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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Badly Placed to Adapt to Global Warming

...we don't even have (very many) wild variants of crops to help alter them. Because they are considered "weeds." Because of agrilogistics. Oh dear. Thanks Cliff Gerrish. (Not for the lack of crops, of course.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

North Pole Lake

Sometimes my job is out of control depressing. Sure things are connected. And it sucks. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

California Stripped for Export

@twitter, you really do need to look at your abuse policy. Like, formulate one, you know?

Anyone who wonders what it would be like to live in a world where Spinozism actually ruled need only consider the gigantic descent of conatus upon the head of feminist Caroline Criado-Perez on Twitter today, for the successful campaign to put the head of Jane Austen on sterling notes.

Blogger, Twitter, and Facebook are California, the dark side of, stripped for export, in a box. A world of dirty looks and instant judgment.

What can a body do? Gang up on others...

I fear that Mary Beard had it quite wrong when, having been dive bombed similarly a while back, she argued that in the end people would learn some kind of etiquette online.

Hmmm, online etiquette--let's call it "netiquette"...only that already happened, in about 1990. Now that everyone is online, as it were, we have descended from the vaguely libertarian days into pure superego suction.

Mary Beard had it backwards. Etiquette came first. That was when there was the illusion that online space was a kind of suspension: a world separated from the physical one by an irreducible gap. Then came the Spinozan collapse.

It's the dark undertow on Stinson beach, dudes...

OOO and Quantum Theory

Told you! Been thinking about this for about three years now.

The thing is, I've been reasoning that if tiny things can behave in a quantum way, it's because there is something about objects in general that enables this. So that larger things might also be able to behave in a quantum way, validating the idea that there is something general about objects. Which is why after reading a lot of quantum theory textbooks I got very interested in OOO.

A thing is incapable of being grasped in some decisive way, even when it's considered as a unit such as a quantum. Even when it is totally isolated, beyond relations with others. It sort of aesthetically ripples: it is a little bit displaced from itself. It is not fully present, even to itself.

Relation and processes don't account for why things are flowy and permeated with nothingness. They are like that all on their ownsome...

Remember, the object these guys use is way, way bigger than the quantum scale we've become used to.

Besides Aaron O'Connell, these guys are also figuring out how things are not metaphysically present, yet real. They breathe. It's basically a logical conclusion from the OOO definition of objects and the difference between real and sensual.

Discoveries like this provide the empirical support for some of the arguments in Realist Magic. Very nice cartoon. Thanks Cliff Gerrish!


Friday, July 26, 2013

Speculative Tate

Also adieu to the speculative Tate. Reza Negarestani, Robin Mackay and I and others wrote these weird labels for existing paintings by the Romantics. Such as the now absent Richard Wilson.

That was in 2010 and would now be impossible.

The nonhuman is nowhere to be seen in this new setup.

Which proves the conventional wisdom that art history is usually about 15 years behind philosophy and literary criticism.

The obviously post colonial vibe of Tate 2.0 sits uneasily inside its post-imprrial Tate sugar BP sponsorship shell.

Reza--oil sponsoring history!

Forwards--into the past!

Jackboot Subtlety

The horseshoe in a boxing glove obviousness of the Tate Britain 2.0 omits the following lineages from its modern and thus less than contemporary purview:

Ecology
Nonhumans
Things

As a result, the following and more are nowhere or stuffed in corners:
Bridget Riley
David Hockney
(Even) Francis Bacon
Ian Hamilton Finlay
Vanessa Bell
Richard Long
James McNeil Whistler
John Sell Cotman
John Everett Millais
William Blake
...

Dude who stole my Tate?

My Tate got me to environmental philosophy, OOO, thing theory, Romanticism. Some of the things that will eject us from modernity with its complicated wheels, as Blake would say.

That Tate is now a relic of the 70s, consigned to the dustbin of history as is the old ecology exhibit at the Natural History Museum, whose refit is now also sponsored by--BP.

It's sad that the 1970s is now in the future.




"This is Art: You Will Like It"

This kind of injunction, identical to "Perfectly Ripe Mangoes," is why I don't visit the Tate Modern.

But now the Tate Britain has been sucked into the orbit of Philistinism 2.0. It's an upgrade because now you are welcome to enjoy contemporary art: just look at how valuable and famous it is! And just like what the Americans and French had in the 1950s! I feel so cool Britannia!

