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

Friday, December 14, 2018

OMG I Know What Brexit Is

...it's the real end of World War 2. We started it with those reparations. Then we lost all our money and America stepped up. Then we gave up the empire. Now the UK is giving up itself. From a world historical point of view, it's awesome. It's the collapse of a world power under the weight of its racism.

Discuss.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

I'm Writing the Libretto for an Opera about Time by Jennifer Walshe

It's an honor and it's a lovely stretch.

We will perform it in spring 2019 in Bergen, Berlin and Amsterdam.

Graham Harman on Hyperobjects

Graham has always always been about thirty seconds way by text for clarification and explanation of many a Deep Thing in the eight years we've been pals. It's just a happy coincidence that "strange stranger" in The Ecological Thought corresponds exactly to an OOO object, and that I started thinking about hyperobjects two years before I read Tool-Being. I had a cholesterol problem at the time and was going to the gym a lot, where I read it. Philosophy, gymnasium.

Here's this great essay he's just published on the hyperbjects idea.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Scottish Opera wouldn't let me publish this Program Note

...because it was "too controversial" (what) so I'm reproducing it here. If you happen to be seeing them soon I guess it might help. 

Opera in the Anthropocene
Timothy Morton

Everywhere on earth—everywhere—there is a growing layer of human-made materials. Everything else depends upon this fact—that humans have become a geophysical force on a planetary scale. That is all and only what the scientific term Anthropocene means. It doesn’t mean humans are the best. It doesn’t mean humans won. If anything, it’s a symptom of humans losing it in all kinds of ways, including just trashing stuff and ignoring it. 

When you scale up to Earth magnitude, there most definitely is a ‘we’: the human species, humankind. That’s true even if humans find that hard to accept, for all the right reasons: the last time European and American humans said things like ‘humankind’ what they meant was white people and what they mostly called it was Man. Paging feminism, will feminism please come to all ecological writing. 

When you scale up to the time of “civilization” (it’s not just a Western thing, it happened all over at about the same time, 12 500 years ago), you see humankind doing something weird. You see humankind responding to the global warming of that moment by setting in motion social and agricultural and architectural (and so on) programs, recipes for making stuff happen—algorithms if you want to speak computer—and these programs resulted in…much, much worse global warming. That’s the one sentence sick joke version of what just happened: ‘just’ on a geological timescale, that is. In order to avoid global warming, we created worse global warming. Our lunch ran away to somewhere cooler, so we settled down, made cities and created the hierarchies that still plague us: patriarchy, racism, class division and speciesism—some lifeforms are ‘cattle’ (where we get the word capital from) and cattle are part of ‘our’ world, others are beasts and part of ‘nature’. Try to ignore the cats, they seem to slip around the boundary. 

And the net effect of all this, which was done in the name of increasing happiness, is global warming, or to give it its really truly scary name, mass extinction. 

You do something that makes you happy on at least one scale. You start your car. It gets you to the cinema. You did nothing wrong. You’re not guilty. Your carbon emissions were statistically meaningless at Earth magnitude. But billions of those car startings, along with other things, are exactly what is causing global warming. Realizing you are part of humankind means realizing you are part of a strange whole that doesn’t swallow you entirely like Pac Man. It’s good to know this. It means this level of awareness will help to combat the structures such as patriarchy that keep the programs running. It means realizing you’re not guilty. You are responsible. If you can understand something you are responsible for it. You don’t even have to prove you did it. You don’t have to prove you pushed that child into the street in order to save him from an oncoming bus. In fact, that might be a deadly waste of time. 

If you have five hours I can prove this to you logically, by the way, no really, I can. 

Ecological awareness is realizing that things happen on more than one scale at once. There is at least one scale on which an action fails or malfunctions or sucks in some way, whether it was done by a single human or by billions of them or by trillions of bacteria. You can’t save everything all at once. But knowing this keeps you safe from being a know-it-all cynic, who in this age of ecological emergency, is about as useful as a chocolate teapot with tar in it. 

The word opera means actions in Latin. Opera as an art form is voluminous, multidimensional, expansive. What could be a better format in which to start proclaiming our responsibility (not guilt), the fact that as humankind, we’ve got this? We’d better have got this. Dolphins don’t have fingers to operate the keyboards that turn off the oil pipes. 

This Is the Greatest

Sometimes I get letters from high school students and teachers, and this is one I got yesterday:

I'm a high school special education teacher at [omitted] and I'm looking to get more materials for my classroom. I'm contacting you because our special education classroom, which serves 9th through 12th grade students with IEP's, is in need of texts that are relevant to their lives and in this case their experiences with nonhuman animals.

We believe that texts centering social justice could help establish a classroom with a well rounded library with texts that will surely enable critical thought around topics that directly effect students' lives. More specifically, students are interested in the book "Humankind".

If a donation of this text would be feasible, please respond to this email and I'd be happy to discuss this further with you.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Survival

These aren't perfect either (Liz Fraser, even when singing articulate words, is wonderfully opaque). But they're so much better than the awful automated transcriptions you find online: It's a travesty of justice!

There are many many reasons why I regard Fraser as the most amazing singer of my lifetime. She's also a mega survivor. I always offer her music to my students in practically all my classes. She's particularly good when you teach French feminist philosophy. This is from the album Four Calendar Cafe. 

Know Who You Are at Every Age
Elizabeth Fraser

Senses are afflicted too
Discreet disordered observe such feel such
You hide in such neglect disguise your pain
I’m not real imagine I, I won’t heal unless I cry
I can’t grieve so I won’t grow I won’t heal till I let it go

I’m not realer by denying
I won’t heal unless I cry
I can’t grieve so I won’t grow
I won’t heal till I let it go

Cry cry cry till you know why I lost my self-identify

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being Ecological (USA) is out with MIT press

What with all the lectures and all, I've hardly had time o mention this simple thing. You can get it from MIT if you're in America. Everyone else can get it from Penguin. Look at the little ad I made on the right!

