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

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Punctum Records

This is real. What an imaginative idea!

Trungpa Rinpoche at Harvard

Thank you Dirk. Amazing. Listen to the lines about meditation that Carolyn Gimian reads. I know all these types except for the chap at the far right, who is the president of Naropa University.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Hyperobjects: Red Ice (video)

...by Chris Wainwright. One of my favorite images in the book.


Red Ice by Chris Wainwright from Cape Farewell on Vimeo.

I Have a Sparkly Death Ring

Dark ecology ring. It has black diamonds in it, which may be extraterrestrial in origin. Thank you Kate!


The Correct Answer is 0

“[H]ow many young men and women across this country didn’t get to accomplish what Wendy Davis just accomplished because they weren’t born?”
--Rick Perry

Answer: None whatsoever. How many people who don't exist didn't get to shop at Sears yesterday?

(Aside from the absurd spectral fantasy image of a fetus filibustering the Texas senate...)

Two Cities Converse

Mattin (Noise and Capitalism) as Stockholm talking to Kobe Mathys. "Stockholm Meets Brussels."

"How is your river?"

Wow.





Tuned City

...Brussels. It's already really extraordinary. If you are here make your way to Centre Rosocha for a talk by Hillel Schwartz, followed by Christoph Cox.

OOO moment: in her intro Felicity Ford said "Thanks to the city of Brussels for all the sounds."

These sound artists and scholars are very contemplative.



Thursday, June 27, 2013

Patriarchy 101

"The louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done."
--Texas "Governor" Rick Perry on the successful filibuster of the assault on abortion clinics

Quantum Plants

Thank you Cliff. I read the first few articles on this topic in Nature a while back and they convinced me  that quantum phenomena can be present in all kinds of systems, some of which are much bigger than you might expect. It's just that you need to become quite subtle to see them. In this case, laser pulses.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Proofs Sent

Hyperobjects proofs that is. The lucky thing is, since I had done so many talks based on it, there were not that many mistakes. But things can creep in and there were some artifacts from the copy edit process--one of the pitfalls of modern production.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rice Symposium This Fall

Don't forget to submit your paper proposal! You will be fabulously rewarded. Always good people and good entertainment and good here.



Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Horrible Dribble

Different books have different forms and necessarily different ways of being written. Part of writing a book is attuning yourself to how the book seems to want to be written. You figure this out as you go along.

For some reason Dark Ecology wants to be written in small trickles, like the coffee that comes out of that bloke's mouth in Mullholland Drive...

Rick Elmore on Realist Magic

It is here at Environmental Critique. Thanks to Christine Skolnik for showing it to me! Rick is a very intelligent (in my humble view) scholar, and I'm looking forward to reading it carefully.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Black Metallish Image

...of oil destroying things:


English Is a Creole

re: the recent immigration "debates" in the House.

I hate to break it to you, people trying to promote forcing English to be the official language of the USA. But English isn't actually a language. That's why it's so effective as a language! It's a creole.

I don't mean pidgin forms of English. I mean all English is a creole. It's a kluge of other tongues, heavy on nouns imported wholesale from everywhere. And very low on rules (if there are any). Various Germans tried desperately to impose some in the eighteenth century, to little effect.

So you can walk into your local drugstore and say "Two packets of gum, an ounce of smack, this jar of sunscreen and some Twizzlers please." It's designed for trading, namely, for exchange between different races and cultures. It's designed for long lists of objects...

Forcing people to be proficient in English is a fantasy--there is no such thing as proficiency in English! Because English is not a language. So you can be Sarah Palin--face it Chomsky, there is empirical proof that generative grammar does not inhere in brains!

Discuss.

Massage as a Path to Sanity

Very kindly my new friend Tedd got me a massage this week. It was the best one I've had since 1995 in Boulder. Really powerful. It became clear, as I was having quite a bad day, that the physical body has, as I've experienced a little bit and thought quite a bit for some time, a number of paths to greater sanity within it.

Personally I would explain this by saying that the masseur kneaded my channels quite a bit, and that the synergy between the subtle body and the physical body got reset. Put me back in my body--the bad day was to do with Intellectual Stuff (never a good thing--we should be paid danger money!).

