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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Oh Dear

So...It's that time of year when we have to record our activities as scholars at my job. And it turns out (I didn't know this until just now) that:

I did 26 lectures, presentations and conference type things.

I published 26 essays. (That's even more than I had thought.)

(Of cours I remember that I published 2 books.)

This on top of normal teaching (2 classes per term) and normal service (inside and outside school on committees, writing reports and so on).

Could this be why sometimes I feel like I'm just going to fall over asleep?

Ack!

Nip the STEM in the Bud

According to recent research schizophrenic brains prune more neurons more aggressively than other brains.

And this explains 1.25% of schizophrenia, on the authors' own admission. One point two five percent.

A few months before that, it's that schizophrenics have too many neuronal connections.

Or it's a parasitic worm.

Or...

And in the news article, the university PR department's retweet that this is a huge mega breakthrough. Allowing the actual scientists the wiggle room for the “batteries not included” disclaimer that it isn't one (so give us more funding). Adding up to a nice truthsome package.

And this sort of thing is why “humanities is in decline”? STEM on the rise? STEM called STEM?

The stem of anything simply can't be blind computation and the stem of learning can't be training how to be a much less good calculator than the app in my phone. And the result of all that machination, and machination funding, can't be leaving 98.75% of my brother's condition unexplained.

You know what? I'm making a late breaking new years' resolution.

1.25%? Until neuroscience can explain what schizophrenia actually is—and this will, ahem, require proving that it exists—I'm not going to believe another word it says (I was already down to about 10%). And write a little note to whatever media outlet delivers an irksome scientistic factoid as The Truth.

At least theoretical physicists have the good grace to admit that they are entangled with the patterns in data they are paid to find and think about. Which is why a huge majority of them are now concerned that we don't actually know s*** about reality.

In the mid 90s I was sitting next to a neuropharmacologist on a plane, and I was desperate about my schizophrenic brother, and he was telling me all about olanzapine (drug for people with schizophrenia). And I was so ready to believe what I later realized was just a snake oil pitch.

“This new miracle fact/drug will explain everything (away). Relax!” Once you've heard it 678436742 times you start to get a little bit exasperated.

The first peoples did a much better job of defining what we call schizophrenia. You hear the voice of ancestors or spirits more than others? You need to go to shaman camp!

Even the early agrilogisticals did a better job. You hear the voice of god, maybe you should be the king's astrologer or whatever.

Can these new guys even explain what a hallucination is? And can they make a clear distinction between one and a “normal” thought?

The media: “Since the dawn of time, man [deliberate] has been investigating schizophrenia, an ancient illness...”

No “he” hasn't. It was invented in the later nineteenth century. Read a book. Meanwhile my brother is still suffering.

(Incidentally, talking of man, and this needs a subsequent post, I need to tell you what happened when I went through my nth training at my new job on how to interview people, aka how not to be a complete sexist or racist or ask people about their religion etc. It involves a chemistry professor who “Just didn't understand why it's always the men who are obviously better candidates for our jobs” and a computer science professor so angry that he stormed out of the room red faced. And me, the ranking humanist in the room, doing my best hard Paddingtonian stares. And the brave psychology professor who convened the meeting doing her best to teach the stats on how questions can distort interviews to men who were acting mostly like schoolboys being punished. It's 2016 folks! And they say humanities is dead and STEM, etc etc etc ack.)

The MRI machine is the most expensive light show in history. “People played jazz on little wraparound touch sensitive sheets while listening to jazz on headphones. We saw lights on a display. This means that when you play jazz, our machine lights up. [DISCLAIMER: which came first is still, for some reason, inexplicable, by us.]” Wow. I must skin up immediately. This is cosmic.

Meanwhile, my kids spend the weekend doing computational tasks so onerous that most parents at their state schools end up doing those for them anyway. And it's not enough just to calculate. You have to present your calculations in boutique form. Decorate that meaningless cake! Or else! Which results in using computational prosthetics, so no one learns even computation.

Recently my 11-year-old daughter had to do a scale model of her bedroom. The rich kids came in on the Monday with plastic models that daddy's architecture firm had printed using a 3D printer--just input the numbers and hit return. One kid had been bought an iPod Touch simply to simulate the flat screen TV in her bedroom. The 3D printed model had been scaled to the iPod Touch! Simple. Plug in the ratio between the real TV and the iPod Touch. Then scale the model around that. Click. STEM.

The poor kids came in with drawings on paper. How do you think they felt?

Forget the fact that most of the universe appears to be dark matter and dark energy and that we still can't really explain what the heck is happening in the double slit experiment. We're talking about having so little idea of what a mind is, we can't even explain 98.75% of schizophrenia on our own admission, yet we get funded and the humanities scholars who might have helped out get ignored and unfunded. Might it not be surprising that they are a little bit lost and peeved right now?

Let's get back to how things should be:

You let humanists figure out what the f*** schizophrenia is, or isn't. Then you pay attention. Then you go and do some nice research to find out some more about stuff based on what you heard us say, okay?

Humanists need to learn about science and start getting out of their bunkers. Yes. But the reason for the bunkers needs to be addressed. The “third culture” vibe (Brockman) needs to be stopped.

You've got years and years and years to learn how to compute. It's a fun hobby for all. Maybe if you took the time to think a bit beforehand, you wouldn't rush into research (and funding research) that explains a statistically almost meaningless sliver of a major, horrifying (in our world) mental condition, then have the PR department feed it to news outlets conditioned to act as if it were the Truth.

Science does appearance. Engineering does how to manipulate appearance. We do reality. Nip the STEM in the bud.




Saturday, January 30, 2016

Quick Subscendence Video

This is me at Sonic Acts last year. I begin to explain why subscendence is such a good idea...


Timothy Morton: Subscendence from Sonic Acts on Vimeo.

Of Course You can Do Something about Hyperobjects

Objects can't touch ontologically doesn't mean “You can't do anything about something politically.” Far from it. Almost the opposite, in a way, as I'll show here.

And actually it doesn't mean “You can't touch a stick of deodorant.” Of course you can.

Of course you can do something about global warming, a hyperobject. You can “touch” it. You can for instance reduce carbon emissions. Wow, you think I'm arguing there's nothing we can do about global warming?!

Ontologically withdrawn doesn’t mean that you can’t touch something ontically. Withdrawn means “not reducible to anything else.” And as I'm going to show this is really really good for anyone who wants to dismantle a thing.

Just changing labels really doesn’t help. For instance, someone recently worried about hyperobjects in the terms outlined above has suggested the term “situation.” “Situations” can touch each other and we can touch them (unlike, for some reason, hyperobjects). But “situation” is a diluted and vague label—I’m afraid it doesn’t yet rise to the level of “concept” so I can’t address it that way.

Various clues hint at a not so hidden agenda: the worry (this is an essay about the drug war as a “situation”) is coming from a Deleuzianism that's a bit cross, as it can be sometimes, that there’s a new way of thinking about things (OOO).

