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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

OOO and Postcolonial Theory

“They talk to me about civilization, I talk about proletarianization and mystification.” --Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism (in Postcolonial Criticism, ed. Gilbert, Stanton and Maley, Routledge, 1997, page 82)
By mystification Césaire means something good on his terms, the discovery of ontological depth below the “thingification” of the colonized person.
People who pit postcolonial theory against OOO had better take note of this.
Discuss.

PS: two of my awesome Ph.D. students, Diana Leong and Nikki Moore, are working on this.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gratitude-Off

n.1 USA, colloq. A ritual resembling a Japanese bowing competition, but involving substantial amounts of laughing and crying, sometimes accompanied by alcohol or drugs.



Friday, March 27, 2015

For Two Special Chaps

You know, people who just like you and believe in you without conditions, early on in your career. Tim and Sean, of Boulder CO, I'm thinking of you. I realized just this morning, Tim having just written to me, that I owe you in the sense that you believing in me was how I got here, wherever that is...Two very special undergrads, maybe they were bodhisattvas in disguise...not a very good disguise guys :)

Help Out This Poor Incredible Harmony Understanding Genius

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Have You Read This Yet, BBC?

No, you haven't.

Pity:

Was the Labour government that ruled Britain before the crisis profligate? Nobody thought so at the time. In 2007, government debt as a percentage of G.D.P. was close to its lowest level in a century (and well below the level in the United States), while the budget deficit was quite small. The only way to make those numbers look bad is to claim that the British economy in 2007 was operating far above capacity, inflating tax receipts. But if that had been true, Britain should have been experiencing high inflation, which it wasn’t.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Watch Me and Paul Johnson and Electric Peanuts (video)

Amazing Q&A, wow. I don't think anyone asked me questions like that first one before.

Lindsay, thanks for holding those electric peanuts for all those decades...

At Southend

Wow I was so blown away by the people I met at Focal Point. What a creative place, with incredible things happening in it. Thanks for having me everyone!! 

Talk mp3 soon...


Saturday, March 21, 2015

Focal Point Gallery Paul Johnson TODAY

Come along everyone! It's in Southend close to the central station. It's going to be great. Two whimsical chaps getting busy living, cooking up a little anti-death potion for the sake of future beings human and nonhuman...


Friday, March 20, 2015

Hello Everything

Meditation, creation, love as they should be. Love the alto part so much.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Stevie Wonder Drum Solo

Goodbye, everyone else. Wow. Thanks to my brother Charlie for finding this...


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

SonicActs Roundtable (MP3)

In this you will hear:

1. Morton running onstage having been to the restroom.
2. Graham Harman answering questions.
3. My mate Douglas Kahn being awesome.
4. Geologist Mark Williams being awesome.
5. A really tense moment that I am told I handled quite well (listen towards the end). Really tense. I don't think I've ever had that kind of energy coming at me in front of 500 people before. Of course I've been able to deal with that kind of thing in class, and that was lucky--somehow the skillz kicked in : ) People said I did good afterwards--I wonder what you think?

Also, and this is really the reason to listen to it :) you get to hear me imitating the Little Man from Another Place in Twin Peaks...

What more could you desire?


Monday, March 16, 2015

Subscendence (MP3)



It's a whole new take on holism folks! Let me know what you think!

Nice Piece on Björk's and My Writing

In this newspaper here. Soon by the way I'm going to upload my Amsterdam SonicActs talk--I think I can put the roundtable up pretty much now...hang on....

Friday, March 13, 2015

Off to London

This evening! It will be so good to work with Paul Johnson on Saturday March 21 at Focal Point Gallery. And I shall see my relatives!!!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Wow Neat

My essay on Avatar called “Pandora's Box,” which I wrote for Gerry Canavan and Kim Stanley Robinson, was nominated for a Pioneer Award! Thanks for telling me Gerry!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

That's Not Kali, Friends

That is Vajrayogini...although of course in a sense, it is. And it isn't. And it is haha.



Laughter

Know all things to be like this:
A mirage, a cloud castle,
A dream, an apparition,
Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen.

Know all things to be like this:
As the moon in a bright sky
In some clear lake reflected,
Though to that lake the moon has never moved.

Know all things to be like this:
As an echo that derives
From music, sounds, and weeping,
Yet in that echo is no melody.

