“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

Monday, September 30, 2013


It's called “blurbing” but if you study the history of the book, the blurb is the description on the jacket, whereas a puff is an endorsement. I'm happy with the ones I've done this year so far:

Graham Harman, Bells and Whistles.
Daniel Tiffany, My Silver Planet (on kitsch).
Anat Pick and Guinevere Narraway, eds., Screening Nature.

Christine Skolnik on Realist Magic

At Environmental Critique...Looking forward to reading it some more.

It Appears to Be On Sale

(This was my idea for the cover. Some kind of reaction shot. Because one can't directly see the entities in question. Along the same lines, Minnesota had a far far better idea.)

The Last Shutdown

I recall it, as it forced me to be stranded in the UK waiting for the embassy to open. I was right in the middle of my green card application.

As we all know Newt Gingrich's ill advised hissy fit backfired and I was forced to have a reasonably nice time in my birth country, not teaching.

Are You Paying Attention?

All over the world news (BBC etc.) today:

The GOP will force a government shutdown or, far worse, crash the world's fragile economy, all because they don't like the idea of quite good health coverage for people who have never had it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Viscous Photons

It's quite clear why this might happen. To exist is to have a gap between what you are and how you appear, a gap that can't be located anywhere "on" you. This must apply to a photon, if a photon is real. A photon can't just be a "massless particle" that can't interact with other photons. That assertion just seems like a mathematical convenience. One simply had to cool down a system sufficiently to allow for its little photonic contradictoriness to reveal itself. And have sufficient imagination to expect to see that.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Wolfe Hyperobjects

Cary Wolfe just wrote me to say how beautiful it looked. He didn't have to do that--actually it should've been me writing him but he beat me to it!

I'm going to write to the production people to thank them personally. Great great job.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

They Are Here

Patricia Clough on Hyperobjects

“With a world melted by global warming, Timothy Morton gives us a much needed concept, the hyperobject, and surrounds it with a consciousness of the planet that is not ours. In these times, there can be no critical theory or philosophical mediation without turning to Morton's writings; at once political, poetic, and personal, they offer a brilliant elaboration of object-oriented ontology.”

Agenda Today

First up I wrote eleven questions for my daughter's reading group on Where the Red Fern Grows.

Then I'm off to teach two Wordsworth sonnets. They are anti-consumerism consumerism, if you see what I mean.

Then I teach imagery: negative and positive.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

That Was Nice

A three thousand word essay for Claire Colebrook in a day. The best was a 7000 word essay for New Literary History (hi Rita!) in three hours.

"But I Like It"

"My own experience confirms this. Here's our profile: healthy family of 3, with good income, living in NY, with both spouses now self-employed. We have been without health insurance for the past 2 years, since the best we could do was $3000/month for a basic plan through Blue Cross. 3000 dollars a month (that was the cheapest non-catastrophic plan, too)! Who could afford that? Anyhow, last week I called up the NY state agency to check prices through the exchanges and was quoted prices of between $400-$650/month, depending on the plan and whether it was Silver or Bronze. I literally couldn't believe it.

Clearly this is tyranny, fascism, socialism, the purest example of dictatorship I have ever witnessed, an affront to everything that is holy and American. But I like it."
--comment on the Obamacare rates on one of my favorite news sites today

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Think Tank (PiL)

 I like how the tank becomes military here.

Think Tank

A think tank is just a fake university run by conservatives or neoliberals to confuse people. Look at this for instance.

The chap spreading the wrong about Obamacare is an “adjunct scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute.

In other words he is supposed to appear a part-time, innocent eager beaver pursuing truth. Whereas his fee for the “research” alone is probably double or triple what an actual adjunct professor would be paid for teaching one class.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Latour on "Progress"

Continued from the last post: I can't tell you how awkward it was to be pathologized as one of these apocalypse mongers on numerous occasions, perhaps most intensely at U Wisconsin Madison last fall. Especially since like Latour (I say it all the time, in a slightly different register), my belief is that the apocalypse has already occurred. 

I was pathologized thus simply for stating a physical fact: at the rate we are going, by 30 years from now we will have emitted five times more gigatons of carbon than is necessary to, ahem, "transform" (I believe I used a coital verb) Earth beyond all recognition.