The main clue is that situation seems most like assemblage (the use of the neologism “assemblic” in the title of this particular essay is a clue).

OOO is much nicer than that, because “assemblage” is a reductionist concept.

The assemblage concept is saying that big things are just loose aggregates of smaller things. The very things we want to describe aren't actually described--they're reduced, which isn't the same thing. Happy nihilism, a philosophical tool of neoliberalism (aka agrilogistics 9.0) is really pleased that largely distributed things might only be loose affiliations of small things, because it means that they don't really exist, so you can do anything. For instance, if a  meadow is just a bunch of other things, you can argue that it doesn't really exist and build a parking lot on “it.” Deterritorial assemblage logic is pretty much how a lot of neoliberal logic works. There was perhaps a utopian moment for this logic when it sounded so fresh and different from the previous subversive logics, but we're way past that now in an age of corporate tax inversion, conceptual artists dictating Putin's foreign policy, and everything BP. 

OOO is saying that groups of things are also things that exist equally with their parts. There is an ontological gap between whole and parts.

But this in turn means that we have an awful lot more political wiggle room than we thought. Far from being disempowering, it's just about the most liberating ontological concept we've come up with in quite a while.

It actually gives us a really powerful political conceptual and tactical tool, because it means that the whole is always less than the sum of its parts (I invented this term subscendence to describe it). This is an incredibly counterintuitive idea (because we've been brainwashing each other for ever) but in the end it's a very easy to understand overturning of millennia of holist beliefs about sets (that wholes are bigger than the sums of their parts) that is really just a monotheism reteweet (and thus part of the problem). Dominic Boyer and I are talking about it in our book Hyposubjects.

There are plenty of political tactics outlined in Hyperobjects already, which circle around subscendence without directly naming it (sorry! Can't think everything all at once!). 

I think maybe that we are scared of naming big things precisely because we're still retweeting monotheism. We are hobbling our ability to cope with the entities we've unleashed. We think that if you name it, you've made it into a Thing (capital T), and that means a bit bad scary holistic being that lords it over its parts. This says more about our idea (or rather precritical assumptions) about sets than it does about things in the world. It gives rise to a paranoid, precisely “anti-Oedipal” (aka still relating to and caught up in the Oedipal, which is to say agrilogistical, dynamic!) style of engagement. Showing your behind to the political father (Barthes) means you think there is a father on a throne. 

You have swapped the holist tactic of substituting one god for another to the still-holist tactic of mooning a god.

The hyperobject concept and the subscendence that it implies give you something really toothsome and handy to hang on to and so they're ever so much better for tactical reasons than situation. Situation is more like a cloudy, slightly inverted version of the monotheist holism. We are caught (as the examples in the essay show) in various “situations” at which we throw up our hands, sinners in the hands of a cloudy god.

So behind the Deleuzianism there's something else. It's good old correlationism. A situation is anthropocentrically scaled. It's just a matter of changing your attitude, from using the term as a smoke screen behind which you can throw up your hands (“I'm in this situation, what can I do?”) to starting a needle exchange (for instance--the example is the drug war). If it's that easy, then there's nothing there apart from how you decide it to be. So your politics is mostly about getting the label right, rather than trying to work with reality. 

As Blake would say, I want a wiry bounding line. Determinacy means you can see your enemy clearly. 

British Banks: Hinting Not too Subtly that They Want Deregulating

...in such a typically British way: “I had to run you over, because you were crossing the road in the wrong place.”

MPs are opening their morning mail and discovering their bank accounts have been eliminated.

The letters will either say nothing or say that they are too much of a risk.

A bit of research by a plucky MP (Conservative, as it happens, doesn't matter) has show that they're over-applying a UN rule about money laundering! Like if you're a member of Parliament of some kind you are a greater risk because you might be laundering money.

What's amazing (see paragraph 1 for the reason) is that the BBC didn't immediately ask the banks “Why isn't this happening to any other member of any other government in Europe or America?” For that matter, it might in some cases be the exact same banks, that aren't treating any other customer anywhere else like that.

It's obvious what's happening when you hear the bank spokesperson: “Well, there are all of these regulations, hint hint, and we got fined $250 billion in the last few years, and you made all these new regulations, hint hint.”

They're needling British MPs to deregulate them and taking revenge for having been found out as the architects of the Great Recession.

Friday, January 29, 2016

No It's Not Ethical Nihilism

Two of you might have been worried yesterday at the lecture that if a bullet exists equally with a blue whale, then the bullet has some kind of right to be fired into the blue whale (just an example).

I gave a two part answer that really needed a third part, so here it is.

But first, here's a much more detailed lecture about it.

Anyway...

So first up I need to say, I'm not the object police so I'm not about telling you exactly what's out there. OOO is about how things exist if they do. There might be just five things in the universe. Or five trillion. I have no idea.

So an example, such as a bullet, remains hypothetical, in a certain sense.

Paragraph 1 describes accurately not OOO at all, but a certain strain of deep ecology, in which for instance HIV has just as much right to exist as an HIV victim. This is absurd.

And why it's absurd is precisely the danger of allowing ontology to come with an inevitable, snap-on ethics and politics. Peeling ethics away from ontology might give us the kind of wiggle room we'd need such that we don't end up creating absurd ideas like that.

The point is, since things exist equally and there's no inevitable ethics or politics that emerges from OOO, you are free to decide, much more free, in fact, than if you think it's only humans that “really” exist or only humans that matter or only humans or conscious beings or what have you to which ethics pertains. You have the controls! Do you want bullets to have the ability to kill all the blue whales? You have to make that decision based on something other than ontology, is all. And it's quite clear to me and anyone with a  pulse that your decision would suck.

This snap-on ethics thing is a symptom of anthropocentric correlationism. Suddenly things are a lot less clear. That's good, at least for a moment.

The other point is, if you stick around waiting for the whale to prove that she's a person, loads of people are going to shoot her. You need to make a decision to help her that doesn't require some deep stuff about the nature of reality.

It's just that for about two hundred years “reality” has coincided exactly with human social, psychic and philosophical space.

It has another side effect, this coinciding. It gives rise to that idea that we're totally shrink-wrapped in our world, imprisoned in ideology or what have you. And the subsequent self-defeating left intelligence performance of “I can show that we're so much worse off than you think, therefore I'm more intelligent than you.” How's this disempowering idea been working out so far?

The other point is that everything becomes political, which is great. You are already making unconscious implicit decisions to care or not care for all kinds of nonhumans. OOO just makes all that very very explicit. And in a world where everything is political, no political system can be perfect and absolutely right. Someone or something is always left out. My affiliation with blue whales means I'm going to exclude bullets. So what?

So, this is quite the opposite of ethical nihilism, no?