Know all things to be like this:
As a magician makes illusions
Of horses, oxen, carts and other things,
Nothing is as it appears.


An awesome friend sent me a nice photograph of the author: 


Sunday, March 8, 2015

"A generous, childlike warmth"

This review from The Line of Best Fit says good things too:

Taking metaphysics professor Graham Harman’s Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) as a reference point, This Huge Sunlit Abyss From The Future Right There Next To You… records an email exchange between Björk and academic Timothy Morton. “I have been doing a little reading and trying to find folks who could help me define what “ism” I am,” she explains to Morton. What follows is both a fascinating insight into the thought processes of Björk as much as her personality. A generous, childlike warmth permeates her enthusiasm and undercuts pretension throughout, with the effervescent Icelander bouncing off Morton’s take on the animist philosophy. “Earth needs more magicians”, suggests Morton early on in their exchange and by the time his correspondent is rhapsodising over Russian minimalist Vladimir Martynov we have a very clear picture of the shared passions that unite these two bright sparks.

Bergen, Southend, New York

Madness. Martin Clark's exhibition follow up to the one I was at, plus Björk, plus Paul Johnson (as in: I'll be talking at it next week!) in one place, Art Review's list of ten shows you need to see.

Björk at MoMA, New York, 8 March – 7 June

Even following recent institutional retrospectives for Kraftwerk and David Bowie, a MoMA survey of Björk’s last two decades may register as pushing it. Yet artist and venue effectively meet in the relativist middle, since neither are what they once were – the institution, like many others, now something of a populist funhouse; the Icelandic musician, her lauded new album aside, lately appearing increasingly interested in multimedia projects like 2011’s record, app and invented-instruments live extravaganza Biophilia. Of course, Björk is a cross-media phenom in general, her videos trumping many artists’ work for ideation, her acting winning prizes at Cannes, etc. Björk additionally promises the increasingly de rigueur upending of the survey format, embedding a semifictional biographical narrative (written with Icelandic writer Sj.n) and building to an ‘immersive music and film experience’ made with LA filmmaker/ artist Andrew Thomas Huang and design team Autodesk.

Simon Ling at Bergen Kunsthall, through 5 April

Simon Ling’s exhibition at Bergen Kunsthall, The Showing Uv It, also sets itself against a sci-fi backdrop: Russell Hoban’s exceptional 1980 novel Riddley Walker, set a couple of thousand years in the future in a postapocalyptic Kent where language has regressed (à la the exhibition title) and a new generation is struggling, in part, to understand objects and what can be intuited of their inner realities. This is surprisingly germane to the English painter’s plein-air urban landscapes and studio-constructed still lifes, which intently track – and rebuild through tilted planes and subtle, pulsing distortion – the haphazard bricolage of London streets and tumbling arrangements of objects. If the looking couldn’t feel closer, hot fringes of fluorescent orange amid the realist paint-handling suggests a transfigured world beneath the outward one, one we can’t quite grasp; as Bergen Kunsthall curator Martin Clark has noted, Ling’s method also has resonances with speculative realism, making him a rare painter broaching that philosophic territory. 

Paul Johnson at Focal Point, Southend-on-Sea, through 4 April

At Focal Point, simultaneously, is a mise-en-scène that also feels emphatically after – Paul Johnson’s The Sunless Sea, in which the British artist zooms into futurity in order to consider how we might see the present from then – as a post-utopian scrapyard of sorts, it seems. Processes of time collaborate with the artist’s hand: a dune buggy, made from recycled parts, stands upended and rusted, while ‘sculpture’ as a category also comes to encompass something – seemingly a wallet, though it no longer looks like one – that accreted for five years in one of Johnson’s pockets. Meanwhile, a jerryrigged mythology is suggested by mixing imagery from ancient Yemen with traces of beer crates and plastic bottles. If this sounds like a downer, though, the intent is to blow on embers: to quote the gallery concerning works made from leftover wood in the artist’s studio, ‘The sense of significance bestowed to the objects, which would more commonly be disregarded, offers optimism that these moments of utopia will be regarded in the future and offer a glimmer of hope that such thinking could exist once more.’

