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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

MOOOdalities

It was almost my kind of apple except for the tiny set of stairs carved into the back descending to a long loop of spiraling peel that provided a way for what could have been small plastic monkeys to almost swing back and forth in the Munich twilight in the hands of the boy under the death clock, he was almost holding it straight up like the Statue of Liberty holding that torch that isn't really a gigantic ice cream cone, I mean it nearly is except it's made of metal and all and the fact that it's too big to fit into my face all at once, or even all at a thousand times, that's pretty true. If you don't have to exclude middles then don't forget the middle of the apple, the bit you just swallowed without noticing, those tiny cyanide pips they don't really kill you, they could almost if you ate enough I guess, they're like suicide pills inside an apple, but not really, well not that much anyway. Kinda suicide pills. Kinda suicide, is it possible, why yes, it happens every day. Turn off the old mind, it's easier said than done John, how about we turn it down half way and see what happens? I like the next bit, "It is not dying" etc that pretty much nails it, you're not dead and you're not alive, you're somewhere in between, kinda zombie with a nicer less freaked out, less I've been buried look, reasonable hairdo, but I'm not sure whether that means you're truly alive or not, especially not at that point, technically you sort of are but it's not you any more, it's some kind of visualization you, but then again, that was about 70% true before you popped it as well. Nothing quite exactly as it seems is exactly what seems to be the case whichever way you slice it. Crunch. Yeah this is definitely an apple, I just bit the inside of my cheek, that's something apples do to me, they don't mean it and neither do I, so we forgive each other. Could almost cry, almost laugh, not quite sure which pathway to travel, there's a lot of energy in here, could be a lighting effect, I'm slightly paranoid. You're neither with us nor against us but somewhere in the doorway of being with us, I reckon. That's how you look from here, it's pretty obvious you Mean Business in some way, you can pass my Turing Test any time, baby, haha, that's almost funny and you almost care, you're my kind of apple, a great crisp juicy computer of an apple if you ask me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Water on Mars

There is water on Mars. Water on Mars. On Mars. Mars. Water. On Mars.

I've been waiting to hear that since 1977.

For me, there is a cluster of associations:

Carter
Mars
My grandfather
The USA
Aliens
Carl Sagan
1977

That's a nice one yes?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Deficit

BBC, cutting the deficit is impossible when you do spending cuts. Impossible. That's the point. That's why Obama has cut the deficit far more than the UK Tories, who only managed to cut a bit by loosening the austerity. Come on. Think.

And I have a sneaking suspicion you mean debt. And that's the same. How can you reduce it by cutting taxes and services? It's just pure voodoo. Wake up BBC.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Poem 47

I love your love action; love’s just a distraction. No talking—just looking, watching your love action.

Fuck Faces 3

"But Tim, you're into withdrawal and deconstruction. We all know the deconstructive critique of the anthropological myth of fully present face-to-face society. Doesn't that mean we can use our cellphones as much as we want without any worry? I mean, there is no face-to-face. Objects withdraw."

Okay, challenge accepted. Let's go.

You know why face to face is better? It's for the opposite reason from the anthropological myth.

In face to face, there is less information. 

Face to face, in other words, is closer to the ontological truth than online.

It's a familiar fact about online classes. Why are they worse?

Because they contain more information.

Everywhere you look, something means something. There's the chat window, the ticker, the score box, the resources folder, the camera, the teacher in a little window, and on and on and on.

In a physical classroom there's the smell of the chalk, your greasy hair, the old broken furniture, the nasty carpet, the teacher's acne.

All kinds of things that have nothing to do with teaching, in a strictly ontic sense. You would think.

Precisely because of these redundant aspects of the physical classroom, the students can get into the class much better. That's why classrooms always win.

Face to face is closer to the ontological truth.

It's the online world that is in-your-face (-to-face).

First peoples are cooler because they have less chat boxes. Face to face means you don't know what's happening, you aren't being told everything, you can't predict everything.