When you meditate and all that, you begin to realize how the physical body, and physical objects in general, are a bit of a miracle. Just basic "gross" bliss (as Rinpoche would put it), what an extraordinary thing.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Simple Request

Adrenal glands, do you have to be so productive? Does there have to be so much adrenalin? I mean I'm only proofreading Hyperobjects here.

Pacifica Interview Today

This was an awful lot of fun. C.S Soong is a genius at his job. It airs at noon pacific time.


Against the Grain on Pacifica Radio airs on KPFA 94.1 FM in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, and on KFCF 88.1 FM in Fresno and California's Central Valley. It also broadcasts worldwide via kpfa.org.

Proofs Checked

The random citation check indicated that everything was as perfect as it could be.


This book is semiotically the shortest I've ever written at about 76000 words. But it won't be physically the shortest. With the color insert and index it will be about 220 pages. The press has nice big margins too.






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International Perspectives on Feminist Ecocriticism

Just out! With an essay by me on Barad, Irigaray and objects.


If you want to get into trouble, do write about Irigaray!




Karl Steel on Genes

This is very good. It gets to the heart of the matter, which is that DNA is a physical and a semiotic entity, a strange loop moreover in which the boundary between physical and semiotic can't be drawn in advance.

Hyperobjects Proofs

They have arrived. Extraordinarily, this book is going to appear, and on time too.

What I'm going to do today is drive to school with my small people and print it up. This also gives me a chance to do my ritual: the random citation check.

When I get proofs I choose at random several citations to check. If they are correct, I assume that the others are correct: they have of course been doubled and triple checked at previous stages.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Evening Walk

And now it's time for our evening walk, which consists of a block or so to the Menil Collection, past the Rothko Chapel, and into the University of St. Thomas. There is a very good labyrinth there, and it's good to do walking meditation on it.

MBV AUG

That's right. We happen to be in Denver in August after the Wordsworth Conference in Cumbria, and My Bloody Valentine are playing at the Ogden Theater. Haven't seen them since Glastonbury 1992 when they headlined. Of course one thinks that they are the most special band ever.

Irigaray

What is it about Irigaray that winds some people up so much? I must remember to use her work much more.

The International Social Science Journal

I'm just copy-editing my essay for the excellent Tom Ford, for that journal. The topic is "states of theory." I think Jameson will be in it. The issue was held up because of a funding controversy, involving UNESCO, the parent of the journal. Tom has been so patient.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

"If It's Depressing It Must Be True"

Isn't that a nice line? It's by my friend Jeffrey Kripal. He is talking about the trouble with thinking in modernity.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Snowden Speculative Judgment

So the Ron Paul libertarian has ended up--as a gift to the Chinese.

"A popular Communist Party-backed newspaper...has urged China’s leadership to milk Snowden for information rather than expel him, saying his revelations concern China’s national interest."

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Scientistic Double Bind

1. Humanists are useless drones who don't talk about science.

2. Humanists are useless fools when they do talk about science.

3. GOTO 1.

Instant Bardo

I highly recommend you make your way to one of the James Turrell retrospectives. You will get a little taste of

Maitri Space Awareness (look it up)
What it's like to be dead, Tibetan style

The only trouble are the police like guards, who insist you not walk near the boundary of the work. It's like having someone poking at you at a concert, insisting that you be silent. It's private property gone mad. It has nothing to do with the nonconceptual immensity of Turrell's work, and Turrell himself is an enormously good humored man.



A Fierce Exchange

Sokal be damned. We can talk about science. 

Hi ****--I modified that citation, thanks to your kind input (was it you? a while back anyway). 

Sadly you appear to have absorbed the knee jerk "It must be nonsense unless I am saying it" ideology of the worst kind of eliminative materialist biology and psychology--but thankfully there are other scientific disciplines. 

