“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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sounding the Earth

The good people of ASLE (the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment) put together this wonderful sounding conference in Tasmania.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Speculations, a new journal of speculative realism, will be appearing shortly. Open source publication is so the way to go. The theoretical physicists caught on first but the Open Humanities Alliance is a truly good thing. I'm excited and a bit humbled to be part of it. The whole online philosophy scene is the best thing that happened to philosophy for a long time. Along with OOO!

Like many things speculative, this journal is beautifully designed, the designer in question in this instance being Thomas Gokey.

Monday, June 28, 2010

We Aren't the World part 2

I watched The Two Towers (Lord of the Rings part 2) with my daughter on Friday evening. The absolute nadir of horror is when Frodo, captured by Faramir, is staggering around the bombed-out city Osgiliath when a Nazgul (a ringwraith) attacks on a “fell beast,” a terrifying winged dragon-like creature.

Accidentally my baby boy Simon switched on a toy that blows little balls with air. While this machine is operating various tunes play, tunes whose ridiculousness can only be hinted at.

The ridiculous music cut into the intense Wagnerian Gesamkunstwerk on the screen (and coming through the speakers). In particular, the movie soundtrack was blotted out.

Claire and I collapsed in helpless laughter as the Nazgul strafed the city...

Perhaps this is not unlike Graham Harman's idea for staging the Ring cycle in the Caribbean.

The idea of “world” depends upon all kinds of mood lighting and mood music, aesthetic effects that contain a kernel of sheer ridiculous meaninglessness. It's the job of serious Wagnerian worlding to erase the trace of this meaninglessness. But it's easy to recover it—absurdly easy, as the accidental toy experiment proves.

Stupid Kids' Toy 5, Wagnerian Tolkien movie Nil.

What can we learn from this? “World,” a key concept in ecophenomenology, is an illusion...

And objects for sure have a hidden weirdness, as argued by OOO. In effect, the Stupid Kids' Toy “translated” the movie (see here for a Levi Bryant argument on translation).

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Thinking Nature cfp

Ben Woodard, co-editor of Thinking Nature, has posted the first cfp. I'm excited to see what comes in.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Primitive Accumulation

A very interesting interview about the old Marxist concept of “primitive accumulation”—summed up well by Marx in the easy to memorize aphorism, “First the workers are cleared off the land. Then the sheep arrive.” One of the interlocutors argues that primitive accumulation is structural to capitalism, i.e. it's happening all the time—it's not just a one off event.

What does this have to do with ecology? Well it has to do with the commons (however we think of them: common land, and nowadays, the genome, and the very nanostuff we're made of).

Evaluating evaluating

This may be the one occasion on which I strongly agree with Stanley Fish.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


A beautiful new issue of this journal of visual culture and ecology, on communication with animals.

Thinking Nature

A great new journal from a great new press. Write for it!

Thinking Nature

A great new journal from a great new press. Write for it!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Obedient Atom

This is from an old National Geographic essay entitled “The Obedient Atom.”

Something about the title and the image makes me want to say:

“Obedient? Hahahahahahaha....”

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pantheism in the Eighteenth Century

This is an excellent account of Spinoza, Lessing, Kant and all those good people...wrestling with Spinoza's radical materialism.

Algorithms r Us

First replicating creature spawned in life simulator.

Happy Solstice...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

(Im)possible view of space

I've posted and written a little about the view from/of outer space. Now Colin Rich (fellow Californian) gives us this low budget masterpiece.

Pacific Star II from Colin Rich on Vimeo.

The problem

... is not so much the human as it is the self. Discuss.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tree planting online—give the gift of the uncanny

I like having trees planted for people. I like telling them about it. Does this have something, a little, to do with OOO, object oriented ontology?

In some sense the internet has not made everything totally visible. For instance, I can order this tree online—who knows which tree, where it is—nevertheless, it's a real tree. It's as if the internet has enabled me to refute Berkeley, with a click. (Is that more gentle than Doctor's Johnson's boot?)

Then I can tell someone, “Hey, somewhere in some forest on Earth, a tree is being planted in your name.” Give the gift of the uncanny.

Did Freud write an essay called “A Tree is Being Planted”? (Hmmm.)

To some extent this is a better tree—more like a real tree!—than a tree I buy at Ace Hardware and plant myself. Part of its essential tree-ness, its opacity, is made far more obvious to me when I just click on a screen.

It's like the line in the song “Rubyliquid” (below)—“There's a tree full of crows, and nobody knows.” At the time of course I was reading Levinas and was haunted by his idea of the “there is” (which elsewhere he calls the element). Graham Harman writes about this.

Levinas asks the disturbing question, what is the “it” in the phrase “It is raining”?


Rubyliquid, “Rubyliquid.” Music and lyrics by Tim Morton and Mike Snyder.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Frequency Response Test

Zentropa, “Ecstatic” (Remix)


This laddie is on to something isn't he? Musical hyperobjects.

We Aren't the World

I find I share some ideas with Ray Brassier—for instance, I too am attracted by eliminative materialism. And I'm very into the idea of a non-phenomenological (even non-ontological) account of things.

“We Aren't the World!” as Michael Jackson didn't sing...

Keep going Levi! You are making my decade here...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Through the LOOOking Glass

...So I was just thinking, if an Object Oriented Ontologist were to read The Ecological Thought, he or she would maybe not like the mesh, but might really like strange strangers.

Right on time Levi Bryant at larvalsubjects fit the bill...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Good Life

Why is this one of the best tunes ever made?

Gotta love that Top of the Pops action too.

There's No Gene “For” That

Yes. As theorized by Dawkins, Dennett—and thought through a little by me in The Ecological Thought—it appears that the search for genes “for” specific disorders is a wild goose chase.

DNA code is not like a codex. It's like a recipe, an algorithm. As you know, you can produce very different results with the same recipe.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


...is a mode of capitalist ideology. Discuss.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, June 11, 2010

Universe of Things

Steven Shaviro has a very good reading of Shelley's Mont Blanc. I couldn't help liking it a lot, as a long time Shelley scholar. It's a very beautiful, glacial (in more ways than one) poem.
The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark--now glittering--now reflecting gloom--
Now lending splendour, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
Of waters--with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume,
In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap for ever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves. (1–11)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ecology after Capitalism

Also coming soonish: “Ecology after Capitalism,” Polygraph 22 (2010), 17–29.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ecology as Text

Coming soonish: "Ecology as Text, Text as Ecology" in Oxford Literary Review.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Disastrous Misapprehension

... would be to misconstrue deconstruction as a form of epistemology. Discuss.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Visible from Space

More drum and bass crystals for you. Features a beautiful sample of John Borman, the astronaut:

... and the view of the Earth, it was the only ... the only place in the whole ... Universe that had any color, everything else was black and white...

It doesn't get much better than Borman's understated, fluid delivery, does it—to evoke the spaciousness and intimacy of the ecological thought?

Hunch, “Visible from Space.” Aquasky Remix. Thanks Paul!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Louise Bourgeois

Louise Bourgeois, creator of living, oozing materiality, the subject of some of The Ecological Thought, has just died. Here is an online Guggenheim exhibition.