“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, February 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Claire

My daughter was born to this: “Tha,” by Aphex Twin.

Seafaring Neanderthals

Another nail in the coffin of the human/nonhuman boundary. Neanderthals had no imagination? Wow. HT Cliff Gerrish.

I Just Wrote This Abstract for My Essay on Ecology and Objects

What is called subjectivity is really just a small region of a much larger space of interactions between beings: coffee cups, sea foam, flakes of obsidian and nebulae. To realize this is to enter into a larger world in which humans coexist with a plenitude of uncanny entities that for shorthand's sake my essay calls objects. Ecological awareness just is the human attunement to this coexistence. Many of these objects are large enough to contain humans: biosphere, climate, evolution. The ecological emergency, then, is also an ontological emergency, in which we find ourselves inside an object, or rather, a whole series of them.

Stuart Kendall Liveblog

It's a talk here on Andy Goldsworthy. 

He is quite interesting! He has translated Bataille and he knows his stuff. The Long Now as a 10 000 year time frame. So 10 000 years past there was the epic of Gilgamesh: he's translating it as a symptom of what got us into the problem.

There are too many objects and not enough connections (historical, cultural). (IMO this is well in line with environmentalist norms—but no matter. Connectivity plus Bataille works!)

He's going to talk about temporality, multiple temporalities at work in Goldsworthy's work. Gathering, transformation, dissemination, are the terms he uses.

Different cairns made by Goldsworthy have different temporalities depending on where they are: Goldsworthy says,  “The work has been given to the sea as a gift and the sea has taken it and made more of it than I could ever have hoped for.”

Poems, Objects, Architecture, Translation (MP3)

This was a humdinger of a class. It was a revision class that turned into something very special. Ian Bogost's A Slow Year and a Blake poem were the exempla! Contains thoughts on objects, quantum theory and the beneficial weakness of paraconsistent logical systems, and English language.

Nonhuman Turn Schedule

Ian, Adrian Ivakhiv and me are talking at this.

Two Spinoza Conferences

Spinoza in Scotland - May 2012

In May 2012 there will be two major Spinoza events in Northeast Scotland:

9-10 May: The Scottish Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy in Aberdeen

11-12 May: Spinoza, the Infinite and the Eternal - Annual conference of the British Society for the History of Philosophy in Dundee

With 4 days of papers on Spinoza and early modern philosophy by a terrific lineup of international speakers, this promises to be a fantastic series of events. Aberdeen and Dundee are one and a half hours apart by train (and are Scotland’s sunniest cities!). Information follows about both events.


Scottish Seminar in Early Modern Philosophy III
University of Aberdeen, 9-10 May 2012
Queen Mother Library, Meeting Room 1 (room 706)

Keynote Speakers:
Stephen Gaukroger (University of Aberdeen / University of Sydney) “Sensibility and Metaphysics: “Diderot, Hume, Baumgarten, and Herder”
Yitzhak Melamed (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore), “Spinoza’s Mereology”

Other speakers include: Ruth Boeker (St. Andrews), Dietmar Heidemann (University of Luxemburg), Matteo Favaretti Camposamieri (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia), Larry Jorgensen (Skidmore College), Markku Roinila (Edinburgh / Helsinki), Jon Miller (Queen’s University), Michael Olson (Villanova), Gabriel Alban-Zapata (ENS de Lyon), Martine Pecharman (CNRS – Maison Française d’Oxford), Dario Perinetti (UQAM), Andrea Sangiacomo (ENS de Lyon), Eric Schliesser (University of Ghent).

There is no registration fee. All are welcome to attend.
Programme and information: http://spinozaresearchnetwork.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/scottish-seminar-in-early-modern-philosophy-iii/

Organization: Mogens Lærke (University of Aberdeen / CERPHI, ENS de Lyon). Contact: m.laerke@abdn.ac.uk
The event is sponsored by: The Scots Philosophical Association, The School of Divinity, History and Philosophy (University of Aberdeen) and Oxford University Press


Spinoza, the Infinite, and the Eternal

British Society for the History of Philosophy Annual Conference 2012, in association with University of Dundee and the Spinoza Research Network
Additional support provided by the Scots Philosophical Association

11-12 May, 2012
University of Dundee, Scotland

In 2012 the BSHP annual conference will focus on themes of the infinite and the eternal in Spinoza’s philosophy.

Keynote speakers:
Clare Carlisle (Kings College London), “Eternal Life: The Radical Theology of Ethics V”
Alan Nelson (University of North Carolina), “Grades of Infinity”

John Grey (Boston), “Spinoza’s Analogy of Parthood in Ethics V”
Julie R. Klein (Villanova), “Spinoza’s Gersonidean Eternity of the Mind”
Mike LeBuffe (Texas A&M), “The Dictates of Reason and Ethics 5P7”
Lisete Rodrigues (Lisbon), “Eternity as a political concept”
Noa Shein (Ben Gurion University of the Negev), “Necessarily Always a Bit Confused”
Daniel Schneider (Wisconsin), “Why Explaining Duration in the Ethics takes an Eternity”
Justin Steinberg (CUNY), “From Here to Eternity: Spinoza on Temporary Encounters with Eternality”
Emily Thomas (Cambridge), “Eternity in Spinoza and Samuel Alexander”
Valtteri Viljanen (Turku), “Spinoza on Virtue and Eternity”
Daniel Whistler (Liverpool), “How Speak of Eternity? The Rhetoric of Ethics Part V”

Information and Registration:
All details about registration, payment and travel can be found on the conference website: www.dundee.ac.uk/philosophy/bshpconference

Contact: Beth Lord b.lord@dundee.ac.uk

Still Gobsmacked by Niall Ferguson

Only someone ensconced in the insular world of downtown Manhattan would not notice the horrible irony of "killer apps" to describe the power of imperialism.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

History of Criticism 14: Hegel (MP3)

Some good discussions of the beautiful soul and ecological awareness here. And some good reasons to be an OOO-ist.

