“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

Friday, October 19, 2012

Juliana Spahr and Joshua Clover: Biopolitics Liveblog 5

A conversation about ecopoetry and Marxist poetry. Ecopoetry versus nature poetry, supposedly systemic. Modernist techniques. Leftist panels on workers' lives, documentary poetry. Why do those two things end up being so separate in some way?

Then Joshua and I thought about writing something on this.

For me (Joshua), Juliana has thought quite a bit about ecopoetics. I am less familiar with that discourse. She invited me to join in. The biopolitics is more of the hook. Hardt and Negri, mode that is internal to the logic of capital. Governmentality that allows for new production via affective labor that will rescue the economy when industrial profit collapses.

Intellectual labor has a fundamental flaw that it's wrong: there is a series of bubbles and catastrophes. The things thought as production (immaterial labor etc) are more adequately thought of as circulation and faster turnover, faster distribution.

Juliana: In what ways is art useful? The Hawaiian Kumulipo, a chant that is under-recognized as important to the growth of ecopoetry. Is has moments where what it wants to tell us is the connection of sea and land: systemic. Yet is also is a good example of a complicated representation yet very political. Pre-contact poem. Gets recited to Cook when he lands. Translated by the queen under house arrest by US citizens. All these things show up in the poem: trying to represent an ecosystem.

Joshua: so we used and misused the concept of ecotone: when two ecological systems meet. Embodied, physicalized way. Circulation and production as an ecotone. Object of study and form of thought. Transfer is allowed between one sphere and another. 70s thought of world system theory, and Gaian holism. Combined so as to think about places of intervention and struggle. To avoid getting trapped in one sphere or another.

Ecological poetry: distribution of resources. Productivist model of Marxist thought. How not to get trapped in either sphere.

Juliana: A lot of intervention modes seem stuck on the circulation side. We end with a paragraph on a port shut down.

Joshua: Tim Morton's rejoinder to anti-intellectualism. Demand for immediate action often carries with it a kind of anti-intellectualism. But there is an inverse doubt around that. Concerning the professional scholar's perpetual discovery that the right thing to do is to produce more knowledge. We discover that we are always already doing the thing that needs to be done. This is like looking for your car keys under the street light.

Tim invoked Benjamin's pulling of the emergency brake. I want to express my shared love for Benjamin: revolution as pulling the emergency brake of history's locomotive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Re: Joshua's point about the diachronic and synchronic, AND the question that keeps coming up at our events this week--"yes, we can talk, but how to we act" which often then ditches philosophy in favor of organizing around un-interrogated categories, I'll share my shared love for Benjamin and invoke the constellation.
Things from the "Theses on the Philosophy of History" I find useful in this discussion:
A) the constellation's method: places events into significant clusters to make visible their connections and their falling out. By taking moments out of their naturalized context, we are able to see the Benjaminian “flash” of meaning in history, to recognize the important links between past and present, and events whose relations are otherwise obscure in our present moment (like stars being nearer and farther away, yet clustered together from a situated vantage point)
B) The final lines of Marx’s "Theses on Feuerbach," the inspiration for Benjamin’s title: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it.” Rather than accept Marx’s binary between interpretation and change, Benjamin’s Theses put forward a new way of interpreting history that could in fact change it.