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

Monday, June 29, 2015

Please Leave the Euro Now, Greece

acceding to the troika’s ultimatum would represent the final abandonment of any pretense of Greek independence. Don’t be taken in by claims that troika officials are just technocrats explaining to the ignorant Greeks what must be done. These supposed technocrats are in fact fantasists who have disregarded everything we know about macroeconomics, and have been wrong every step of the way. This isn’t about analysis, it’s about power — the power of the creditors to pull the plug on the Greek economy, which persists as long as euro exit is considered unthinkable.
So it’s time to put an end to this unthinkability. Otherwise Greece will face endless austerity, and a depression with no hint of an end.
--Paul Krugman

Friday, June 26, 2015

Victor Mazón and Martin Howse

You just ripped it up, my friends, in Espacio X in back of the Cathedral here in Mexico City. Both in different ways were exercises in tuning electromagnetic waves, louder, louder, and louder, sounding out the objects in the room, and the room--one of those objects being us, the listeners, as the sound became more and more physical, giving up its pressure wave status onto the surfaces, and indeed beneath the surfaces, of one's body.

I have never seen a laser fired at a pile of dirt on a custom made tone generator before. I have never seen water poured on a laser fired at a pile of dirt on a custom made tone generator before. I have never seen a sparkler lit underneath a laser etc etc. Martin...

And Victor, the frog in the slowly boiling water. If I had detected that level of infrasound at that volume spontaneously, round a corner, I would not have gone around that corner. But somehow you kept me in the room as the volume went up and up.

Mind you--I'm quite well trained. I reckon we were up at about 110 decibels. My Bloody Valentine goes over 120 on a regular basis, and I'm pretty sure that midsection of “You Made Me Realise” hits about 130. People were throwing up, running out of the room, clutching their ears--and they were already wearing earplugs. The decibel scale is logarithmic, so 130 is way way more than 120. It's why I wrote this essay called “Beauty Is Death.”

Somehow I got that same feeling from Mazón's Subcutáneo. Death around the corner, quietly throbbing: physical disintegration not imminent but about to be looming, like realizing you are possibly falling towards a black hole that is still quite far off.

Howse's Substrate was an alchemical translation-interpretation of objects by objects by objects...a nonstop pile of resonating physicality. Wow.

Baffler, Pope, Morton

Thanks to those who found this and told me. I pay so very little attention to how my stuff is circulating so I'm really glad to find this interesting piece on the Pope's rather extraordinarily Franciscan encyclical. Somehow Ornette Coleman makes it in there, and that's interesting, because Björk had shared with me Derrida's interview of him to inspire us in the last few days of our project.

The Alpha Wolf: Another Human Projection

...and another reason to thank Cliff, purveyor of fine links.

Share This Widely: What's Really Warming the World

This is really, really, good: thanks Cliff. It's worth watching and it's definitely worth spreading.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Performance, Theory, Politics: A Seminar (3-hour MP3)

From my stint at CARPA4, “The Nonhuman and the Inhuman in Performing Arts,” Theatre Academy, University of the Arts, