“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

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cats Happen

If you've read Dark Ecology you'll know there's a whole thing about cats in it, more than once.

So I just found out that this dude published a book where he argues that, you know, cats are all about selfish narcissism and dogs are all altruistic and friendly and stuff.

Wow really? On what scientific -- or for that matter artistic -- or for that matter simple normal observation basis does one make such a claim? Oh, I know, none--because the book doesn't have to, because it's coming from Lacan who comes from Hegel who comes from a freak out to Kantian correlationism, so we humans (which "we" is a good question) get to decide what's real. And guess what: the old agrilogistical cat panic means our ideas about cats are accurate.

That and the classic selfish/altruistic binary and double-bind (because how can you really be altruistic? It's a self-defeating concept based on a rigid conception of self).

So I'm not gonna read this book because wow, you can learn all that stuff already--from Garfield.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

There's Another Hyperobjects Exhibition Happening

Look! It just started! 

NEW YORK, NY.- In the Glow of a Breathing Sphere is a site-specific LED installation, at the Fridman Gallery, conceived and built by the interactive design studio B-Reel, accompanied by a program of sound and spoken-word performances by various artists, focusing on relationships among living organisms, technology and the environment.

In his seminal book, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, Timothy Morton applies Graham Harman’s Object-Oriented Ontology to describe human-made phenomena of such immense proportions and such profound, irreversible effect on the environment (e.g., carbon emissions and radioactive deposits), that these phenomena escape our comprehension.

Art is one, if not the only, discipline which might allow us to sneak a peak at the immeasurable nature of these processes. In Timothy Morton’s own words, “Hyperobjects are thinkable but not exhausted by (human) calculation. Art that evokes hyperobjects must therefore deal with their necessarily uncanny intimacy and strangeness.”

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Prana, a room-sized interactive sculpture, in which light sequences are triggered by participants’ breath, visualizing the unseen energies of our bodies. One-by-one, viewers are invited to stand inside the suspended sphere measuring 12 feet in diameter and comprised of 13,221 LED displays encapsulated in 5,422 feet of acrylic tubing. The installation is a metaphor for the dialogue that is still possible between humans and their environment, a technology-enabled meditation guided by the installation’s inexplicable aliveness.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

"The Photograph Suggests that Britain Is Run by a Self-Selecting Elite"

[I don't know why this didn't post ages ago! It's even more relevant than when it showed up. And it has nonhumans and David Cameron!]

"And that isn't true. Therefore the photograph should be banned, and every copy of it on earth should be snaffled up by Oxford and deleted."


Actual things actually heard on the BBC in a massive dismissal of the allegations that power involves some kind of para-world of obscenity (now manifesting as “Pig-gate”--look at the UK news.

And compare with what is happening on the BBC to Corbyn, which is what happened to Syriza. In short, an orgy of double binding interrogations: “You are a principled radical and that sucks, and you are willing to compromise, and that sucks because you are therefore a hypocrite.” Aka “You are logically contradicting yourself.”

Left wingers are apparently irrational. As opposed to right wingers, who are reasonable non-pig-abusers.

Queer Dark Ecological Art? Look No Further

...than the amazing animations of Clement Hil Goldberg. Goldberg and I immediately saw how our work was connected when I gave a lecture at Berkeley about a year ago. I've been meaning to showcase this work here for a while. Just ... All you have to do is look at this series The Deer In Between. It's about queer activism (Michelle Tea et al!), global warming, mushrooms of all kinds and more. You'll get it. I'm embedding episode 1 here but you can find everything and some more things on the website. For real this is going to be in my Verso book. Ooh and I'm doing a lecture on queer theory and ecology at Penn State early next year.

Warning: queer deer in charge of reincarnation of humans!!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Robert Irwin Tells It

Thanks to my curator-partner Laura Capelin of Ballroom Marfa.

I'm a Curator

...and I'll be curating an exhibition about hyperobjects at Ballroom Marfa in fall 2017.

