such that if you only leave it in its unaltered and natural state, it will find its true nature, which is bliss and clarity."
Sogyal Rinpoche