“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, May 19, 2011

Materials: Objects: Environments Liveblog 2 (Stephen Healy)

Latour on the air
europeans have gone to a more american style recently
affective one: feeling AC; thermal comfort is culturally shaped; cool of Mosques, Islamic gardens; japanese onsen; ac inscribes a very particular kind of thermal comfort in contardistinction to the heterogenous variety of e.g. Mediterranean paseo; hearth; sauna
AC replaces these; malls depend on escalators and air conditioning
replaces thermally variant practices with invariant, powerful thermal monotony (Mexico banned the siesta in 1999)
Scott Lash 2001 on the “disembedded” and “generic” “lifted-out space of placelessness”
we tend to think of thermal comfort as natural
1920s “comfort chart”; Nicholas Rose on “irreal” spaces, governmentality, “fabricating a ‘clearing’ within which thought and action can occur” (1999, 212)
thermal comfort not climate is the standard by which we now judge
ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers)
young Singaporeans are now starting to sweat out of doors
stressing electricity systems and climate change
piggybacking on “comfort”; John Crowley, 2001 The Invention of Comfort: “self-conscious satisfaction with the relationship between one’s body and the immediate physical environment”
from the C18 it had to be taught and learnt
emergence of the contemporary novel, Robinson Crusoe e.g.: furnishing of his shack was very unfamiliar at the time, innovative, became part of enculturation
Monty Python’s comfy chair Inquisition skit; the Inquisition of the 16th century would not have understood comfort in those terms
comfort as a hyperobject
materially constructing affective conditions

many don’t even hear AC (Latour): they fall under the radar
we are deeply conditioned to delineate climate change from the many things such as thermal monotony,
this affect is likely a general characteristic of hyperobjects: we render them opaque at our cost

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