“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, June 30, 2014

Haim Steinbach, "Fresh"

It sure is. At the Menil. I smiled outerly and innerly as I entered the space. Or rather the object. Haim works with what he's been calling objects since the late 70s and he finds a deep congruence between his work and OOO.

"The Object Is Present" was a panel we did, hosted by curator extraordinaire Toby Kamps, with Haim, me and Bill Arning of the Contemporary. On Saturday.

Wow. I'm glad they recorded it but I'm not sure it will be broadcast. That was the best ever.

I read a poem and found a way to explain OOO using a dollar bill I had in my pocket. I quoted Longchenpa and Haim told the 200+ audience how to enjoy his work, in a sentence that was also meditation instruction:


Toby thought ten minutes had passed when he looked at his watch--it'd been an hour.


Afterwards we went to a party hosted by Judy Nyquist at which I saw more unbelievable art than I've ever seen outside of a museum.

I have to say thanks to Toby and his assistant Paul who got into Hyperobjects, which is how Toby thought to connect Haim and me.

Conclusion: everything I've said in the last 7 years could've been said about Haim Streinbach!

Now there is a new term for object: Temporary Steinbach Display.

And there is a seismic shift afoot. Critique art and art critique are over. By which I don't mean what art students do at ends of terms.

Haim takes a huge bite out of critique and puts a Halloween candy lantern and a pair of lips on it, next to a Duchamp.

28 Essays and 2 Books

Jeez no wonder I'm so busy! I've just worked out I'm doing 28 essays this year!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Sodexo Gets It Very Wrong, Part 574829

I remember when Sodexo were forced to raise their wages in California. Being the caterer for the UC system, they put up little signs everywhere in our cafeteria that our food prices had risen as a direct result. What absolute rubbish.

Now it's clear they've been at it again regarding Obamacare, which (British press take note) is already doing excellently. (My own prescription costs have gone way down, and I'm not even on it, as a very small example. And my brother in law can stay on his mom's insurance and not suffer from the bills from the bad car accident of a while back.)

They've been blaming Obamacare for their deliberate booting of employees off of their insurance program. Wrong. As they themselves have just admitted.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Menil Talk

I'll be there on Saturday evening in conversation with Haim Steinbach.

You Don't Seem to Understand How This Works

Mr. Cameron, you appear to suggest that heads of state nominate the President of Europe. Did heads of county councils nominate you? Or did your party? Do parties nominate the President of Europe? Yes. Do governors nominate the President of the USA? Why no.

You want things to be more fair? You want an actual vote? I'm afraid you're talking federalism implicitly while condemning it explicitly.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Michael Roth.

With Haim Steinbach

He is here at the Menil and I'm doing things with him on Friday and Saturday. We met and hit it off in about five minutes.

It's quite remarkable how similar his work is to our work in OOO and how keen on OOO he is now he knows about it. In fact, we might as well have been the same person!

It's also very interesting how he has been criticized, which is remarkably similar to OOO. The stories he was telling about [unnamed journal x] were almost identical to my recent encounters with [unnamed journal y and z], insofar as a certain form of cultural Marxism sees what we do as a threat: we are naive consumerist commodity fetishist narcissists, bla bla bla. Only he's been having it since the early 80s!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

To My Correspondents

Hello dear suffering correspondents, artists, musicians, writers, students. I have all your emails and shall reply. The trouble is, now I've done the Wellek Lectures, I have to do all these things I was putting off. And it looks like this year I'll publish more essays than ever. Many are overdue or in various phases of being printed. Sorry and I shall write to you as soon as I can.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Closing the Anthropocentric Barn Door after the Posthuman Horse Has Bolted

I found another example!

I heard that there is now a critique of Deleuze and Guattari's notion of the molecular as a symptom of neoliberal capitalism.

1. Deleuze and Guattari (if alive) would be somewhat surprised to hear that their idea was “recent” as specified by the critique.

