Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ice Watch: Listen to Ice with Your Hands at COP21

Olafur Eliasson has got something very special he's going to unveil on Thursday morning at 8:30am, at the Place du Panthéon. I'm really sad I can't be there. But I will be there in spirit. And I'll be there two weeks later to work on my side of how to be ecological, not just think about it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

"No More Baby Parts"

Ted Cruz, Republican senator for my benighted state, his eyebrows almost meeting at an obtuse angle to demonstrate his caring sincerity, said that it would be wrong, even left-wing, to jump to conclusions about terrorism in the case of the Colorado Planned Parenthood shooter.

“No more baby parts!" is what you shout when you want to scare an organization and people who use that organization into stopping...

Stopping what? Something that they are not doing. Something that they have been framed for, most notably by ... (drum roll) Ted Cruz, at the spearhead of a huge wave of Congressional Republicans.

Also, in general, the "lone wolf" thing about the right wing terrorist proves a few things.

1. Patriarchy is everywhere and some people really get behind the most aggressive messaging--you don't have to form a team, you just stand up to the patriarchal plate.

2. The "he was acting alone" thing is itself a terrorist excuse. Groups can be distributed in time and space. Like, a series of shooters, one every few months, adding up to the several dozen who've basically said they are social Darwinist herd cullers. It's like how Accenture do things. They send in a single consultant at a time.

(2) is an interesting thing. It sort of shows that these shooters are parts of a hyperobject, no?

Also, Cruz dude, even if the guy is who you say he is, his action was right wing misogynist terrorism. It so doesn't matter one little bit who he thinks he is, or who we think we know he is.

Patriarchy Is Erupting Worldwide

Boys shooting people in concerts and bistros. Killings at abortion clinics in the USA. Mass shootings most often motivated by social Darwinist (actually not Darwinist at all by the way) ideas about culling the herd. (Have you read Bifo's new book?)

I was just talking with The New Yorker and we were agreeing that something is happening. Patriarchy is erupting with fury. I'm hoping that's because it's about to go through a major transformation. Ideally, ending. But I'm not sure that's gonna happen quite yet.

In Paris

So I'm sitting in my hotel at FIAC, what an amazing hotel, honestly. Right behind Les Invalides, wow. Anyway--iTunes tells me that I need to listen to this. So I do.

One of the things that the ecological emergency (here comes COP21) and incidents like the shootings in Paris do is crush our ability to fantasize. Anything, anything to restart that. I think that's what Interstellar is mostly about. The first half of this tune works pretty good as a restart mechanism, no?

I'm a sucker for pararhyme, which is where the consonants stay the same-ish and the vowels change. It's such a subtle, and in this case quite sexy, effect. Wilfrid Owen uses it to send chills down your spine but these guys are using it to make you feel nice.

Paris / promise / on it


I love how this tune begins. I love the horsey-trotty beats and the nice tonic triad inversion of that jaunty little keyboard line, tracking the bass. Very tasty. Later, it sort of deteriorates into something like a Fischerspooner-like dirge, which is a shame. If it was me I would've broken out the 303 : )

COP21: Here Comes Olafur Eliasson

Here's a nice summary of what's happening:

Ice Watch will showcase 80 tonnes of ice from a fjord outside Nuuk, Greenland with the aim of inspiring public action against climate change.

Harvested from free-floating blocks of ice, the work will be arranged in a clock formation on the Place de la République on Sunday, 29 November 2015, the day before world leaders and their climate teams gather in Le Bourget, Paris to discuss how to ensure a stable climate for future generations. In the days following, the ice will be allowed to melt in the square, offering the general public a glimpse at climate change on our planet.

“Today we have access to reliable data that sheds light on what will happen and what can be done,” said Olafur Eliasson. “Let’s appreciate this unique opportunity – we, the world, can and must act now. Let’s transform climate knowledge into climate action. As an artist I hope my works touch people, which in turn can make something that may have previously seemed quite abstract more a reality. Art has the ability to change our perceptions and perspectives on the world, and Ice Watch makes the climate challenges we are facing tangible. I hope it will inspire shared commitment to taking climate action.”

Friday, November 27, 2015

Why Is This So Good?