An arche-fact, if you like, one that doesn't depend on a correlator to make it real.

Bingo, Latour

Modernizers are extraordinarily good at freeing themselves from the shackles of the archaic, provincial, stuffy, local, territorial past. But when the time comes to designate the new localities, the new territories, the provinces...toward which they are migrating, they content themselves with utopia, with hype, and great movements of the chest...

No wonder they never paid any attention to where they were headed, obsessed as they were to escape from attachment to the old land. Good at detachment, they seem quite naive when the question is how to reattach themselves to a new boat, how to delineate a new nomos...

Funnily enough the more progress-oriented modernizers are, the more they are ready to deny that ecology could even be an issue. The more rabid is their contempt for they call “prophets of doom,” “apocalypse mongers.” If you push them a bit more they will even tell you that all the talk about the end of time, of the inuption of Gaia is nothing but so many schemes to exploit the poor developing countries even more. If they are from the left.

If they are from the right, then it's nothing but a plot to impose Communism on the rich developed nations. It is as if they are saying “Progress minded of all nations and all parties, let's unite in the denial of climatology as our new horizon. We need neither territory nor a soil. There is no limit. Forward! Only reactionaries insist on limits, they don't want to be emancipated, they want to drag us back to the land, to an era of restoration and misery from which we have finally and so successfully migrated.”

--Bruno Latour, Gifford Lecture 5

Hyperobjects Day


You are receiving this because you are in some way connected with me and my book Hyperobjects, which is due out on September 23

Hyperobjects are things such as climate and radiation, not to mention Earth itself. Things that massively outscale us, things that are massively distributed in time and space. 

Rather than do a book launch--one place, one time, didn't seem appropriate--I decided to call 9.23 Hyperobjects Day. 

We will celebrate Hyperobjects Day in a necessarily rolling, phased way, because we are living on a gigantic thing that rotates. 

We will celebrate Hyperobjects Day in a contemplative manner. 

I wondered what the simplest thing to do might be to acknowledge the looming presence of at least one of our beloved hyperobjects. 

On Hyperobjects Day, on the hour of 10am wherever you are, I want you to take your shoes off for one minute. 

When you take your shoes off, you notice you are on Earth, for a moment. Two of the familiar “tools” in your world (your shoes) malfunction, as it were. What is under your feet becomes a little bit clear. 

No particular thoughts or actions are required apart from the removal of your shoes. 

Tim Morton”

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Why Did It Happen?

That parallel with Latour is strange. I wrote Hyperobjects in fifteen days in the summer of 2011. Latour gave the lectures in 2012. Presumably he was getting them together in 2011 too. Thinking is sometimes distributed such that you wonder whether there is such a thing as a zeitgeist.

Latour Hyperobjects

Watching the Gifford lectures in preparation for the American Academy of Religion, I"m struck by how when writing Hyperobjects I was thinking the same thoughts as Latour, a fact that has often been pointed out to me by our mutual editor Lindsay Waters of Harvard.

Several points of contact include our enthusiasm for the term Anthropocene (and damn the humanist hand wringing), our rejection of the concept Nature, and our thinking of what comes next (for Latour it is called Gaia) as like the "only a god can save us now" of Heidegger, in a strange ironic way.

I'll post some excellent lines of his on why Anthropocene is a very good term.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Object-Oriented Architecture

Oh yes I think so. A growing number of architects are into it. These were suggested to me as prototypical examples of it, and I'm thinking about it right now. Very beautiful essay on Harman and possibilities for OO architecture. More on that soon.. Judging by how many architecture and design journals and conferences I've worked for of late (and also Graham), I think yes of course.

And it's crystal clear that to be an architect you need to think about relationships with humans and nonhumans such as stones, sand, skid steer loaders and people heaving bags of groceries. And futurality.

"I'm sorry I have to take this"

This piece by Ian Bogost is just excellent.

Tweet Proof

Jeffrey Cohen was sending off some proofs today. I had forgotten to read them. So I thought the most efficient way to get them to him would be to tweet them--which turned out correct.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Slowmo Nonhuman Time

If you are a small animal, time passes slowly--strangely like in Spiderman... Thanks Cliff Gerrish...