That's why we're truly scared of putting our phones down. We think we will lose out on some kind of presence that's happening without us. The world of metaphysical presence is inside the screen.

Face to face is better because it's poorer. Not because it's richer. Face to face is better because it's underwhelming. 

Why are online classes worse? Because not everything is information.

Save the world from being turned into total information, please.

Fuck Faces Part 2

One wonders sometimes what kind of a world the internet has wrought, while one still can, that is, while there are still people who remember when it wasn't.

Interpersonally of course, in many respects it's been a total unmigitated disaster.

It figures, given that the medium was created for emergency military communication, then adopted by the WW1 world of academia. Look:

One 15-year-old I interviewed at a summer camp talked about her reaction when she went out to dinner with her father and he took out his phone to add “facts” to their conversation. “Daddy,” she said, “stop Googling. I want to talk to you.” A 15-year-old boy told me that someday he wanted to raise a family, not the way his parents are raising him (with phones out during meals and in the park and during his school sports events) but the way his parents think they are raising him — with no phones at meals and plentiful family conversation. One college junior tried to capture what is wrong about life in his generation. “Our texts are fine,” he said. “It’s what texting does to our conversations when we are together that’s the problem.” --Sherry Turkle

Wow. I'm glad to say that I haven't yet had a TV dinner or a phone-holding anything with my kids. Ever. That's after 11 years.

Sometimes when I Skype, and I hear the other person typing other Skype messages...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chtonic Index

Get thee to a bookseller and get a copy of this excellent book by Sophie Sleigh-Johnson. She commissioned an essay from me and the request really pushed my thinking: I'm a big fan of that!

But the book is much more than that. It's about (and is) the uncertain margin between physicality and information, between writing and painting, between marking and inscribable surfaces, human and nonhuman realms, past and present, Mesopotamia and Southend...It has a really fantastically uncanny ecological resonance, not your usual modes.

The most common modes out there right now in humanities and arts are:

(1) The overwhelming information dump, out of date already before publication and replicating the shock of grief and the unhelpful pleading that has gummed up ecological speech. No space is left for exploration. It's like how hip hop can be hamstrung by name checking. Better to go directly to the phenomenology of ecological awareness--talk to me directly about shock and the feeling of needing to plead...

(2) The underwhelming confession narrative about my authentic experience of nonhumans, failing to hit the collective awareness target, the sense of planet, and the feeling of unreality. Aka what I've called ecomimesis. Instead, stop trying to delete the weirdness of writing and the playfulness of beings, turn up the ambiguity.

If you're writing a book about environmental humanities, don't do (1) because then you are an example of what you should be studying...it's like “studies” of vegetarianism that slip into that discourse's rhetorical mode, the list that becomes less and less convincing the longer it is: “Did you know that Gandhi, Hitler, Ron from 1120, Plutarch, Frederica, assorted mystics, my auntie Flo... were vegetarians?” I can't tell you how many examples of that there have been in the last two hundred years, having done my Ph.D. on it...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lots of Essays Online

In case you want to read them, I've had this policy of uploading about an essay a week to academia.edu. I think I have about 75 essays on there, which is about half right now. Might be helpful?

What Relationists Hear

"The OOO idea that objects transcend their relations must mean that they think objects are static lumps that THEN enter into relations. This is reactionary. Therefore the inverse must be true. There are relations, of which so-called objects are temporary instances or purely illusory reifications."

When you think that, it is YOU who have the idea that objects must be static lumps. You think it's bad or impossible to think this way.

You are attacking OOO with YOUR extremely non-OOO prejudice about objects.

This is why there is NO objects versus relations "debate." We use the same words but we are in different galaxies.

It's a real Lyotardian differend. Total cross-purposes.

What we hear:

When you say "prior to" you mean "made of." I might be made of all kinds of things. I might be made by God or composed of point particles or sawdust. I might be made of relations for all I know, though to my ear that implies an infinite regress (relations between...what?).