"When my master and I were walking in the rain, he would say, 'Do not walk so fast, the rain is everywhere.' " --Shunryu Suzuki

Thursday, November 26, 2015

On the Budget

“I was going to smack you in the face, kick you and hurl you across the room. I now realize that all I need to do is smack you in the face. And this shows how generous and kind I am.”

The Really Wrong Thing about How It Works Right Now

If you study tax you'll know that very few high earners are in fact paying it. They get carried interest, or they get capital gains from their partnerships. And they fund the GOP, which campaigns to lower the taxes they don't in fact pay anyway.

These people don't even want others to have the services that these people don't even pay for.

Thinking about “sharing” corporations these days. The ones that get to share your stuff and your labour time so they can make some money.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

OOO and Racism 2

A commenter writes:

“And so here is where I go ‘what about the signifier’ and seem like some kind of linguist. How do you explain the appearance of racism as a concept internal to racist discourse?”

Well, we're gonna have to talk about the concept of “in” (as in internal) and “discourse” and “the” (as in “the signifier”) if we're really going to do this. Discourse isn't really just about words and language isn't really just about words either. And neither are signifiers. (I done studied too much Foucault and Derrida!) So “in” is a bit suspect. And equating discourse and signifier, etc. And I'm too into deconstruction to be that keen on “the” signifier, as if we all knew what signifiers were in advance...

And it seems a bit circular. Racism is intrinsically “internal to racist discourse.” Unless the commenter is in fact saying that even mentioning racism is racist, in which case there's no hope! There might be a cynical reason version of this statement as well as an obvious right-wing reactionary version, the latter of which is just trying to shut people up. 

Sure, the concept of race itself is indeed racist, that's the whole point you can make with the tools I showed you in the previous post. That's why Darwin wrote The Descent of Man, as it happens. Agassiz had done this incredibly insidious and persistent (to this day) categorization of humans into the dreaded Causasian, Mongoloid etc. Sexual selection, which is why I'm white with slightly reddish facial hair, is never teleological. Positing some telos after the fact just is exactly racism. And speciesism. 

And: it seems to me the question might be coming from a performatted division between language and things that I just can't accept--we need to do an awful lot of work to get near talking about distinctions that way. 

But, I'm in a talkative mood! So here's the very very quick answer: 

It's not a problem at all. Racist language is language that performs what I argued in the previous post: it closes the gap between ontic and ontological in such a way as to privilege a certain appearance. 

Think about default Enlightenment period sexism. There is a marked and an unmarked gender, such that everyone is a Man, some of whom are women. The unmarked gender is a mythical substance underlying appearances altogether--aka the transcendental signifier, aka the logos as in logocentrism. 

Or when someone goes “I don't have an accent.” That's like saying a trumpet note doesn't have a timbre. It's strictly impossible not to have one. But if you think your way of sounding is the “real” or “official” way you may say such a thing. 

Or the “one drop” racism that used to buttress the “Three fifths of a person” statement in the Constitution. Like if just one of your ancestors had non-white skin, you are not white. 

Or “All lives matter” as the racist response to Black Lives Matter. In this sense, saying it's racist to bring up race and racism is, of precisely the OOO sense, that some kind of gap between appearing and being is being sealed over. 

Pretty much everything you learned from deconstruction, but slightly pulled in the direction of ontology, not that Derrida doesn't start that himself--that's OOO compatible.

Fred Moten is doing some incredible things in this domain. 

Professor Morton, How Do You Explain Racism and Speciesism?

Someone on Twitter asks:

“Is racism/speciesism a phenomenal/ontic equivocation or is it a hyperobject? No one seems to know what it is these days.”

I have in fact been writing about just this in Dark Ecology. How do we think a concept such as species without speciesism or racism? That is precisely the trick. That concept is deeply contaminated by Aristotelian teleology speak: ducks are for swimming, Greeks are for enslaving barbarians, etc...

Racism and speciesism have to do with closing the irreducible gap between data and things. Or, if you prefer, between the ontic and the ontological. Or, if you prefer, between what you can point to and what things actually are.

There is an irreducible gap between little me, Tim Morton, and me as a member of the human species. We can detect this gap by thinking about global warming data. My starting my car doesn't cause global warming at all: it's statistically meaningless. And of course, I never intend to harm Earth. But billions of car startings do cause global warming! There is a weird gap between me and human me.