Being Seen (for Ed Panar)

So I just wrote an afterword for the second edition of his excellent Animals That Saw Me. Starts like this:

If you have suffered from trauma, one of the most healing things that can happen to you is being seen. Being seen doesn’t have to mean that someone actually lays their eyes on you, although that certainly helps. Being seen means that your being is held by the other person without comment, without praise or blame or indifference, just with some kind of open care. One of the most moving parts of the corny blockbuster Avatar is the moment at the end when Neytiri, the alien humanoid (albeit blue with a tail), holds in her arms the nearly-dead Jake (whose Na’vi avatar is bonded with her), and as he begins to breathe the oxygen in the mask she has slipped over his face, she says the phrase, which in Na’vi we have been told, early on in the film, means just this unconditional compassionate holding: I see you.

Twelfth Essay This Year

“This Is Not My Beautiful Biosphere,” in Tom Bristow and Thomas Ford, eds., A Cultural History of Climate Change (Routledge, 2016), 229–238.

Tom and Thomas are fantastic editors and they really helped to bring out the best in this essay. This volume is a really really powerful collection of all kinds of writing on our current condition.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Eleventh Essay This Year Is on Byron

“She Walks in Beauty like the Night in which All Cows Are Black: Byron's Nonhuman,” Byron: The Poetry of Politics and the Politics of Poetry (Routledge, 2016), 57–68.

Great conference, that was, when I presented this as a lecture. You should totally get this or borrow this volume if you like poetry and are interested in the Romantic period.

11 essays isn't as much as the 25 of last year, but still...

Upcoming Lectures

Seoul (twice! once for visual and once for sound art), Singapore, Yale, Exeter (UK), University of Pennsylvania. Will post details soon.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Really BBC?

...the casual tone with which you announced that Prime Minister May was not into the (unbelievably sadistic and stupid) deficit reduction strategy of "Osborne"?

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tears of Things

A fun suggestion from on Twitter about the line lacrimae rerum  in The Aeneid. It could be construed as tears-within-things or the capacity of things in general to be melancholic as opposed to (human) tears-for-things. I'm pasting a relevant part of the Wikipedia page below. What do you think?

The context of the passage is as follows: Aeneas sees on the temple mural depictions of key figures in the Trojan War – the war from which he had been driven to the alien shores of Carthage as a refugee: the sons of Atreus (Agamemnon and Menelaus), Priam, and Achilles, who was savage to both sides in the war. He then cries out:

Sunt hic etiam sua praemia laudi;
sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt.
Solve metus; feret haec aliquam tibi fama salutem.

Here, too, the praiseworthy has its rewards;
there are tears for things and mortal things touch the mind.
Release your fear; this fame will bring you some safety.
Virgil, Aeneid, 1.461 ff.

A translation by Robert Fagles renders the quote as: "The world is a world of tears, and the burdens of mortality touch the heart."[3]

Robert Fitzgerald, meanwhile, translates it as: "They weep here / For how the world goes, and our life that passes \ Touches their hearts."[4]

In his television series Civilisation, episode 1, Kenneth Clark translated this line as "These men know the pathos of life, and mortal things touch their hearts."[5]

The poet Seamus Heaney rendered the first three words, "There are tears at the heart of things."[6]

The line is notable for being taken and used out of context (e.g. on war memorials) as a sad sentiment about the 'world of tears' (as Fagles translates). But ironically, in its context it is an expression of hope and optimism: this is the point at which Aeneas realises that he need not fear for his safety, because he is among people who have compassion and an understanding of human sorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Cry Me a River

"Because you put me in a double bind, and if you have to resort to psychological violence..."

"Because I don't feel like parting company with most African Americans."

"Because I'm a millennial and I'm not going to imitate the X'ers who handed the world to Bush II in 2000."

"Because you want me not to and I have major defiance issues."

"Because she's a woman and women should get jobs. Oh I'm sorry, did I break your rule? Cry me a fucking river."

Sunday, July 3, 2016

This Looks Good Doesn't It?

Jack Halberstam's course on wildness. It's got hyperobjects in it!

"Hop Aboard My Small Section of Woodstock...Let the Journey Commence!"

This is too good not to share.

Time Is Real

Lee Smolin trying for something more nuanced than his previous forays into philosophy, and noticing that physics doesn't and can't say everything...and...time is real...nice one. Some philosophers love movement, some hate it. I love it.

Thank you Cliff!

Friday, July 1, 2016

What I Did at Google (video)

This was a fascinating day and I'm still processing it. I'm really grateful to Kenric McDowell for inviting me...it's a huge extra Thing in my life now that we know each other...