But being made of something doesn't mean I am reducible to that something. If God made me out of his divine substance it doesn't follow that I am God.

You are simply selecting the faces part of a faces-candlestick gestalt and saying it's more real than the candlestick. The candlestick is the "object" and the faces are your "relations."

This is just rearranging the deck chairs on the ontotheological Titanic. You have said nothing ontological yet. We are not talking about competing "views of" reality--there's that staring-at-an-objectified-thing syndrome again.

"But I don't believe in this concept of real. There are a-real, irreal, etc processes that result in or are reified as so-called reality."

Again, to our ears, your concept of "real" is a reification. The mode in which you deny reality is--reification. You are swapping one form of reification for another. Your either/or dichotomizing of what you call "objects" and what you call "relations" or what you call "reality" and what you call "differential processes/negation/whatever term doesn't suck for you" is precisely the problem, a symptom of the metaphysics of presence.

The way you deny you are into presence is still in presence mode.

You see? However one escalates the "debate" you get the same result. There is no "debate" if only one party thinks they are in a boxing ring and that there is a winner between two competing beings. While the other party doesn't think this at all.

I can't tell you how many times relationists try to suck me into this "debate." I refuse because agreeing to the debate is agreeing to its terms, which are relationist. So we have a differend.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Get Ready for This Olafur

I am of course a fully posable action figure who really enjoys attuning to whatever directives my hosts want to send my way. It's more fun like that.

So next week, in Stockholm, at the Moderna Museet, I'm going to be doing the philosopher equivalent of cracking a bottle of champagne against a ship. The ship in question is a fantastic huge exhibition of work by Olafur Eliasson.

The bottle of champagne is a talk about the poetics and politics of geometry. You can't help but notice the astonishing work Eliasson has done with geometrical figures. For instance, as I've begun to see, some of them are in fact 3D renderings of 4D structures. And even when they aren't, they are, because they are “about” (yuck) time. It's better actually to say that they are fire hydrants that gush time.

The Rice Graduate Symposium

That was easily the best one, and I'm not just saying that because the grad student team running it chose me for their mentor, and I told them all my pet peeves about what works and what doesn't at conferences.

It was the best one because the students simply chose the best people to present papers. The quality has improved very consistently in the last four years. Mostly they are all beginning Ph.D. students presenting the raw basics of their vision, some faculty and some scholars who aren't academics, if you see what I mean.

I was very lucky because Nick Guetti, who has been really, really consistently helpful and kind on this blog, since it began, showed up, with a really interesting paper about permaculture and ecology.

And I was also lucky because Marjorie Levinson, who I consider to be a genius, was the keynote, and as I had expected, she didn't disappoint. She is developing a really powerful systems-theoretical theory of lyric.

Marjorie was part of the very first wave of new historicists, a truly exciting time in English lit (the late 80s). I was just recalling that time, as that was when and how I was trained. It was an intense time. Really volatile. People had been fired in the earlier 80s over “theory” and yet literary theory types were beginning to get a bit more recognized and even (in certain places) in charge of things. At that moment, Marjorie Levinson blew up Wordsworth scholarship with just one essay--I mean she totally blew it up. People were outraged. They just wouldn't stop talking about it. It was fantastic.

“History” and “theory” at that moment were the same thing. 

You have to understand that historicism doesn't just mean “providing a historical background to help understand a poem.” It had originally a Foucauldian and psychoanalytic and Frankfurt school edge that made it explosive and truly dangerous.

In particular, the sense that there is an irreducibly withdrawn (aka unconscious) aspect of history is, when you think it through, immensely powerful and deliciously scary.

At that moment, writing about vegetarianism and poetry was really, really counter-intuitive and actually dangerous to my career. People kept assuming I was simply promoting vegetarianism. The two domains were just so, so far apart in people's minds, it just didn't compute. That was the point.