Solaris Found

By NASA. An ocean planet 40 light years from Earth. HT Lisa Summers.

How to Read Any Poem, Anywhere: Narration 1 (MP3)

A keeper.

Spiritual Dynamite

By means of meditation, I feel that we have planted dynamite to transcend the world of confusion. So it would be good if you could practice meditation as much as you can, as much as physically and psychologically possible. You could become more clear and sane, and you could also influence the national neurosis in that way.
Chogyam Trungpa

Monday, February 27, 2012

Feedback Looper

My brilliant Ph.D student Bryan makes these pedals for electr(on)ic instruments. They are mad.

Poetry and Perception

I just wrote this to my poetry analysis students:

Hi All,

Don't forget the close reading notes in the resources folder on smartsite.

To get an A grade, you need to talk about interactions between levels. In a way, you are starting to reassemble the poem after having broken it down.

This is congruent with what we know about perception, in which objects seem to appear as manifolds, not as pixels that are then scanned. Some researchers at Berkeley recently reconstructed brain images from brain wave scans using a computer that searched YouTube for similar images based on interpretations of the wave patterns. You can see them on YouTube, it's rather uncanny.

What we learn from this is what some philosophy (phenomenology) already knows: you perceive things as a whole, in a single shot. You don't assemble pixelated breakdowns of things. You see a cup of coffee: the whole cup is right there, in your mind.

It's a bit tricky doing this with a poem--or with anything--because we tend to be unconscious of the physical level(s) of reality. We just want to walk through it, drink it, allow it to work on us unexamined.

Yours, TM

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Performance at Mondavi

My Ph.D student Kevin O'Connor is rocking it right now with a very physical performance in the theater space here. Stupidly I showed up late without a ticket so I'm having to watch it through glass. But it's very powerful even so, powerful enough to bust through the glass.

The Shape of the I

Another brilliant poster by my friend Karen Jacobs (English, CU Boulder), for the upcoming conference in April. Can't wait to see her again and all the rest of the CU crew. Click to view detail. There are some cool people coming to this gig, writer of this post excepted : )

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

History of Criticism 13: Kantian Sublimity (MP3)

Not a bad class at all. It seems to be working to cleave quite closely to the text and to explicate it. Students are tired towards the end of the day, though.

Rick Perry, Idealist

Perpsectivalism, relativism, idealism--those staples of contemporary conservative ideology:

PERRY: As a matter of fact, perception is everything in this world we live in, and if the perception is Newt Gingrich could be the next president of the United States, that will have a worldwide effect, I will suggest to you, on the price of oil. And people who watch these markets and people who deal with these markets understand, that when you see the type of approach that he’s talking about — opening up federal lands and waters, opening up that pipeline from Canada, clearly giving incentives to drill in America for domestic energy, and then an all of the above policy, whether it’s wind or nuclear or whatever it might be — that will have a dampening effect on the cost of oil in particular and the other energy prices as well.

How to Read Any Poem, Anywhere 12: Imagery (MP3)

Gerard Manley Hopkins and Ezra Pound. Prosopopoeia and ekphrasis. OOO and metaphor! Also, Professor Morton fixed the volume on his recorder!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Emptiness and OOO

What's not for me to like in this Times of India piece? HT Graham Harman.

Happy Losar

It's the Water Dragon year. Today is Tibetan New Year. I wonder what water dragons are like. I imagine them as gigantic surf or tidal waves. Dragons are like opium smoke, they curl inscrutably.

CFP: Wordsworth Summer Conference 2012

The 41st Wordsworth Summer Conference
Monday 30 July to Thursday 9 August 2012

Forest Side Hotel, Grasmere, Cumbria, England

Keynote Lecturers:

Stephen Behrendt, Jeff Cowton, Richard Cronin, Heather Glen, Bruce Graver, Anthony Harding,
Kiyoshi Nishiyama, Judith Page, Lynda Pratt, John Strachan, Peter Swaab, Pamela Woof

February update: John Burnside, winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize for his collection of poems Black Cat Bone, will give a poetry reading.

Format and Costs: The conference is in two parts of 4 full days each, with a changeover day on Saturday 4 August. The non-resident and registration fee, which includes up to seven excursions, offers exceptional value at £235 for ten days (£185 for five days). Full Board at the conference hotel is available at prices ranging from £510 to £900 (for ten nights), and half board at the YHA for £423.

Call for Papers: we invite proposals for twenty-minute papers on all aspects of William Wordsworth, his contemporaries and the Romantic period. Papers that identify a bicentenary theme, 1812–2012, will be welcomed, as will presentations that reflect upon the achievement of Jonathan Wordsworth’s great book William Wordsworth. The Borders of Vision (1982).

