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

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Malign Velocities


I'm getting my copy today! There's a whole bunch on this in Dark Ecology so I'll need to.

Malign Velocities: Accelerationism and Capitalism
By Benjamin Noys

Against the need for speed, Malign Velocities tracks acceleration as the symptom of the ongoing crises of capitalism.

We are told our lives are too fast, subject to the accelerating demand that we innovate more, work more, enjoy more, produce more, and consume more. That’s one familiar story. Another, stranger, story is told here: of those who think we haven’t gone fast enough. Instead of rejecting the increasing tempo of capitalist production they argue that we should embrace and accelerate it. Rejecting this conclusion, "Malign Velocities" tracks this 'accelerationism' as the symptom of the misery and pain of labour under capitalism. Retracing a series of historical moments of accelerationism - the Italian Futurism; communist accelerationism after the Russian Revolution; the 'cyberpunk phuturism' of the ’90s and ’00s; the unconscious fantasies of our integration with machines; the apocalyptic accelerationism of the post-2008 moment of crisis; and the terminal moment of negative accelerationism - suggests the pleasures and pains of speed signal the need to disengage, negate, and develop a new politics that truly challenges the supposed pleasures of speed.


REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
Always deterritorialize! Or so goes the mantra of recent "accelerationist" theory. Intoxication against intoxication, schizophrenia against schizophrenia, delirium against delirium--the accelerationist tendencies of millennial life are laid bare in this concise volume by the author who first suggested the term. From the historical avant-garde, through Detroit techno and science fiction, to Nick Land and the Cybernetic Cultures Research Unit (CCRU), Benjamin Noys reveals the ideological fantasies of speed. We should dismiss accelerationism for its capitalophilia, he concludes, but preserve it for its extremism: go far, go deep and go negative to get real. ~ Alexander R. Galloway

'The notion that 'the worse, the better' has an obvious appeal to disempowered communists in a time of capitalist crisis. Malign Velocities steps in and registers the futurist thrill of those theorists who would arrive at communism via an advanced, high tech capitalism - and registers the often disastrous results of these 'accelerations', which took us more often to Stalinism or neoliberalism than to utopia. Noys' writing is erudite, clear, and coloured by the darkest humour' ~ Owen Hatherley, author Militant Modernism, Zero Books 2009

In the midst of a hair-shirt neoliberalism, with growth-rates stagnating and accumulation reliant on ever-deeper dispossession, the sirens of speed are once again luring the advocates of radical theory. Malign Velocities diagnoses the moment of 'accelerationism' with exacting lucidity, revisiting prior iterations of the idea of an excessive exit from the clutches of capital – from futurism to cyberpunk – and uncovering these theories' political-economic unconscious, the accelerationist's fantasy of labour. Noys's book is a model of dialectical critique, combining a sophisticated account of accelerationism's historical conditions of possibility with an incisive verdict about its incapacity to generate strategies adequate to this conjuncture of crisis. Malign Velocities succeeds in both being true to the materialist injunction not to tell oneself stories and in weaving an engrossing tale of theory's struggles with the limits and compulsions of capitalism. ​ ~ Alberto Toscano, Reader in Critical Theory, Goldsmiths, and author of "Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea"


Monday, July 28, 2014

A Heaping Bowl of Lovely Mind

Tai Situ is devastatingly powerful.


Ahead

For the first time in a year plus I am ahead of my projects. What an immense relief. It's like being on top of the laundry. Which is also one of my projects. 

Hyperobjects in 3 Quarks Daily

Thank you so much Bill--this looks very interesting!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Past Talks Updated

Haven't done it for a while. Sorry!

Extricating Arendt from the Dustbin

Not so fast Mr. Historian

This, of course, is not the Eichmann of Hannah Arendt (“the world’s worst court reporter,” as I’ve described her), who credulously bought into his “poor schlub,” pen pusher trial defense — just following orders, moving things along deep within the bureaucracy...
...
Functionalism [the idea that the Nazis simply exploited the Jews], going strong when I first wrote this book, has been cast into the dustbin of history along with ‘the banality of evil’.”

That's so not what Arendt is talking about. She is describing how banality itself is evil, not a cover for evil. Banality depends upon a lack of anxiety, the basic affect, the emotion that never lies etc. Psychopaths offer extremely banal explanations for their behavior. Which is not in the last to say that they didn't sadistically enjoy it. Banality is a form of sadistic enjoyment. 

Just listen to anything by Throbbing Gristle, e.g almost anything on 20 Jazz Funk Greats, or the first track on the Second Annual Report. You will hear people talking blandly about absurd cruelty. Casually.  

