“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, December 8, 2015

Three Secrets: Secret 2

So I just told you about Hyposubjects. It's been a bit of a top secret project for a while, but it's so hard to keep it in any more especially as Dominic and I are about to publish a 1000 word piece on it. He unveiled the project at the American Anthropology Association in Denver about last week-ish, and people were really into it, I think. That was a great occasion. Hundreds of people. Loads of discussion. A first peoples speaker jumped up on stage full of passion. It was awesome. Our topic: the Anthropocene. Is there anything else? hahaha

So...next. Hyposubjects has this subtitle: On Becoming-Human. Here's the thing. Thinking about ecology so often leaves out the thinker who is thinking, experiencing and so on about ecology. If you think about it, the object-oriented approach began in the Romantic period when poets began to take up geologists' hammers and put down their Claude glasses (metaphorically and literally) and get really up close to rock and so on. And when you get up close to an object, you begin to experience object withdrawal, because you are no longer at a familiar anthropocentric scale. So you start to write poems about how things are dissolving and your experience is melting--you start to write Romantic poems. The two things go together....

And that brings me to my next project. It is with Verso and I'm super excited about proud about it, because it's my way of seeing whether we can expand Marxism (and related forms of theory) to include nonhuman beings. Answer: yes! It's a bit of a hack, like a Marx-hack or something. But you can do it. Not all Marxists will like it, hahaha, but you can't please everyone all the time. I think it will start a great conversation. I seem already to be having this with McKenzie Wark, really happy about that.

So...this book for Verso, it is called


Haha--I tried to think of a long “widescreen” sort of familiar yet provocative word, and this is what came up. Generalization, universalism, essentialism--let's go there!

And the subtitle, I'm into that:


Right? Right?!

Strangely the way to think all this through, how to include nonhumans within Marxisms and anarchisms etc is to think about mereology, the study of parts and wholes. I've been doing some talks about it and the topic was born in Hyposubjects. I remember the moment. I was biting on a sandwich I think and I told Dominic we needed a new word to describe what we were trying to talk about. To be continued...

I'm so happy and proud to be doing this. The editor I'm working with is like wow, what a genius he is. And writing books for like everyone rather than people who think they want you to be wrong (sometimes) is really different, in a very good way. In many ways it's more sophisticated than writing a scholarly book. I've had some thoughts about it that I may share here.


Unknown said...

YES! So delish, and congratulations. Really excited for a spokesvulturish hack of Marx.

cgerrish said...

OK, I'm going to take a wild guess. Does it have to do with apprehending a precipitate of abandoned object cathexis emanating from a non-human object?

Anonymous said...

Peeking through British philosophy via Rorty and Phillipa Foote on Stalingrad is probably the least fruitful way for me to consider this, no? My issue with the animal 'solidarity' organizations I am involved with, in praxis, is a) they have no theory, just dogma, and b) after one exchange on the animal issue the conversation immediately shifts to human concerns (embedded, really, and I name this phenomenon eponymously). So tell me this prison box can not exist and everywhere animals and their solidarity buddies are free yet in chains of their own mental constructs. This needs to happen because the stakes are so high and Monbiot will give us nothing but a kinder sameness.