Our opening night will include a reception in the Wordsworth Museum followed by a candle light visit to Dove Cottage. There will be a further opportunity to explore the riches of the Wordsworth Trust’s collections with the curator Jeff Cowton, and to visit the Trust’s summer exhibition Pen, Paint and Pixels Touring the English Lakes across 250 years. Among our excursions will be the Roman fort and settlement at Vindolanda, close to Hadrian’s Wall, and a minibus tour of the picturesque Duddon Valley in the South of the Lake District. For walkers the attractions are likely to include Great Gable, Bow Fell, and an all-day walk from Haweswater to the Elizabethan Chapel of Martindale via Rough Edge and Beda Fell.

Proposals: 250 word proposals for papers of no more than 2750 words together with a brief unformatted c.v. should occupy no more than 2 sides of A4 (they will be copied into a composite file). Please do not send as a pdf. E-mail to the Conference Director Nicholas Roe at wordsworthsummerconference@gmail.com by 31 March 2012. All other enquiries should also be e-mailed to this address.

Bursaries: Please see the separate announcement of bursaries offered for the 2012 Conference

Nicholas Roe, Conference Director, for the Trustees of the Wordsworth Conference Foundation
Stacey McDowell, Wordsworth Summer Conference Administrator.

The Wordsworth
□ Chairman, Nicholas Roe
□ Secretary, Richard Gravil

Tirril Hall, Tirril,
Penrith CA10 2JE

January 2012

Bursaries for the 2012 Wordsworth Summer Conference

12 bursaries, worth £350, are available for the 2012 conference. These bursaries are intended to enable young scholars, principally at postgraduate and early post-doctoral level, to enjoy ten active and stimulating days in the unique environment of Grasmere, for about half the cost of the event, if using hostel accommodation. Please bring this announcement to the attention of qualifying applicants. Applications must be sent to the organisers at wordsworthsummerconference@gmail.com by 31 March 2012. For details of the conference please visit http://www.wordsworthconferences.org.uk.

Keynote Speakers

Stephen Behrendt, John Burnside, Richard Cronin, Heather Glen,
Bruce Graver, Anthony Harding, Kiyoshi Nishiyama, Judith Page,
Lynda Pratt, John Strachan, Peter Swaab, Pamela Woof

Conference Registration: residential places are limited and in demand. Non-resident space is also limited. Payment of fees for the conference can be made through Google Checkout from the registration page of the website. The conference fee rises from £235 to £250 for late registrants on 30 April.

Nicholas Roe, Chair, Wordsworth Conference Foundation, and Director of the Summer Conference
Stacey McDowell, Wordsworth Summer Conference Administrator
12 Wordsworth Summer Conference Bursaries: Terms and Conditions

1. The (5) Richard Wordsworth Memorial Postgraduate Bursaries £350


2. The (4) Wordsworth Conference Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowships £350


3. The (2) Summer Conference Bursaries for Postgraduate Students of English Romantic Literature £350

[This bursary is funded by book auction at the 2011 conference]

4. The Kathleen Coburn Bursary for Scholars of Romanticism £350


General Conditions: Bursaries are intended to meet approximately half of the cost of the conference. Holders of bursaries will be so designated on the list of participants or the conference programme. The bursary will be applied in the first instance to conference fees, and the balance to hotel, hostel or bed & breakfast accommodation (bursars arranging their own B&B accommodation should inform the Conference Director, who will arrange payment direct to the establishment). Bursars using youth hostel accommodation must book through the conference. Bursars are expected to attend all lectures, papers and conference events, and acceptance of a bursary implies an undertaking to do so. Applications should be emailed to wordsworthsummerconference@gmail.com in the form of a word attachment containing a paper proposal of 300 words, together with a short unformatted c.v. in the same file, the entire application being not more than two sides of A4 (the file will be copied and pasted into a composite file, so please avoid elaborate formatting). Applicants should also arrange for an academic reference to be sent independently to the same email address, verifying the applicant’s status and country of residence. Candidates need not specify which bursary they are applying for. They will automatically be considered for any bursary for which they are eligible.

Please note that we may award a bursary but without having space to include the proposed paper on the conference programme: such papers may, however, be ‘taken as read’, that is, made available in print form at the conference, if the proposer so chooses. Papers should be not longer than 2750 words (rapid delivery invariably impedes communication) and may address any area of Romanticism.

Applications and references must reach wordsworthsummerconference@gmail.com by 31 March. Decisions on bursaries will be announced by 20 April and sooner if possible.
http://www.wordsworthconferences.org.uk ◘ wordsworth_conferences@hotmail.co.uk

CFP: Animals in Irish Literature and Culture

Call for Papers: Representing Animals in Irish Literature and Culture
From the shape-shifters of the sagas and the simian Paddies of the nineteenth century to the Celtic Tiger of recent years, non-human animals have figured powerfully in portrayals of Irishness. These portrayals tell us a great deal about the ways discourses of animality construct the human, and often, the sub-human. Indeed, Maureen O’Connor has argued that the constructed proximity of the Irish to animals justified the colonial use of force to subdue and contain them. Conversely, making the ideological connections between the oppression of women, the Irish, and animals, prominent nineteenth-century animal advocates from Ireland like Richard Martin of Galway, worked for both human and animal liberatory practices. However, despite the rich history of animals figured in Irish literature and culture, an animal studies focus has yet to emerge in Irish studies.

