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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Tropical Rain

Houston is forty minutes' drive from Earth's tropical zone, and the last time I checked--in the Amazon rain forest--one of the things that characterizes that region is endless, immense moisture, everywhere, dripping out of everything and falling into everything, and circulating around everything.

And it's certainly been that way in the last couple of weeks here. Yesterday was particularly spectacular. The storms here have involved lightning so all pervasive and intense that at night it's been like being in strobe lights. The most intense lightning bolts are pink-violet and thick and so beautiful powerful. The rain is warm and relentless. At some point you really don't want to be driving. A stream starts to happen on my side of the street--then on the opposite side--then it's a river, the entire street, about two feet deep and rushing towards the Rothko Chapel. There is no difference between the sidewalk and the road. The rain begins to fall at a 45 degree angle or shallower, in sheets. The cypresses bend about the same angle, whipping about along with other trees stirring like--you know what it's mostly like is meditating.

When you really take the breaks off in meditation and you just let your mind be wild. Unstructured experience, just happening in an unbroken continuity. (Which is the technical definition of tantra.)

Slowly the thing calms down. Then you're sitting there a few hours later, and random lightning is happening. One inevitably bursts right next to you in a violet flash, followed by an explosion so long (45 seconds I think) that you wonder whether it was a bomb, or whether it caused something serious to explode.

People have died and houses have been totaled, and I'm pretty sure that any cars parked in the street are now barely functioning. And I'm protected from the worst of it by an ersatz moat--the highway is dug really deep about two hundred yards to the south. I wonder whether the Menil Collection and the historic nature of this area has anything to do with that.

If you want a demo of the intimate connection between causality and the aesthetic you just need to be in one of these storms. They are very disturbing indeed, until you are behind glass.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Propaganda

Fantastically transparent propaganda on Radio 4's Today show today. “Why is France's economy so bad? Look--rich people are moving to the UK” (to take advantage of the ridiculously low taxes).

It looked pretty well to me. Much better than London, which still looks like a bombed out war zone. And--the real comeback should be: name one British car manufacturer...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Strange Loop Screenplays

It's like the Reduced Shakespeare. Only instead of imagining that we need to know what happens as quickly as possible at the expense of the texture of the play, imagine that the characters know that they are in a movie.

Cooper: So...how many planets are we visiting?
Brand: Three.
Cooper: Okay, so we know that the third will be okay, because it's not that kind of movie. So let's go there.
Romilly: But that would drastically curtail the proleptic irony.
Cooper: Oh, right.
Doyle: So, what's on the first planet?
Romilly: We can assume it's bad. Where is it?
Doyle: It's orbiting that gigantic black hole.
Brand: That should be a clue, people! Anything down there will be subject to a massive tidal pull. And physical obstacles are stark and best to encounter up front, rather than more subtle character-based obstacles.
Cooper: Okay. Maybe we can get away with discussing why not to go there for some time. Or maybe just a few of us will go down. Doyle, come with me, because you have to die first: you have a beard and we don't know anything about your back story.
Romilly: Remember that we're also trying to avoid the blatant racist form where the black guy gets killed first.
Doyle: Good point!
Brand: And that will give me and Cooper a chance to have a fight that prepares the way for our eventual fusion.
Cooper: So...the first planet is physically very bad news. Which means that...
Brand: The second one will be bad news psychologically.
Cooper: Exactly! Okay, that means someone is going to try to kill us or drastically thwart us. Who's down there?
Doyle: Matt Damon.
Cooper: Is this Good Will Hunting?
Romilly: No.
Cooper: So we can assume it's evil Matt Damon. Goddammit. Why did it have to be evil Matt Damon? He's gonna kick my ass. Romilly, I'm sorry--because we already know this is a love story and because Brand and I have exchanged barbs early on enough in the movie to convince us all that we will eventually fall in love, I'm afraid you are the one whom evil Damon will kill. DE-tach!

etc....

Björk's MoMA Show Critics

“Because Björk decided to put most of the exhibition within plain sight as you come in--whether you have paid or not--in a typically anarchist surrealist manner--I am prevented from showing you these high cultural goodies from behind this paywall that I was allowed behind, to be handed a glass of bubbly. Therefore the exhibition is bad.

“Also, her approach makes a mockery of most art criticism, which is about 20 years out of date and hasn't yet come to terms with how in the (ecological age) absence of one (human-formatted) scale from which to view objects, means that beauty comes fringed with things that are a bit like what we like to call kitsch. Kitsch reminds us that:

“1. Enjoyment is always of the other.
2. The aesthetic experience is incredibly cheap and widely available, even to beetles: just look at their iridescent wing cases.
3. There is an aesthetic experience, and it's not just a (human) construct.

“We have been arguing that art is a construct for some time. Everything is a urinal waiting for an artist's (human) signature to realize it as art. Björk is not playing that game.