Nowadays historicism has been diluted to a simple algorithm:

1 .Chose some literature.
2 .Chose some roughly contemporary non-literary phenomenon, such as stamp collecting.
3. Talk about both of them.
4. Publish a book called [Literature] and [Non-literary Phenomenon].
Example: Proust and Stamp Collecting.

Ian Bogost and I Are Making a Movie

The premise is very simple: Adam Sandler wakes up to discover that he's been transformed into Slavoj Žižek.

It's called Bugged.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

"I Don't Exist" Doesn't Mean "There Is Nothing"

The insatiable European/American desire to dissolve everything thought it had found an ideal motivation in Buddhism, for the sake of which fantasy one could dissolve one's traditional entanglements (such as thinking one is Christian, European etc.) as well as continuing to practice the other kinds of reductionism.

This kind of Buddhism ("Buddhism without beliefs") is just "Western" logistical functioning on steroids. Obviously it doesn't even "believe" that it's Western at all.

"I don't exist" means "Every time I hold on it hurts me and others" on a first pass and "Everything is quivering" on a subsequent one.

Discuss.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

US Journalists, Stop Glamorizing Prime Minister's Question Time

You say it's a healthy back and forth unquote, unlike the fake civility in the US congress. But it isn't. It's spin on steroids. It's the original PR. It has everything to do with pure style and it totally gets in the way.

Until Jeremy Corbyn blew it up. No room for Etonians to show off, you see.

Bogost@Rice

Today in Herring 100, 4pm, all welcome. He will tell you to curb your digital humanities enthusiasm...and he knows what he's talking about...

Conference at Rice Tomorrow: Come To It!


"Printing Money"

This was an idea scoffed at on the BBC two days ago. Why? Because Jeremy Corbyn is not a monetarist. No one seems bothered to remember, including the supposed guardian of supposed British culture (at least that's what they were charged with when they were created). Look:

1. Economies sometimes produce much less than they could, and employ many fewer workers than they should, because there just isn’t enough spending. Such episodes can happen for a variety of reasons; the question is how to respond.

2. There are normally forces that tend to push the economy back toward full employment. But they work slowly; a hands-off policy toward depressed economies means accepting a long, unnecessary period of pain.

3. It is often possible to drastically shorten this period of pain and greatly reduce the human and financial losses by “printing money”, using the central bank’s power of currency creation to push interest rates down.

4. Sometimes, however, monetary policy loses its effectiveness, especially when rates are close to zero. In that case temporary deficit spending can provide a useful boost. And conversely, fiscal austerity in a depressed economy imposes large economic losses. --Paul Krugman

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Just Give Me Some Truth

All I Want Is the Truth

A Picture Really Does Say a Thousand Words


…the man on the left is a clueless liar. The man on the right is asking an actual question and is suspecting the man on the left won’t answer it…

Maybe Cameron is saying “civilization!” and Corbyn is saying “I think it would be a very good idea”…that’s kind of the tone isn’t it??

Red faced blustering vs Lennon’s “all I want is the truth…”

And this is actually the case: The man on the right is asking actual questions sent in to him by actual people. And this is happening for the first time ever, today.

You think the man on the right is out of date? Truth is always now. 

Wow. I haven't seen the kind of face exemplified by the face on the right in Parliament. Ever. And since courage always makes me cry a bit I'm going a bit funny. Right at the round table in this academic senate meeting. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Dead Center

"the whole narrative about Labour’s culpability for the economic crisis and the urgency of austerity is nonsense. But it is nonsense that was consistently reported by British media as fact. And all of Mr. Corbyn’s rivals for Labour leadership bought fully into that conventional nonsense, in effect accepting the Conservative case that their party did a terrible job of managing the economy, which simply isn’t true. So as I said, Mr. Corbyn’s triumph isn’t that surprising given the determination of moderate Labour politicians to accept false claims about past malfeasance." --Paul Krugman

Some Guy

...from one of the American libertarian conservative think thanks that now operate in the UK too said the BBC the other day that austerity means tax cuts. Equals nice!