Thus, as editors of this volume, we invite essays working at the intersections of Irish studies and Critical Animal Studies, including any topic that engages with the relationship between humans and animals within Irish writing and cultural production. Possible topics include:

• Portrayals of nationality, transnationality, or migration and non-human animals
• Historical representations of animals
• Animals in Irish material culture
• Animals as religious and spiritual symbols
• Animal rights and its cultural implications
• Mythical animals
• Urban animals
• Representations of animals in Irish films
• Animals in Irish popular culture
• Gender and/or sexuality and animals
• Animals in Irish art
• Animals and/as property
• Representations of hierarchies of value among non-human animal species
• Deconstructing the human/animal binary
• Domesticated and wild animals
• Colonial/Post-colonial Ireland and animals

Send a 300-500 wd. proposal to Borbala Farago (borbala.farago@gmail.com) and Kathryn Kirkpatrick (kirkpatrick@appstate.edu) by May 15, 2012.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Academia.edu just found this paper that might be by me, so its algorithm would have me believe:

FRUIT-Strawberries and vision-Jim Wilson looks into the future with Tim Morton, the Albert Fisher Soh Fruit Grower of the Year 1998

History of Criticism Class 12: Kant and Schiller (MP3)

How to Read Any Poem, Anywhere Class 11: Imagery (Brightness) (MP3)

A trope is an algorithm, and more.


Two very bright students have just failed to get in to study OOO with me at UC Davis. One tried for English Lit., the other for American Studies. I've taught about 500 graduate students and currently I'm supervising about 15 Ph.D.s, and have a 100% success rate with those scholars getting jobs. In other words I know what I'm doing.

These applicants were awesome. But somehow what they did was not visible to the powers that be.

I'm hoping that in the next few years there is a tectonic shift in how humanities Ph.D. work is thought. In particular, people had better get used to the speculative realism explosion. For now I'm pretty sad.

I encountered some obstacles when I first started out. I remember my Ph.D. qualifying chapter was rejected because it “wasn't English literary criticism.” Terry Eagleton (bless him) went to the mat for me on that and I got past the censor, having submitted a chapter that another professor (Stephen Gill) said was the best qualifying chapter he'd ever seen. It was a tough week—yes that's right I had to write a chapter in a week!

There are very real very ideological roadblocks in this business.

Philosophy and Art Criticism

I think I just read the best writing on Rothko I think I've ever seen, in Jean-Luc Marion's book on saturated phenomena. It's truly brilliant. Why?

I believe it's because of the intimacy required for a powerful philosophical engagement. The philosopher isn't prepared to take anything for granted. In particular, phenomenology has a remarkably strong track record in art and literature criticism.

In another sense, it's because artworks are thinking by another means. Thinking when thinking as such is restricted, or blocked, or impossible. A dance happens between the artwork and the philosopher.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Some New Talks

One on a religious studies panel; the other at an anthropology conference. Stay tuned.

No Confidence in UC Davis Chancellor

...failed by a massive majority of the faculty. The confidence vote passed, by a fairly large majority. The police were condemned by a supermassive majority.

Oh No, Autotune

I promised myself I would never do this. But this one particular song I wrote with Mike Snyder seems ripe for it, since the chorus is “I'm integrated into the machine.” I still do really like the laconic quality, and the Robert Wyatt-ish “zang be dang ba diggety boing”s. I also kinda like the lyrics—on the edge of nonsense: “They know about lovin' if you know what I mean: / Lovin' Jesus and a small Dairy Queen.”

I can also imagine the video. It would have to do with the abject failure of a spacecraft powered by sparklers and roman candles to lift off.

Of course it means that I spent quite a lot of the last few days tweaking it when I could have been unloading philosophically : )

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Weekend's Schedule

Editing an essay on psychoanalysis and ecology—did that yesterday. Today something for an art history journal on Aboriginal art. This one has some very very helpful comments in the margin by the editor, Nick Croggon.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fear! My Favorite Emotional State!

Oh, the levels, the levels: fear helps you to appreciate art. Jean-Luc Marion or Alphonso Lingis could've told you THAT!

Oh, and I note that he works at Chris Schaberg's place!

The Horror of Interconnectedness

A good insight by Christine Skolnik from the post I mentioned earlier: “Maybe our romance with interconnectedness is at root a defense against the horror of it. Not the horror of imagined freedom but of creeping responsibility.”

These Corporations Deny Climate Change

...and are prepared to fund the hilariously badly named Heartland Institute to say so.

Quantum Result versus Non-Contradiction

That precious post also means that LNC is in trouble. An object is (as I argue in Realist Magic) not in one single atomized now-point or place.

Another Blow against Correlationist Quantum Theory

Told you! Zero point fluctuation in a bar of metal.


As I was in Oakland yesterday, and as I'm always out for meditation instructions wherever I can find them, I offer you this. Anyone who has a good relationship with a teacher (devotion) will know what this is all about.

De Paul Goes All Hyperobjective

There have been some very interesting discussions on the Environmental Critique site recently. Rick Elmore leads the way. Scroll down to the comments because they are all very interesting too: by Randall Honold and Christine Skolnik. Thanks Liam Heneghan for pointing it out.

I just taught a bit of a class for Randall on skype, by answering some very interesting questions from his students in his class Environment and Society. Perhaps the most interesting question: “Do you consider yourself to be a performance artist?”

Randall I remember for his enthusiasm for Wire, a perfect end to a perfect day.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Take a Stand Against Elsevier

Price gouging giants Elsevier must be severed from contact with the best scholarship.

Collecting as Modernist Practice

Sometimes a book comes along that is so well put together, so smart, so dense—and accomplishing so much both above and under the radar—that you have to take stock of it as I'm doing here. I refer to Jeremy Braddock's Collecting as Modernist Practice, a book that's going to rewrite what we think about art objects, poems, property, museums, anthologies—and race and modernity and on and on.

