“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Thursday, April 29, 2010

It's raining in the Arctic

...Is there anything more to say?

Thursday, April 22, 2010


This interview of my friend Jane Bennett's book Vibrant Matter just appeared, courtesy of Peter Gratton of Radical Philosophy Review.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Answer of the Real

This is a typical response to the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland. Nature is telling us that we're ignoring her. Thanks to Robin Mackay for pointing me this way.

In brief, this is Bruno Latour's idea in action. He argues that nonhuman phenomena are already participating in human democracy, by making “statements” such as this, measureable by scientific instruments (the mode in which they “speak” to us). Lisa Disch spoke very eloquently about this at Johns Hopkins last week.

The trouble is, what counts as a nonhuman phenomenon? The cloud? Global warming that may include the cloud—or not? In a global warming age, where all weather is significant, nothing is significant.

It reminds me of Zizek's brilliant argument about the Lacanian “answer of the Real.” The little boy protagonist sees a plane fly into a huge window while he's fighting with his parents. He immediately says “That's my fault.” The answer of the Real is a phantasmical attribution of one's psychic state to contingent events. One is already in an altered state of consciousness (hysteria for instance), and one explains it by seeing it on the outside.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Trouble with Posthumanism

...is that it's teleological. Discuss.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Gore Derangement Syndrome

A good essay by Paul Krugman today. It's along the lines of my thinking on hyperobjects. Hyperobjects such as global warming and nuclear radiation reduce conservatism (what are they conserving?) to a vague abstraction, the sliver of the tip of an iceberg of false immediacy.