“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

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mexico City Lecture Next Week

Which will go like this:

How to Defeat Invisible Gods

Not everything can be seen, and if by "seen" we mean capable of being translated perfectly into data, not everything can be empirically observed. There are some things that are thinkable and computable, yet we find it impossible to see them: the hyperobjects. Many of these things at present are ecological phenomena such as global warming, evolution and extinction, not to mention the human species and the biosphere.

We tend to think of such things as wholes that are greater than the sum of their parts. But in this talk I'm going to show that they are less than the sum of their parts. I call this property subscendence, which is like transcendence upside-down. Wholes are subscended by their parts. The idea that wholes are greater than the sum of their parts is a retweet of monotheism, itself a product of the agricultural logistics that eventually gave rise to industry and therefore to the Anthropocene with its global warming and its latest economic incarnation, neoliberalism.

When we compete over whose vision of neoliberalism is bigger and badder, we are still being monotheists imprisoned in Mesopotamian space. The political task we face is to see physically gigantic and intellectually complex (hence invisible) things as ontologically tiny. Neoliberalism is physically vast but ontologically small. We are able to subscend it, by crawling out from underneath in solidarity with the other lifeforms it now threatens.

1 comment:

conor wilson said...

Tim - great post. In the final paragraph you say:

When we compete over whose vision or neoliberalism is bigger and badder...

Is that 'or' supposed to be an 'of'? I guess it is, but I want to quote you, so need to be sure.

Many thanks (and for the quality, variety and quantity of posts!)