“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 24, 2019

Tim's Holiday Guide to Commodity Fetishism

I just wrote this on a very gifted undergrad student's final paper and thought, hey, this is news we can use, so, here we go...and because it's Xmas haha and because Santa is a big old Coca Cola bottle or whatever, here is my paradoxical Yuletide gift to you! I think it's quite nice.

This is a really great essay that says a lot of important things in a good way. The only quibble is with the very commonly held assumption that commodity fetishism is somehow a block on knowing that human workers make stuff. If that were true, how could one even know, if the fetishism were effective? But we all know humans make stuff. And knowing that doesn’t dissolve capitalism. So what is it? I teach Marx a lot.

Capitalist economic theory rests on a labor theory of value! The whole idea is that we all know very well that humans make stuff. It's kind of amazing that people keep snapping back to this assumption about Marx, and one could write a whole book on that topic alone.

The key point is that fetishism in this case isn’t a belief. It’s a state of affairs in which commodities seem to behave as if they are agents, really powerful godlike ones, that determine the value of human labour. Sorry man, but the price of oil today means we have to fire you…that sort of thing.
Why do commodities have this power? Because there’s one commodity that has to under-sell itself all the time and that has to make more of itself all the time for the whole thing to work, and that’s the human being. What is being extracted by the system is the value of surplus labor time. I own a factory and I ask you to work an extra five seconds for the same pay. Or you do a tiny extra bit of a job in the same time as you do your regular job. You may not even notice and the factory owner might be a very committed socialist, doesn’t matter. Millions of their employees doing this will make the owner a huge lot of money.

Leisure time is a big old waste of money, so social media fixed that by making us watch ads all the time and more important allow corporations to harvest our data to hone those ads more and more—literally like Capital says, extracting value while we aren’t conscious of that, as if capitalism were a vampire.

Commodity fetishism isn’t a belief that commodities appear out of nowhere. It’s the fact that in capitalism, unlike in feudalism, it doesn’t matter one tiny bit what you believe at all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

I Watch the World Go Round and Round

My first breakup song. So sorry cool kids I can’t help it, it’s etched. I was in the bus back from the night shift at Tesco at 5:30am and this came on the radio.

Isn’t it just so lovely that Phil sings “cayure” (“Need I say I care?”) like it’s in a working class accent?

Amazingly that “ahhhh” sound after the last chorus is not a sample. Listen really hard. It’s a cymbal. Phil went in a store and listened to every crash cymbal till he got one that sounded like that 80s (careless?) whisper of jouissance, in his vocal range and roughly in tune for something with a lot of white noise.

The opening fill after the first chorus is so simple and brilliant, if you know drums. And that’s literally one keyboard line there. Two tops.

You think this is plastic but really it’s the best kind of craft, the rubber meeting the road. Anyone can do vague angst. “I Don’t Remember” is Gabriel’s very best. It’s mostly just about that phrase. The point is to make it also be about a guy jerking off in front of the TV (“Turn It On Again”).

This is why my new book is going to have examples only from Phil Collins and Ariana Grande.

I recently spent an hour explaining to cool architects why Phil was better than Peter Gabriel; even I  was horrified by how effective my argument was, more than I had expected. Graham Harman made me do it lolol nice one Graham. Penguin seem to like the idea of me publishing it thanks Tom!

Need I say I love you,
Need I say I care?
Need I say that emotions
Are something we don't share?
I don't want to be sitting here,
Trying to deceive you,
Cos you know I know baby
That I don't wanna go.

We cannot live together
We cannot live apart
And that's the situation
I've known it from the start.
Every time that I look at you
—Well I can see the future,
Cos you know I know baby
TI don't wanna go.

Just throwing it all away
Throwing it all away
Is there nothing that I can say
To make you change your mind...

I watch the world go round and round—
And see mine turning upside down.

(Throwing it all away)

Now who will light up the darkness,
And who will hold your hand?
Who will find you the answers
When you don't understand?

Why should I have to be the one
Who has to convince you,
Cos you know I know baby
That I don't wanna go.