It's like commerce without imperial guilt! Seriously Guilt Free Money!

What is now the entrance hall is bedecked with something like Matisse's snail, only it isn't. It's a huge waste of wall that says "Hey kids, this is modern art and it's fun. Enjoy!"

Please please give me my blank fucking walls back.

Then the central hall is empty, and impassable: no one, quite literally, is in it. Because a sound piece is enjoying it on your behalf. I'm a fan of pieces that roam around with cameras, the way it does. The dark ecology piece at the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague was all over that. But this is just a fairground ride around the hall. A ride that no one is enjoying.

Net result? It's like watching a deserted helter skelter on Brighton Pier from the corner of your eye as you try to take your mind off the ghettos in which the "historical" art is hanging.


The Smell Remains the Same

At the Tate Britain, from the 70s, when I first started to dig it.

But that's about it.

In this and the next couple of posts, some thoughts about the major, entirely wrong restructuring--or destructuring, or actually, destruction.

The net effect: cynical reason plus presentism plus big Britart money minus meaningful British patronage of the arts in the 50s and 60s and 70s = good old British philistinism 2.0. Throw millions of pounds at some new stuff because it's less guilt inducing and more obvious, like the elephant with the machine gun and the flags: geddit?

The aesthetic of much of the contemporary art and its curation is precisely the identical cynical reason that uses Earth as an exploitable resource.

And of course, as we all know (as they knew in 1807, or 1660), the present is the best: finally we are out of that awful history tunnel!

Then outsource the "history" to BP and have it compressed into the smallest possible space. Use decades rather than periods because it provides a way to justify the contemporary stuff ("1960," "1970," "1980" -- but only "1540" then "1620" then "1750"--just making these dates up but you get the picture--and of course the curators also just made them up).

Net effect: the core of the Tate, the Romantic period and Victorian period art, disappears (in the former case) or is crammed into a single room (the latter). Exhibit the latter pictures Academy style, cramming them on top of one another. How marvelously of the period darling. But how convenient: we can stuff all the Whistlers and Pre-Raphaelites together to provide lots of space around the elephant and gun.

The Romantic period is disappeared entirely. Blake has been put in a ghetto up a small flight of stairs in the corner of the Turner rooms: I had to ask. When I was a kid he was front and center. In a hushed, beautiful dark space with glass cabinets. Now he's in a deep ultramarine room, the pictures crammed again one on top of the other, a huge slice of wall devoted to "look how nice to Blake we've been over the years."

This was a poor guy who made next to nothing doing illustrations while alive. Not being bought by the Tate (if it had existed).

The Romantic period and the march of the isms that followed has to do with the discovery that Joe Public has (infinite) inner space.

By contrast, there are about three quite meaningless, contextless, eighteenth-century art rooms. It figures: that was also an age of commerce uber alles.

Bridget Riley and David Hockney have been crushed into two contextless hangings in intersitial spaces.

Francis Bacon. Where are you sir?

The net effect: it is as Adorno said. Interiority and freedom have had their day and no longer juice the bourgeoisie. And Adorno said it back in the 40s.

British philistinism is now where American philistinism was in 19 fucking 45. Congratulations kids! Welcome to the mid twentieth century!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

No Thugs in Our House

This is for you Zimmerman.


The Disco of the Present Moment (Madrid)

These guys created some musical pieces called Hyperobjects last year. Now they are making a piece for the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Madrid called The Disco of the Present Moment, which is a section from Realist Magic. Forthcoming...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"Congratulations on the Birth of the Young Prince"

Obama had to say it. Having to say it. In a week in which issues of "blood" reared their ugly heads for him and the rest of the US.

"Strong Blood'

That was the other thing the Royal commentator said about the Royal DNA.

Beam me up Scotty.

"Back to Stability"

I just heard a fatuous Royal commentator talking about the Royal labor and the Royal birth of the Royal boy.

"Now it's back to stability."

Which translates to:

"The DNA of the scapegoat, Lady Diana Spencer, is now fully incorporated into the DNA structure of the Royal family."

I'm having another death-of-Mrs-Thatcher moment. A moment in which I am glad I don't actually live here.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Questlove on Martin

This is very well put together is it not? And to commemorate it here is “Something in the Way of Things" which I have occasionally written about and often taught about:


Amiri Baraka's "Something In The Way Of Things [In Town]" from Bryan Green on Vimeo.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Searched at the Airport

...and when I say that my black step dad Maurice was searched at the airport I mean every time. Every single time he went through customs, at any airport, anywhere in Europe or the USA. At the age of forty something.

