“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dub Philosophy

With the help of my awesome consumerism students and TAs (Larry Butz and Derek Woods) I reiterated today my oft repeated claim (repeated by me for about twenty years) that Blake is more like a Rasta than a hippie. A moody apocalyptic urbanite trapped in Babylon, thinking a mystical consumerism and connection to a personal divine rather than a return to (mechanized, though disguised) nature.

Blake is a dub poet.

He made dub books, expanded, remixed unbelievable books.

And OOO is dub philosophy:

How do you know but ev'ry bird that cuts the airy way,
Is an immense world of delight clos'd by your senses five?   (Blake)

Hey, FBI, I am the sky--who are you? (Lee Scratch Perry)

Monday, November 25, 2013

Badly Myelinated Neurons

“One of the hallmarks of that millennial profile is an inability to acknowledge mistakes,” the staffer said, sounding equal parts bemused and exasperated. “Everything is right and nothing was a mistake, and they can spin it any way they want.” (source)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Secret Agents ov Gaia (MP3)

My talk at the American Academy of Religion, November 23, 2013. Thanks very much to Adrian Ivakhiv for convening the panel, “Querying Natural Religion: Immanence, Gaia, and the Parliament of Lively Things” featuring Bron Taylor, William Connolly, Sarah Pike, and Daniel Deudney. Adrian transcribed the talks and the Q&A and is going to upload them as soon as he can get online. It was a good show with about 120 people attending, a strange grey void of a non-place to talk in though!

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Isn't this nice? On the 50th anniversary of a certain show. From my theology student Ross.

I think objects are Tardises.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Ecological Awareness 101

This is the title of what I'll be sharing with the undergrads across the disciplines at Loyola in New Orleans in February. I hope you can come to it.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Remorseless Gentleness

Thanks Kate! The juxtaposition of terror and peace is all too delicious.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Another Blow to LEM

…or the Law of the Excluded Middle. We have Neanderthal DNA. Neanderthals have DNA of an unknown humanoid ancestor.

Foucault and Mental Health

Thatcher and Reagan used Foucault to justify their closing of mental hospitals.

The Nonhuman Turn

I just got my images together for Richard Grusin's collection of essays, which promises to be quite groundbreaking. There are an awful lot of very interesting contributors to it including Brian Massumi (whose new book sounds excellent), Erin Manning, Ian Bogost and Mark Hansen.

Interview with Doug Lain

Doug is good at playing back and forth with sentences. I was looking forward to it ever since we set it up. And was not disappointed! It is about Hyperobjects.

Waiting for Someone to Die

…given the urgency and the other options, is in fact startlingly patient and nonviolent.

Prisoner's Dilemma Leaflet Drop

That would be a way to do it. Just have the air force drop millions of leaflets on the Prisoner's Dilemma across the country. The entire USA is going through a somewhat oblique lesson in Prisoner's Dilemma style tests of self-interest theories. The other prisoner you can't see or talk to is another citizen in need of heath care. It would be in your interests to include them in your reckoning. Look

Of course we also have that special group of picky customers who want highly customized insurance policies. The NYT treated us to an example of such a person last week, Lori Gottlieb a 46-year-old psychotherapist living in Los Angeles.
Ms. Gottlieb is quite upset. After already having a child, the medical expenses for which were presumably covered by insurance, she does not want to have to pay for the expenses that other pregnant mothers and new parents incur. Under Obamacare she will no longer be able to buy her cherry-picking plan.
So this gets us to the meat of the problem. Obamacare is about ensuring that people will be able to get reasonably priced insurance regardless of their health. There are some healthy people who want to bet on their continued good health and tell the less healthy to get lost if it means paying somewhat more for their own insurance. It should not be asking too much of members of Congress to stand behind Obamacare and against the Lori Gottliebs of America. (From this)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Excellent Hyperobjects Review

Right here.


