“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, March 6, 2015

Postcolonialists Tweaked Out by OOO, Take Note

From my essay for DIA Art Foundation on Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla's about-to-launch Puerto Rican Light:

If you were going to reduce my ontology with one sentence, it would be this one:

Things shimmer without mechanical input

A tiny mirror sends out infrared light, without being pushed around by anything. That is strictly impossible if a thing is a bland ball being manipulated by other bland balls. How things appear—the shimmering—is intrinsic to what they are. Qualities and substances are deeply intertwined, like the twist in a Möbius strip. There are no bland extension lumps decorated with accidents. There are no things waiting to be formatted by us, the humans, the Decider, goo goo ga joob.

How come we keep acting like things are like that? Because we are still retweeting a lot of memes to do with desperately trying to survive, no matter what that looks like, and damn the other lifeforms. It's quite simple. The only reason we act like things are bland lumps waiting for our Where Do You Want to Go Today, Just Do It, I can do anything to anything sadism—which would include colonialism, patriarchy and racism as a matter of fact—is because we are still unconsciously partying like it's 1699, and beyond that, we are partying like it's 9 999 BCE.

If you want to party like it's 1999, let alone 2009, you might want to stop retweeting the desperate survival meme. You might want to start seeing how things shimmer all by themselves, without mechanical input.


Global warming is infrared light trapped by a carbon dioxide shield. We have turned light itself into a toxic substance. Puerto Rican Light shows us what should be obvious: that there are other modalities of light than this globalized photonic violence. Absolute space is really, as postcolonial theory also likes to argue, an imperial product, not an absolute at all. In the same way, the globalized violence of light is not an absolute, just a very, very large, massively distributed yet finite and impermanent being. It can be changed. It can be turned off.

There is no (absolute, box-like) space. There are just places—it's simply that now we know that some places are not human-scale at all. Place is not just a human-flavored candy that we paint on things. Place is a fundamental category of how things are. There is Puerto Rican Light.

1 comment:

Asa said...

This is the post that sent me to the library for Hyperobjects. I'm a sucker for a philosopher who can write.