Julian Yates on ANT: "Agent Orange"

Trying to take into account all the possible entities in an action such as making bacon and eggs, a blog post or a journal article. Actants, a neutral term for these.

This is Professor Yates's description of actor network theory, in an undergraduate masterclass he's doing here today. I'm the professor of record.

He has placed an orange on the table and he is asking the students what they have made recently.

A fact of making things is that you unmake them. Yates reads from Pandora's Hope. "Whenever we make something we are not in command--we are slightly overtaken by the action...constructivism uses a vocabulary of mastery that no construction worker would agree to."

This is all in the line of talking about poetry as poiesis.

Politeness and welcoming is required.

Making things is messy and you need a messy description of it to maximize the number of things.

There are cascades of irreversible events.

You have to make better and more inclusive lists. Yates does this with reference to John Gerard's memoir. This includes oranges and lemons (as the warder likes oranges and so forth; and Gerard's discussion of lemon juice).

Archived events have missing links. You need to keep track of them.

Time and Space Are Emergent

A rather wonderful mathematical object drastically simplifies calculating the scattering of quanta. And suggests that spacetime emerges from things, as I've been banging on about for ages now.

Thank you Cliff, once more!


Dawn happens here somewhat later than it would in northern climes such as England. It's quite noticeable, having been in the UK for nine weeks. It's still dark out here as I type this at 6:50am. In London by now it's pretty bright.

Dawn is also a lot faster. In the next fifteen minutes, it will be day. It reminds me very much, and in a good way, of the time I spent in the Amazon in this biology research station quite a long time ago.

Sometimes it gets so humid that the air just seems to precipitate rain about three inches above your head. It doesn't fall out of the sky so much as begin to surround you.

Alphonso Lingis writes somewhere about how you get directives from the “levels” emitted by things--I call them zones. You can feel for instance that the Antarctic is your real home, as strange as that may sound to someone else. It feels like that in this subtropical place without doubt.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Koch Brothers, Here Is An Even More Frightening Obamacare Ad

"Imagine not having any health insurance at all."


More than 300 scholarly citations now for Ecology without Nature. I was wondering when that might happen. I'm not sure whether it's a lot. But it is a bit more than the other ones. I think perhaps because there is a lot of art, music and literature analysis in it. And it topples over a pile of dominoes that needed to be toppled over. And it's quite historicized, as they say.

Art/France/Ecological Thought

In Bourges

Ghost Nature is a group exhibition based around the strangeness of the natural world. As contemporary philosopher, Timothy Morton posits in his book, The Ecological Thought (Harvard University Press, 2010) ‘nature qua nature’ no longer exists as an “over there” place. Humankind is wholly integrated within its “mesh” and as such, the Romantic desire to commune with a landscape beyond the scope of humanity is impossible. Nevertheless there remains an inherited desire to so. It is a glitch. The tickle of a phantom limb. A desire forever unfulfilled but nonetheless maddening. Artists Sebastian Alvarez, Irina Botea, Marcus Coates, Every House Has A Door, Milan Metthey, Rebecca Mir, Katie Patterson, Tessa Siddle, Agnes Meyer-Brandis and collaborative duo, AOo will install, perform and screen works that explore the dynamic between human and non-human spheres. As with Katie Patterson’s Earth-Moon-Earth or Rebecca Mir’s Long Distance Relationship with the Ocean: Rock + Two Letters, these works sometimes expose idiosyncratic strategies to compensate for, and overcome interspecies bounds — as with AOO’s horse-human blood transfusion, Que Cheval Vie en Moi, or Agnes Meyer-Brandi’s Moon Geese Experiments, where she has been training geese to adapt to moon-like conditions. Instead of challenging the environment of an institution by way of socially engaged practice, Ghost Nature exposes a more general and omnicient environment, hoping through discrete works of art, to highlight longstanding hierarchical expectations that have thus far shaped the western world. As part of this exhibition, in collaboration with La Box and the Paris-based group, Laboratoire du Contemporain, I propose an auxiliary mini-symposium, that would integrate the worlds of contemporary art and philosophical discourse by durectly addressing themes present in the exhibit by way of lectures, workshops and performances.Participants include performance artists Sebastian Alvarez, Ever house has a door, Devin King and Tessa Siddle; with lectures presented by JoЛo FlorРncio, Graham Harman, Timothy Morton, Eileen Myles, Laurie Palmer, and Lily Robert-Foley. The purpose of this mini-symposium is to invite students, artists, academics and the general public to discuss the remarkable ecological times we live in, using a series of curated talks, art works and philosophical examples thatwith the hopes of transforming the way humankind conceives of itself in the natural world. It would of great interest to invite local speakers and guest artists in addition.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

More Hyperobject:Homeland

As it is a hologram it changes depending where you are. Like a hyperobject!