Monday, October 22, 2018

New Idea about Hyperobjects!

OMG I haven't had a new thought about them for ages and ages. But it turns out that there's a sharp difference between the way logic describes hyperobjects, and the way math does, and I'm with the math, having indicated in several books and essays how vanilla logic fails to describe them anyway.

It turns out that hyperobjects are quantized! There is a minimum hyperobject amplitude. This is very important because it's good to be able to identify these beasties. For example, to take something disturbingly topical, a civil war can easily be described as a hyperobject.

This isn't to do with mathematical hyperobjects, from which I didn't get the word (confusingly!). It's to do with the things I myself call hyperobjects.

Stay tuned, readers, but in short, two's company, three's a crowd---and four is a nascent hyperobject.

Like every energy-matter state in the universe has a specific frequency range. There are no transparent oceans. There are as it were green ones, yellow ones, blue ones...and hyperobjects are just  like that.

In this regard vanilla logic is like classical physics and hyperobject math resembles quantum theory. And as I usually think that the classical world doesn't really exist, and by the way hyperobject logic suffers in exactly the same way as classical physics, I'm with the math. Also, if you know what you're up against, you can do something about it. The logic is useless in an emergency. Say you want to figure out when to leave a country on the edge of civil war. Well...

Stay tuned!

Hyperobjets en Français

...or Hyperobjets I should say! So many things happening, I'd only half realized this came out! I did 17 lectures in the spring as well as teaching my normal full load of classes, PhD advising etc etc, not to mention the Marfa exhibition. So I totally forgot about this! Here's the press's page about it.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Yoko Ono at Mori Art Museum

If you're in Tokyo (lucky you!) and you happen to be in or near Roppongi, do stop by the art museum to witness their very creative and thoughtful exhibition on catastrophe.

If you've read my stuff you'll know I think catastrophe is better than disaster (they're different!) and at the very least we should turn global warming into a catastrophe (there are witnesses) not a disaster (no witnesses).

Anyway, the exhibition closes with a chance to write your thoughts about refugees, asylum seekers, trauma and everything, courtesy of Yoko Ono, then you can obtain a shirt that says WAR IS OVER which is the best t shirt since FRANKIE SAY WAR in 1984...

Yoko Ono in Being Ecological

Have you ever read Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki?

If you haven't do so at once lol...it gives you the best best best mediation instruction, no matter what contemplative lineage you're in (or not).

And somewhere in the middle is the most wonderful mysterious thing: two blank pages, with a life-size drawing of a fly on the upper right hand corner of the double-page spread.

That's the moment of mind transmission right there! I'm not spoiling it by telling you. That's the amazing lovely thing about meditation: it proves that you can surprise yourself, aka that the future is possible, and new things can happen.

I read it when I was 17. I was so upset...then I read this book and it totally changed my life.

As we head into global warming space ever further, I can't insist enough on you having some kind of healing centering self-soothing practice that you do, whether it be making yourself a nice sandwich or meditating or donating to your favorite charity or smiling or...

Please, the lifeforms need you! The dolphins are upset because they can't use their flippers to turn off the gas pipelines, and we are all collapsing in a heap of depression or cynicism or denial (yeah even now, unbelievably).

So I had this idea when Penguin asked me to write Being Ecological for them. I thought, wouldn't it be amazing if Yoko Ono agreed to put some of her This Is Not Here artwork in it? Given that this was the very first work of art that truly amazed, scared, pushed me.

John Lennon was assassinated when I was 12, and the “Imagine” video was on the tv all the time, because the song went to #1.

When you watch the video you'll see Yoko and John entering their house, and above the door frame is the phrase “THIS IS NOT HERE,” which is the core of the Fluxus piece I'm talking about.

Thanks to the greatest of good fortune and some lovely friends, Yoko agreed to let me put this in the middle of Being Ecological. I never explain or refer to it, just like Shunryu Suzuki's fly! Don't you think it encapsulates something beautiful about ecological awareness?

And then the genius genius Penguin people sandwiched it between the word “metaphysics” and the phrase “of presence.” Jesus Christ that's total genius. See what I mean?

Opera about Time with Jennifer Walshe

Jenny is a student of Tony Conrad and you should totally start listening to her music, it's genius. About two years ago she wrote the definitive piece on hyperobjects, Everything Is Important, which if you haven't heard, is really...important (haha).

So I'm beyond honored to have been asked by her to write the libretto for an opera about time. I believe the world premiere will be in Berlin in spring 2019...watch this space.

Graham Harman's New Book

I continue to count my OOO blessings! My life started to go so right when Levi Bryant pointed out that my “strange stranger” (the term I use for lifeforms in The Ecological Thought) was identical to what OOO means by “object.” Here's what I wrote on the back of Graham's latest tome:

An essential guide by the foremost philosopher of our age. This book will educate and delight both aficionados and those unfamiliar with the first major philosophical movement of the twenty-first century.


If you haven't yet read a guide or introduction to something by Harman, you're in for a treat. I make my undergrad and grad students smile when I show them how he gives you everything you need to understand Heidegger (super complex weirdness) on page 2 of his Heidegger Explained.

Tokyo This Week

I so had the best time! Thank you thank you to the organizers of the lovely Innovative City Forum. I met amazing people, and thanks to the beautifully organized format, real thinking and relating was possible.