Hypostasizing “evil” as this smoking metaphysical lump of coal totally misses this, as the end of Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits makes quite clear. 

Banal << “pertaining to compulsory feudal service” (OED). The enjoyment of being a component of a hierarchical machine. Casual. Slack. Just another day...

"The Real Physical World"

Spot the metaphysical assumption

It can be stated thus: quantum phenomena are effects of measurement. 
<< to measure is to make real 
= correlationism

>> Bohr: “There is no quantum world.”

This ontology has already been decided on, then erased, before the argument even gets off the ground. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Going South

Apollo 440 did their usual fantastic job here. The music is so vast I listened to it driving hundreds of miles, south of course, in Colorado, to Crestone.

The jaded noirish vocals are just excellent.

I don't know why but the vocals plus the music seem to say “Right, that's it. I'm evacuating samsara, now. ”

Indeed it appears to at 6:40.


Contact Is Content (Olafur Eliasson)

Wow, I'm looking at the try-out for this beautiful new book by Olafur Eliasson. It's photographs of land. That is such a flat description! How to put it into words. Very difficult. There is something unspeakable about it.

He has used my phrase Contact Is Content for the title. Well I said The contact becomes the content and he compressed it. I prefer the compressed version...always nice to be remixed...

The photographs exemplify this sentence, silently. Actually that's not quite right. The title exemplifies the silence of the images, and of the succession of images. There is something magical in their succession.

Danish Ecopoetics plus Morton

Thank you Olafur Eliasson for pointing this out to me!

Professor Morton, What Are All These Talks Doing on Your Blog All of a Sudden?

Well, the thing is, I did some talks that were adjunct to the Wellek Lectures. And I was waiting until those had been done and unveiled before I put the others together. You'll see that pieces of the Lectures are in those other talks. 

Dark Ecology is such a nice project right now. Graham has been writing about politics a bit recently, and so am I, at this point. One has to give us a bit of a chance, you know. Hard to get everything together all at once, although if you read my stuff a bit you'll see it's quite strongly implicit, and sometimes explicit. It's called anarchy.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Humanities in the Age of Ecological Emergency (MP3)

Some people go, Morton's hyperobjects come with no easy to identify politics so I don't have to feel anxiety!”

I may have some kind of temporary cure here...

Wondering whether there is a politics with this package of things I keep on about? Look no further. Heavily indebted to the Icelandic Best Party in that respect.


Jón Gnarr, Your Audiobook Is Coming

The Mayor of Reykjavik, about whom I hear many good things, will get his wish for an audiobook of Hyperobjects, courtesy of audible.com. Stand by for more information!

Accelerationist GOP

The Republican response was predictable: a resounding “we told you so.” All along, they insisted that the ACA wouldn’t work, that it would raise costs — and when reality didn’t match with their scary stories, they took deliberate action to make the bad outcomes they fervently wished for more likely. In the case of the subsidies, which are helping real people get coverage, it took an extensive lawsuit, some friendly judges, and some twisted legal reasoning to undermine them.”

(How different is that, really, in intent, from the idea from the opposite end of things that Obama should have pushed for national health and have it fail, so as not to compromise?)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Even After I Die

My two small people quite surprised that I know "rap." I played this example. "Eternity is holding a rubik's cube..." wow.


Siddhartha Discovers an Entity

“Deep, peaceful, perfectly pure,
luminous, uncompounded, and like nectar
is the Dharma I have obtained.
Even if I were to teach it,
it could not be known by another.
Certainly, I must remain silent in the forest.”    

Lalitavistara Sutra

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Realist Magic on Film

In an essay by Amelia Ishmael. Very good seeming journal.

Think Tank

I think John Lydon sums up my feelings about think tanks in general, and this sets the seal on them.


Hypocrisy, Lameness, and Weakness

Cliff writes of that review: 

“It's kinda interesting that "hypocrisy, weakness and lameness" aren't taken seriously as a response to a global cataclysm. They're brushed aside in favor of some flavor of big science and big violence. These are the same sort of criticisms that Occupy faced, and yet they succeeded in changing the national dialogue on income inequality.”

Aha. You see I didn't actually read it...

I guess the only thing I'll say is that if I only had a dollar for every time someone asked, while I was presenting the hyperobjects, “what are we to do?”---a question whose implication was that I had gotten something terribly wrong...

I used to say that hesitation and puzzlement are things to do. They are of course. But now I also “have” “a” “politics” that arises from thinking hyperobjects, so I can talk about that. I can only be thankful to the people of Iceland for these new things to say, which are a great help. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

That Agrilogistics Description

Remember this?