Anyway, if you truly want to get nihilism from ontology, try an extreme reductionist one, not an irreductionist one such as OOO. Something along the lines of: I don't exist, I really really don't exist, not even as a good enough illusion, because “I” is just a manifest image of some material flux beaming through neurons. So you can kinda do what you want with me, because there isn't a me.

A Hat Listening to my Lecture

A kind awesome person, Erin Eichenberger, sent my host a photo of her hat listening to my lecture with two hundred humans and about 250 chairs, some water and mikes and dust and...

Thanks College of William and Mary! That was really meaningful for me.






Wednesday, January 27, 2016

In Willliamsburg

Right in it, right in the colonial central part. Extraordinary. If you don't know what I'm talking about you should definitely look it up! I'm here for this lecture.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Time Emerges from Objects

...don't take OOO's word for it: talk to a quantum theorist.

New Yorker Review of Chris Schaberg's Book on Air Travel

The thing is, he was my Ph.D. student, so I'm super proud of him. And he's my friend at this point, so I'm super happy for him.

Ecology and Spectrality

I'm particularly interested in this part of the essay, because spectrality is a major, major component of Humankind (Verso). Check it out. Sentence 1 of that book:

A SPECTER IS HAUNTING THE SPECTER OF COMMUNISM. THE SPECTER OF THE NONHUMAN.

hahahaha...right? Right??

Anyway here's more of this essay:

Cantor showed that there is a gap between numbers and sets of numbers.Likewise there is a gap between lifeforms and sets of lifeforms.We can think of these sets as ecosystems, biomes, biosphere—we can think of these sets at any scale, and there is no easy continuity between these sets. An environment is just a certain set of lifeforms.The way one does ecological research is to establish a somewhat arbitrary set—to define a boundary sometimes called a mesocosm, in which one observes lifeforms coming and going, reproducing, struggling. An ecosystem is vague, in the sense that paradoxes called Sorites paradoxes arise when one attempts to define them precisely. How many blades of grass do I have to remove for this meadow not to be a meadow? One—surely not. Two—still a meadow. Three, four, and so on—and the same logic applies until I have only one blade of grass left. I conclude, wrongly,that there is no meadow.These paradoxes plague sets of lifeforms at any scale, and therefore it is strictly impossible to think ecological reality via a meta- physics of presence, namely, a belief that to be a thing, you have to be constantly present.

It is paradoxically much better to think that there is a meadow and there is not a meadow at the same time. We seem to have violated the supposed Law of Noncontradiction, asserted but not proved in Section Gamma of Aristotle’s Metaphysics. There is a meadow, but we can’t point to it directly, because it’s not constantly present. And yet here is the meadow, with the butterflies, the cowslips, the voles. Just as a vole is a set of things that are not voles, so the meadow is a set of things such as voles that are not meadows.

Thus a spectral strangeness that haunts being applies not only to lifeforms—a vole is a not-vole—but also to meadows, ecosystems, biomes and the biosphere. The haunting, withdrawn yet vivid spectrality of things also means that there can be sets of things that are not strictly members of that set, and this violates Russell’s prohibition on the set paradox that arises precisely through thinking Cantor’s transfinite sets.Transfinite sets are as we just saw sets of numbers that contain sets of numbers that are not strictly members of that set.There is an irreducible gap between the set of real numbers and the set of rational numbers—Cantor himself, like Gödel, drove himself crazy trying to find a smooth continuum between the two. This drive to find a continuum is a hangover from the Law of Noncontradiction, which has never been formally proved, but which has been accepted as a precondi- tion for philosophy since Aristotle.

OOO and Nihilism: Nihilism Upgraded

From my essay for Tom Bristow:

Let us now consider object-oriented ontology (OOO), the philosophical view to which I subscribe.What object-oriented ontology does is to multiply the cracks in the real everywhere.There are as many cracks in the real as there are things. Because reality just is things, and things just are riven from the inside between what they are and how they appear, even to themselves. There is a human–world gap. There is a toaster–world gap.There is a crack between octopuses and toasters.There is a crack between octopuses and octopuses: octopus thing and octopus phenomena are fissured from within.There is a crack between this octopus and this coral reef; a crack between this coral reef itself and this coral reef itself. Like some astonishingly beautiful piece of Japanese raku, reality is just riddled with trillions of cracks. OOO is thus the first western view to embrace the nothingness with no hesitation whatsoever.And thus OOO performs the task of overcoming nihilism—which as Nietzsche and Heidegger argued cannot be overcome by pushing or resisting but by going in and transforming from underneath.

Working for Tom Bristow

Tom is a really wonderful ecological humanist and I'm just proofreading an essay I wrote for him right now. We've been working on it for a while and he's really helped me to get it really nice-sounding. There's something very compact and incisive about it. It's going to be in a book called A Cultural History of Climate Change and I think it's going to be really interesting to readers. Dipesh Chakrabarty opens it up and my essay closes it.

Look at this for example:

hyperobjects, massively distributed entities such as global warming, biosphere, evolution, electromagnetism—the discoveries of the nineteenth century and after—are precisely efficient in reopening the gap for us. Hyperobjects are things that one can compute and think, but not see or touch (Morton, 2013). It is as if in the case of hyperobjects, reason were capable of slapping us upside the head with a dose of reality, or better, as if through reason we figured out that we were not the greatest and final creatures on Earth, but rather that we were inhabiting all kinds of gigantic entities that are thinkable, yet invisible. The nineteenth century was the moment at which the hyperobject we call El Niño was conceptualized, a vast climatic system in the Pacific that affects weather—a gigantic being whose existence can be surmised but not directly seen, only indirectly and vicariously in phenomena such as rain and drought.

"There Is No Problem with X because We Don't Talk about It"

...this is pretty much how the UK does ideology. Insert anything for the X: homophobia, bullying...and the oil price crash. Today is the very first time I've heard the stock market woes linked to oil--oil mentioned at all, in fact--in all the weeks and weeks that this has been going on. Finally someone mentioned, very briefly, the price of Brent Crude. And all they said was that “people would normally react well to this falling price [!] but for some reason, because people are scared [I wonder what that other reason is?] they aren't."

It reminds me of 2008. They called it “the credit crunch” when in fact it might better have been called “terrifying meltdown of derivatives.” Credit crunch sounds like “blimey, I'm a bit short, you wouldn't happen to have a fiver on you?”

Sunday, January 24, 2016

My nervous little Texan driving colleagues, allow me to teach you how to turn left at the lights

0. If there's a turn signal, wait until you can use it. But if there isn't:

1. When the light goes green, drive nice and slow into the middle of the box shape between the four intersecting streets.

2. When there's a nice gap in traffic on your left, turn left.

You will find you are able to execute 2 in a leisurely way but with panache almost automatically.

If there's a car turning right, it can do so simultaneously now. Nice! In the UK it's called an offside-offside turn.