Nope. You take a bunch of carbon compounds and some other stuff, and some cyanide, and inject some electricity. Fairly shortly you have amino acids.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pass It On

I'm sure this TPM commenter won't mind you tweeting his ready mades:

1/6) FACTS-Insurers knowingly CHOSE to change grandfathered plans&sell ineligible ones post-3/2010 w/out disclosure; now using ACA as cover.
2/6) Now they’re rushing folks into pricey plans b4 folks can see all options. (Letters with Nov30 “deadline” make the scam pretty obvious…)
3/6) FYI, “Grandfather” facts: http://tinyurl.com/lbku9mj (Oh, and G Kessler, limiting hikes to a point ABOVE med inflation isn’t onerous)
4/6) Admin “knew” there’d be cancellations over time because they knew insurers cancel&change plans EVERY YEAR, esp in indiv market.
5/6) Admin’s big mistake? Not realizing their ACA “partners” would be so slimy; should’ve (loudly) added disclosure req to gfather clause.
6/6) Obama didn’t lie; insurers are doing what they’ve always done; and this is the most shameful chapter in media history since Iraq.

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Next up, Adrian Ivakhiv has assembled a bunch of weirdos to talk about Bruno Latour's Gaia at the American Academy of Religion.

Mine is called “Secret Agents ov Gaia.”

Bristles (MP3)

My talk at Contact Ecologies, MEMSI. It would be difficult to imagine a better intro than the one Jeffrey Cohen so kindly gave. Great questions include Jane Bennett's.

Thank you Jeffrey Cohen

What an incredibly nice time I've had at George Washington University, courtesy of Jeffrey Cohen. I just finished a delightful breakfast chat with him and Lowell Duckert. These scholars exemplify what it means to be a scholar for real, and with such sincerity and sweetness. Thank you sirs.

Yesterday was an extraordinary feast of knowledge courtesy of MEMSI. Bruce Holsinger was there, my old mate! And Jane Bennett frequents these medievalist gatherings--how lovely to see her as ever. Art historian Anne Harris gave a pathbreaking talk about objects and echoes. Kellie Robertson brought the Aristotelian noise and Steve Mentz did something very similar to what I've been thinking about concerning the Anthropocene--you start to see how geological periods would better be described via catastrophes in general.

The graduate students in Professor Cohen's class were extremely intelligent and lively. It's a credit to the momentum he's built around MEMSI and these courses--you could feel his good energy everywhere. Great great day. I'm lucky to have been taken under their wing.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nineteenth-Century Studies CFP

In Houston! I'm talking! Email Professor Lynn Voskuil (lvoskuil@Central.UH.EDU).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

John Tavener RIP

He is able to reach an unspeakable region.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Karen Jacobs

At Rice this Friday!

This Looks Right

Nice one Graham.

We Are Already Dead

Thank you for that Roy Scranton! Your thoughts are very congruent with mine. Look at this: 

Geological time scales, civilizational collapse and species extinction give rise to profound problems that humanities scholars and academic philosophers, with their taste for fine-grained analysis, esoteric debates and archival marginalia, might seem remarkably ill suited to address. After all, how will thinking about Kant help us trap carbon dioxide? Can arguments between object-oriented ontology and historical materialism protect honeybees from colony collapse disorder? Are ancient Greek philosophers, medieval theologians, and contemporary metaphysicians going to keep Bangladesh from being inundated by rising oceans?

Of course not. But the biggest problems the Anthropocene poses are precisely those that have always been at the root of humanistic and philosophical questioning: “What does it mean to be human?” and “What does it mean to live?”

--especially the “we are already dead” line of thought. That is the right depth.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

That Was Nice

An interview with Doug Lain, host of the renowned Diet Soap podcast.