2. They would also be somewhat surprised that their idea was the quintessence of neoliberal capitalism.

They would also be quite surprised, I feel, that over forty years after poststructuralism, some people are still waging yesterday's (or is it the day before yesterday's) war, which was precisely a dethroning of “the human” in the name of (lest we forget) actually existing humans and nonhumans.

It's really quite odd. But expected. First speculative realism is ignored, then ridiculed, then people get very very cross, until they don't. It happened online, and now it seems to be happening in academia world.

Or rather in critique world. They sense the danger. Richard Grusin and Jane Bennett and I were just lamenting this sorry state.

Well, I guess yesterday's new idea is today's reactionary one that must, must be replaced by...an idea from the day before yesterday...

Rather More Hermetic than Hermeneutic

This is the epistemological equivalent of the Texas Border Patrol or John McCain's “danged fence”:

“Kittler seemed to me to consider technique before considering the embeddedness of technique-as-codification-of-social-relation.”

Said embeddedness-consideration being, as stated later, the proper American way of doing “it.”


1. It's like saying “You can't come into America until you are American.” Which means that no one (else) comes into America.
   a. Technique is assumed to be (dangerously) “non-social.”
   b. This kind of hermeneutics is incapable of hermeneutics, that is, interpretation. Everything must be scanned at entry according to prefabricated logics.
   c. Whence the smuggled-in readymade, easy to wear, handy-wipe metaphysical concepts: “technique,” “society” (betcha it's merely human), “codification” (because everything must be always-already determined as linguistic), “of” (since “we all know that” “social relation” is ontologically prior to “technique”), “relation” (because things only mean insofar as they are related to other things; on their own they are blank nothing). Even the hyphens, because we all know that this sort of thing is true without having to explain it in advance or even spell it out nicely.
       i. The prize for easy to wear-ness goes to “embeddedness.” Heaven forfend that things not be embedded. Explain it please, I'm waiting!
            * doesn't it mean that a thing must always already be totally swallowed, nestled, burrowed in Hobbit-like to something more real, meaningful, important? Such nature-speak, allowed to be naked, would be shunned by the ideologeme, I bet. Heaven forbid we think the world as Hobbits do! We are sophisticated cool kids.
            ** and doesn't it also mean something correlationist? Doesn't it mean that there is a Bush-like Decider, in this case social relations, that gets to decide what a thing is? That a thing is nothing until it's been properly scanned? It's a checkpoint pretending to be a descriptive sentence, and I think I know who's in charge of this particular checkpoint, though I shan't spell it out.

2. The bigger point is, total contextualism is self-defeating. Consider the sentence:

All sentences are contextually determined.

That means that the sentence itself is contextually determined. Unless anything you can do, it can do meta and the sentence somehow escapes its own logic--and is on its own terms thus meaningless.

Either way, it can't mean anything on its own. You need a context. And how can you check in advance that the sentence's context is the valid one?

Houston, we have an infinite regress.

3. This is in the context of a discussion along the lines of: “Might it not be a good idea to include, in some way, nonhuman entities and perspectives, especially given that, you know, we are now doing a grand job of extinguishing an awful lot of them on this planet? The sixth grand job so far in 4.5 billion years?”

4. Imagine the dolphin equivalent of this sentence. “Well, we couldn't possibly consider [human name's] concept. That would be an insult to dolphinkind, especially insofar as it's patently absurd, given that it's an insult to dolphinkind.” Now imagine the dolphins are saying this sentence in the context of very very loud sonar pulses that are terrorizing marine mammals.

Unfortunately for the dolphins, there are no ear plugs insulating enough to baffle the immense pressure waves. Just this conceptual equivalent of an ear plug. They reason that if they go on saying the sentence, they will be safe.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Any Kind of Socialism Will Do?

Amy Goodman and guy from The Nation:

Just because the fantastically named Brat has beaten Cantor, doesn't mean you can see anything in his plan that is good, just because you loathe Cantor.