Ahem. No. Austerity means tax increases AND spending cuts.

If you don't automatically see that as a dangerous waste of time there's something wrong with you.

"You can't spend your way out of an economic crisis." Er, that's exactly what you CAN do. And even SHOULD do. If you don't, well...

Take the money people would have used to buy stuff. Then don't use it to support them buying stuff. How's that been working out?


I Remember

It must be the Corbyn Effect. For the first time in five years, the BBC called it by its correct name: BENEFITS. Not "welfare."

See the difference?

Corbyn was under discussion at that moment...

It had been so long I myself had almost forgotten the term...

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Rothko Test

I very often take my guests at Rice to the Rothko Chapel. It's only two blocks from my house.

I've observed something very interesting.

To a man and woman so far, those who are most committed to a Benjaminian view of the aesthetic (smash the aura!) are deeply disturbed and can't last more than two minutes in there. I haven't been proved wrong yet (this is year 4).

In the Chapel you encounter a primordial givenness that is way way beyond most concepts of aura. It's like aura on DMT.

Me, I find the space really warm and soothing. Intimate, friendly. Like being enveloped in flesh.

It was made by a man who soon after killed himself. Who cares??!!! It's aura on DMT.

I Don't Quite Know Why

...but I like to run in my Derrida shirt.





Ice Cores and Fossils and Cryogenics Oh My

I just wrote an essay for the upcoming exhibition by the magnificent Julian Charrière. Not difficult to do!

Julian's work reminds me of what Adorno says about art: that it does the violence to the world in an aesthetic key that society does to it in an all too palpable key. And in so doing displaces that violence.

Next up I'm introducing Olafur Eliasson's work in Stockholm.

It's fantastic for me to write and talk about art, because that is almost identical with what philosophy is, in my book.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

"Hard Left"

...because of the rhyme with “hard-line communism”?

Because we are talking about policies that will not quite turn the UK into...Norway.

Softening the impact of capitalism for more people. Softness.

Why not, for the sake of the beloved objectivity, an adjective to describe the Tory policies, discredited by at least three Nobel prize winning economists, not that anyone is listening?

What about rabid.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Mass Extinction Implies Humans Too

See? The converse is also true according to the biologists and chemistry type people I've talked with. In other words, humans going extinct = pretty much the rest too, since we are so entangled with them. The whole “world without us” thing is a dangerous fantasy that has nothing to do with actual speculative realism.

I'm at the Delfina Foundation

The information will tell you that I'm one of the artists...I made this shirt that says I Surrender...had to do with my appreciation for Björk's aesthetics, which are uncannily similar to mine and to my general creativity style.

Delfina Foundation is in London.

What Happens Nowadays

Daily:



Over time: 






Friday, September 11, 2015

Reminder 2.0

But death is real and comes without warning.

This body will be a corpse.

Reminder 1.0

Joyful to have such a precious human birth, difficult to find, free and well-favored.

Reminder 1.0

Joyful to have such a precious human birth, difficult to find, free and well-favored.

No one

Wow I work in such a nerdy school, it's week 3 and the gym is deserted again.

Didn't take any time at all for initial curiosity/situational pressure to wear off.

The Road of Excess Leads to the Palace of Wisdom

“After all, printing money to pay for stuff sounds irresponsible, because in normal times it is. And no matter how many times some of us try to explain that these are not normal times, that in a depressed, deflationary economy conventional fiscal prudence is dangerous folly, very few policy makers are willing to stick their necks out and break with convention.

The result is that seven years after the financial crisis, policy is still crippled by caution. Respectability is killing the world economy.” ---Paul Krugman

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Why Oliver Sacks Read Nature Physics

...for the same reasons I do. Björk told me to read this and I'm glad she did: it's a beautiful statement from a dying human. Aren't we all?