Some day you'll be sorry
Some day when you're free—
Memories will remind you
That our love was meant to be,
But late at night when you call my name
The only sound you'll hear
Is the sound of your voice calling
Calling out to me.

Just throwing it all away
Throwing it all away
And here's nothing I can say

Monday, November 25, 2019

Destruction in Art

Fascinating film sent to me by a future partner in BBC crime...

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Hyperobjects versus The Ecological Thought

...it's a momentous day. Hyperobjects has now overtaken The Ecological Thought for scholarly citations. Hyperobjects has 1700 while The Ecological Thought has 1690. Ecology without Nature is still at the top with 2100. Fourth is Dark Ecology with 410. Realist Magic has 310. The next highest is an essay, "Queer Ecology," with 230.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Check This Out

One of my very favorite novels, used by one of my very favorite thinkers, in the greatest paragraph. I'm writing an essay for the book that this appears in, and it just blew me away. Correct, beautiful and disturbing all at once:

In this regard, the earth, in its physical reality, has been transformed through thought and the practice that accompanies thought, becoming an embodied reflection of human thought.  However, what a strange reflection this is!  Unlike a faithful reflection in a mirror or picture in a photograph, the earth is akin to the painting in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, where it endlessly ages and reflects the ravages of how he has lived his life, while Mr. Gray remains eternally young.  The correlate of our thought, the earth, increasingly presents itself as a ruined wasteland transformed by our thought and practice, while humanity still regards itself through the distorted lens of the bloom of innocent youth.  In this regard, humanity does not recognize itself in its own painting.   (Levi Bryant)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Olafur Eliasson on the Iceland Glacier

Hi everyone. Olafur asked me to spread the word so here we go: 

On Sunday, we are mourning the passing of a glacier in a ceremony of commemoration unlike any in human history. The glacier, situated north-east of Reykjavik, was known as OK, and it has melted away and is no more. This is a tragic event, not just for my fellow Icelanders, but for the entire world. Something that seemed eternal has vanished for ever – as a result of human activity and inaction.  

A plaque at the site will mark this point in time. It sounds a warning, and is a call to arms, to every human being on this planet. Andri Snær Magnason, the Icelandic writer, conceived the inscription around a question to future generations: “We know what is happening and what needs to be done,” he wrote. “Only you know if we did it.”

The poignancy of this moment must not go to waste. On Monday, the prime ministers of the Nordic countries will gather in Iceland for their annual meeting, with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel as their guest. Climate change is on the agenda. There could hardly be a more appropriate moment to take the words on the plaque to heart. To show their recognition of the gravity of the situation, the Nordic countries must jointly declare a climate emergency.

The Nordic countries have powerful shared traditions and values – of democracy, social welfare, and culture. They are all striving to shape a strong environmental profile that combines not only giving up some goods and services that we have come to take for granted, but also enacting progressive policies that encourage investment in the green innovations that will contribute to our continued prosperity.

On this sad occasion, I call on the Nordic prime ministers – Mette Frederiksen (DK), Stefan Löfven (SE), Erna Solberg (NO), Katrín Jakobsdóttir (IS), Antti Rinne (FI), Aksel V. Johannesen (Faroe Islands), Kim Kielsen (Greenland), and Katrin Sjögren (Åland) – to act. They have a moral responsibility towards the future generations of the countries they represent. They also have an opportunity to forge a coalition that will show the leadership on climate change so badly needed in the world today.

Every glacier lost reflects our inaction. Every glacier saved will be a testament to the moral courage and sense of purpose that we can muster in the face of this emergency. One day, instead of mourning the loss of more glaciers, we must be able to stand tall in celebration of their survival.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Interview about Time Time Time, the opera I wrote with Jennifer Walshe

So good to hear Jennifer on this and MC Schmidt of Matmos:

Thursday, July 4, 2019

We Are The Asteroid III in Houston

Do you know I've made this artwork with Justin Guariglia? And would you like it in your town/country? Let's do it! It was so prominent at the Extinction Rebellion in London and it's in the USA in Alaska Oklahoma New York Chicago and now in Houston, right in oil town...

It's a huge road sign that among other things says


Look at this lovely essay about it from the local press. Pictures!

My Verso Editor on Brexit

Well, not him directly, but my genius Verso editor Federico Campagna and I see totally eye to I on this: labour movements are planetary and international, and do not involve huddling into smaller and smaller insular fascist enclaves (duh). So he just posted this so here am I posting it. I commented: 

Who was it out of Corbyn Milne and I forget who said "we don't give a toss about Brexit" or something like that recently? And where in the manual aka the Communist Manifesto does it say "always listen to thugs to tell you what to do like it's an ersatz focus group like the ones you hated Blair for creating"? And I could've sworn that in the textbook aka Capital the sequence goes globalization--international unions--the next bit or something...

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Hypothesis: There Is Only One Graviton

What do I know, I just read Nature Physics and quantum theory textbooks, but I so don't have a physics degree (unlike my grandfather).

But here's an idea. And it does have the merit of extreme simplicity and not needing to invent shit we can't observe because they're too tiny or multidimensional.

We can't find gravitons or make them work, not because of anything mysterious about dimensions, but because there's only one graviton. The singularity like "point" that expanded and became our universe is just a graviton and it has a really really really low frequency called the spacetime continuum.

Dark energy that is sucking the universe somewhere, and all those galaxies appearing to accelerate and maybe disappear in one sector of the sky: that's the one antigraviton, which by definition is what the universe isn't (and it thus "outside" of it). Our graviton is just being attracted towards the antigraviton somehow, hence the acceleration.

When they touch, a universe destroying-creating energy will be released and there will be another graviton–antigraviton pair.

Black holes are like the fractal nature of radio waves observed in Bell Labs: there are little versions of the wave inside the wave, so  your cell phone aerial needs to be crinkly, like maybe a Sierpinski carpet. The universe makes little versions of itself because that's the shape and activity of a graviton.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

1500 Citations for The Ecological Thought

I'm very pleased to announce that my second big old ecology book has now been cited 1500 times in scholarly publications. That's getting close to Ecology without Nature, which was kind of the icebreaker (as it were--what a bad noun in ways). The Ecological Thought is definitely my most integrated book--it says two things really really smoothly. I originally wrote the whole thing in 3 pages then over the course of 8 weeks I added more and more sentences to those pages, until I had a book.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Spencer Glendon with We Are the Asteroid Pin

...laying down some intense stuff about ice and warming (if you don't know about the pin, it's based on the work I made with Justin Brice Guariglia, which featured big in the Extinction Rebellion):

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


On Monday evening, Trump held a campaign rally in Pennsylvania at which he ranted that his campaign had been spied on and that the federal investigators who had probed Russiagate had committed “treason.” In response, the crowd chanted, “Lock them up!” This was both absurd and dangerous. Yet it showed once again that Trump has a simple, if false, story to peddle: He’s the victim of a wide-ranging fraud orchestrated by a cabal of nefarious connivers who despise him and the country. Those who give a damn about protecting democracy, though, also have a simple story: Putin attacked an election to help Trump, and Trump actively went along with it—and lied to cover up the attack. Yet Trump’s political opposition—up against a bombardment of spin and deception—has not continuously presented this case clearly. It’s not too late to do so. They need to fight false spin with truthful drama—and, whatever happens on the obstruction and impeachment fronts, they ought to do it soon.   (Mother Jones)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Hyperobjects in iD

Thanks to the amazing Greta Thunberg, I get to be in iD for the first time. I guess there was a very good review of Hyperobjects in Vice by Ingrid Luquet-Gad, that's about it... And it's an honor to be in there because of Thunberg, she is obviously doing an amazing job and it's shameful that a child has to do it (this is child labor, think about it). iD formed some of my thoughts about where I was at in the later 80s, so it's very nice to be in it.

Croatian Dark Ecology

...so glad to have been translated into this language! Soon, and I guess it's somewhat close geographically speaking, comes  Romanian Hyperobjects (I think! Hard to keep up.)