This will obviate:

A. Turning super fast in front of me when it's my right of way and nearly getting us killed.

B. Turning super fast just as the lights go red and it's the other guy's right of way.

Is driving right out into the middle as I'm suggesting too scary, or too exposing, or what? What is it, because it must be intense: you would rather we both be killed than have that happen, whatever it is.

Killed in your great big fearsome confidence-mobile. So-called. Quite probably with a cattle grille or bullbar as you say in front. But still you're scared to turn left.

You know taxes are really bad but you don't know this?

I'm sort of begging here, at this point.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Flyer for the Williamsburg Lecture


Some New Stuff in Future Talks

...two things in Paris in February!

More on the Virginia Lecture

So, here are the details:

Art History's Distinguished Lecturer Timothy Morton

Thursday, January 28th 2016
7pm
Andrews Hall, Room 101
605 Jamestown Rd
Williamsburg, VA 23185

I'm Talking in Virginia on Thursday

Big lecture at the College of William and Mary. It's called “X-Existence” and it's a mega road test of a very important part of my Humankind book for Verso. I love to use lectures like that. They are my lab. Thought is interactive and physical. I couldn't do it, literally, without talking with you.

So please please come. I'm going to find out more about when and where exactly.

Hauntology in Ecology without Nature

...I know, it's a thing, derived from Derrida's ever-punning pronunciation of “ontology” in Specters of Marx, a lecture I was at (at NYU, at a conference way back when).

The nice hauntological staff have excerpted part of my first explicitly ecological book and it's nice to read it!

Michael Marder with a Peace Treaty between Humans and Plants

We've been parallel playing for a while and now he's ever so nicely endorsed Dark Ecology, which is making very similar arguments to him, up to and including his working with Irigaray. Look at this for example. A super choice part:

Human existence (Dasein), which Heidegger construed in terms of a clearing in being (Sein), replays the idea that a clearing in the forest is the place of spirit, liberated from the tight grip of matter.

Wow.

Friday, January 22, 2016

OOO physics prediction turns out correct

This is mad. A friend just sent me the TED talk by the chap who is explaining that the Higgs field is nowhere near strong enough, it turns out, to give particles mass.

So about five years ago, on this blog in fact, very new to OOO and very excited I predicted that either

1. There is no Higgs field. OR

2. There is a Higgs field but it doesn't explain particle mass.

And I got there using OOO. !

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ready for Hyposubjects? It's Hyperobjects part 2!

And Dominic Boyer and I, the authors, have made a nice little manifesto for Cultural Anthropology, and you can find it here.

Michael Marder on David Bowie's Dust

This is really interesting and significant and it comes from his new book on dust for Object Lessons.

Why significant? Lots of reasons but one is, it gives us a new way to think the perennial Benjamin vs Adorno debate.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ian Bogost on a Thing that Happened to Us Last Week

It's so true. The customer now has to be a knowledge worker. Just like, as I've been saying, an academic, with just as little appreciation and even less pay, i.e. nothing.

The cool bit was falling around laughing with Ian about it all, which got us a lot of suspicious looks from the wait staff. Who kept on and on harassing us about whether we were enjoying it.

That NYC Lecture

1100 people so far have seen the video of “And You May Find Yourself Living in an Age of Mass Extinction.” Nice one!!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why Is READ MORE So Horrid?

I think it started in advertising world. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. Then people started putting it on their online cvs and stuff. It's bad in ads and it's really really bad in non-ads. Because of course in part they become ads, but that's not even the main thing.

What's it doing in an ad?

The word read talks to the fact that everyone is some kind of ersatz knowledge worker now. Y'all get to “enjoy” the world I “enjoy” as a scholar, by doing research and editing texts. Without getting paid or promoted. It's called scrolling through and updating your Facebook page.

The word more is surely about food. Do you want some more? Please sir, can I have some more? 

It's your prurience and greed button being pushed, disguised as your intellectual curiosity button. Like I said, you get to “enjoy” the world I “enjoy” etc etc.

And of course what's actually being said is Go on, press me. Submit to this ad. You know you want to. You're just finding stuff out. 

I'm not really reading, unless read just means “perceive.” In which case why not say “see more“ or for that matter, “smell more”?

Feel more intelligent than the guy you imagine not pressing. Look, we have more information. Look, it's behind this screen--we're letting you see how this ad works and you're participating in its construction.

It's in words you see. Why the words? Why not just a  >> or some symbol that stands for it? Something nonverbal like a European traffic sign? That's the other thing. It's like an American sign: Exit ONLY, Ped Xing, Yield. 

Or even just continued or see over would be better. There isn't the offer of greedy guzzlings of lovely new chunks of fact further down the giant crisp packet of knowledge.

This isn't high versus low stuff. Like imagine how it would ruin porn completely.

Google has 4.6 billion entries for READ MORE.

There should be a Warhol soup can with READ MORE on it instead of Campbell's. Anyone want to do it?

Like I said on Twitter, imagine it at the bottom of every printed page. It's like, I know. I know to turn the page. Even if I don't, isn't it fun to find stuff out? And this idea that when I turn the page I'm going to get more. Rather than just another page. It's what Derrida would call the logic of the supplement. It interrupts while promising that you will be fulfilled. And so it ruins every reading experience, doesn't it? Just imagine it.

In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was READ MORE

It was the best of times, it was the worst of READ MORE

I have a dream, that READ MORE

Arma virumque cano READ MORE

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, / Mi ritrovai per una READ MORE

Please please internet, stop this utter horror.

Seminar at the Museum of Fine Art Today

...it's for the art school students there (Houston's MFAH), and then I'm going to be visiting all their studios throughout this week. I'll keep you posted. I'm honored to have been invited to do it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Happy MLK Day

My annual spin of Mr. Fingers, “Can You Feel It.” One of the greatest pieces of Detroit techno ever devised.


Signing My Penguin Contract

It's so very very clear. The funny thing is, it's made me realize:

Ack! I'm writing three books this year! That would be Hyposubjects, Being Ecological, and Humankind.

It's so fantastic actually. Just kinda muddle through it and everything synergizes everything else.

Han Solo has a great line in The Force Awakens. They're trying to jump to hyperspace on take-off.

Rey: Is that possible?

Han: I never ask that question until after we've done it.

Humankind 5: Object-Oriented Marxism and Racism and Speciesism

Cliff writes about my previous: “I'd include thinking about inequality too. There's something of the human/non-human in that equation as well.”

Absolutely. There are loads of other OO angles. It's just that the intervention in that perennial debate about the “epistemological break” kinda convinced me, yes this is OO Marxism for sure, with a very distinct flavor that you can accept or reject. There's loads of OO mods to the theory, actually. One is through an odd reading of Derrida's Specters of Marx. But somehow this was the one that really clicked for me, maybe because it's been in my head since the late eighties, thanks to my British cultural studies type training (Raymond Williams and Eagleton etc etc etc).