Saturday, March 7, 2015

"Leave it to the lady herself to bring it"

From NME's excellent review. They nailed the vibe:

Leave it to the lady herself to bring it. A magical booklet of emails between Björk and philosopher Timothy Morton is a wild, wonderful conversation full of epiphanies and sympathies, incorporating Michael Jackson, daft goths and the vibration of subatomic particles in its dizzying leaps, alive with the thrill of falling in love with someone’s brain.

Björk and I are both so proud of what we did!

And from The Mouth magazine:

an extended and intimate e-mail conversation between Björk and the philosophy / ecology writer Timothy Morton, which gives valuable insight into the progressive intelligence characterising her concepts.

And from The 405 magazine:

This volume is perhaps the most fascinating piece here (though both Dibben and Ross' essays are incredibly interesting as well) due to the fact that it explores ideas that have been at the root of many of Björk's more recent albums. Morton, an academic who has written on philosophy and a leading promoter of object-oriented ontology (OOO), makes for a unique correspondent and along with Björk takes their discussion into thought-provoking and mind-boggling territory. OOO is a philosophy that believes that non-human elements are as rich and alive as we are and, furthermore, influence each other in what is referred to as a "sensual, molten ether".

Friday, March 6, 2015

NME on Björk's and My Book

I'm so proud of what we did.

Postcolonialists Tweaked Out by OOO, Take Note

From my essay for DIA Art Foundation on Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla's about-to-launch Puerto Rican Light:

If you were going to reduce my ontology with one sentence, it would be this one:

Things shimmer without mechanical input

A tiny mirror sends out infrared light, without being pushed around by anything. That is strictly impossible if a thing is a bland ball being manipulated by other bland balls. How things appear—the shimmering—is intrinsic to what they are. Qualities and substances are deeply intertwined, like the twist in a Möbius strip. There are no bland extension lumps decorated with accidents. There are no things waiting to be formatted by us, the humans, the Decider, goo goo ga joob.

How come we keep acting like things are like that? Because we are still retweeting a lot of memes to do with desperately trying to survive, no matter what that looks like, and damn the other lifeforms. It's quite simple. The only reason we act like things are bland lumps waiting for our Where Do You Want to Go Today, Just Do It, I can do anything to anything sadism—which would include colonialism, patriarchy and racism as a matter of fact—is because we are still unconsciously partying like it's 1699, and beyond that, we are partying like it's 9 999 BCE.

If you want to party like it's 1999, let alone 2009, you might want to stop retweeting the desperate survival meme. You might want to start seeing how things shimmer all by themselves, without mechanical input.

*****

Global warming is infrared light trapped by a carbon dioxide shield. We have turned light itself into a toxic substance. Puerto Rican Light shows us what should be obvious: that there are other modalities of light than this globalized photonic violence. Absolute space is really, as postcolonial theory also likes to argue, an imperial product, not an absolute at all. In the same way, the globalized violence of light is not an absolute, just a very, very large, massively distributed yet finite and impermanent being. It can be changed. It can be turned off.

There is no (absolute, box-like) space. There are just places—it's simply that now we know that some places are not human-scale at all. Place is not just a human-flavored candy that we paint on things. Place is a fundamental category of how things are. There is Puerto Rican Light.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Who Am Paul Johnson

You don't know? How come?! He is in the Saatchi Gallery for example...look...


Paul Johnson - 'There's something about you I am unsure about' - Usher Gallery, Lincoln from Paul Johnson on Vimeo.

The Sunless Sea

Apparently reservations are going like hot cakes for my conversation with Paul Johnson at Focal Point Gallery on March 21. You should totally come. It's going to be amazing. We have very good mojo together! Be prepared for maximum weirdness!

Why Most Theories of Consumerism Suck

...because they are pretty much all based (all--since the 1700s, Marxism included) on a metaphysical want–need distinction.

“First we needed things. Then at some point x we started wanting things. And wanting is bad, because it's twisted in a loop with what it wants. Just watch Roadrunner.”

So I'm here in La Guardia watching CNN after the greatest, greatest day with Björk in NYC. And I'm seeing this jerk (who knows who he is) reiterate that being gay is a choice.

And I'm thinking, this whole thing is based on the metaphysics of want versus need.

The fact that the fight against homophobia has to pitch desire as a need is part of the oppressive reality we still dwell in.

And by need we don't mean “super super super want.” Which is in fact what it is.

Neanderthals would have loved Coke Zero.

(Btw this is a big argument in Dark Ecology.)