"White Men Are Allowed to Get Angry"

This is a good line from a good piece about the Trayvon Martin Zimmerman trial fiasco. I got pretty nauseated at a dinner a while back when someone accused Obama of being an Uncle Tom--a white man accused him that is...I wanted to smack him. Of course if Obama so much as pounded a desk (as Clinton liked to do) he would be instantly vilified. I have a lot of feelings about that as my step dad was black and was always being stopped and searched at airports, having to remain ever so calm. There is a certain aspect of what has been labeled the emo-prog reaction to Obama that just totally sucks.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Yes Henry Warwick

Do read Henry Warwick's comment on my post on Roger Dean and Avatar. It makes a lot of sense and has a good link in it. And way to call this issue years ago!

I too am not totally convinced that Dean can successfully sue. You can copy people's ideas so surely you can copy their imagery. Unless there is some more strict copyrighting you have engaged in.

It was rather silly, and disingenuous, of Cameron to talk as if he'd never heard of Dean though. Why not just say "Yeah I love Yes and I love Dean's art" and so on.

Indexing Hyperobjects

The trick with indexing is not to be a control freak. If you try to index everything, you end up with an unworkable index that approaches the size of the book itself. I think I did all right. It's actually quite a nice thing to do, somewhat like getting the dandruff off your lapels on a suit. You want to attend the funeral for your book in a suit without dandruff.

Mega Trip

This is the most extraordinary trip. Eight weeks. Four people. Three countries. Planes, trains, automobiles. Beer. Curry. Snails. Cardamom gel. And so on and so on.

I believe the Byron and sound talks have gone quite well. Next up, a Wordsworth talk in Cumbria.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Roger Dean versus James Cameron

Avatar may have been his "most personal film to date" (as he says) but part of that may well have been having very personal connections in the early seventies to the Yes album art of Roger Dean, who is now suing for copyright infringement. How hard would it have been to get Dean involved from the start in any case?

This is the art from the cover of An Evening of Yes Music Plus for instance. Erm...

And the whole theme of a fragile planet. One assumes he dug Olias of Sunhillow, Jon Anderson's solo album based on Dean's paintings. For heaven's sake.

Roger I'll be happy to testify mate if you are reading this. Thank you Gerry Canavan for this. Fairly shortly my essay on Avatar will be published (thanks again Gerry) in which the resemblance (more than that even) is noted. And there's this.




Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wimbledon on Acid

Does anyone have a copy of Crass, "Wimbledon on Acid"?

Plurnstyle



Ed moved to Colorado, after I had left--too bad for me! But nice for him no doubt, good for you sir.

Before that he lived on Wimbledon Common, right opposite the Hand pub. Oh the evenings outside on the lawn. That was very much the Colorado of Wimbledon, right old friends?

This might be one of the best mysterious chill tracks they've ever done. Look at that nice photo of my old mate Zia the bassist, with whom I used to play songs such as "Twine Snipper."

For Saatchi and Lawson

Using PR to influence the other. But somehow unable not to come to blows when PR is turned on himself. I remember the election campaign of 1979, "Labour Isn't Working," cynically rehashed for Romney. These guys just split because Saatchi couldn't agree to the PR about the public strangling incident...


We are so addicted to looking outside ourselves that we have lost access to our inner being almost completely. We are terrified to look inward, because our culture has given us no idea of what we will find. We may even think that if we do, we will be in danger of madness. This is one of the last and most resourceful ploys of ego to prevent us from discovering our real nature.
So we make our lives so hectic that we eliminate the slightest risk of looking into ourselves. Even the idea of meditation can scare people. When they hear the words egoless or emptinessthey think that experiencing those states will be like being thrown out the door of a spaceship to float forever in a dark, chilling void. Nothing could be further from the truth. But in a world dedicated to distraction, silence and stillness terrify us; we protect ourselves from them with noise and frantic busyness. Looking into the nature of our mind is the last thing we would dare to do. -- Sogyal Rinpoche

Thursday, July 4, 2013

WTF Is Going On?

"Up until now thought has changed the world. The point is only to interpret it in various ways."
Discuss.