The Horror of Life

My dad, played violin for the Sex Pistols, Greenpeace, friend of Banksy, just sent me this, in the spirit of Dismaland:


Compulsory positivity. The experience of reading Scarry to someone can sometimes be very different from the experience of pouring through it as a kid.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Not Dead 2

1. The author of the essay once asserted that records (12", 45s, LPs) were made of concentric circles. Asserted, that is to say, in a scholarly format.

2. Yesterday's posts got 20 000 hits.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Please Let's Stop Calling Things "Communities"


We Are Only Just Getting Started

One commenter (see below) worries that because of an essay she or he read online, which said that SR/OOO is dead, we are dead. She or he asked me to respond, and I feel inspired to, so:



1. Saying something is true doesn't make it true.

I don't know whether the commenter is a scholar or not, but in Humanities world, as everywhere else, you can try to get what you want by turning your feeling or your order into a third person statement.

It's tricky if your statement is too transparent, in other words if it's not difficult to see the person having an emotion inside it.



2. The statement is more than outweighed by the welter of emails I get every day from high school students all over the shop, and artists in India, Brazil, Norway, Australia, Russia (and on and on and on) asking to clarify points relating to my school of thought, or asking for me to collaborate on something related to OOO. I'm not counting the scholars who are constantly writing with various kinds of message. “Scholars” here means undergraduates, graduates, and people with Ph.D.s (employed or not).



I'm sure this is also true for Harman and Bogost, not to mention the loads of other scholars in other SR domains.



2.a. Example: I'm opening Olafur Eliasson's big exhibition in Stockholm in a few weeks' time. He is very into OOO.



b. Björk. (Hello mate!)



3. You can sort of tell when something isn't working in scholarship world when people stop publishing your stuff. This is particularly acute if the publisher is a trade press that actually makes products that you buy in a lot of stores.



Verso want me to publish my next book with them.



Put that together with the previous sentence.



4. If you study the group dynamics of the statement “x is finished!” you will notice that the intensity with which it is said is an index of its untruth. The clue is in the title of the essay, which calls us “that thing that happened after poststructuralism.”



It's like commenters on the Hysterical Puffington Post saying “Yawn.” When someone says “I'm bored” it means “I'm stimulated and I want you to get rid of the stimulating thing.” “I'm bored” means “I'm critical.” If OOO was gone there would be no need to try to kill it off.



It's like when someone says “I don't think about my ex-boyfriend at all any more.” But you just did, in that sentence. And you made us think about him too. So you multiplied your problem.

That is not the most skillful tactic. More skillful would be to examine your mind state--why this passion about something? What is really driving it? And why the need to make self thwarting gestures in public?



5. This particular scholar has been saying this kind of thing for quite some time. At least three years I think. He wrote a sort of “You're either with us or against us” piece that said (paraphrase) “You can be a feminist and anti-racist etc., or you can be into speculative realism.” That didn't work (see the third sentence of point (3)), so I guess now he is trying this.



Unfortunately some people don't like it when you individuate, and murderous envy is a human response to individuation. Why envy something that is actually dead?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Advanced Harmonic Devilry

My two favorite music humans, Björk and Allan Holdsworth, keep going further and further out into the universe of sound.

Actually let's add Arca to that list shall we? Wow.

So, Allan Holdsworth is releasing a new album for those of us who are fronting up the money for it. The first track he's released is called “Earth” and it's 10 minutes of demonic trickster chords on the synthaxe, with insane drumming...there is a version with and a version without solos. Hard to decide which I love best, because the version without shows you the extraordinary timbral nuances of the Synthaxe, which seems to be playing a different kind of sound with every chord...and there are a lot of chords...it's almost to the point of atonality, pure and simple, right at the very edge of the Solar System of harmony. Maybe it's far out at the edge of the Oort Cloud.

That kind of thing. There is something powerfully, powerfully erotic about it. Holdsworth's music seems to be heading out further into the strangeness he's been exploring for over thirty five years. At full throttle.

As CASE says in Interstellar, “Maximum velocity achieved...prepare to fire escape thrusters...”

And as TARS points out a bit later, “Somewhere...in their...fifth dimension they...saved us...”

