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

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Despite my best attempts to hide it I've been told I'm Deleuzian almost every other day since about 2006. So I guess the other thinks I'm Deleuzian. If you can't beat em join em! Take this blog, for instance, “Violent Signs” by Tim Matts. What's not to like? Sometimes I kind of worry that Deleuze is better at advertising new versions of the same old thing than actually going there—I know this sounds counter-intuitive to those who like me have enjoyed his prose. (I used to do a lot more Deleuze, but like the guy in the UK anti-heroin ad from the 80s, “I can control it.”) But I must say The Fold is a pretty wonderful book and as I'm thinking a lot about fractals for my new book at the moment, essential reading.

(I also worry that the Deleuzo-mania that seems to have swept the UK since the mid-90s is a little bit of Brit-Art-like catch-up with contemporary theory, viz. deconstruction, which never really took root there, with the notable exception of Oxford Literary Review. The sad old Derridean depressive in me has a little reaction to the burial of Derrida under mountains of Deleuzian prose...)

“Violent Signs” is also a place where you can see Slavoj's bit in Examined Life—a very succinct encapsulation of ecology without nature.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


To mark today's day of action on global warming I decided to put on some drones and write this. I've been trying, of course, to disseminate, haven't we all, the idea that since neolithic times atmospheric CO2 has never risen above 275ppm (parts per million). The safe upper limit is 350ppm. Currently we are at 387ppm and rising by 2ppm per year.

Geneva was wonderful—high intellectual level, incredible conversations, extraordinary to share all the diverse research—thanks so much to Martin Leer and his crew. Apart from right at the end, when I was jumped on for having my nose in books. It's not the first time! Funny, because I was the one sticking up for science and the big picture (
Humanists so often seem to shoot themselves in the foot, so wedded are they to postmodern poetics...). But apparently, so I hear, non-Western people can't and won't and shouldn't give a hoot about global warming, so immersed are they in their lifeworld. Only rich westerners care. Which is bad, because it shows how alienated they are. And humans are forever and intrinsically a blight on mother nature, so to hell with them. No kidding, these precise sentiments were voiced. (By not-me.)

(Which is ironic, considering new figures that say more Americans than ever doubt or deny global warming.)

Here's to having more than one idea in your head at once. I'm sure all my Nepalese and Tibetan friends would approve. Their lifeworld is global warming, like ours.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Swiss timing

I'll be in Geneva on Friday doing a talk at the University of Geneva, called “Ecology as Text, Text as Ecology.” I'm going to talk about how Darwinism and deconstruction are intimately intertwined.

Can you believe that chimps have a sense of the uncanny? And that it manifests precisely in a space between obvious cartoons and “normal” alive members of the species? So if you portray them too accurately, they freak out? (See the post below.)

This is precisely what is meant by “strange stranger” in my new project. What is most intimate about our existence as life forms is also what is most uncanny. Any ecological cultural project that has a tin ear for this uncanny quality is not genuinely ecological. He said, provocatively.

Like Humans, Monkeys Fall Into The 'Uncanny Valley'

Like Humans, Monkeys Fall Into The 'Uncanny Valley'

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The Strange Stranger Has Arrived just in time for The Ecological Thought.

Eliane Radigue, Musical Heroine

Eliane Radigue trailer from Anaïs Prosaïc on Vimeo.

She is a genius. A true explorer of materialism.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Can't Get No Satisficing

Alan Turing's own example of the Turing Test for artificial intelligence is not about human versus nonhuman, but man versus woman — as a gay man, he must have known about performativity. The man must convince the interviewer that he might be a woman, and vice versa. This resembles evolutionary “satisficing”: instead of becoming optimal for their environments, life forms do just enough to look and quack like themselves. We could thus imagine how queer ecology might invert the conventional wisdom on virtual reality art such as transgender artist Micha Cardinas's simulations of nonhuman existence, performing as a dragon in the online domain, Second Life. It's not that these simulations demonstrate posthuman platitudes about malleable identity (Cardinas's own estimation), but rather that identity as such is already a simulation — a performative display. At its most hardcore, this might imply that virtuality is hardwired into living substance. It's not just that rabbits are rabbits in name only: it's that whether or not we have words for them, rabbits are deconstructive all the way down — signifying and display happen at every level. Nothing is self-identical. We are embodied, yet without essence. Organicism is both holistic and substantialist, visualizing carbon-based life forms (“organic” in another sense) as the essence of livingness. Queer ecology must go wider, embracing silicon as well as carbon, for instance. DNA is both matter and information. True materialism would be non-substantialist: it would think matter as self-assembling sets of interrelationships in which information is directly inscribed. The garden-variety environmentalisms, with their vitalist webs of life, have ironically strayed from materialism. Queer ecology would go to the end and show how beings exist precisely because they are nothing but relationality, deep down — for the love of matter.