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Morton
Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English



On Jun 13, 2013, at 1:13 AM, **** wrote:

Dear Professor Morton

Google Scholar alerted me to the fact that you had quoted our work on olfaction in Drosophila and supplied me with a pdf of your article. At first I thought it was a spoof but then I remembered that the defining feature of your field is the impossibility of distinguishing parody from the real thing. As far as I can tell, your article hovers comfortably at the level of Not Even Wrong throughout. I come with good news, however: at one point—when you quote our work— it hoists itself to the level of Plain Wrong: there is no entanglement in the quantum mechanism we propose for smell.

best wishes

****
Addendum: the author of the email might want to take it up with Nature news, since that is where I first heard of the (mis)interpretation of his or her work. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Veering

Want to read a book that teaches you how to read poems and stories and plays, while teaching you how to think, in an ecological way?

The book you should read is Nicholas Royle's Veering. It's really really good. Incredibly readable. Funny. Bursting with insights. It models how cool deconstruction can be, without arcane sentences.

I'm really into it. I started reading it when Nick gave me a copy, and I haven't been able to put it down.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Some New Essays

The sleeve notes to Blood Wedding's A Survey of Locked Modes will soon be out, with of course the album, which is just terrific.

I'm writing a piece on plexiglass chairs for Marina Zurkow's Petroleum Manga project.

And Olafur Eliasson (have been a fan for a long time now) has just asked me to write something for a book he is doing.

I'm writing something on Irigaray and ecology for The Journal for the British Society for Phenomenology. It is called “This Biosphere Which Is Not One.”

I'm writing something on the elements and the elemental for Jeffrey Cohen.

I'm writing an essay on dark ecology for Tom Bristow (hi Tom!).

I'm writing on “Ecology” for Claire Colebrook, and another similar title for Imre Szeman and Patricia Yaeger.

I'm writing something that encapsulates The Ecological Thought for EarthLines journal.

I'm revising something on climate change (I prefer "global warming") for diacritics.

I'm revising something on Buddhism and objects for Ian Bogost and Levi Bryant.

Book Report

I just wrote a report for one of the presses I work for. It's by a beginning professor. I was struck by how humble, well written and packed with insight and facts it was.

Then I recalled some of my less beginning colleagues' efforts...by contrast...

Monday, June 10, 2013

Updated Talks

If you click on "past talks" you will now find all the recent ones.

Last year Graham and I were in an unofficial competition with Zizek for who could do more talks. I did 36. Graham did 45. Slavoj did 51, so I guess he is the winner!

This year I won't have done so many. More like 25 I think, all told.

Will There Be a Kindle Hyperobjects?

Yes.

Why "Anthropocene" Is a Great Term

A reader writes: 

"Neither the Cenozoic nor any of its formally recognized epochs are named after a species, a geological force or an event. They are all named after faunal composition."

Precisely. There are logical and epistemological problems with such classifications, as geologists (with whom I've spoken) have observed. These have to do with the (false) conception of time as a linear series of now-points. 

The fault the reader observes is in fact a virtue. It would be better to name periods along the lines of the Anthropaocene, as I've argued at Chicago (talk mp3 posted here). This is because geological/ecological time is a series of concentric temporalities whose boundaries are catastrophes, such as oxygen (the "Bacteriocene"). 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Meillassoux's Universe Endorsed

...by quite a lot of contemporary physicists, such as Raphael Bousso, on whom I'm quite keen. Thanks Cliff Gerrish.

I've been on and on for three years about how the Higgs is a problem for physics.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Keep It Up!

Madly sales of Hyperobjects are somewhat higher than those of books in print such as The Ecological Thought and Ecology without Nature. Which is saying something, because those books definitely don't stop selling, for scholarly books at any rate.

This is the point at which one hopes desperately that the book one just copy-edited works out. For $14, the going rate on amazon, it doesn't half have a lot of color illustrations.

Ritual and Grief

Rick Muller sent me this piece, as I said. It's interesting that consumerism and grief are intertwined here: well it is Harvard Business School! But it's an interesting, speculative conjunction. The idea is that rituals enhance consumption and help to process grief: they do something a little bit contrary then (one is enhancing, the other palliative). And grief as we know is the inability to "swallow" something.

Rituals are an aesthetic attunement to a thing. As such they fall into the closure/death part of my OOO theory of causality. Grief and eating are two moments in a continuous process. Rituals open me up to eating and help to close me down to grief. Rituals ease my sincerity in that they lubricate my interaction with another entity.