Hyperobject:Homeland Where?

It is in New York. Paula Dawson. I wrote a brief piece for her show called “Paula Dawson, Hyperobject Detector,” which you will find it you go there...


Book Launches

I have never understood them, ever. It seems particularly absurd in the case of Hyperobjects, considering how they are “everywhere” all at once. I reckon I'm happier to do launchy type things here on this blog. But the idea of wasting everyone's time in some smallish bookstore--the schlepping to it (it will inevitably be in New York, which is also disconcerting for me) and so on included--just fails to ignite anything within me whatsoever.

So just go ahead and pre-order it! It will be “everywhere” fairly shortly and right now it appears to be squaring off against Barthes, Horkheimer and Adorno, and a pop critical thinking manual. Maybe that quite adequately describes the scope of the book's intellectual structure :)

And if you're in New York go to see Paula Dawon's Hyperobject:Homeland at Interference:Coexistence.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Essays Coming

The piece on plexiglass chairs for Marina Zurkow's Petroleum Manga project is done and nearly out.

My essay for Olafur Eliasson is being revised (hi Olafur! Thanks for the kindnesses!)

The essay on Irigaray and ecology for The Journal for the British Society for Phenomenology is still happening. It is called “This Biosphere Which Is Not One.”

I wrote “Paula Dawson, Hyperobject Detector” for an exhibition of her work called Hyperobject: Homeland.

I'm writing what is now called “Colored Space” on the elements and the elemental for Jeffrey Cohen.

I'm writing “Derrida and Ecology” for Claire Colebrook.

I've written “Ecology” for Imre Szeman and Patricia Yaeger.

The International Social Studies issue on ecology is now happening as is my essay in it called “From Modernity to the Anthropocene.”

I'm revising “She Stood in Tears amidst the Alien Corn” for diacritics.

I've done my essay “Buddhist Objects” for Bryant and Bogost.

I'm now writing “Specters of Ecology” for a big essay collection (Fordham) that also promises to be major, probably called The New Ecological Paradigm.

Ashgate (TBA) is publishing “She Walks in Beauty like the Night in Which All Cows are Black.”

Romanticism is publishing “Romantic Ecology Revisited.”

The Yearbook of Comparative Literature will publish an essay called “The Future of Nature.”

“Beauty Is Death” will appear in The Persistence of Beauty ed. Michael O'Neill and Sarah Wootton.

Get Your Lovely Hyperobjects Here!

Pollution, global warming, radiation--go on, you know you want to. Number 3 in Criticism!

Julian Yates on ANT at Rice

Yes that's right, this Friday.

Monday, September 16, 2013

One Week to Hyperobjects

Get your advance copy! That and The Ecological Thought appear to be doing rather well in what is known as the Criticism chart.

Performing Objects UK

Oh man yes.

Colebrook, Wolfe, Anthropocene

Well at least there's this! Thanks Cliff!

Colebrook Recorded?

Some of you have asked. Alas no. Next time, if you are near to Professsor Colebrook and she is talking, do pay attention...

Claire Colebrook

...just gave the best talk on ecology and the Anthropocene that I've heard since I arrived last year at Rice. Sorry other speakers but it's the truth!

Claire wrote a book with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller that I very much admire called Theory and the Disappearing Future; ended up endorsing it.

In particular the brio with which she described the dire situation in which the Anthropocene has caught some humanities scholars with their posthuman pants down was just awesome.

"Not Predictable"

...said a right wing pundit on the threat of attack >> congress >> diplomacy with looming threat of attack.

Good. He is paying attention as is Syria at last.

A reasonably effective Sun Tzu kind of a tactic is to appear crazy and unpredictable.