Thursday, March 28, 2019

This Is Why I Really Respect AOC

Unlike Sanders, who comes off elitist in his purity, she's ready to help people without much money have nice things, now. This was exactly why I loved and still love Obamacare. Try for national health and fail nobly? Millions of people die. Make a bit of a compromise? Succeed and set it up for people to start demanding more healthcare as their right.

What about progressive hopes for a more fundamental health care overhaul? Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got it exactly right: While still calling for hearings on “Medicare for all,” she declared herself “happy to support any provision that strengthens the A.C.A. and plugs some of the gaps that we’re seeing.” (So far, Bernie Sanders has refused to support the plan. Let’s hope he walks that back.)  (Paul Krugman)

When I first arrived in America, from a country whose health care is way way more socialist than single payer, I was desperate for someone to say out loud how fucked it was that there was this "pre-existing conditions" thing. Like not even wealthy people who needed health insurance understood. Now they do. Good. Why? Obama. Yes. So now they're ready for Medicare for All or whatever. Respect to the Obamacare and for avoiding looking perfect and good and holy at the expense of real people's lives.

My friend's brother, a doctor, tried to charge me $250 for some sample antibiotics when I got sick. Coming from the UK, I was able to say fuck off really fast.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Which Body? Witchbody!

I really do think you would like to read this book called Witchbody that Sabrina Scott wrote, and drew, and drew-wrote, and wrote-drew...I wrote the foreword, then this amazing comic book publisher has made it be everywhere. The amazon page lets you read some of it:

We keep looking in the wrong place for happiness and fulfillment. We think it must be next week. Tomorrow. Maybe 5 minutes from now I'll be truly happy. Or maybe we have regret. Happiness was then, last month, when we were small. Can't have it now. Happiness couldn't be now, could it, because that would mean it's somewhere inside.
What do you call someone who shows you that you don't have to look elsewhere for magic?
You call them a witch. And you can be that. You can be a Witchbody. Which is also a which body? Things are full of gaps and breaks, they are full of illusion, suffused with moonlight. Things are kinked and queer, everything.
You can't ever tell exactly which witch body you are. What a relief! You get to explore the strangeness of that beautiful unique twist that is just exactly you, without an official you copyright stamp in sight.
You will want this book by your side, like a window on the moon. You've invited the witch to heal you. The truth is they never really left.

If you don't know about Sabrina and her righteous brilliance, you can start with this: 

[as soon as I get off this plane I will embed a nice video]

Nice Review of Time Time Time

[excerpted from Peter Margasak's review of the Borealis festival]

One of the most anticipated performances of the fest was TIME TIME TIME by composer/performer Jennifer Walshe and philosopher Timothy Morton. The richly humorous work weaved together pop culture references – one particularly hilarious section riffed on grief management in the hyperactive style of an infomercial, while another video projection overlaid the text “National Physical Laboratory, Supplier of Time for the UK,” over an image of computers – with constantly shifting notions of time. Morton’s ecological writing constantly returned to the pressing issue of global warming, playing with the idea that humans won’t trifle with the urgency of addressing the situation because of the earth’s timescale. Archival video footage toggled between films of people performing antiquated mechanical tasks over a staccato rhythm shaped by Walshe’s remarkable ensemble, cartoonish animations of dinosaurs, and a mandala-like images of the earth’s crust evolving over millennia.

The comic delivery of Walshe, adorned in a garish, green sequined gown, was expertly complemented by the straight-man deadpan of M.C. Schmidt of Matmos, wearing his trademark suit-and-tie, who at one point played a pair of paper cups as if they were maracas with utter earnestness. One of Walshe’s masterstrokes was allowing the disparate ensemble members to do what they do best, while masterfully blending those elements into a cogent whole: the microscopic lowercase sounds of Lee Patterson, summoning a tactile, earthbound vocabulary, the locked-in improvisations of Streifenjunko (trumpeter Eivind Lønning and saxophonist Espen Reinertsen, who moved from easily from breathy abstraction to fanfare-like clarity), the crisp string articulations of double bassist Inga Margrete Aas and violinist Vilde Sandve Alnæs, and the alternating glistening and lyric, and brittle and jagged harp passages of Irish polymath Áine O’Dwyer, who also sang a series of harrowingly beautiful melodies, especially near the end of the performance.

Morton sat in silence, yogi-style, on a pillowed dais for the entirety of the performance, contributing a mix of new age absurdity. The first half of the 90-minute performance was infectiously fast-paced, mirroring the information overload of the text, while the second half slowed-down—including an extended section of glacial movement, with only occasional plucks from O’Dwyer’s harp. The piece was unwieldy, but its vastness made sense considering the massive scope of what Walshe and Morton are grappling with.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Time Time Time clips and interview

I don't know how to embed it yet...but the good people of Berlin put this together.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Queer Ecology 200

Two hundred citations for "Queer Ecology" today! Very very happy about that. The essay was in jeopardy at first, because the editor of the journal got freaked out, having invited me to put some more detail on an argument I'd made in Ecology without Nature. Her husband was a geneticist and she unfortunately ran the arguments past him--just because you do science doesn't mean you have a right to talk about reality (haha); and I was employing Joan Roughgarden's work (amazing person, have you met her? was awesome when I finally did).

You can download it here.

The editor was a specialist neither in ecological humanities nor in queer theory, and suffered from an anxiety disorder. Towards the end of a half hour phone call about the essay, she was talking about pulling it, and getting very anxious. So I said "Please, please just give me a week and I'll fix it for you." I was pretty upset because I was really, really into the topic and had poured everything into writing the essay, as it was for a big venue.

I won't tell you what I did (tricks of the trade) but it was incredibly minimal. When you're working for an editor, try to do the minimum effort required, for the sake of your poor ego. It was nothing to do with the content, but to do with how I conveyed it. One week later she wrote back, "I don't know what you did but it's amazing...so much better..." It was exactly the same argument. Again, I just changed how I put it across.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Why Oh Why Oh Why

Irritating Professor Morton, who always strives, whether deliberately or not, to say the wrong thing in public, has been wondering why he doesn't like very much the "Shock Horror: Response to Environmental Disaster Whatever-that-is Is Racist and Treats Economic Classes Differently" type of headline/tweet/opinion.

I have realized why: the statement perfectly reproduces the ideology that there's this thing called Nature, outside of social space, while on a superficial level claiming not to or even seeming to do the opposite.

I mean, we don't go around saying "Shock Horror: War Whatever-it-is Treats People Differently Depending on Race, Class and Gender" do we? It shouldn't be shocking that since wars happen in social space, and since social space is patriarchal, racist and involving of intense class hierarchies, wars tend to discriminate. Because the way supermarkets are built tends to discriminate. Because standardized testing tends to discriminate.

The shock horror phenomenology of environmental racism reporting is really really not good, because it's a symptom of and reproducer of the idea that there's this thing that happens to social space, it's called the environment or Nature, and this thing is outside of social space. It should be beyond obvious that since hurricanes happen to social space, and since social space is racist and patriarchal etc, what hurricanes do and how humans respond to them will be racist and patriarchal etc. Being shocked is an incredibly uncool symptom of the racism and patriarchy that in fact created the difference between human and nonhuman in the first place (and defined social space as human), way back in 10 000 BC or whatever.

You think, somehow, that magically people and institutions will drop the racism and behave differently when there's a hurricane? We are all about to get regular data on how that isn't ever true as long as racism persists. Why express surprise when it happens? There must be a speed bump in the discourse right there. We should get to the point where the obvious tautology makes us hesitate, instead of going "OMG! Nasty Thing Happens to Person Living in Nasty Social Conditions!"

Still don't get it? So my mum couldn't afford a car when I was little. I had to take the train to school. When the school grounds flooded because the Thames Barrier wasn't yet complete, I was fucked. It shoudn't have been surprising, and it wasn't. Do you see what happens when you say "Wow! Economically Fucked Person Is also Ecologically Fucked. Who Knew?!"