And as Cooper says somewhat earlier, but now we are outside time so he's saying it now, simultaneous with the other sayings, “Everybody ready to say goodbye to our...Solar System?”

And as Romilly observes at that moment: “To our galaxy...”

If your being could do with an advanced cleaning, send Holdsworth a bit of money via Pledge Music.

And: who dares to play drums like that? One shouldn't be allowed to add that many grace notes before a note. It's a riff, but it's a solo, at the exact same time. Oh, I know, it's Virgil Donati.

And you have never heard Jimmy Johnson play like that. You just haven't.

It should't have been called “Earth” maybe. Maybe it should have been called “Pale Blue Dot.” aka the last time you see Earth before you leave the Solar System.

I admire anyone who can keep their head together enough to operate the technical instruments that deliver those sounds to us at that distance at that musical extremity.

As my man Cooper observes, correcting CASE who admonishes him with “Cooper, there's no point in using our fuel to chase--”:

“Analyze the Endurance's spin.”

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Irreducible Magic

A few decades ago physicist John Bell wrote an essay that basically showed that quantum nonlocality is irreducible.

What does that mean?

It means you can't reduce phenomena such as entanglement to something else. Of course, this is what physicists want to do, to get rid of the “spooky action at a distance” implied by quantum theory: the fact that something can influence something else faster than light.

To get rid of spookiness. To get rid of causality as magical, precisely. Let's put it in the most outrageous terms possible: telekinesis is a basic fact of our universe.

For instance, for all its Spinozan majesty and the really nice Rupert Sheldrake interpretation of that implicate order, Bohm's theory reduces quantum nonlocality to something much less spooky: there is one enormous thing, and we are manifestations of that thing. Onto-theology.

Bell showed that causality is aesthetic: in other words, influence happens without a series of mechanical connectors between one object and another. At all.

Bell's theorem has just been made stronger by yet another loophole having been ironed out. People are constantly looking for workarounds. None has been found so far.

It looks like we are living in an irreducible universe, and moreover, that irreducibility is weird.

I'm going to keep banging on about this until I'm dead.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bogost Denies Surge in Hits

Well, this blog got 40 000 hits yesterday. And the day before 20 000. I blamed my post about Ian Bogost coming to Rice. But Ian assures me it can't be that.

It's an interesting correlation though. Occasionally in the last year I've had about 8 000 hits once or twice. A little while before I would sometimes get 3000. But 40 000 is an order of magnitude higher. It's like some kind of domino cascade or hundredth monkey effect. Or maybe Ian's talk made the software go crazy with pleasure :)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bogost @ Rice

Open to the public. What an awesome talk description:


Ian Bogost, “Smartwhatever, or, Living Inside Computation”

Thursday, September 17
4:00 p.m.
Herring 100
Part of the Sawyer Seminar on Platforms of Knowledge in a Wide Web of Worlds, sponsored by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

One of the great ironies of today’s era of “smart” devices and supposedly soon-to-be-life-threatening artificial intelligence and all the rest is that computing is actually pretty stupid. Smart TVs, doorbells, thermostats, and related gizmos promise us the ability to control our lives from our smartphones. The only thing they fail to explain is why we’d want to do that. Computational life today is less and less about the operation and use of computing devices, and more a new type of lifestyle we live inside computers. Is it a lifestyle we wish to live? A good question. An even better one: what do we do about the fact that it’s coming one way or another.

Dr. Ian Bogost is an author and an award-winning game designer. He is Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in Media Studies and Professor of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he also holds an appointment in the Scheller College of Business. Bogost is also Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC, an independent game studio, and a Contributing Editor at The Atlantic, where he writes regularly about technology and popular culture.

"I had to kill you because you weren't obeying the rules"

...that's the English neurosis in relation to the law. Every culture is different in this regard. But you'll hear something like that from a motorist when you cross the street in the “wrong” place.