And so far not a shot fired. Not that he will get any credit for it until about ten years later.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Anthropocentrism 101

"Humans are niche creators. We transform ecosystems to sustain ourselves. This is what we do and have always done." Erle Ellis

From the New York Times today. Thanks Cliff. The trouble is, this chap went over to the humanistic side of things, where it's Harold and the Purple Crayon time. Which is not an old thought at all. He jumped ship from Malthusian biology. 

 But ants are niche creators. Ducks are niche creators. Bacteria are niche creators. 

The thing is not to laud humans as niche creators (Zizek, Marx, this chap). Everything is at it! Correlationism for all! 

The fact that we are niche creators (and correlationists to boot) is not the reason why we are unique or good. Niche creating, like "worlding," should not be a normative category. The Assad regime is a niche creator. 

The thing is to wonder why an elephant or a polar bear should put up with the kind of niche creating going down in our neck of the woods. 

The pro-modernity argument now goes: "Hey listen. I know we've screwed Earth. But let's please do it again. In a better way this time! Please let us! We can do anything. We can be Doctor Jekyll this time, not Mr. Hyde! Promise!"

Population is the problem, insofar as the "Hey we can do this without using more land" is still predicated on the idea that existence is better than quality--so that more existing (humans) is always better. 

Deleuzian Autism 2

...and is a non-modern state immediate and non-reflexive? And is the modern state (newly) reflexive?

Is there such a thing as ecological consciousness that has been purged of the dreaded loops?

Deleuzian Autism

I've had this beef with Deleuzian panegyrics to autism. Don't they reproduce the primitivism with which immediacy = who we really are = good versus bad, bad, reflexive loops = artifice = bad bad civilization?

What is avant-garde about this?

And what in this speaks to the immense suffering of autism?

Is autism chosen because it's even more hardwired than schizophrenia, D&G's favorite mode? More "primitive," therefore?

700 Pre-Orders

...of Hyperobjects. That's more than the first edition of my first book (1994).

A Polar Bear Called Suzan (Interview)

Interview with Lisa Doeland, De Groene Amsterdammer, August 1, 2013, 50–51

Timothy Morton on becoming ecologically conscious

“We have to learn to hesitate”

If we want to solve the ecological crisis, we have to stop trying to do the right thing, posits ecosopher Timothy Morton. “Everything we do is a little bit wrong. We have to face that.” By Lisa Doeland

The work of British Timothy Morton can easily be called eclectic. He received his doctorate in 1992 for research on the body and food culture in works by Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and later wrote The Poetics of Spice. In 2007 he created a sensation with the publication of Ecology without Nature, in which he bluntly states that the reigning thought about ecology has got it wrong, because it assumes “nature” as something that is removed from people/humanity, as something that people are destroying in their drive for progress. If we want to save the world, he writes, we can’t do anything with a concept such as nature—“calling something nature, putting it on a pedestal and worshipping it from a distance does for the environment what patriarchy does for women.”

With this he did not just establish his name as an ecological thinker, he was also immediately incorporated into the so-called object-oriented philosophy, a recent movement that resists the notion that only the relation of humans to things matters. They want to move beyond the anthropocentrism of Immanuel Kant, for whom everything revolves around the subject. There is more to “things” than [what] we know about them. Like the object-oriented philosophers, Morton opposes the idea that the human [“man”] is central, and that his role in the whole is determinate.

In 2010 Morton published The Ecological Thought, a guide to true ecological thinking. Elaborating on his thesis that ecology asks of us to go beyond the man/nature duality, he states that ecological thinking is a position that assumes mutual connections between humans and their surroundings. He calls this “radical intimacy” and “radical co-existence.” But we should not confuse this radical intimacy with something like the holism of deep ecology. When Morton calls himself an “ecosopher,” he is certainly not placing himself in the tradition of the holistic Norwegian philosopher Arne Naess, according to whom humanity is inextricably connected with nature as a whole. Rather, he is an ecosopher in the way French philosopher and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari was. The guattarian ecosopher assumes a complex interaction between humankind, society and the environment, and concentrates on studying that.