Well I realized I should have added that the program creates a hyperobject: the first one, really, that is made by humans.

When The Onion Agrees with You

...you know you're on to something

Look how it phrases things: 

“Even if every person decided to sit down at the exact same time, there would still be an adequate number of chairs to go around,” Clouse added. “As far as chairs go, we’re basically set.”

That's my line! Take a look at this. Marina Zurkow's new thing. I had to do the entry on plexiglass chairs! 

In case you haven't been following this, I'm a bit obsessed with chairs as they are a good way of thinking about how nonhuman nonsentient things have agency. A human is now a chair vector. After we go extinct there will be huge piles of chairs on whatever planets we have colonized. The first thing you design in Design 101 is...a chair. 

Making a chair comes from the age of agrilogistics. The conquering king sitting on his enemies etc. Then everyone had to have one: democracy! But they are no good for you. In effect they are literally a virus: an idea-virus and a chair-virus, and we seem hopelessly incapable to stop reproducing them. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review of Hyperobjects

Thanks Graham for pointing this out. It is in Reviews in Cultural Theory, two words that could usefully be expanded to include nonhumans.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Your Time Is Up

It's quite clear you don't belong in the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.

Today Programme 1:29

BBC, why will there “always be a suspicion” that the Ukrainians shot the plane down? And how do you know this about eighteen hours later?

And why on Earth have you no reporters on the ground at all, anymore? Let alone investigative ones?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Accelerationism Minus Earth

And this brings about the future how? It's straight out of 50s PR...It hasn't even heard of Rachel Carson.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014

Noodle Paradise

The small humans and I have visited for the fifth time what Simon loves to call "Noodle Paradise," Soto's Houston Penetrable. Tactile colored space. Playful, immersive, disorienting. Highly recommended if you're anywhere near.



Let Me Get This Straight

The GOP demanded that the “employer mandate” part of Obamacare be delayed. And now you're suing the President because he conceded that.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wrong, New Scientist

Animals don't have a self-conceptmy foot.

You should now change your name to New Scientism.

The Anthropocene: A Seminar (MP3)

Sometimes I can talk slowly : )


My Thoughts on The Ancient Mariner

Someone asks where they are. Well, there are several classes in "Classes" (Romanticism) about it. And several places in my writing:

The final part of Hyperobjects.
The Ecological Thought chapter 2.
“Coexistence without Coexistents” if you can find it.
Chapter 3 of The Poetics of Spice. 
Throughout Ecology without Nature.
“Of Matter and Meter” if you can find it.
Realist Magic. 
“The Dark Ecology of Elegy.”
“Queer Ecology.”
“Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as an Ambient Poem.”
And elsewhere...

Agrilogistics: Quick and Dirty

Someone wanted a brief-ish, simpl-ish explanation. The trouble with listening to explanations in talks is that it's hard to hold on to the concepts as they flit past. And in particular I tend to machine gun them out like some kind of mad scholar version of LTJ Bukem.

So:

An agricultural program so successful that it now dominates agricultural techniques planet-wide. It arose in the Fertile Crescent 12 000 years ago. Toxic from the beginning to humans and other lifeforms, and now responsible for a huge amount of global warming. It led to industry, the other huge global warming factor. Though toxic, it has been wildly successful, because the program is even more compelling than Candy Crush. It operates blindly, just like a computer program. It promises to eliminate anxiety and contradiction--social, physical and ontological--by establishing thin rigid boundaries between human and nonhuman worlds, and by reducing existence to sheer quantity. Agrilogistics is the smoking gun behind the (literally) smoking gun responsible for the Sixth Mass Extinction Event.

I'm sure I will explain it better in Dark Ecology : )

All You Environmentalists Who Use Climate Change

Stop. Exhibit A: 

“All this stems, this carbon capture, all this other stuff, it stems back to a scare, generated years ago about global warming,” the Fayette County lawmaker said on Thursday. “Finally it turned out there hasn’t been global warming in 15 or 20 years, then they changed the name to climate change.”  Kentucky State Representative Stan Lee

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Statement of Intent

This is a pretty neat one, from my essay “Ecology” from Imre Szeman's Fueling Culture, coming out soon.

When we divide the world into the categories nature and culture, we are performing the quintessential gesture of modernity. But modernity is predicated on the ecological emergency that has given rise to a totally new geological period: the Anthropocene. “Modernity” is how the Anthropocene has appeared to us historically thus far. Dividing the world into nature and culture is precisely anti-ecological, insofar as it participates in the logistics that enabled humans to act as a geophysical force on a planetary scale. The Anthropocene is also the moment at which Western philosophy decided to restrict itself to the (human) subject–world correlate (Meillassoux 2009:  5). This self-imposed blindness to the real seems to go hand in hand with the direct intervention in the geological real.