To choose a poem, an image, to hang it in a museum, to put it in an anthology, to collect—is this not a political act? Doesn't it mean that one is admitting into society—within very real parameters, both consciously and unconsciously determined—all kinds of beings? And thus that how they are allowed in, the conditions of their access, their freedom or passports, their papers as it were—all this is at stake?

I promise you will never glance casually at a museum space again, or an anthology of poems, after you read this.

So comprehensive is it that it will be impossible to ignore. 

This is such a nice book to hold in your hands too. Dig that vermillion cover and the jacket is superb.

History of Criticism 11: Burke and Addison (MP3)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Now that's what I call Gandharan...

Some Future Talks

At MLA 2012 in Boston:

"Raven Gloss: Victorian Dark Ecology"

At the international Byron conference, London July 2013 (keynote):

"Byron's Nonhuman"

At the Wordsworth conference in Grasmere (keynote):


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Schaberg in the Times


"And consider this from Christopher Schaberg, an assistant professor of English at Loyola University and the author of a book, “The Textual Life of Airports: Reading the Culture of Flight” (Continuum, 2011), which one academic reviewer said “explores that most quotidian space of ennui, the airport.”

Pay attention not only to public art in airports, but also to your own place within, no matter how grim or humble a concourse might seem, Professor Schaberg advised. “Think of your time spent in the airport as an art walk of sorts. You are actually part of a giant, living art piece, the architectural matrix and social swirl that we recognize as airport life.” "

Monday, February 13, 2012


One of my best students just got a job. Have to be quiet right now but it's so gratifying when this happens.


An airport is a pretty splendid place to grade, and I have a mountain of it. Something like 80 essays I think. What's very pleasing is that all are so good this time. Narcissistically I put this down to the fact that my classes have been very clear and that there is a good plan for how to get an A...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My ELN Essay "Waking Up Inside an Object"

Just got my hard copy. It's an essay on ecology and OOO.

They've done marvelous things with English Language Notes. I think they won some awards for it. Really high quality thing to hold in your hands. Book ended by me and (at the front) my colleague and friend David Simpson. “The Shape of the Signifier” is the theme. I'll be seeing those guys in Boulder in April, can't wait to go back there.

Friday, February 10, 2012

History of Criticism 10: Hume and Young (MP3)

More on Symbionts and Your Brain

HT Cliff Gerrish. My brother, who has schizophrenia, was very small when our first cat showed up. One of his first acts was to try to eat the cat's food...I wonder, given this piece and what I've been saying in talks recently.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How to Read Any Poem, Anywhere, Class 9: Imagery (mp3)

Imagery can either be present or absent...from this there follows much...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Jorie Graham's Sea Change

She gave me a copy, so kindly, inscribed so nicely, when I spoke earlier this week at Harvard. I'm just starting to read them. There's a certain feeling about opening a fresh book of poems. A sense of strangeness, even slight fear. How will these open me?

So it will take me some time to absorb them all—but the first thing I can say for sure is, this is a very physical collection of poems. When I hear the title I think of The Tempest:

Full fathom five thy father lies,
Of his bones are coral made,
Those are the pearls that were his eyes,
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.

It's about objects, isn't it? How they aren't what you think they are. I'm at the poem “Embodies” and it's striking me this way.

The book has a certain feel in your hands and the lettering on the cover is beautifully colored.

I set those lines of Shakespeare to music once. They are very evocative for me. See Derek Jarman's The Tempest if you can: the way they happen there is just, wow.

Are Whales Slaves

“A California federal court is to decide for the first time in US history whether amusement park animals are protected by the same constitutional rights as humans.” HT Bill Benzon.

Amanda Beech Talk at UCD next Wednesday


“The sitting practice of meditation is the expression of celebration rather than falling into a trap or imprisonment. You no longer have to go through the exaggerated sociological, psychological, or bureaucratic trips that we create for ourselves. You could get into the practice simply and directly, starting with the breath. Get into it, simply go along with it, and work with it.”
Trungpa Rinpoche

Cell Tower Paranoia

So many students have noticed what I've noticed on campus for the last month or so. If you try to make a call or use the web within about 100 yards of Occupy, your find your phone is dead.

Some people are saying this is just because a lot of people are using their phones in that area. Really? I don't see more than your average crowd there.

My wife used to work with cell phone companies, siting towers using GPS. She tells me that to take out the phone system in a very targeted way all you would have to do would be to disable a few towers. We should look into this.

Paranoia is one of my favorite emotions, mind you. I'm a bit of a Windom Earle: “Fear, my favorite psychological state!”

Rachel Swinkin's Dissertation Done

I'm so proud of her. And it's excellent work. She's ready to file it. It will make a very strong contribution to studies of animality, philosophy, culture and art in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

More on Disability and OOO

Jason replies to my latest:

You actually went in a direction I hadn't expected. I tried to answer my own question. I went down what is probably a rocky road trying to perceive how objects could be disabled. I came up with ideas of functional/dysfunctional. How if an object seems to have no function, it gets cast out, discarded like an empty pop-can. The reality is that no object is completely dysfunctional. Another function is always hidden, waiting to emerge, like a broken laptop becomes a doorstop, or blue plastic spoons become bower bird art. Even if we can imagine a completely dysfunctional object, then dysfunction becomes its next function. So we can never really dismiss anything as dysfunctional. I like what you have to say here because you seem to be saying that dysfunction seems to lie in wait also, that every functioning object has the capability of becoming, or encountering dysfunction. I wonder if we were on the same wavelength.