Medium Sized Unit Shifter

PublisherUniv Of Minnesota Press (October 1, 2013)
LanguageEnglish
ISBN-100816689237
ISBN-13978-0816689231
Product Dimensions8.5 x 5.5 x 1 inches
Shipping Weight1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
Best-sellers rank#38,718 in Books 
#7 in Politics & Social Sciences - Philosophy - Criticism

Distinguished Professor Harman

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy in my opinion. The American University in Cairo has recognized Graham as Distinguished University Professor. There can be only one! Congratulations sir.

If you don't know of him yet, I really do think that Harman is the most important philosopher to have emerged in the last decade. For me he shows a way to proceed into a truly post-modern (rather than postmodern) era of thought, an era I take to be ecological.

Talk Location Again

Here are some more images of the chapel at KCL. Quite extraordinary. It was a nice place for my silly ecosermon...





Brutalism plus Ecology

I like brutalist architecture. Don't ask why--I have no idea. When wet that much concrete with that kind of texture has a very earthy smell. Perhaps that's it. Perhaps it's the way the buildings look like Alien's body.

Anyway here is an incredible use of brutalism: as a vertical garden. It wraps around the whole structure. Brilliant. It's a UK kind of Target like store in the high street where I'm staying in London. There's something very beautiful about this idea of using brutalism this way. And just a few years ago vertical gardens were just contemporary art. I prefer this (kitsch). Yes New York, maybe we are exiting modernity after all.

Brutalism as gigantic flower bed. Agrilogistics rotated 90 degrees. Love it.


Spontaneity versus Confusion

This is actually quite sad and it's everywhere in London. Sharipova is trying to look like she did when a baby. Babies don't try that. Which face is more manifesting the nature of mind? Take a wild uneducated guess...


This Is More Tricky Than You Think


In meditation, as in all arts, there has to be a delicate balance between relaxation and alertness. Once a monk called Shrona was studying meditation with one of Buddha’s closest disciples. He had difficulty finding the right frame of mind. He tried very hard to concentrate, and gave himself a headache. Then he relaxed his mind, but so much that he fell asleep. Finally he appealed to Buddha for help.
Knowing that Shrona had been a famous musician before he became a monk, Buddha asked him: “Weren’t you a vina player when you were a layperson?”
Shrona nodded.
“How did you get the best sound out of your vina? Was it when the strings were very tight or when they were very loose?”
“Neither. When they had just the right tension, neither too taut nor too slack.”
“Well, it’s exactly the same with your mind.”
--Sogyal Rinpoche

Why is it tricky? Because it takes a while to figure out whether you are a too tight or too loose person in this particular situation. I'm clearly a too tight person. That means when I meditate, if I feel it's going wrong--I'm doing it right. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

She Walks in Beauty like the Night in which All Cows Are Black: Byron's Nonhuman (MP3)



This is my talk from the International Byron Conference. Laugh! Cry! Hear my exasperation at Simon Critchley!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tuned City Brilliant

It was both very political and very contemplative, at the very same time. I couldn't attend all the events, as I was there with my family. But it sounded like the city was being walked, camped in, sat in, stood in, recorded, heard, and on and on. All over the shop. You could put on Victorian period acoustic glasses and hear certain tones emanating from plants. You could do a Debord and discover Japan is actually at the end of a strange alley round the back of the canal. And on and on. What I did hear was incredibly rich.

For once the tech people were absolutely and totally in charge of the machines we all have to use: of course! They are musicians!

Thank you Raviv, Ann and a huge host of others. Hillel Schwartz's talk was awesome, as was meeting him. Termites!

It was great to meet everyone. I was very touched to find that people had been influenced by my stuff on ambience and music, and it's a line I continue to develop. In fact I'm pretty sure my talk is a slightly more rigorous and also practical account of things than the one I outlined in Ecology without Nature.

As part of the build up to the conference, workshops had been teaching my stuff on that, and this was an incredibly nice surprise.

Earworms (MP3)



Sound, noise, ambience, OOO, music, with some nice examples (Felix Hess and Subject 13). Really an OOO theory of sound. From Tuned City Brussels. Gernot Böhme, whom I've been wanting to meet for ages, was very into it. And I believe that at some point it will be published. Christoph Cox also spoke: I shall upload my notes as soon as I can. Very nice chap.

Earworms