This is odd, because we've been trained (scientism, Sesame Street) to think of ourselves as human. And we think this human as beyond or behind our race, gender, class etc. In other words, we think the human as a thing that stays constantly present underneath appearances.

The normal species concept is deeply metaphysical and onto-theological. And racism is where you color this concept a certain specific ontic color. Speciesism is where you say that yes, Tim Moton, this guy right here, is human, all the way through.

Have you ever seen Brighton rock? It's a pink minty candy tube with a word or phrase inscribed all the way through. Speciesism is where you think you are like that with "human" written all the way through.

But this is not biologically correct. Because this is not ontologically correct.

Here's the book:

There is such a thing as the human. But human need not be something that is ontically given: we can't see it or touch it or designate it as present in some way (as whiteness or not-blackness et cetera). There is no obvious, constantly present positive content to the human...Racism exists when one fills out the gap between what one can see (beings starting engines and shoveling coal) and what this human thing is: the human considered as a species, that is, as a hyperobject, a massively distributed physical entity of which I am and am not a member, simultaneously...The racist effectively erases the gap, implicitly reacting against Hume and Kant did to reality. Since their age we have thought it sensible that there is some kind of irreducible rift between what a thing is and how it appears, such that science handles data, not actual things.


The Darwinian concept of species is precisely not the Aristotelian one where you can tell teleologically what species are for: ducks are for swimming, Greeks are for enslaving barbarians… Since species in this sense fails to coincide with me, an actual human being as opposed to a pencil or a duck, the concept of species isn't speciesist. Like the racist, the speciesist fills out the gap between phenomenon and thing with a special paste: the fantasy of an easy-to-identify content. That sort of content is what one is incapable of seeing, yet there are ducks and spoonbills, which are not humans.

Racism and speciesism in their modern forms are desperate and violent attempts to fill out the irreducible void between what is given and what is...

George Osborne, This Is Now Personal

“We must eliminate the deficit by 2020.”

= My brother Steve will be kicked out of the nice shared house he's in and forced to live in what is still a Foucauldian prison for mentally ill people, aka “24 hour care.”

Because living in the nice house has to do with housing benefits. And the Conservatives are determined to wipe those out.

Steve has schizophrenia and is a world class genius drummer.

On Radio 4 Today: “The plan to eliminate the deficit is a tough self-imposed goal.” Self-imposed? Oh, how horrible for him. And, more to the point, why--since it does nothing nice for the economy whatsoever? 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Come to My Lecture in Vilnius

On Saturday, November 28 (this Saturday!).


At the CAC (Center for Contemporary Art). 6pm. Details here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ingrid Luquet-Gad and I Talk Hyperobjects, Ontology, Ecology in Paris

This was just such a great, great conversation. But as you can see, Ingrid Luquet-Gad, writing for Les Inrocks, takes it a lot further. It makes me so happy that one can be a philosopher and a writer for journals and magazines with the reach and scope of the ones she works for. There are so many good aspects of the dialogue I may write another post but for now, enjoy it. For me it's nice even if nothing else that someone made something out of my jet lagged dribbling...

Someone super au fait both with Derrida and with speculative realism (studying with Meillassoux!): now that's a combination I can identify with...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

You Can Preorder Dark Ecology

Nice one!

This Is How Fascism Begins a fascinating, clownish-seeming display of thuggery. Most theories of the rise of Hitler for instance (Thelweit, Cannetti), argue this. It's a certain kind of aesthetic display that you can't take your mind off. Deleuze and Guattari sum up: the behavior was so in your face and outrageous, no one could believe it was really happening. Like, the newscasters there are hypnotized, no? And rendered impotent with language about “sides” and “objectivity.”

The correct response is immediately to get rid of the fascist pest.

And it isn't just Trump, non-Americans. Like now it's okay for Jeb Bush to say that only Christians should be allowed to immigrate...and Rubio says appalling things, and they all say appalling things. To get nominated for president by their base.

To repeat: yes, this is one of many fascist threat displays. And it's not isolated to Trump.

See, look:

On Thursday, the House voted to add more requirements to what is already an arduous process. Even worse was Jeb Bush's suggestion that perhaps refugees should have to prove that they're Christian, or Donald Trump saying we might have "no choice" but to shut down mosques. Marco Rubio went one step further, saying "it's about closing down any place" where "radicals are being inspired." (Succinct Huffington)