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

Monday, March 31, 2014

"Where's Our Mom?"

Shorter: She got sidelined as “Gnosticism.”

This IPCC Report, Like Others, Is FAR from Alarmist

As grim as the Working Group 2 report on impacts is, it explicitly has very little to say about the catastrophic impacts and vulnerability in the business as usual case where the Earth warms 4°C to 5°C [7°F-9°F] — and it has nothing to say about even higher warming, which the latest science suggests we are headed toward.
The report states:
  • “Relatively few studies have considered impacts on cropping systems for scenarios where global mean temperatures increase by 4°C [7°F] or more.
  • “… few quantitative estimates [of global annual economic losses] have been completed for additional warming around 3°C [5.4°F] or above.”
D’oh! You may wonder why hundreds of the world leading climate experts spend years and years doing climate science and climate projections, but don’t bother actually looking at the impacts of merely staying on our current carbon pollution emissions path — let alone looking at the plausible worst-case scenario (which is typically the basis for risk-reducing public policy, such as military spending).    (Think Progress)

Denialist Hate Mail

I have received it and so has Lawrence Torcello, who has an excellent argument summarized here.

"Adaptation" versus "Mitigation" of Global Warming

This is evidently a right-wing canard designed to confuse people. What "adaptation" usually means "We don't have to worry anymore about that irritating consciousness of our fuel emissions. Thank goodness!"

But adaptation (used in particular and skillfully in the IPCC report of today) actually means that, and more (obviously).

Adaptation means curbing carbon emissions. If you don't, evidently you are not adapting. You are making it worse.

It could be profitable, or “capitalizable” as the chap on Today (BBC Radio 4) just said. Increasing efficiency and lowering impact.

The fact that global warming is already in effect (duh) doesn't mean “Hooray! We no longer need to be disturbed and conscious!” It will get ever so much worse--depending on how much carbon one emits.

The Wellek Lectures Update

I had forgotten that last year's lectures were given by Peter Sloterdijk.

Marina Zurkow: Outside the Work 2

Okay--I've been finishing two essays and doing this lecture at INCS. It was great. But it's taken me away from documenting the astonishing meal Outside the Work: A Tasting of Hydrocarbons and Geologic Time by Marina Zurkow (Rice University, March 20).

Here is a piece about it by the Houston Chronicle. You can see photographs!

Science Confirms: We Are Already Dead

See?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Godzilla as Canary in the Coalmine of the Anthropocene

My student Toby Bates. He is a genius. Really. He found this and thought about it re: hyperobjects. It's definitely going in Dark Ecology!


In the new movie trailer, you can only see pieces of him (nudge nudge).

Thursday, March 27, 2014

At the Whitney

Coming up and in LA, Miljohn Ruperto on Voynich. This booklet (at the exhibition) contains an essay by me, "Ghost Plants."





Wednesday, March 26, 2014

UK "Welfare" Cuts

Okay Tories--explain to me why on Earth my schizophrenic brother, who is already out of his mind with anxiety about the so called "universal credit," needs to freak out further as to whether he will be able to remain in his house, which he loves, and from which he can't hardly go out into the street. Because of some highly politicized zero sum game.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Wellek Lectures: The Topics

Ecology
Objects
Feminism

Graham has been writing about OOO and politics a bit, via Latour.

In these lectures I shall develop my thoughts about an ecological polity to come that is object-oriented.

In some recent talks I've begun to elaborate this. Thanks very much to anthropologist extraordinaire Dominic Boyer, and indirectly to the Best Party. He works with them a lot. At some point I'm going there to do the same. Iceland I mean. Hopefully summer 2015.

Dominic is also head of our ecology and humanities institute here, under whose auspices Graham and then Marina Zurkow came.

I'm tremendously inspired by this Wellek lecture invitation to have been able to think an eco-OOO politics. Thanks again to the very kind and generous people at Irvine.