In fact there is a section on an OO related question that I could use a lot of help with. There's going to be a discussion about which came first, speciesism or racism? Traditional post humanist word on the street says it's speciesism, but I have a hypothesis that it might be racism that's distorting the human/nonhuman relation. I'm sort of reverse engineering from my arguments about uncanniness that I've developed from exploring the robotics idea of the Uncanny Valley. There's a phylogenetic part (the caste system << agrilogistics) and there's an ontogenetic part (humanoids, hominids, hominins, primates etc etc etc...human body as historical record of nonhuman evolution). Racism has to do with thinking you can point to certain physical features as indicators of the proper: it has to do with a metaphysics of presence, in other words, and a substance ontology whereby one color is non-marked (it's not treated as a color but as the default quality of the substance, aka totally bland aka “white”).

It would be very interesting if this were correct. It would mean that the struggle against racism is directly also a part of the de-anthropocentrization project. (Not sure whether it's an overlap or a direct line-up either.)

Just an idea, I like to think things back and forth and upside down to see what works, and I like being the devil a little bit, and the official line is that speciesism subtends racism, so...can't help trying it the other way around. I'm wondering whether strangely it might be better for nonhumans if we thought this way.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Humankind 4: Object-Oriented Marxism

By Jove it's perfectly thinkable, and I'm thinking it right now in this Verso book. Nice one! Wasn't quite expecting it to work exactly the way it is, which is also awesome. It's working so well that I'm going to be arguing that Marxism only works if you include nonhumans. Rather than condescendingly “Wouldn't it be nice to include nonhumans like we included race and gender after Perry Anderson?” or “Ecology was always included!” like in John Bellamy Foster. You can go right inside the theory itself and argue from the inside out that you absolutely have to have nonhumans, not as a nice extra to make things nice, but as an intrinsic component that makes things work. Which in effect is arguing that the anthropocentrism in Marxism is a bug, not a feature. Hahaha, bugs...

Space as Approximation

Yay. I say exactly the same thing as Sean Carroll, whose “There Is No Classical World” is one of the very best web pages ever. Look at the piece I was just citing: “Space is just an approximation that we find useful in certain circumstances.” !!!!


Everything's Easier when You Get All Heideggerian: Even Quantum Theory

This chap has sensibly decided that space is a compression (aka metaphor) for data concerning causal influence. A lion wants to bite me and is able to do so--compressing that = “The lion is close.” In other words, when you assume space is a slightly reified way of talking about how things care, and in this case not just human things. We're talking about the lion's project of biting me here. We're talking lion Dasein, which means we're sort of almost in OOO world.

I've been arguing recently (in particular in Dark Ecology as you'll see) that it's space not place that dissolves in modernity, reports of place's death notwithstanding. Moreover, this is exactly not the revenge of some exoticized, fetishized (human scaled) local, but rather the end of a one-size-fits-all anthropocentric reference frame, aka human Dasein if you like. We know other things are on other missions. So there is biospheric place, the place of climate. Spacetime is a theory of place: it is a kind of liquid that pours out of objects, not a box in which objects are sitting.

And according to the argument in this essay, space emerges from tiny things interacting.

So in general, the dominant concept of space is undermined. It turns out that:

Space is the parochial one!!! It's a handy concept for colonialist white western missions. That's all.

Because...

When you think objects only as defined extensionally, you are compressing data. There's so much more to them, even from a conventionally scientific standpoint, as this essay points out in its science-y way.

This essay is really saying exactly the same as what Graham Harman says about space as a relation between aspects of a thing and between things.

So when you really think about it, what is called space implies very specific objects with built in irreducible qualities, like the frequency of an energy field. The writer gets to talking about gravitons this way. It's spacious-ness all the way down. It's x tera electron volts or whatever, a specific kind of note.

It's madly like what they say in the “space” section of the esoteric Dzogchen instructions.

And there's so much I like in the author's rhetoric. Subatomic narcissism!

Cliff Gerrish, thank you thank you.


More on That Oil Hypothesis

I found it! This is one of my sources for my argument that consciously or not, Obama made a big contribution to the beginning of the end of the oil economy. Prove me wrong in about two decades.

Until then: Keep going, perfect storm!

I like this mode of thinking, because it's sort of mandala-like in its vast inclusion of chaos and negativity. Back in the day Trungpa Rinpoche's sangha used to call it vajra politics...

Michael Klare's conclusion:

the tremors from the oil pricequake have undoubtedly yet to reach their full magnitude.  Prices will, of course, rise someday.  That’s inevitable, given the way investors are pulling the plug on energy projects globally.  Still, on a planet heading for a green energy revolution, there’s no assurance that they will ever reach the $100-plus levels that were once taken for granted.  Whatever happens to oil and the countries that produce it, the global political order that once rested on oil’s soaring price is doomed.  While this may mean hardship for some, especially the citizens of export-dependent states like Russia and Venezuela, it could help smooth the transition to a world powered by renewable forms of energy.

Obstructionism << Gerrymandering and How to Fix It

Look what happens when a computer draws congressional district boundaries based on geographical proximity (the no-brainer way of doing it, which is hardly ever done any more). The irony, as the chap explains in the video, is that the more districting favors a party, the less wiggle room the representative has, and the more political inertia builds up, negating the impulse behind the gerrymandering. Thanks Rick Muller! And here's the article.




Saturday, January 16, 2016

Two Very Important Ecology Shows in Brooklyn

If you're anywhere near, you must must must go and see:

1. Aqueous Earth at the ISCP. (Where I was talking last week.)

2. Social Ecologies at Industry City.

I haven't spoken about (2) yet, which totally amazed me. The work being done in so many ways massively transcends previous ecological art benchmarks. Sorry to be intense but the recent work by the newer people just blew the one Robert Smithson piece in the exhibition out of the water. Truly. There's this piece by Mark Handelman, which...you know 100% of it was amazing so I'm going to have to explain in more detail. More soon. Just go and see it for now.

Why the Frack Did He Approve of Fracking?

...because it was an efficient judo like way to cause the oil price to tank and begin to begin to end the oil economy. Obama's “All of the Above” energy policy was a tactic designed to bring this about.

I truly think it was deliberate. Saudi became less powerful and freaked out, and flooded the market with even more oil, generating a nice nice death spiral. People don't seem to think the prices will recover, if at all, until after 2020.

Now Iran is about to come online...What happens then?

Thirty oil companies in Houston have gone bust in the last couple of months. The New York Times says forty US wide but this sounds out of date to me (too low).

I'm not the only one in environmentalism world to think this is kind of good. Kind of. NB beautiful souls and excluded middle fans: I said kind of.

By the way--Grist's predictive piece (from this time last year) is wrong on one of its “con” arguments in the pro and con section. More oil has not been burned. Your car has a finite gas tank, etc. You should read Fuel Fix, part of the Houston Chronicle, regularly.