I love to do interviews. They are like jazz: thinking and talking as listening.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What I'm Saying These Days

Horror is the telepathy of flesh, taking telepathy to mean strictly passion at a distance, the susceptibility of a thing to another thing. Easy Think Substances are lumps of extension separated in time and space. No wonder it is difficult to imagine causality in a careful way given this separation, despite the scientistic cleanliness of the underlying things and their mechanisms as the little metal balls in an executive toy, clunking back and forth. The attempt to stave off action at a distance results in unsustainable paradoxes (paging Zeno). No respectable scientist thinks this way, but it is still somehow unacceptable for a humanist to state in the baldest way possible the formula for action at a distance, which just is the one sentence to which you can compress my study of causality, Realist Magic: objects are telepathic.
--from my talk this coming Friday at Jeffrey Cohen's place

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Some Upcoming Talks

“Bristles,” George Washington University, November 15. See Jeffrey Cohen's pages for details on this. 

“Secret Agents of Gaia,” American Academy of Religion, Baltimore, November 23–26. 

“The Humanities in the Age of Ecological Emergency,” Rice University, February 18. 

Jeff Kripal

Boy oh boy my friend and colleague Jeff Kripal can write. His Authors of the Impossible is the first humanities book I've read that has been optioned for a movie, and you can see why.

My Interview with Brooklyn Rail

Greg Lindquist is an artist very keen on objects and ANT. It was nice talking with him.

The interview is about Hyperobjects.

Tom Cohen at Rice

On December 4. With a fascinating sounding talk, "Petrolepathy." 4pm in Sewall 309.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


"People who are afraid of the ACA should be much more afraid of the insurance companies who will exploit their fear and end up overcharging them."

Degenerate Art

Bartok insisted, to his credit, on being part of the Degenerate Art exhibition of the Nazis in 1937. It's in the news as a cache of "degenerate" paintings has been found. (Good slide show)

Lynn Cheney tried to make a list of wrong humanists, post 9/11. Of course me and my buddies all tried to insist that we should be included in that list.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Well This Is Interesting

I wonder whether, given this talk, neoliberalism is a kind of monotheism of the hyperobject, where there is only one true hyperobject (the market). To counteract that, of course, requires not necessarily atheism but non-theism or something like polytheism.

Zurkownian Blogsmithery

By the extraordinary Derek Woods. Watch out everyone! He is my and Cary's Ph.D student!

Another Whacky Chart

1. Hyerobjects.
2. Dialectic of Enlightenment.
3. Patrick Goggins, A Reader's Guide to Reza Aslan's Zealot.
4. Barthes, Camera Lucida.
5. Zizek, Less than Nothing.
6. Brooke Noel Moore, Critical Thinking.
7. Candide.
8. Hyperobjects (Kindle).

(Amazon Criticism List)

The Whackiest Chart

1. Kafka, Metamorphosis.
2. Eric Pepin, Meditation within Eternity.
3. Elisa Medhus, My Son and the Afterlife.
4. Bachelard, Poetics of Space.
5. Hermes Trismegistus, The Emerald Tablet of Hermes.
6. Elisa Medhus, My Son and the Afterlife (paperback).
7. Stephen Williams, What Your Atheist Professor Doesn't Know.
8. The Complete Works of Plato.
9. Hyperobjects.

(Amazon Metaphysics Chart)

Rules of the Road

UK: There are rules, which is why I had to run you over with my car. I was going at the speed limit.
California: There are rules. But I don't want to be seen enforcing them, even by myself.
New York: There are rules. Outta my way!
Colorado: You are not going to immigrate onto my highway. Nope. Gonna slow down to 50 just to make sure you don't.
Texas: Are there rules? Maybe there are…This stop sign looks like it might be a rule...oh wait, there isn't one right now--oops, maybe there is one.

Zero Sum Gaming

I hope Krugman continues to ignore the absurdities issuing from a Harvard historian who fancies himself adept at economics. And continues in this vein instead.

Will This Turn Texas on to a More Rational Healthcare Policy?

one in a hundred in my area get yellow fever by 2085, because of global warming.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Consumerism Blogging

Go on, you know you want to. More heartbreakingly beautiful prose from my undergraduate students. Read the one on STEM courses. And the others!

Will It Break Capitalism?

I'm not sure. But WWII for sure broke a certain phase of imperialism. One wonders whether the gradual realization that we are in the Anthropocene will have a similar effect: is it the viral sentence to capitalism's logical coherence?