Yes, excellent. The futurality of a thing (its irreducible withdrawnness) means that “disability” in another sense than intrinisc fragility is a sensual object, produced by an interaction with something else. I perceive myself as disabled when I stop breathing at night, and have to use a machine to breathe. The existence of a broken tool hints at the existence of a withdrawn tool.

So now we have two senses of disability: an intrinsic fragility of all things; an appearance-for some (other) being, a social label.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walking, Stumbling, Falling

Jason Bradford asks a very interesting question on my post about the walking class:

I'm curious if you could comment further on this. I'm physically disabled, so statements like these jump out at me. I'm trying to see disability in OOO.

That's a good prompt. Walking meditation annihilates the teleological idea that walking is “for” something such as getting from A to B. It reveals something essential about walking, which is that it's a controlled kind of stumbling. Why? Because an object is always a little bit “in front of” itself.

There is a lot about this in Realist Magic, because theories of motion that regard time and space as atoms (now-points in a row, e.g., or ontically given A separate from ontically given B) are prone to Zeno's paradox takedowns.

However, if you think a thing as displaced from itself, in itself (as I do, and Hegel, and Graham Priest), there is no problem. If A is also not-A, if now is also not-now...

A thing such as a place (A) or a now-point is an appearance of an entity that is withdrawn. What is really the case is that past and future are strangely coinciding, not exactly touching, yet one is bathed in the other. Or they are like two trains moving against one another. So this place, A, contains all kinds of secrets, all kinds of not-A. And this time, now, is really a nowness, a quality that is for-me, or for-this-tree, or this iPhone; this nowness contains hollows of not-now. Walking opens all kinds of futures and traces all kinds of pasts.

There are objects, and space and time flow from them. So to move is not to float through a given time or given space, but rather to translate one's body, the street, the tree, the knee joint. To create new rifts. To paint a new picture on Earth.

Richard Long

There is no such thing as a smooth unified movement “in” time from A to B. What this means is that walking has an intrinsically stumbly quality to it, which Laurie Anderson celebrates in her “Walking and Falling” and David Byrne sings about: “I'm catching up with myself.”

Walking that tries to eliminate this broken, stumbling quality (which I call an essential lameness) turns into marching: rigidity, imposing regularity on something intrinsically inconsistent. To exist at all, an object must “halt” somewhere, be “lame.” I believe ecological awareness forces this lameness on us willy nilly. All entities have a hamartia, a lamness or flaw, that enables them to exist. To exist is to be riven between essence and appearance.

Walking meditation slows down your movement to the point where you see it as falling, constantly giving in to a gigantic object—Earth, and its gravitational field. You let gravity pull your body forwards. The relation of Earth to one's body heightens the gap between what it is and how it appears, making it collapse and fold onto itself. We call this movement.

“Normal” walking is a disabled walking whose vulnerability and inconsistency has been erased and airbrushed.

History of Criticism 9: Milton (MP3)

This was a fun class though I was a bit knackered on my return from Harvard.

Walking, Philosophy, Sculpture

Professor Helen Mirra kindly let me teach her class in the arts department at Harvard. The class was on walking--what the heck did I know about that?!

The more I reflected on it the more I realized I did know. So I presented something like an OOO view of walking, an argument as to why philosophy is physical, and then I taught them walking meditation as it's been taught to me in the Zen kinhin style.

I'll try to reconstruct what happened. It was a rewarding experience.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Shadows of the Space Station

A friend of a friend took these photos with a "funky old telescope" and a Canon Rebel.

Shows what old objects can do. A camera translating the moon's transition of the space station's translation of the sun...

Harvard Talk (video)

“Ecology without the Present.” Thanks so much to Larry Buell, Jorie Graham and Peter Sacks, and Damian White (who came all the way from RISD), along with Panagiotis Roilis, my host, and Karen Thornber, the most gracious, smart and good humored dinner guests (and interlocutors) possible. The Q&A was particularly great as you will hear, although there are some thing I'd like to have said to Larry's question, which perhaps I'll be able to get to in a personal message to him, that were more cogent than what I spewed!
Ecology without the Present

It's possible I may tweak the MP3 (cutting the first couple of minutes of dead time before the introduction by Panagiotis). Here it is in any case!

My Wayne Leys Lecture

This was a lecture on ethics and ecology at SIU last year. It is on hyperobjects, of course...

Thanks so much to Sarah Lewison, a very very powerful artist, for videoing this so nicely. And to Nick Smaligo: to these two I think I have a bond for life now. And David Farrell, photographer of strange dioramas.

The whole thing brings up very fond memories of a found-object kind of a day: a room with a cement mixer, pink fairy lights, a lectern made of a round piece of drywall and a brick. It was emotionally the warmest of the very warm (along with my De Paul appearance).

Ecopoetics Conference 2013

What: 2013 Conference on Ecopoetics

When: Friday, Feb. 22, through Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013

Where: The Maude Fife Room, Wheeler Hall, University of California, Berkeley

About: While we are still in the early planning stages, the 2013 Conference on Ecopoetics may feature scholarly panels, seminars, talks, poetry readings and workshops, outings and excursions, and/or even a group service project. The conference will bring together scholars and artists, both inside and outside of the academy.