Monday, March 24, 2014

Marina Zurkow: Outside the Work

Wow. It happened at Rice last Thursday. A truly incredible work of art. A meal. Stay tuned for a full report.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I Shall Give the Wellek Lectures

The Wellek Lectures are the Gifford Lectures of theory, so I'm utterly delighted that I shall be giving them this year. I'm deeply honored to have been invited by UC Irvine to join the company of

Jacques Derrida
Hélène Cixous
Peter Sloterdijk
Jean Baudrillard
Angela Davis
Jean-François Lyotard
Judith Butler
Louis Marin
Gayatri Spivak
Wolfgang Iser
Étienne Balibar
Donna Haraway
Murray Krieger
Rosalind Krauss
Perry Anderson
Geoffrey Hartman
Edward Said
Joan Scott
Ngūgī wa Thiong'o
Harold Bloom
Achille Mbembe
Fredric Jameson
J. Hillis Miller
Elizabeth Grosz
Frank Kermode
Rosalyn Deutsche
David Harvey
Evelyn Fox Keller
Homi Bhabha
Paul Gilroy
Talal Asad
Harry Harootunian

Columbia publishes the lectures, as you can see here. There are some very important books in that series, such as Derrida's Memoires for Paul de Man.

There are three lectures. They'll be in May (21, 22, 23), at UC Irvine's Humanities Gateway.

The topic is something I now call ecognosis. I shall be reading the entire book in a series of three lectures.

Thanks to all who invited me. This was a wonderfully galvanizing moment for me, as it coincided with my having realized that I knew, finally, how to write this book, which once was Dark Ecology.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Candy Crushed

I have never seen Buddhism as a “tessellation” nor as “tedious.”

But what do I know? All I've ever done is practice it. : )

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mind, Objects, Ethics

I am in fact a panpsychist. But not because I can't allow beings to be respected unless they have a mind. I am one for ontological reasons. 

There is this charge that OOO "doesn't have a politics" or ethics. In some sense this just ignores the way in which I've argued that OOO implicitly puts "anarchism" (too totalizing a word) as the basic political quality of all beings (such that other political forms are distortions of reality). And any number of other positions us lot have argued for a while.

But in another sense--this is my inner Derridean speaking--why must "having a politics" be something that is easy to see or something one must rush into? Why can't hesitation about politics also be a kind of politics? And wouldn't such a hesitation, in the face of the sudden recognition by lots of humans of the poverty of anthropocentrism, be a good idea?

And why--this my inner Graham--should an ontology have an easy to recognize, snap-on ethics or politics, so we don't have to be freaked out?

This idea (the "show us your papers" kind of threat one sometimes hears about OOO), expresses its inverse, unconscious side implicitly.

The inverse idea is that ethics presumes some kind of ontology--despite how taboo the idea of ontology at all has become.

So for instance, consider this argument for all things having minds:

"If it doesn't have a mind, how can we respect it?" (or recognize it has rights or whatever). 

Well, let's think about it the other way. Instead of proving that everything has a mind, what happens when some things don't?  

I think there is an implicit ontology in the assertion that beings without minds can't be said to have rights (or whatever). 

The ontology is that a thing is basically a lump of whatever. Since I can do what I like with it, it might as well be a kind of Play Doh. 

This ontology is, as I've argued, the Easy Think Substance implicit in agrilogistical space--and of course in Aristotle, and most forms of materialism. 

Such an ontology is absolutely the inverse of OOO. In OOO, everything is vivid and "lively" to the extent that its appearance is inseparably glued to its essence. (Too short a space to explain this.) 

Having to give things rights because we can prove they have a mind/emotion etc is the way vivisection arguments proceed. If it doesn't have a mind, you can experiment on "it" as you wish. 

Having a mind as a precondition for avoiding inevitable ("necessary") violence. Violence I am permitted (even encouraged) to act out if it's demonstrated that a being is without a mind.  

So if we're going to say that all beings have minds, we shouldn't say that this is what grants them our special favor (us benevolent, condescending humans, sole dispensers of ethics and justice and "rights"). 