Morton's ecology isn’t deep but dark. In The Ecological Thought Morton compares the ecologically thinking and acting person to a film noir detective. He generally thinks he is investigating a crime he has nothing to do with, but gradually discovers he is personally involved. Dark ecology teaches us that there is no possibility of a metaposition from which we can determine what exactly is going on and what is the correct course of action. Going beyond anthropocentrism and no longer seeing humankind as normative, that is the point.

Morton was in the Netherlands for the symposium Perspectives on Nature, which was organised in connection with the arts event Yes, Naturally: How Art Saves the World by the municipal museum of Den Haag. He is enthusiastic about the title. It not only incorporates his fundamental criticism of the notion of Nature with a capital N, the line through it also makes us face an impossibility: you read the sentence and you don’t. With that you defy the laws of logic, which, according to Morton, is what ecology is about. Things are fuzzy. “Take a field that is transformed into a parking lot,” he says. “What is the exact point when the field stops being a field and becomes a parking lot. It’s hard to say. Or take the evolution of the frog. Things that weren’t frogs became frogs, but when exactly did they become frogs? And when won’t they be anymore? Evolution isn’t something you can locate/localize.”

We should take the subtitle of the exhibition with a large grain of salt, according to Morton. Art does not give us a recipe for saving the world. But that it makes us think is already a big help. “What I think we should do is collect and hesitate. I think hesitation itself is a deeply ecological act. You ask yourself: should I buy a plastic chair or a wooden one? Do I eat wild salmon, or farmed salmon, or no salmon at all? Hesitation in thought and hesitation in deed go hand in hand.”

Because what is the right thing to do? We want to take responsibility, but it is often unclear whether we have succeeded or not. According to Morton the reason for this is that ecological acts often have an unheimisch quality: “It’s because we are not only situated within this thing we call the biosphere, we simultaneously are it. From a philosophical point as well, we cannot step outside this “thing” we see ourselves bonded within. That’s why ecological acts always give you the feeling you’re a bit wrong.”

Following Kierkegaard, who felt that if you want to take yourself seriously, you have to acknowledge that against God you are always in the wrong, he therefore states: “Against the biosphere you are always in the wrong.” Precisely because you are in it, because each act has a certain effect, the consequences of which we often can’t quite see. “We realize we are all caught in David Byrne’s song “Once in a Lifetime,” in which we become conscious: this is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful biosphere! This is not my beautiful ecological act! The art is not to erase that unheimisch feeling, but to embrace it.”

But how can we arm ourselves against the feeling that in the end it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what we do? Morton admits this is tricky: “In the past 200 years, being smart has meant being cynical. I am smarter than you because I can see how hypocritical you are, because I can see how perverted/corrupted everything is. But out of this cynicism, there is also a form of hope speaking. The cynic believes that if he has been able to stir up our disgust with ourselves enough, that he can change our minds with that. In that sense, the cynic himself is the hypocrite! The point is that we realize we can’t do whatever we want, that it is better to eat less or no meat, to drive less or not drive cars at all. But while we do that, we must realize that we haven’t erased ourselves and that we are not blameless beings. We can only become blame/fault/debt-free if we rid ourselves of ourselves.”

This necessitates, according to Morton, a different position towards everything living and non-living that is part of our biosphere. “We must take for granted the thought that we find persons across from us everywhere. Not only highly developed animals like dolphins, but also trees and blades of grass are persons. And because they are persons I may harm them.” But isn’t that just animism? “Yes,” says Morton, “but a logical and scientific animism.”

Let’s take a polar bear and call her Suzan. Suzan has a problem, she’s on a melting island. What will we do? Do we teach her to swim? Do we invite her into our home and ask her to become a part of our family? There are various solutions to the problem that Suzan is losing her biotope and they’re all a bit odd. And that’s the real problem. We are occupied with the preservation of species, when what we should be occupied with is Suzan and how we can help her not to drown. Let me put it differently: I’m not just nice to you either because you belong to the human race. I’m nice to you because you’re a person.”

Morton does see how this increased number of “persons” causes the burden of responsibility to increase enormously. “That’s indeed a side effect. It changes us into fearful Woody Allen-like figures. Then everything I do is a little wrong, a kind of failure. But that’s actually good, because when we approach the world as a machine in which you can determine how exactly it works, then things go wrong.”