“This exhibition is an affront to my anthropocentric correlationist art theory and my (related) obsession with sophistication. Therefore, there is something wrong with it. ”

Saturday, May 23, 2015

From Them Flows What We Call Time (MP3)

My talk at Université de Paris 8. The physicists at at the conference were most pleased with this.


Friday, May 22, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Humankind (MP3)

I am the devil:

The New Left universalizes the human by distinguishing human being metaphysically from all nonhumans, in an implicitly pre-Kantian ontological move that seriously weakens, unconsciously, its political edge. Far from a “You're either with us or against us” separation of the New Left (and its legacy, the anti-essentialist theory class) from speculative realism (“You can either be a feminist or anti-racist or postcolonialist or not—and not being means you are a speculative realist”), it is perfectly possible and indeed necessary to think nonhumans in a left way. Denouncing attempts to do so as “hippie” and denouncing ways of proceeding to do so as “phenomenological” (the polysyllabic version of “hippie”) will no longer do.

(My talk at UC Santa Barbara)


97% Agreement Is "Convoluted"

Jeb Bush holds those waveringly ambiguous interpretations of the data to account!

I think perhaps the same thought occurs to many Porsche drivers in Houston at a stop sign. Whether or not they should stop since it's my turn to proceed is..."convoluted."

"Well, officer, I t-boned him because I wasn't 100% sure it wasn't my turn. I mean it's pretty convoluted you know? And I do drive a Porsche."

Then he says something true (sorry this is not the Huffington Post beautiful soul rag): it is intellectual arrogance not to have a conversation (with deniers) about global warming.

Want to shoot me now? You just proved my point.

I can't stand those moments when the scientism comes out and the wonderfully Humean statistical speech comes to an end. Game over, because you just re-started the conversation in religion space.

They should put Björk and me in charge of those press conferences. We will wear animal ears and not pound the table.

Of course Jeb Bush is playing rhetorical bait and switch by jumping from "convoluted" to "arrogance." It's like wiping your soup bowl with a bit of bread. The first wipe gets the less intense opponents of doing anything at all about the 6th mass extinction event. The second wipe gets the more intense ones.

Or, if you're a proponent of helping nonhumans, it's like being punched in the face after sticking around with the guy who is going "I'm just so confused, I mean I think it looks like you're ripping me off."

Sloppy and berserk: hey that sounds like a cop show.

Paris Now

If you're near we are in the student center, which has a dome, at Paris 8 at the end of Metro line 13.

I'm up first, nice one--just opening my mouth will be a relief that hides whatever troubles there are with my talk!

Pierre Cassou-Nogues is a great organizer.

I'm honored to be talking here.




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Paris 8 Time Conference Schedule (open to the public)

Le temps des choses, la substance du temps
Organisé par P. Cassou-Noguès, P. Harris, R. Lestienne Coordonné par S. Touiza,
Dans le cadre du projet Le sujet digital, Labex Arts-H2H et de l'International Society for the Study of Time.
21 mai 2015, à la maison de l'étudiant, université Paris VIII
9h30 accueil des participants, 10h00-13h15 et 14h30-17h45 Sous l'œil de Jean Perdrizet et de ses robots spiritistes :
13 panneaux autour de Jean Perdrizet, l'inventeur de Digne
22 mai 2015, amphi X, bâtiment D, université Paris VIII 10h00-13h15 et 14h30-17h45
 
21 mai 2015
9h30 Accueil des participants
9h45 Introduction
10h00 Timothy Morton : From Them Flows What We Call Time 11h00 Pause
11h15-13h15
Nicholas Tresilian : Time and Ages
Paul A. Harris : Dwelling in Deep Time
Arnaud Regnauld : Liquid Times : Two Electonic Works by Michael Joyce Pierre Cassou-Noguès : Temps et objets sur le bord de la mer
14h30 Didier Debaise : Penser les choses comme des trajectoires historiques 15h30 Pause
15h45-17h15
Denis Costa : Consubstantial, Contingent, Participatory : The Time of
Things in Late Antique and Medieval Thought
Mazarine Pingeot: La substance pensante et le temps chez Descartes Michel Weber : The Threefold Root of Whiteheadian Temporality

22 mai
10h00 Etienne Klein : What Does the Arrow of Time Stand For ? 11h00 Pause
11h15-13h15
Marc Lachièze-Rey : Why Time Cannot Be a Substance
Marcel-Marie LeBel : John A. Wheeler's « so simple universe »
Pierre Uzan : Mesure du temps et signature temporelle des phénomènes
14h30
Walter Schweidler : Temporal Substance and the Concept of Nature
David L. Dusenbury : The Substance of Time – from Lucretius to Hobbes, by way of
Augustine 15h30 Pause
15h45-17h45
Jean-Baptiste LeBihan : Un espace composé de propriété et de relations. Emmanuelle Clarizio : Le temps de l'objet technique selon Simondon
Diego Abadi : Matérialisme spéculatif et empirisme transcendantal: quelques
rapports possibles
Boram Jeong : The Concept of Time and Substance in Deleuze

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Université Paris 8 May 21-22

...I'm talking at a conference on time as substance and my talk is called

FROM THEM FLOWS WHAT WE CALL TIME

I nicked the title off of Takemitsu, haha:


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Another Sentence from Dark Ecology

Let's begin by nibbling away at that rather boring lump of American cheese, the Easy Think Substance.