Victorian Hyperobjects (Presentation)

Victorian Hyperobjects



MP3.

Victorian Hyperobjects (MP3)

My lecture for the Interdisciplinary Nineteenth Century Studies Conference. There were several hundred people in the room. Awesome occasion.



More Unforgiveable Narcissism : )

Weird that in the age of obsessive injunctions to have sex everywhere, the one thing taboo is your mind having sex with your mind.

Profound and tranquil, free from complexity,
Uncompounded luminous clarity,
Beyond the mind of conceptual ideas;
This is the depth of the mind of the Victorious Ones.
In this there is not a thing to be removed,
Nor anything that needs to be added.
It is merely the immaculate
Looking naturally at itself.
NYOSHUL KHEN RINPOCHE



Sunhair

Last year I posted the original “Sunhair” from my erstwhile friends the Ozric Tentacles. Now here is the System 7 edit, which sometimes I think is the best one. They nail the vastness of that opening riff by having keyboards and guitar double track it. And it's very bright here now. Ed now lives in Boulder I think. Awesome. Miss it a lot.

And as Neil on The Young Ones says, “Oh no! Steve Hillage!” But in a good way.


It's Not a Debate

Thanks BBC.

Put that in your tailpipe and smoke it.

Altered Landscapes

This looks like a terrific exhibition in northern California. Was asked to speak at it! Which was very nice of them indeed.

Contact Is Content

I say this a lot, and I said it in one of my books. No. Actually I said “contact becomes content,” but the very perceptive Olafur Eliasson has changed it to contact is content. And this has now become the title of a book of his landscape photographs of Iceland and some smaller artworks. It will be launched at the Louisiana exhibition Riverbed opening in August.

Working with him has been quite magical this last half a year.

Contact is content is also an OOO phrase. If you think of an object as what some call a medium, then you get there.

Anatomy of Ecological Awareness (Presentation)

Journey to the Center of the Ecological Chocolate (Anatomy of Ecological Awareness)



MP3.

How Accurate Can You Get?

Ernst Haeckel not only coined the term ecology, he also coined First World War. Think about that one: somehow he figured it was the first. It's easy to do it when there have been two. Perhaps it comes from the kind of scalar imagination necessary for thinking ecology, also global.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Journey to the Center of the Ecological Chocolate (Anatomy of Ecological Awareness) (MP3)

My (probably) only gig on a roof! With an actual sound engineer, Hazmat. Austin, South by Southwest Music Festival, evening, on a roof, with Pink Floyd. Couldn't get much better.




Presentation.

Which Is the Best Floyd Album?

Oh I don't know. But having listened to them since I was about 10 I feel that the one I can listen to every single day, which doesn't mean it's the best, is Animals. And I say this as the biggest fan of Syd who was so happy to hear “Rhamadan,” finally.

It's that song “Dogs” mostly. Sick parody of jazz funk and prog jazz from around that time. That mid section which is a keyboard solo (or electronic world, really), where dogs melt into human voices melting into the primordial slime, for some timeless time out of time. It's beyond Orwellian prosopopoeia. It's humans melding with nonhumans in an incomprehensible, nonconceptual way.

If you take the train from Sutton to Victoria you pass by the gigantic Battersea Power Station, but before you do that you pass through the lands of early drum and bass, where I used to live. Something about those siren-like sounds on “Dogs” and elsewhere on that album. Secret, melancholy London, side by side with the official one. Geniuses in tiny flats on their computers in 1992.

But “Dogs.” The mid-section. Stone, stone, stone, stone...the syncopated echoing barking...the unbelievably well placed and tuned out-of-tune whistle. Good grief.

Bill Benzon

Displays his acumen and niceness.

This Is Deep

William Connolly (awesome political theorist) and Jairus Grove (likewise) team up to fight crime. And talk about hyperobjects.

I Know a Hawk from a Handsaw

I don't ever read reviews of my stuff, at all! So when I hear about reviews, I sort of go "Dur, er, huh" like some kind of Scooby Doo with a Ph.D.

But I think I hear that some people are like “What on Earth does Morton think he's doing with his talk of relativity on one page and quantum theory on another? Everyone knows that they are totally different!”

Well, that's the whole trouble you see. Of course one “knows” they are different, people have horrifying trouble putting gravity together with the other three forces, etc. One has indeed put this fact in all one's books, so it's peculiar people don't see it. Or maybe don't want to see it?