No, “the left” had better not pay attention to the fact that “Wow, he actually criticized the excesses of Wall St. against Main St.”

There are different ways of doing that you know.

This way, if you'd been paying attention, is extreme libertarianism applied as a global umbrella (the latter obviously doesn't work in an ecological polity as I've been arguing, so good luck with umbrellas).

The big corporations are bad not because they exploit people. Brat is into exploiting people: listen to what he says about the minimum wage only yesterday on MSNBC.

He is a libertarian Platonist: the ideal reality of “the market” has been “distorted” and its purity and clarity need to be restored.


Big corporations are bad because they got bankrolled by “government.”

And in turn that is bad because it is akin to “regulation.”

And that is bad because any regulation is a distortion of market reality. 

So the solution is not in any sense about helping Main St. The solution, which will destroy Main St. forever, is to withdraw all boron rods from “the market.”

Happy now that you supported him because he made some noises you identified with?

There is a famous case of another kind of entity calling itself “socialism” and opposing huge corporations, but for the wrong reason. (The ultimate wrong reason.) But for fear of enacting Godwin's law, I shall not name it.

That was one of the most irresponsible pieces on Democracy Now I've ever heard.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fresh Holdsworth

Thank you Cliff!

It's always a good day when there is fresh Holdsworth to hear. Chad Wackerman, my favorite drummer, put this together.

Douglas Kahn has some great stuff about jazz as letting go of ego and listening rather than expressing, which is exactly what I argue in The Ecological Thought.

Holdsworth, like Miles Davis, is the quintessence of music that listens to itself.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Council Tax and Proposition 13

It's quite clear that Britain's Council Tax, which replaced the hated (and campaigned against by everyone) Poll Tax, is extremely like Proposition 13 of California fame.

And it's also clear that not even the most highly placed journalists know how to understand or think about it. (Having just listened to a woeful segment of it on Today).

They admitted it was a “regressive” tax--but they seemed to have no knowledge of the meaning of that term. And they certainly didn't realize, in a way that the most regular human in Cali realizes, how it has been ruining the UK for almost fifteen years.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

American Tone Part 75489

Brits, when someone says “pretty good” in a higher pitched somewhat singsong tone they mean “barely adequate.”

Friday, June 6, 2014

British People Opposed to Junker

Do you have any idea how absurd "some papers are accusing him of federalism" sounds over here?

You object to his being appointed by the parliament you voted for? You want to vote for a president yourself, yes?


(Americans who don't understand: this is to do with the European elections, and with the British Texan desire to secede. In fact there are so many similarities between Britain and Texas it's not even funny. I might start calling those particular Brits Texibrits.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Thanks for understanding everyone. In the last few days since coming back from Irvine I've completed three essays that were logjammed for months. More to follow.

Monday, June 2, 2014


I couldn't post this because I was really busy getting the Wellek Lectures together. But this is, as we all know already, the terrain on which all kinds of political struggles have taken and will take place. It's just that journalists are now in the hot water that activists have been in for ages.

Haim Steinbach

He may come to my house fairly shortly, borrow some of the OO philosopher's objects, and display them at the Menil Collection round the corner. Brilliant!

I think this will be something like his exhibition here too. “Once Again the World Is Flat.” Nice allusion, right?

Nice One Ash

Ashton Nichols, good guy, very funny guy, very nice to me when I was just a nipper. Great idea for a course, very very early (100 level) so it sinks in. 

Ash: “If an appreciation for the nonhuman world can emerge or be enhanced,” he says, “and even an understanding of that nonhuman world can be improved by using language and thinking about language and writing, that can only be a good thing.”

Told You

This is the argument in the first few pages of Hyperobjects. I'm a bit fed up of being corrected when I say “global warming” rather than the phrase I will never use, “climate change.”

The switch goes back to a directive from one of George Bush's operatives.

Stop using it please.

Thanks Cliff, for the 64792407310th time!