Because no one gives Obama credit for anything anyway, no one was paying attention, which was great, because you don't even need Econ 101 to see how it was all going to go very very wrong for the oil industry. The market is literally flooded, the dreaded Canadian pipe has lost all its charm even for those who were into it, exploration and drilling have gone way way down.

Clinton by contrast forced car companies to make electric cars, and looked all triumphant on the TV while they looked all downcast. Soon they figured out how to recall all the electric cars.

It's your yin style of leadership versus your yang.

Interesting isn't it, that this all began coincident with COP21. Almost exactly coincident. It's not so difficult to predict how and when flooding the market will begin to ruin the industry.

Obamacare was designed to kick in gradually, starting at the beginning of Obama's second term...so if you didn't vote for him, it might most likely evaporate...

And since the oil slide began, there has been a net progressive redistribution of wealth, the biggest in quite a while, I understand. (The actual sum is like about $600 per person per year on average, which is teeny weeny, and tells us something about the political situation in the USA--yet better than nothing.)

Discuss.

Reference:

HOUSTON — The world is awash in crude oil, with enough extra produced last year to fuel all of Britain or Thailand. And the price of oil will not stop falling until the glut shrinks.

The oil glut — the unsold crude that is piling up around the world — is a quandary and a source of investor anxiety that once again rattled global markets on Friday.

As prices have dropped, the amount of excess production has been cut in half over the last six months. About one million barrels of extra oil is now being dumped on the markets each day.

But that means the glut is still continuing to grow, and it could take years to work through the crude that is being warehoused, poured into petroleum depots or loaded onto supertankers for storage at sea.

The shakeout will be painful, taking an even bigger toll on companies, countries and investors.

Global stocks sank sharply on Friday, as the price of oil slipped below $30 a barrel. The glut was at the heart of the tumult, as investors worried that the demand from China would drop and supplies from Iran would grow.

“The glut is the 800-pound gorilla in the room,” said Steve McCoy, vice president for drilling contracts at Latshaw Drilling, an Oklahoma service company that prospered in recent years from the American shale boom. “The world simply produced too much, and now we have to use it up or many oil-producing countries and some oil companies may drown.”

Just a couple of years ago, producers and petro-states were making vast fortunes drilling and pumping relentlessly to fuel expanding middle classes in Asia, Latin America and Africa. But suddenly they are producing more than anyone needs at a time when China and other rapidly growing economies, once hungry for energy, are pulling back.

The extra oil has sent the price of crude into a tailspin, down more than 70 percent over the last 18 months. --New York Times



Friday, January 15, 2016

Humankind 3: Emotion

I wasn't expecting this. I wasn't expecting writing this book to bring up this huge surge of emotion. I'm on the edge of crying, not because of feeling sad either. Then sometimes I want to jump up and down, sometimes I want to shout.

I think maybe this book is connecting with feelings that I really adore, such as solidarity and courage. They tend to be the ones that strongly set me off.

Haha I even found myself playing “World in Motion” by New Order while thinking about it today. You have to be in a special mood for that. My band Senser used to cover it a bit. Did you ever see 24 Hour Party People? Some of that was my teens. Has that tune at one point, at the Hacienda.

It was going to be called “E for England” hahahaha :)

But also it's super integrative, like these different parts of my intellectual development joining up and talking with each other, so it's kind of inner solidarity as well.

Here's how my work differs from previous mashups of Marxism with ecology.

1. It's so not saying It's already in the Marx, look: because it so isn't. Or rather it is, but in a shadow, flip side spectral way. Not a John Bellamy Foster way.

2. It's not condescending like It would be nice to include nonhumans just as the New Left included gender and race. It's not like Marxism could do this out of the goodness of its heart.

3. It's actually saying (gulp), this is what it's actually saying: Marxism only works if it includes nonhumans. ! The anthropocentrism is a bug, not a feature.

(3) means that it's super philosophical and theoretical: arguing from the inside out rather than trying to tack things on to the outside.




What It Says on the Back of Dark Ecology

Timothy Morton argues that ecological awareness in the present Anthropocene era takes the form of a strange loop or Möbius strip, twisted to have only one side. Deckard travels this Oedipal path in Blade Runner (1982) when he learns that he might be the enemy he has been ordered to pursue. Ecological awareness has this form because ecological phenomena have a loop form that is also fundamental to the structure of how things are.

The logistics of agricultural society resulted in global warming and hardwired dangerous ideas about life-forms into the human mind. Dark ecology puts us in an uncanny position of radical self-knowledge, illuminating our place in the biosphere and our belonging to a species in a sense that is far less obvious than we like to think. Morton explores the logical foundations of the ecological crisis, which is suffused with the melancholy and negativity of coexistence yet evolving, as we explore its loop form, into something playful, anarchic, and comedic. His work is a skilled fusion of humanities and scientific scholarship, incorporating the findings and theories of philosophy, anthropology, literature, ecology, biology, and physics. Morton hopes to reestablish our ties to nonhuman beings and to help us rediscover the playfulness and joy that can brighten the dark, strange loop we traverse.

Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University. His books include Ecology Without Nature (2007); The Ecological Thought (2010); Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World (2013); and Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (2013); and he has published more than 150 essays on ecology, philosophy, art, literature, music, architecture, and food. He has collaborated with several artists, including Björk, Olafur Eliasson, and Haim Steinbach, and blogs regularly at ecologywithoutnature.blogspot.com.


Praise for Dark Ecology

“In often witty and humorous language, Timothy Morton provides a kind of affective atlas for the human era. The book calls for scholars to recognize the structures of entwinement between (the human) species and ecological phenomena and to develop modes of thought for accommodating them.”—Kate Marshall, University of Notre Dame

“Dark Ecology is a brave, brilliant interrogation of the presumptions that have driven our approach to the ecological and environmental challenges of our era. Anyone who is willing to ride the rollercoaster ride of ideas on which Morton takes us will reach the end brimming with new conceptual and intellectual energies with which to face up to our present limits and failures, and to shape an alive and joyful future.”—Imre Szeman, University of Alberta

“Morton is a master of philosophical enigma. In Dark Ecology, he treats us to an obscure ecognosis, the essentially unsolvable riddle of ecological being. Prepare to be endarkened!”—Michael Marder, author of The Philosopher's Plant  and Pyropolitic

The Wellek Library Lectures
978-0-231-17752-8 cloth



Elementality

That's the title of my essay in Jeffrey Cohen's and Lowell Duckert's latest. They inspire me to push my thinking forwards. You'll see something in what I'm saying about “environment” as object in the OOO sense.


Abuse of Nonhumans Traumatizes Children as much as Human-Human Abuse

Just collecting some nice facts for Verso.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

What I've Got against Stephen Batchelor

Buddhism, like phenomenology, is not about what you think but how you think. For example, it's not quite what you believe but how you believe that could be violent. There are beliefs about belief, and those are the problem.