Lee Smolin

...is now saying what Rupert Sheldrake was saying, namely that the laws of the universe are path dependent (not transcendental but evolving as events occur). Rupert Sheldrake whose book was called “an ideal candidate for burning” by an irate Nature editor who forgot that he was not the Spanish Inquisition.

Rituals are Good for You

Courtesy of Rick Muller.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dzogchen Beer

You have to love a beer with esoteric symbols on the cap.





Objects! Objects! Objects!

Chris Schaberg and Ian Bogost have put the website together and the first book is on its way, along with Leigh Alexander having published a nice essay on slices in The Atlantic. This essay series will be adjunct to the book series.

I'm obviously on the editorial board with Graham and Jane inter alia.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Secret Agents of Gaia

It's the title of my American Academy of Religion talk. That's right Slavoj, be very afraid. It's time for a good logical foundation for this dreaded New Age thing I've been hearing so much trash talk about, mostly from said closeted Schellingian wrapped tight in a Hegelian pale rage face materialism shrinkwrap.

Our slogan will be Not One, and Not Two. Duality!

And while you're thinking about that, here is Psychic Warriors ov Gaia, which my host Adrian Ivakhiv and I agree is pretty dope. And the inspiration for my title. “Dust.”


Well Done Hageman, van Zanten, Schaberg

Jeffrey Cohen tells me that my students' panel at ASLE, "Weather Machines," went down a treat. And they sent me some nice photos of their brief renewed coexistence without, alas, their ex-advisor!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

OOO and Abjection

Someone asked me about this on Twitter. Then I found this paragraph from Hyperobjects:

A baby vomits curdled milk. She learns to distinguish between the vomit and the not-vomit, and comes to know the not-vomit as self. Every subject is formed at the expense of some viscous, slightly poisoned substance, possibly teeming with bacteria, rank with stomach acid. The parent scoops up the mucky milk in a tissue and flushes the wadded package down the toilet. Now we know where it goes. For some time we may have thought that the U-bend in the toilet was a convenient curvature of ontological space that took whatever we flush down it into a totally different dimension called Away, leaving things clean over here. Now we know better: instead of the mythical land Away, we know the waste goes to the Pacific Ocean or the wastewater treatment facility. Knowledge of the hyperobject Earth, and of the hyperobject biosphere, presents us with viscous surfaces from which nothing can be forcibly peeled. There is no Away on this surface, no here and no there. In effect, the entire Earth is a wadded tissue of vomited milk.

Underlying the Phobia about the Term "Anthropocene"

The complaint that the term is anthropocentric is naturally a consequence of correlationism, which holds that one can't access things directly, but only through some kind of correlation (such as the (human) subject etc.).

The Kantian meme has propagated through scholarship and opinion very well: evidence is precisely the dislike of the term "Anthropocene," which names a time that began exactly when Kant was writing.

I see these two facts as what Adorno would call two halves of a torn whole that don't add up together.

Speculative realism gets a strange boost from the debate about this term. Scholars who are not aware of what has happened in philosophy are now having to grapple with the same sorts of issue: whether or not we can access it, there is a reality that is mind independent and (human) culture independent.

The intensity of the allergic reaction against this idea underlies the reaction against the term "Anthropocene."

The quilting point is precisely the human insofar as the human is now a geophysical force on a planetary scale. We are now compelled to see ourselves as actors in and on the real, not simply correlators or measurers or perceivers or PR people.

The term "Anthropocene" reinserts what was unconscious back into humanities scholarship: the human as a real agent, in the real. And in an awkwardly PC way: who can deny that modernity was toxic, at this point?

Copy Editing Is Weird

This is because you are working in several different modes. They really are cognitively very different:

Checking the grammar
Checking the spelling
Checking style
Checking the argument
Checking the overall feel of the thing

It's tough as you have to gear in and out of these modes. It's like having to use a manual transmission.

For some reason I got quite depressed because of the intensities of these modes and the difference between the intensities. A simple walk to the supermarket sorted that out though.

Hyperobjects Copy Edit

I'm at that stage, hence the lack of posts recently. I just sent it off, hence this post.

This was a strangely easy book to write. It took fifteen days altogether, working from 9 or 10 to 4 or 5 sitting in the café at the student union at UC Davis. It's weirdly together.