There is a difference however between knowing and assuming.

What interests me is

1. The scientism of “knowing” (for sure) that these “scales” or “levels” are different. This isn't actually how science proceeds, which brings me to

2. Many, many younger physicists are questioning the classical–quantum boundary, discovering it to be neither thin nor rigid. Discovering boundaries to be neither thin nor rigid was Derrida's whole schtick so I really really like them for that. I think that's also my job.

So I really like the work of Aaron O'Connell, who has shown that you can put something massively bigger than regular expected things such a photons and subatomic particles (that people bang on about in pop science) into coherence--this thing is so massive you can see it with the naked eye. Go on, watch his TED talk about it but I recommend (as I did when it first came out, a long time before the talk) reading his actual piece in Nature.

Then there are Petr Horava and others, who talk about quantum gravity: there is a very good essay by him called “Quantum Gravity at a Lifschitz Point” which says that gravity is a kind of averaged-out emergent property of tiny things interacting, noticeable at bigger-than-electron scales. I'm not saying he's right. I'm saying it's very interesting.

Then there are these guys from Caltech. Neat.

Now as far as hyperobjects go, these sorts of thing are all analogies, not actually observed patterns in empirical data.

Yet since I hold that thin rigid boundaries are impossible, I take these sorts of physicists to be very very good. Not right--how could I evaluate that? But very congruent with how I see things. I think they might be right if my idea of objects is right. I take what they do as symptoms of what things are in general.

I think they're so good that I take Niels Bohr to be part of some kind of correlationist clampdown when he says “There is no quantum world.” Sure there is--you can see it with your naked eye at this point! How come that's “not classical”--how come weird stuff only happens below 10 to the minus 20 cm or whatever?

Before I was into OOO I was very into David Bohm. Still am. He was notoriously hounded for his view that entanglement might be ontological, not just an effect of measurement. Naturally he would have enjoyed O'Connell's work quite a lot, and the string theory chaps such as Raphael Bousso who also have...a holographic universe model!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

"Voter Fraud"

“This is how it works today: In an ostensible hunt for voter fraud, a Tea Party group, True the Vote, descends on a largely minority precinct and combs the registration records for the slightest misspelling or address error. It uses this information to challenge voters at the polls, and though almost every challenge is baseless, the arguments and delays frustrate those in line and reduce turnout.”

Non-awesome use of a noun as a verb, by the way.

Huffington Post

Be brave boys and girls and establish Huffington Post Houston.

Stephen Muecke on Beauty and Objects

This is a nice video by an excellent scholar. He says he's “not convinced” by OOO (although to be into hyperobjects IS to be convinced by it!). But this seems awfully OOO to me! And quite unlike the speculative realism his future conference seems to be about. That kind eschews beauty as a “pathetic” accident of (human) sentience.


//Stephen Muecke\\//What if Objects Were Beautiful Without a Human Standing By to Judge Them to Be So?\\ from Aesthetics After Finitude on Vimeo.

Nice Review

...of Prismatic Ecology and Hyperobjects. Very well put together.

Steal This Book

My dear friend Jeremy noticed someone trying to nick Hyperobjects out of the Cornell Library!

Presentation for Wellek Lecture 3

Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence (Wellek Lecture 3) by Timothy Morton



MP3 Lecture.

Presentation for Wellek Lecture 2

Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence (Wellek Lecture 2) by Timothy Morton



MP3 Lecture.

Presentation for Wellek Lecture 1

Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Existence (Wellek Lecture 1)



MP3 lecture
.

My Name Is Inigo Montoya

You persisted in using the word natural. Prepare to Mass Exinguish.

Thanks Nick!


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

To My Commenters

Argh! Sorry! I've been so incredibly busy that I've only published comments via email for a bit. Nick, I think this sorts out the issue--when I see the actual comments page, I see all your original comments, which I've now published. Oh dear.

I literally have about 90 minutes a day to work, or less, which means I have to get busy with my writing. It's weird I've been able to do all of it pretty much on time so far.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Wellek Lectures 2014: Lecture 3 (MP3)



Presentation.

The Wellek Lectures 2014: Lecture 2 (MP3)



Presentation.

The Wellek Lectures 2014: Lecture 1 (MP3)



Presentation.

No, It Isn't

I like how she begins Communist Manifesto style: “A specter is haunting America.”

Which is ironic. This is one thing that the cultural Marxist journals and the GOP have in common. For them, global warming doesn't exist, merely in different ways. For the former, it's not a contemporary issue worth pursuing. For the latter, it's a liberal deception. I wonder what the difference in the net effect is, truly.