We need to peel ontology away from ethics, to some extent, precisely because there are pretty awful default ontologies out there (implicit and taboo even to speak aloud--we are "beyond" ontology etc), ontologies that underwrite ethics and politics--ontologies that are contemporary, by which I mean the present moment of 10 000 years extent, in other words, the ecological catastrophe we are inside. 
If we are going to think beyond that, we had better start elsewhere. This would be why it's best to assume the OOO view, in my opinion. On this view, even if a thing doesn't have a mind (whatever that is), we have no reason to treat it as the blank screen for our (sadistic) fantasy. 

Then we can go about finding out what "mind" might be like under those conditions. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Looking Good

My friend geologist Jan Zalasiewicz's new book.





Ere Terry

When Terry Eagleton was my tutor at Oxford I totally loved the moment when the Cuban embassy phoned up to invite him to give some talks. Then a bit later when I invited him to NYU he told me this story.

Working in a supermarket as I had quite recently done (we were swapping stories) one of his coworkers caught him reading a book and admiringly said: “Ere, Terry, you've read more books [Lancashire accent] this summer than than I've done in me fooking life.”

Brilliant!

So I loved this review of his latest (sorry, who sent it? Thank you Rick Cliff and Dirk equally!). It says true things about him. And it looks like the kind of book one thought he might eventually write. He was never fond of nihilism, even in the 80s when you sort of had to be fond of it--oh whatever you have to be fond of it now too. In my line of work. Which is not in a supermarket.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Tory Approach to the National Health Service

“This teevee done got broke,” said the man with the axe. So he went to work on the dvd player, the sound system and the wiring.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Reader of Hyperobjects

We have finally decided who it will be:

Captain Jack Sparrow.

Except that we haven't.



Line of the Day

If you say that the meaning of a poem is indeterminate, you are accused of posing a threat to Western values--often by people who never read poetry. But if you say that the universe is like an ATM card, you get the Nobel Prize. --Louis Menand

Heidegger vs. The Chronicle of Higher Ed

Dear Folks in charge of the Chronicle,

When you read a translation, do please check it against your concept of the English word.

When Heidegger talks about “the fabrication of corpses in gas chambers” he doesn't mean that the Holocaust was made up, you silly billies.

Fabrik means factory. Works. Mill. Plant.

He is talking about industrialized death.

And he is one of the very first to link this industrialized death (and the industrial as death) to the mass slaughter of nonhumans.

As Derrida argues forcefully.

Actually, it's much worse than that. The author, Paul Hockenos, in Berlin, knows exactly what he is doing. To the poor old silly billies.

Do some homework Chronicle. You have just been manipulated.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Houston Talk

On 3.29 (Saturday) at the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies Conference.

Victorian Hyperobjects


Hyperobjects are entities that are massively distributed in time and space. They are so massive that humans can think and compute them, but not perceive them directly.

These entities began to show up in the Victorian period. We know them for instance as capital, industry, evolution, climate phenomena such as El Niño and so on.

During this present age of ecological emergency, we are faced with numerous hyperobjects such as global warming and ourselves as a species acting as a geophysical force (hence the concept of the Anthropocene).

In my talk I'm going to argue that this means that we are still inside the Victorian period, in psychic, philosophical and social space. Our moustaches may have changed a bit, but so what?



Morton at SXSW: OOO, Hyperobjects, Fungi, Databergs...

This Friday I'm talking in Charles Long's exhibition space at The Contemporary in Austin, at the start of the South by Southwest Music Festival. The concepts for the show are based on my take on OOO and hyperobjects. Talk is at 5, I think.

Fungus plus ancient plastic plus “Databergs” and so very much more.

Here is the exhibition summary (with very nice photos).

OOO Portals plus Mycellum (Charles Long)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Cheerful Shambhala Day

Yes that's right. It's the Wood Horse. Think Shadowfax plus the Ents.

This is for Carlyle. “Haven't you ever felt that way about music?”