Advisory Board:
Forrest Gander
Robert Hass
Brenda Hillman
Lynn Keller
Timothy Morton
Jonathan Skinner
Michael Ziser

The 2013 Conference on Ecopoetics is open to all scholars and poets who are invested in critical conceptualizations of ecopoetics.

Contact: To express interest, request further information, and/or share thoughts and ideas, please contact Angela Hume Lewandowski at amlewandowski@ucdavis.edu.

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Last time I was here I was quite miserable. Maybe it's my mind that makes it nicer than that. Things seem sharper, crisper, less overpowering. Astonishingly clean--first impressions are often correct you know.

So I'm meeting with design students for lunch, then with performance studies students. Then I do my talk at 6pm. This is all on Monday. For now I shall run, eat and sleep.

New on the Queen Mab site

A post on Gregory Corso teaching Ode to the West Wind.


Since it is near February 2 we all watched Groundhog Day for like the 200th time. Any Buddhist loves that. You could go quite far in life just with that movie and maybe one book, perhaps Fearless Simplicity by Tsoknyi Rinpoche or Rainbow Painting by his dad Tulku Urgyen.

That inversion, that joyful inversion of the theme in the manic depressive Rachmaninov's Paganini Variations, wow. Words do not add up to it. Now that's one of those things that brings tears to my eyes. Then it turns into jazz! Pimp my Nietzsche!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Buddhism and Kant

Someone wrote me insisting that what some translate as "transcendental" was precisely Kantian.

Well maybe for Schopenhauer, in his darkly inverted way--we can't get our paws on the will that structures the world.

But "transcendent" is a translation of paramita. Paramita means "reaching the other shore," the other shore being enlightenment. You can reach it. It's not transcendental. It has empirical, even physical qualities.

Paramita means beyond ego, but not beyond altogether.

Tree Music 2

Awesomely, Traubeck was inspired by Jethro Tull:

Tree Music

Thin slices of tree translated into piano sounds by a camera on a stylus. Key signature by algorithm. The composer says the music is 50% him, 50% tree--a nicely Romantic balance, as is his choice of piano...

My Harvard Talk Intro

For Monday. It's for the school of international relations, hence the first two sentences:

What could be more international than thinking about the current ecological emergency? And would could have more to do with relations? Since ecology just is the thinking of relationships between beings. Very large scale phenomena that I call hyperobjects are now forcing us to think these relations on spatial and temporal scales that far exceed habitual modes. The beings that we are concerned with also include beings in the far future, beings that are not human, and beings that coexist with us in a radical symbiotic sense. Some of these beings are not obviously sentient, some of them are not strictly alive.

Humans have now arrived at a cognitive, ethical, political and ontological crisis because of the increasingly obvious existence of nonhumans that populate social space—that have occupied it, to use that potent verb, from the start, that did not exist in some pristine Nature outside of social space. Some of these beings are so large—biosphere, climate—that we find ourselves on the inside of them, like Jonah in the Whale. This discovery has powerful ethical and political consequences. In this talk, I'm going to walk through some of the qualities of this emergency in which we find ourselves. In particular, I'm going to focus on how not only has Nature as a thing “over yonder” evaporated, but that what is called present is also now untenable according to current habits and specifications. This talk is in roughly two parts. In the first I'm going to explore the sheer fact of coexistence, by investigating melancholia, which I consider to be a default mode of sentient being. In the second part, I'm going to talk about the emergence into social, psychic and philosophical space of what I call hyperobjects.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Survival of the Beautiful

This looks very nice. Rothenberg is going to send me a copy, which is very kind of him. It's quite clear, as Darwin argues and I slavishly repeat in The Ecological Thought, that nonhumans have a sense of beauty.

Climate Change Conference, Canberra (CFP)

At Australian National University, August 27–28. I'm keynoting there.


The Cultural History of Climate Change

Humanities Research Centre
Australian National University
27 – 28 August, 2012

Historians since Herodotus have argued that climate shapes culture. We can no longer ignore the fact that culture also shapes climate. Today’s climate is increasingly an effect of the history of industrialisation. The climate of the coming centuries will be an effect of contemporary global society. Recognition of these interactions opens a significant new field to historical inquiry. It brings the economic, political and technological history of the carbon cycle together with cultural, aesthetic and literary reflections of climate, and links the emergence of ecological thinking to broader transformations in the organization of knowledge.

Acknowledging that the climate is cultural compels us to rethink many existing forms of historical understanding. It challenges traditional notions of the historical period, of collective and individual agency, of the narrative forms of historiography, and of the basic distinction between natural and human history. It demands new ways of relating the existential and historical moments of human knowledge and action to the dimensions of geological and evolutionary time.

The cultural history of climate change will be of central importance to social, cultural and political debates of the Twenty-First Century. To provide a first speculative survey of this field, the Humanities Research Centre will hold a special conference on this theme on 27 and 28 August, 2012, in Canberra, Australia.

Proposals are invited for papers that either:
* examine episodes, works or themes that fall within the cultural history of climate change; or
* address the conceptual challenges posed to historical inquiry by anthropogenic climate change.

Please submit proposals of up to 300 words to tom.ford@anu.edu.au by
15 March 2012.


For Graham. With Zakir Hussein. He knows why I'm embedding it here : )

Blogpost on Privatization

...by Laura Grindstaff.
Laura Grindstaff
Professor of Sociology
Director, Consortium for Women and Research
University of California, Davis

Some Important Occupy Sites

UC Faculty Supporting Students

Occupy Education

That Harvard Talk Again

Open to the public!

Harman's Rogue Planets Essay

Very nice--it reminds me of Sebald.