Or when you're a kid and get arrested for child pornography because you sexted your girlfriend, who herself distributed the image. (Today's news.) The spokespeople's justifications on the radio this morning exactly fit the rhetoric just described.

In a school system where, unlike in the USA (again, see my previous) you are no longer allowed to give your frightened pupils so much as a hug because you will be fired for sexual abuse.

In a school culture where the basic vibe is “There is no bullying, because we never talk about it.”

In a wider school culture of pervasive child sexual abuse (my old school is under serious investigation for it, e.g.).

The prurient obsession with naked bodies fused with the child-unfriendly culture results in really wrong violence.

          ***

If you visit from the USA, you will be amazed at how many parents behave to their kids in supermarkets. The way some parents yell at them would get you citizens' arrested or clocked over here. For instance, last time I was in Sainsbury's, last year: [a mother, yelling really loudly, child is crying, no one is looking because that would be impolite] “If you don't fucking [whatever the parent wants, I don't recall, probably “shut up”] I'm going to fucking smack your fucking face, fuck fuck this fuck that etc.”

The point being, her actions were condoned in silence. I think Mark Fisher's essay about the violence of boarding school (see earlier post) applies here, because surely this is a percolation from the still feudal culture of rulership.

It's really really vivid if you emigrated from the UK to the USA and have kids. The lack of playgrounds, the general contempt for children, the general vibe of not having kids is way better than having kids. The basic cruelty towards self that creates these beliefs, let alone cruelty to others.

In the land of Piglet and Moley. What gives?

England, land of discipline. You learned to say NO and you wield it very unskillfully, often. [Many American students have told me stories of being reduced to tears by their professor from or in England--and you know that many of the English are laughing at the American for having a pretty normal emotion reaction to being hurt. And probably they describe her as narcissistic because she hasn't developed sufficient scar tissue to act as ersatz psychic armor against, sorry Rog was right again, the dark sarcasm in the classroom.]

You skipped a step, England. You need to learn to say YES first. Before you learn discipline you need to learn generosity.

Some Future Talks Coming

...I updated the Future Talks page. Stockholm soon then Paris are up first.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gramsci

...by the way, that previous post is pretty standard Gramsci, for what it's worth. He was fond of arguing that the US was in front of Europe ideologically speaking.

Wow

For all the bluff talk by unelectable racist and misogynist candidates, the USA is still in front of Europe in many respects. Heck we even still have a nationalized mail service and trains (sorry UK).

But the recent clarity we now all have about Europe's immigration and asylum policies--there isn't the latter, at all, for instance--truly takes the biscuit.

And as for the reactions of Poland (no one allowed but Catholics), Hungary and the UK...

It's quite absurd from over here. If you want to go to Cali you don't need to prove you have a job to get over the Sierra Nevada, British Tory secretary whose name I forget, oh yes Teresa May.

We didn't get hypnotized by the austerity scolds either.

My son is only a bit older than the boy in that photo.

Brittle Funny Oppression

Mark Fisher's piece on comedy in The New Humanist is just so good.

Nailing it on the boarding school vibe. From an American perspective I'd say that the comedy is only a hotspot region of a much larger space, let's call it all of England south of roughly Nottingham.

Maybe a bit romanticizing of the working class. I can do both channels having been at school with the entity called Osborne and at home with my dad in the musicians' union and his dad having been a steelworker and my brother being a plumber. And that world has its own psychic armor. Just listen to Lennon, "Working Class Hero."

Fisher plus Lennon will give you an accurate guide to a lot of England and the take home message is: if you live south of Nottingham, evacuate immediately.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

That's the Spirit Graham

Cole has failed to grasp the genuine reason why artists and architects have taken an interest in my work. For the past four hundred years, Western philosophy has tried like an insecure teenager to copy the methods and triumphs of deductive geometry and the natural sciences. It has tried to turn philosophy into a form of knowledge despite the unironic claim of philosophy’s founding hero, Socrates, that he knows nothing.”  -- Artforum