According to Morton we must thus go beyond cynicism, beyond the paralyzing thought that it makes no difference at all what we do, and the idea that the ecological problems with which we find ourselves faced are too big to be solved. He can’t give us a prescription/recipe for ecological acts. But he does venture to say something about how it would feel to act in such a way. For this he refers to Freud and his concept of melancholia. “Freud called melancholia the imprint of another being on the inner space of the individual. I think that melancholia is an ecological feeling because it has to do with your relation to the outside world,” Morton says. We can’t escape wounding each other.”

Freud points to a lack of self-esteem as the principal characteristic of the melancholic. Someone who is melancholic has lost his [sic] interest for the outside world. He does nothing anymore, and in his self-reproach sometimes goes so far as to be overtaken by the delusion that he will be punished [very awkward sentence]. Are those who want to act ecologically not regularly overtaken by exactly that feeling? Can we ever do right? No, says Morton. But we can learn to come to terms with that. “The process of coming to ecological consciousness is something like a mourning process. It is our duty as ecosophers to take people past the denial, past the anger, the negotiations, and the mourning. When people are overtaken by a slight feeling of sadness, then they’re there, then they have reached the stage of acceptance.”

Mal-Functioning (MP3)

From Ecology and the Environmental Humanities, Rice University, September 13. Larry Butz presiding. Claire Colebrook in attendance. Rice is nice as there are a lot of auditoria in which to do such things. This was in Farnsworth which is a rather attractively octagonal one.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Against Species

Thanks Cliff! 

The argument is reductionist and similar to standard model quantum theory: below a certain scale things behave very differently. Then a conclusion from that: there are no medium sized things at all.

Except that the QT goes very differently from reductionist biology, because of the mysterious contradictoriness of quantum phenomena such as coherence and entanglement. Things can be moving and still simultaneously, in two different places at once, and so on.

I would prefer to say that there are no species for the opposite reason. Not because species is only a human (or subjective or whatever) imposition on the hard data. But because a lion is always a not-lion at the same time.

But this line of reasoning does resemble parts of mine! Happy to read it!

The Trouble with Doctors

Can you and your staff please try to be as polite and professional as I am with my students? I'm fed up with being treated like a second class citizen, being asked to spell my name brusquely by brusque receptionists ("Say again"), and on and on and on. Misdiagnosed and not apologized to--am I really going to sue you if you say sorry? Would it hurt just to act a little tiny bit less overempowered?

I'd be hauled into the Dean's office if I treated my students like you and your staff treat me.

Red Is Not Evil

"Mind and its projections are innocent. They are very ordinary, very natural, and very simple. Red is not evil, and white is not divine; blue is not evil, and green is not divine. Sky is sky; rock is rock; earth is earth; mountains are mountains. I am what I am, and you are what you are. Therefore, there are no particular obstacles to experiencing our world properly, and nothing is regarded as problematic."
--Trungpa Rinpoche

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Are You Listening, Huffington Post?



Good lord that's righteous.

Now Here's a Contradiction I Don't Endorse

I heard a Republican say this today:

1. Obama should have just bombed a few week ago.
2. Now that it's up for a vote, he shouldn't bomb.

Why? Oh I remember. Because he's a Republican and everything Obama does is wrong.

Eco Symposium Friday and Saturday, Rice

You should totally come to this if you are near. Claire Colebrook's talk ("Sex and the Anthrpocene City") will be superb. PDF program.

There Is Nothing

...by Ozric Tentacles. I really like the first tune, “The Sacred Turf.”

Heidegger on Geoengineering

That's right Clive. He would say that!


This gives you a good idea of the James Turrell piece here. I wrote an essay on it called "The Space between Things" coming out in a collection on materialism and ecocriticism.

Definition of Consumerism

Take it away Colin Campbell: 

"a distinctive form of hedonism, one in which the enjoyment of emotions as summoned through imaginary or illusory images is central” plus “the ranking of pleasure above comfort"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Aesthetic Dynamics of Horror

"There is absolutely no reason to signal to the enemy when and how, and for how long, you plan to strike them -- none. As I’ve said before, you don’t send out a save-the-date card to the enemy." (Mitch McConnell)

Actually this is a rather good idea. A good idea along the lines of what Žižek says about the best horror films: they tell you they will horrify you, then they do. It actually increases the feeling of surprise. 

