“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

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Environmental BS

Not bullshit—Beautiful Soul syndrome. Okay, maybe bullshit. But a special kind of bullshit that sees everything else as bullshit.

For Hegel, ideas come bundled with attitudes. They are thus inherently unstable and tend to collapse into other ideas, which then code for attitudes themselves. This is done through discovering the attitude that the idea was coding for.

Take Kantian freedom (infinite inner space) and the freedom to choose a Pepsi or a Coke. Capitalist ideology wants you to assume a certain attitude towards inner freedom, right?

So just prior to the moment of the Beautiful Soul, the “Unhappy Consciousness” (the Enlightenment) sees the connection between the two. But it doesn't know what to make of it. I'm all dressed up with nowhere to go. I have inner freedom, but I'm stuck in this supermarket aisle having to choose freely between Pepsi and Coke. I have the freedom to move the apps around on my iPhone. “Just Do It” is not Kantian ethics but a shoe slogan.

Aha! I see the problem. It's the world. It's the other. It's the real. Good me, evil world. Or even better, good intelligence, pathetic me, evil world. The world is fucked, man. Everything we do turns to shit. My own intelligence sees myself as part of the hell that I'm in. This is hell man.

Take ecology. I know everything is interconnected. I'm not stupid. I'm smart. I'm super smart. I can see through everything. Solar panels? Effed. They cost so much carbon to make I can't even start. Nuclear power? Just look at Japan. Coal. Coal! Are you kidding me?

No, the world is totally fucked. I see it so clearly now. Nothing we can do will solve anything, because who's going to build a machine to reverse entropy? That's what we really need. A machine that pumps out more than it sucks in. Can someone make me that?

We're all gonna die. Beyond that we all go extinct. Beyond that, the sun explodes. But at least I know I was right. We're all going to hell anyway right? Might as well not sell out on that. I still believe in truth. So you can keep your Enlightenment unhappy consciousness bullshit. It's bullshit!

I was right goddammit! And I'm smarter than you! And you know it.



Joe Clement said...

"Nothing we can do will solve anything, because who's going to build a machine to reverse entropy? That's what we really need. A machine that pumps out more than it sucks in."

Isn't that what generalized commodity production (specifically the production of value - M>C>M+) supposed to be? I mean, maybe that's part of why so many solutions are shot in the foot before they're tried. You mention carbon affordability, but I think more conventional monetary affordability is the wacky limit to doing things capitalist ideology imposes us. That's including the whack Keynesians too.

Timothy Morton said...

No that's just correlationist BS--from the BS point of view. Marx's view there is too anthropocentric. He's not disillusioned enough.

Timothy Morton said...

...and even from a strictly Marxist point of view, the golden egg thing depends upon the increasing exploitation of workers. Can't do an end run around Boltzmann.

Timothy Morton said...

That's the trouble with BS: it's technically correct. BTW you notice the "endquote"?

Joe Clement said...

I actually think we agree. What I meant was isn't that what generalized commodity production is /supposed/ to be (i.e. isn't that what all the capitalists, BIG and small, think of it?) It may not actually be that, but don't most of us participate in it /as if/ it were?

I gathered you were speaking in the voice of the Beautiful Soul too. I just was wondering along with it about the reverse entropy machine and how the perseverance toward it (and the delusion that we actually have realized it in capitalism or M>C>M+)creates a collapsing world that seems to need it all the more. You know, like a superegoic libidinal-farm and the more you obey it the more you are guilty.

Timothy Morton said...

I see what you're saying, Joe. Thanks for that.