One belief about belief is that believing means clutching a concept for dear life.

This belief about belief is shared by fundamentalists and Richard Dawkins. Which is why Dawkins gets incredibly angry when fundamentalists point this out, thus proving my point.

Stephen Batchelor also has this belief about belief.

QED.

...and the consequence of this belief about belief is that your Buddhism becomes this milquetoasty dispassionate pallid version in the service of modern totalitarian-bureaucratic reason. Sexy stuff that actually saves your ass in the long run gets wiped.

Gervaisian Logic

Great comedy is often syllogistic. Or rather, enthymemic in structure.

Here's a syllogism: A = B and B = C so A = C

Here's an enthymeme: A = B so A = C

So with that one you have the fun of reverse engineering the B = C bit. That's the fun of an enthymemic joke: it has a zinger quality. It creeps up on you afterwards. Mark Twain was particularly awesome at it.

Which is what no one seems to have figured out yet vis a vis Ricky Gervais's joke about Caitlin Jenner.

If I may, the B = C is so obviously staring us in the face that it's a symptom of something a bit scary that no one to my knowledge has seen it yet in the mass media.

It's about how certain aspects of the pop culture mediation of trans discourse (he emphasized, in italics) does nothing for stereotypes of women and can in some instances be exclusionary of or even hostile to feminism. (The hook was the “women drivers” part and the Jennerian biographical link therein.)

The point being, and this is something my psychoanalyst mum, plus my and kickass feminist/queer theory friend Judith Roof's Ph.D. student genius Alanna is working on in an amazing dissertation on twentieth-century women photographers, some of this aspect of the mediation of the discourse (gingerly, let's put it that way) is just a patriarchy retweet, aka my body is a plastic surface of infinite malleability according to desire format specifications. Aka I can do anything to anything, because I'm the lizard king slash the Decider.

If you noticed, an awful lot of Gervais's shtick was about low status women and pay. It was a pretty pro-feminist shtick.

Actually existing feminists (for instance Germaine Greer) have recently been symbolically killed for entering this territory. Like by being banned from speaking at universities and mobbed by the Hitchcock tweeting birds.

Or my friend the Dutch philosopher Iris van der Tuin. Who can hardly say the word “woman” without being pounced on. In her feminist theory class. 

Of Riddles

Someone asks (below) whether I take the term riddle seriously in Dark Ecology.

Yes. I reference mostly Inuit riddles and Old English riddles, for sure. I was talking with Björk about riddles. After we'd written our piece, I realized that this kind of riddling is exactly how she writes lyrics. Riddles preserve the withdrawnness of a thing. That's why “Hyperballad” is one of the greatest love songs of all time. Because it never says so.

This is my very very favorite version. I just can't stop hearing the mantra-like repetition of “closed, or open?” as the most colossal, spine chilling riddle, this perfect mix of relentlessness and curiosity...

And the way that enveloped sine wave riff sinuously snakes around it, inaudible, then crescendoing, taking you around and around the loop, like an artefact of the voice that has deliquesced into low resonance filtering, the other way, a chiasmic contrary motion.




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

And You May Find Yourself Living in an Age of Mass Extinction (video)

At ISCP, Brooklyn, January 12. Show begins about 33:45.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Monday, January 11, 2016

Another Funny Thing about Dark Ecology

The conclusion is at the beginning and the preface is at the end.

I Love This Endorsement

Timothy Morton is a master of the philosophical enigma. In Dark Ecology, he treats us to an obscure ecognosis, the essentially unsolvable riddle of ecological being. Prepare to be endarkened!
--Michael Marder

Brooklyn Tomorrow

It's standing room only at the ISCP! Björk was so awesome and said she couldn't make it but nearly--we missed each other by just a week. But my friend Haim Steinbach is coming!

Strange

For the first time in months and months I decided yesterday evening to listen to Bowie's most recent album.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Dark Ecology: All Existing Accounts of Consumerism Are Incorrect

You can tell they are because they suspiciously replicate Fall narratives. “At point x we needed stuff. Then we started to desire things, in an evil loop." Sorry Marxism this includes you. Here's part of my argument from the book:

At first the priority of want seems counterintuitive. Superficially one might claim something like: “You need salt to live.” But this is to abuse the word need, which evidently has to do with conscious urges. Want, which is desire, is prior to need insofar as desire already transcends my conscious wishes and thus resembles salt and the cellular metabolisms that utilize it far more than it resembles Tim Morton. “You need salt”: do you? Well, your cells require it to be cells—but how much? It varies because the homeostatic state of a cell wall changes over time. Metabolism requires varying flows across differing ionic channels, some of which involve sodium. There is no “proper” amount, and the proper is where need lives in historical accounts of want versus need. In those accounts, need is precisely calibrated not to be excessive. But this is impossible in a dynamic system such as a single cell. And again a cell isn’t you and it certainly isn’t conscious you (this is not to say that consciousness is limited to me or to humans and so on). Need is just the wrong term. It seems the case when we consider that on the cellular level a chemical lack causes all kinds of automated systems to kick in beyond my control. In a perverse way that’s much more like desire than need. In the case of salt in particular, it turns out that there is no neurological off switch; your body doesn’t care if you have a stroke eating loads more salt than you “need.”

Four Words that Encapsulate the Regions of the USA in which I've Lived

I've lived in NYC, Boulder CO, Davis CA, Houston TX.

The words are:

THOUGHT
SPACE
DREAM
WILD

Figure out which ones are for which :) I sort of set myself a task of coming up with a word for the basic phenomenological key signature of Texas in the last couple of days, and this is the result.

Dark Ecology: Žižek Upside Down

I'm heaving my way through the revised proofs and I came across this, which has become a mega part of the argument. Enjoy:

But what if appearance were inextricable from essence? If such an entwining were thinkable, one could reverse the Marx Brothers joke often cited by Slavoj Žižek, who uses it to argue how existing or being—or whatever that is—is strangely supplementary to appearing: Chicolini may look like an idiot and act like an idiot, but don’t let that fool you—he really is an idiot. But what if it were also possible to make the joke upside down? Chicolini may actually be an idiot, but don’t let that fool you—he looks like an idiot and acts like an idiot. If you think that is funny—and that the reversal is funny—you might be ready to allow for appearing to be looped with being in the way dark ecology wants it to be.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Science on the Anthropocene

Thanks to Cymene Howe, anthropologist extraordinaire, for pointing me in the direction of this essay in Science. Stratigraphy--that branch of geology committed to examining Earth's strata--is beginning to validate the Anthropocene concept with more and more evidence.

Philip K. Dick in Dark Ecology

...There's a lot of A Scanner Darkly in there--it's just the perfect text for thinking about one of its central themes.