Or, as one might say to one's children's before actually going berserk, "I am about to go berserk." That often does the trick. 

Sun Tzu Corner

When you are perhaps going to war, it's good to appear crazy.


Is it okay for a leader to hesitate or change her or his mind in public?

(That is a rhetorical question.)

Instant Karma

"A police spokesman told an Orlando Sentinel reporter that Zimmerman 'appears calm, collected.' "

Male Floridian cop dudes, I hate to break it to you. But your machismo may be getting in the way here. Someone with no compunction about killing a boy in cold blood will indeed appear calm and collected after he has smashed his wife's iPad and punched his soon to be ex father in law, while goading them to come closer to his apparently gun toting self.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ten Talks

Ten talks that reference my stuff at this coming Society for Literature, Science and the Arts. Blimey. I better start talking sense. :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Anthropocene Redux

FYI--Clive and I hung out courtesy of Dipesh Chakrabarty at his Anthropocene conference in May, that's how I know him. Great mind and a good expresser of that mind.


Hi Clive! You made it onto Think Progress!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pretty Good on Pedagogy

This talk starts with a lot of language about "mastery" and has some quite helpful advice for beginning teachers, such as myself!

I'm listening to it to help with my Rice Symposium keynote next week, because eventually I talk about environmentality.

Punctum Things

At the New School and CUNY.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

EMP Seattle Conference

On mobility! I like the suggestion about stillness!

The Rice Consumerism Project

Professor Morton, what are you up to these days?

Well, I'm compelling my students to do regular blog posts on their consumerist (or lack thereof) activities. Here is how it went the first week.

We came up with a great term for Lacan's $ <> a, which is strictly unpronounceable. We call it Roadrunner.

Cultures of Energy Announces Hyperobjects

This is from the Center on Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences. A blog beautifully maintained by the effervescent Derek Woods. Nice discussion of it!

Slouching as Aggression

"When you slouch, you are trying to hide your heart, protecting it by slumping over. But when you sit upright but relaxed in the posture of meditation, your heart is naked. Your entire being is exposed—to yourself, first of all, but to others as well. Through the practice of sitting still and following your breath as it goes out and dissolves, you are connecting with your heart. By simply letting yourself be, as you are, you develop genuine sympathy towards yourself. When you sit erect, you proclaim to yourself and to the rest of the world that you are going to be a warrior, a fully human being."
--Trungpa Rinpoche

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Take It Off Congress"

"Because being a Monday morning quarterback is my way of exercising the ever popular cynical reason."

"During those discussions, I hope that other people in the international community would come forward and take this great decision off of the Congress, because we have to make it," he said. "Take it off of the Congress and provide some solution where we are not putting our kids in harm’s way to solve an international problem that we feel bounded, not by law, but because the president has drawn a red line." (source)


I've always been interested in this journal. I think the first essay I ever read in it was Derrida's one on nuclear missiles, in the "Nuclear Criticism" issue. It wasn't until a bit later that I read his "Economimesis," which came first.

I'm contributing an essay to the "Climate Change Criticism" issue--the obvious parallel to the nuclear one is evident.

I like my title and so does the editor, whose awesome comments I have just received ("Best title of the millennium"--though only thirteen years!):

"She Stood in Tears Amidst the Alien Corn: Thinking through Agrilogistics"

The reader's comments are extraordinarily good as well. To be read and understood is quite a wish for us scholars you know.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Talk Links Operative

In the Past Talks tab, all my recent talk mp3s.

Realist Magic Update

It appears to be doing reasonably well, I think. It is in the "Metaphysics" chart on amazon. Which means that it is competing with books by Heidegger and Kant, and books about "How to change your life with your mind" and so forth.

"Sound Familiar?"

"This week, the White House sought to thrust the nation into military action in the Middle East, claiming that its "high confidence" in our intelligence obviated the need to allow U.N. inspectors to complete their work. Sound familiar? " Arianna Huffington

No it doesn't sound familiar. If by "familiar" you mean invading Iraq. It sounds familiar if you mean going to the aid of Bosnians in death camps. 

The way the left is in lockstep with the right on this is, as in the case of Bosnia, quite quite sickening.