And there's this extra layer of magical thinking that I detect. Like the response to whatever is supposed to transcend or even get rid of social problems. It expresses while distorting and suppressing a truth: responses to stuff that happens should not be racist. The weird ideological magic bit is the idea that somehow the response to a hurricane will be "different" and will make everything nice. That's why this green new deal thing is interesting. Someone is realizing that making everything nice socially is exactly responding well to an environmental crisis. And I would add, since social space includes hedgehogs and cats and stomach bacteria, and hurricanes for that matter, social space was never entirely human, and the reproduction of the meme that it is entirely human, implicit in the shocking headline, is absolutely caught up in racism.

That's why there's an upside-down truth in the right wing fear that ecological language is intrinsically left wing, and that this is a way to smuggle in the "agenda" through the back door aka the one that connects the house to "Nature." Correct. And distorted. At the same time. We are trying to ram socialism down your throat, quite desperately in fact, and the only problem is the idea that there's a "stealth" or "back door" thing going on here. Unfortunately some of the left rhetoric retweets this language of stealth and all that. Getting into solar power would indeed be a way to achieve greater social justice. Just be up front guys.

See what I mean? Stop it with the headlines. We should KNOW in our bones that social space is racist and that (as my logic implies) defeating racism is exactly the same thing as responding well to an environmental crisis. And, furthermore and more to the point, vice versa.

The extra awfulness is how very very often this shock-horror phenomenology is repeated. It's the go-to way to do this kind of thing. Which means that the way we talk about hurricanes in the press is also racist. Go figure.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Time Time Time

...so I wrote the libretto for Jennifer Walshe's amazing opera Time Time Time, and we had the world premiere this weekend at the Muzikegebouw in Amsterdam, as part of the incredible Sonic Acts festival, which over the years has been like family to me, starting with their fearless exploration of my concept of dark ecology, when I'd hardly written a thing about it (at least, not the book itself): three years of exploration in Arctic Russia, conferences, concerts, symposia, you name it.

We are doing more performances in Bergen (next week--Borealis festival), Berlin (Maerzmusik festival), London and other places this year. I'm on stage. We decided that it would be better than having me as a kind of verbal puppet master behind the scenes. It's like, there's no such thing as a naked thought in the void according to OOO, every thought has as it were a kind of thoughtfeel. So there I was, playing the thought instrument, as it were.

Jennifer is also the composer of Everything Is Important, a piece about hyperobjects that she wrote for the Arditti String Quartet in 2016.

Time Time Time has extinction, global warming, black holes, dinosaurs, neoliberalism, grief and Monet...fun for all the apocalyptic family...

Here are some photos. I'm never going to forget the 700 people cheering and I've just made friends with the kindest most creative people--it's so nice to be in a music team again.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Hyperobjects in the New York Times

I thought the author had read it, because of how he sounded on the radio. He said we've been framing global warming as rising sea levels and of course, it's everywhere because we are inside of it. Then my friend Jeremy Braddock of Cornell told me about this editorial:

We build our view of the universe outward from our own experience, a reflexive tendency that surely shapes our ability to comprehend genuinely existential threats to the species. We have a tendency to wait for others to act, rather than acting ourselves; a preference for the present situation; a disinclination to change things; and an excess of confidence that we can change things easily, should we need to, no matter the scale. We can’t see anything but through cataracts of self-deception.

The sum total of these biases is what makes climate change something the ecological theorist Timothy Morton calls a “hyperobject” — a conceptual fact so large and complex that it can never be properly comprehended.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

For What It's Worth

7000+ citations now. 52 texts have at least 10 citations and 26 have 26. 80% of my citations are from my books.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Night of Philosophy this Saturday with me and Laurie Anderson

Here's an interview I gave about it today. It's in Houston from 7pm to 1am, loads of amazing people!

Monday, January 14, 2019


Is the title of the opera I've been writing with Jennifer Walshe and we're real close to the premieres here, in Bergen (at the amazing Borealis festival), Amsterdam (hi Sonic Acts! I will never ever forget the Dark Ecology tours) and Berlin (Maerzmusik). I'm stunned by what I'm hearing from Jennifer...