A Sentence from Dark Ecology

So many ecological beings are “excluded middles” and so much ecological action seems to be to do with “not quite” and “slightly,” gradations of yes.

Friday, May 8, 2015

There Was a Gasp

...in the audience when Ed Miliband said that Labour had not overspent and had not precipitated the economic collapse, in a debate the other day. That gasp got me ready for the election result this morning. Here's Paul Krugman, who if you don't know won the Nobel Prize for economics, laying down some truth:

“What nonsense am I talking about? Simon Wren-Lewis of the University of Oxford, who has been a tireless but lonely crusader for economic sense, calls it “mediamacro.” It’s a story about Britain that runs like this: First, the Labour government that ruled Britain until 2010 was wildly irresponsible, spending far beyond its means. Second, this fiscal profligacy caused the economic crisis of 2008-2009. Third, this in turn left the coalition that took power in 2010 with no choice except to impose austerity policies despite the depressed state of the economy. Finally, Britain’s return to economic growth in 2013 vindicated austerity and proved its critics wrong.

“Now, every piece of this story is demonstrably, ludicrously wrong. Pre-crisis Britain wasn’t fiscally profligate. Debt and deficits were low, and at the time everyone expected them to stay that way; big deficits only arose as a result of the crisis. The crisis, which was a global phenomenon, was driven by runaway banks and private debt, not government deficits. There was no urgency about austerity: financial markets never showed any concern about British solvency. And Britain, which returned to growth only after a pause in the austerity drive, has made up none of the ground it lost during the coalition’s first two years.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Public Laboratory

You know this? It's how to hack science and monitoring and stuff that gets restricted and cordoned off in all kinds of ways. It's like a tactic in the Whole Earth thing in a certain sense...but more distributed.

Like, photographs of the BP spill from balloons you can release yourself...

Invisible 5

Live in CA? Have you ever driven down I-5? You will be very interested in this art project which seeks to add the nonhuman beings back in to the very very tunnel vision picture you get when you drive down it...

Earthquake Nuns

They are up to all kinds of things.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

That's Awesome Björk

From Time Out:

"Are there aspects of modern technology that concern you?

‘Right now my heart is very concerned about the Iceland highlands. The government has decided it’s going to make dams all over the highlands, and so the biggest untouched area in Europe is going to go away in the space of three or four years. Have you read books by Timothy Morton? They’re really interesting. His angle is that the apocalypse has already happened and we are now in the aftermath, so there’s hope for us. And I was like: I really agree with that. So let’s do something about it. One solution is to change how we relate to technology and how we relate to nature. There’s still a way.’ "



"We Have Recovered from the Labour Recession"

No Cameron (BBC Today show), you haven't. First it wasn't a Labour recession, it was a worldwide economic collapse. Second, the "recovery" was when you slightly lifted your foot off the austerity brake--and even that has faltered in the last few months.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cats Happen

I just wrote this in Dark Ecology, hahaha:

The ambiguous status of cats is not quite the “companion species” Haraway thinks through human coexistence with dogs. Within agrilogistical social space cats stand for the ontological ambiguity of lifeforms and indeed of things at all. Cats are a neighbor species. Too many concepts are implied in the notion of “companion.” The penetrating gaze of a cat is used as the gaze of the extraterrestrial alien, because cats are the intraterrestrial alien. Cats just happen. “Cats happen” would be a nicely ironic agrilogistical T-shirt slogan.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Me Daughter's in a Pop Video!

...along with Nonni, the son of Jón and Jøga Gnarr, Bjork's dear friends and now my dear friends. They were here in Houston for several months and Nonni was at the same school as Claire, and that was the school of the chap whose song this video is. Claire is in several shots and Nonni is playing a bully, hahaha! He wouldn't hurt a fly in real life--what a nice guy.




On Thursday

UC Santa Barbara. My talk will be called “Humankind” hahaha.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Want to Help Nepal?

Tsoknyi Rinpoche runs some very important nunneries right in the earthquake zone and the nuns are helping people out directly right there. Here is the way to donate something.

The Tsoknyi lineage was always about the pro-feminist (for Tibetan buddhism) idea that women should have the same educational opportunities as men and not be denigrated as inferior (which is in fact a Vajrayana precept).

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Lithuanian Interview

Thank you Jokubas! I had forgotten that this was here. (English and Lithuanian in two columns.) The Contemporary Art Center in Vilnius is a fantastic space.