Another Nice Dark Ecology Slice, Featuring Pink Floyd

In Tom Stoppard’s play Darkside, which magically lets Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon speak its implicit ecological philosophical content, a cynical philosophy teacher explains the famous trolley problem. If there are lots of people on a train heading over a cliff, it is ethical to switch the points to divert the train, even if the train runs over a single person stuck on the track onto which the train diverts.

When a sensitive student asks the teacher about the experiment (“Who was on the train?” “Who was the boy?”), the teacher insists that it’s merely a thought experiment, that there’s no point in knowing. Yet this perceived irrelevancy is normative: it is what generates the utilitarianism in the first place.

The girl student, dismissed as insane, asks the teacher, “Who was on the train?” The teacher responds, “We don’t know who was on the train, it’s a thought experiment.” The humor compresses an insight: this nondescription of Easy Think passengers implies an unexamined thought that gives no heed to the qualities of the people on board. Only their number counts, the fact that they merely exist. Existing is better than any quality of existing, according to axiom (3). It doesn’t even matter how many more people there are. Even the sheer quantity of existing is treated as a lump of whatever. Say there were three hundred people on the track and three hundred and one people in the train. The train should divert and run over the people on the track. More to the ecological point, imagine seven billion people on the train and a few thousand on the track. This represents the balance (or lack thereof ) between the human species and a species about to go extinct because of human action. This amazing pudding of stuff isn’t even a fully mathematizable world. Counting itself doesn’t count. For a social form whose new technology (writing) was so preoccupied with sheer counting, as surviving Linear B texts demonstrate, this is ironic.

Dark Ecology Nice Bit

I'm reading the second set of proofs. Ian Bogost saw a mockup version at the MLA yesterday, and its size and chunkiness is as lovely as expected. But look at this:

The very concept of “world” as the temporality region suffused with human destiny emerges from agrilogistic functioning. World, as Heidegger knew, is normative: the concept works if some beings have it and some don’t. When, like Jakob von Uexküll, you start to realize that at least all lifeforms have a world, you have begun to cheapen the concept almost to worthlessness. The concept reaches zero when humans realize that there is no “away,” that there is no background to their foreground despite the luxury holiday ads, a lack of a stage set on which world can perform, a lack that is evident in the return of culturally (and physically) repressed “pollution” and awareness of the consequences of human action on nonhumans. The end of the biosphere as we know it is also the end of the “world” as a normative and useful concept.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Not Your Average Arctic Photos

By Josef Bull for DIS magazine. I really like these. Someone needed to spice things up...

Poor Moo Cows

This is uncanny global warming news.

Did you know some eco type people think that as part of a transition away from domestication we should let cows die off? To me, that's just wow. How can you think that?

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Falling Deep in the Sky

When I was 13 I so wanted to play hooky and go and hear Répons, by Pierre Boulez, but it was going to be difficult, so I listened to it on the radio and recorded it, and listened and listened and listened over and over and over again.

It was at the Proms. There was a regular brass and string orchestra in a square in the middle of the room. Around them were percussive instrument players such as piano, cimbalom, harp etc. Those ones were modulated using all kinds of effects that in those days were very complex: ring modulation, delay, phasing, and computer generated patterns. The audience sat in the outer ring around that.

After about 6 minutes the percussive instruments come in. It's like a door opens in the floor and you realize you are falling out of a plane...

I was smitten.

You know what it's like? It's like glimpsing another dimension. Like when Brand looks out of the window in the wormhole in Interstellar and sees Them, 5-dimensional beings distorting spacetime.

Pierre Boulez RIP.


Dark Ecology Final Proofs

Look! Look! It's Ian Bogost's cute ouroboros and cute Adorno's ouroboric sentence on the same screen!!!!


Nice Interview with Laurie Anderson

She talks about dogs and social media and says things I like a lot. I first heard “O Superman” on John Peel when it came out. I even remember where I was--brushing my teeth in the bathroom. I was terrified.

This Doesn't Happen a Lot

...I agree with this guy.

The whole point of the President's action yesterday was precisely to communicate this, to devastating effect:

See? They won't even let something this tiny and this sensible pass.

Being Ecological 4: Writing My NYC Talk

Wow that was awesome. 20 pages in 1.5 hours. This is my talk for ISCP's Aqueous Earth next week. It just happened. I guess I have something to say. And it's really terrific for my book Being Ecological, because I promised myself that I'd orient my talks towards my Penguin and Verso books these next few months. So I just wrote 5000 words of Being Ecological, chapter 2.

Monday, January 4, 2016

He Had a Way with Words

It's #4 that really, really gets to me. He wrote really abbreviated versions, and he understood English, so these pack a wallop. #2 is awesomely straightforward. I kinda don't like how the new translation committee seem to have made these into four-line stanzas--it's a bit cute. I prefer my version, how it is almost prose...

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

But death is real, comes without warning.
This body will be a corpse.

Unalterable are the laws of karma;
Cause and effect cannot be escaped.

Samsara is an ocean of suffering,
Unendurable, unbearably intense.

--Chögyam Trungpa, The Four Reminders (1974)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Le Grand Dehors

I was thinking maybe a heavily armed bunny on my Verso cover. But now I'm thinking maybe something like

The Clangers

Humankind 2

I found some epigraphs for my Verso book about solidarity with nonhumans. Figure them out : )


Idris: Are all people like this?
The Doctor: Like what?
Idris: So much bigger on the inside. I’m—Oh, what is that word? It’s so big. And so complicated. And so sad. (Doctor Who, “The Doctor's Wife”; the word is alive)

Kathy Nightingale: What did you come here for anyway?
Sally Sparrow: I love old things. They make me feel sad.
Kathy Nightingale: What's good about sad?
Sally Sparrow: It's happy for deep people. (Doctor Who, “Blink”)

Bagpuss, dear Bagpuss
Old Fat Furry Catpuss
Wake up and look at this thing that I bring
Wake up, be bright, be golden and light
Bagpuss, oh hear what I sing.

And Bagpuss was wide awake
And when Bagpuss wakes up, all his friends wake up too   [hey that also works in Dzogchen :) ]
The mice on the mouse-organ woke up and stretched
Madeleine, the rag doll
Gabriel, the toad
And last of all, Professor Yaffle, who was a very distinguished old woodpecker.
He climbed down off his bookend and went to see what it was that Emily had brought.   (Bagpuss introduction)

Ecological Awareness Quote of the Day

Kathy Nightingale: What did you come here for anyway?
Sally Sparrow: I love old things. They make me feel sad.
Kathy Nightingale: What's good about sad?
Sally Sparrow: It's happy for deep people.

Don't ask why this is ecological, haha. All shall be explained in Humankind (Verso).

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Americans, Send Something Like This Today

Dear U.S. Forest Service,

PS: an acquaintance of mine is part of a corporation that does drilling (I live in Houston). His company has a drill bit stuck in a national park. Their idea for getting it out is dynamiting a 100' radius hemisphere out of the park. Imagine what that looks like and what that does.

Yours sincerely,

Timothy Morton