Theory, Culture and Society Essay

Finally I'm writing this:

Inside the Hyperobject We Are Always in the Wrong
Timothy Morton

In this essay I shall be examining what I call hyperobjects, entities that are massively distributed in time and space. Many of them are human-made, such as Styrofoam, global warming and nuclear materials. I shall be adapting a suggestive concept of Kierkegaard's: the idea, which he finds “edifying,” that “against God we are always in the wrong.” I too find this idea edifying—what it means is that once we realize that we are radically “within” a series of hyperobjects (global warming, biosphere) we find ourselves in a truly post-modern historical moment. This moment is not a return to Nature or a violent purge of irony and difference, but rather the multiplication of irony far beyond the now traditional (and now antiquated) “postmodern” sense. Since my physical existence inside the hyperobject prevents me from acting or thinking perfectly “right,” the cynicism that sustains ideological comportment is now at an end, since cynicism becomes a form of hypocrisy, as I shall argue—hypocritical hypocrisy. Ecological thought and action has a necessarily uncanny dimension that prevents me from assuming a metalinguistic stance towards my world at the same time as compelling me to a far greater political and ethical urgency than has yet been known by humans.

Graham and Rob Surrounded By

I'd like to be there. Transmediale.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

And for My Next Trick

Spring quarter, coming up:

Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Ontology

Philosophy has undergone a radical change. Reality is back on the table, in a different, strange and sometimes threatening (to humans) way. This change comes after two hundred years of consensus, a consensus that philosopher Quentin Meillassoux calls “correlationism”: the supposition that humans can only think reality as it is correlated to them. This thought has affected everything, from Kant through deconstruction.

In this class we shall survey the bracing new thought that goes under the name speculative realism, and in particular, its feisty subset, object-oriented ontology. This new thinking now affects areas as diverse as ecology, dance, sculpture, computer games, architecture, art criticism, media theory, design and geography. It will soon be making a strong impact in literary studies with a special issue of New Literary History devoted to object-oriented ontology (OOO). OOO's architect is Graham Harman. It has already had a big impact in medieval literary studies, with scholars such as Eileen Joy and Jeffrey Cohen spearheading the way.

This new philosophy movement is intertwined with new media. The journal Speculations is one of a number of free online publications in speculative realism. Many texts and talks are available as blog posts and in other online media.

Speculative realism is powerfully congruent with the emerging ecological crisis, since it tries to think reality outside the human–world correlate.

Tim Morton is one of the four core exponents of the subset known as OOO.

Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomenology (U of Minnesota Press, 2012)
Levi Bryant, Graham Harman and Nick Srnicek, eds., The Speculative Turn (2011; available as a free pdf download from re.press).
Levi Bryant, The Democracy of Objects (Open Humanities Press, 2011; free download).
Graham Harman, Towards Speculative Realism (Zero Books, 2011).
Graham Harman, The Quadruple Object (Zero Books, 2011).
Tim Morton, Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (Open Humanities Press, forthcoming; final draft available on request).
Tim Morton, “Sublime Objects.” (Free for download at Speculations.)
Tim Morton, “Here Comes Everything.” (Available on request.)
Tim Morton, “Objects as Temporary Autonomous Zones,” Continent. (Free download at the journal's website.)

Requirements: one presentation, three short papers (2000 words each), topics to be decided between teacher and student. They could be modular (work towards two or three conference papers or single essay), or not.

History of Criticism 8: Sidney (MP3)

Affects that Affect Me

Watching Maya Angelou I realized that the things that make me cry are most often to do with emotions associated with courage:

“Don't be afraid, come with me”—I often feel this when an excellent musician is playing.
“You are not going to die.”
“Live! Survive!”
“No. I will not let you hurt him.”
“There are more degrees of freedom here than you suppose.”

Courage, coeur, heart. That region of affect.

How to Read Any Poem, Anywhere Class 8: Rhyme (MP3)

This was the sort of class that makes you beyond happy to be a teacher. We started with an intense reading of Wilfred Owen's “Anthem for Doomed Youth.”

Then we watched this and I lost it.

I didn't cry aloud but students in the front row could probably see tears in my eyes.

I was having a slight dilemma about whether to show them the tears because I didn't want that moment to be about me.

I was crying because this is the sort of poem that wants you very much to not die. And you can feel that, not just in the imagery, but on the texture level of the poem. It's in the sound. The authority with which Angelou reads it, wow.

And I related it to this.

See? When you write a poem you are fucking with causality.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Former Slave's Letter to Former Master

A masterpiece of controlled rage and understated mordant sarcasm. The closer:

Say howdy to George Carter, and thank him for taking the pistol from you when you were shooting at me.

From your old servant,
Jourdon Anderson.

Aww Shucks Greg

Greg Garrard has a useful timeline in his Teaching Ecocriticism and Green Cultural Studies, which arrived today. The end of said timeline:

2008   Wall•E (dir. Andrew Stanton).
2009   United Nations Climate Change Conference
           (COP-15 Summit) collapses.
2010   Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought. 
           United Nations Convention on Biological
           Diversity agreed in Nagoya, Japan.
2011   Global human population exceeds 7 billion.

More Talk News

Keynote in London in 2013. SUNY Buffalo in September.

"How to Read' MP3 Is Back Up

Thanks to Ruth Solomon, who noticed it was missing. Sometimes recently the embed code in the service I'm using has been problematic.

Australia Again

Another trip is in the works for August. Stay tuned.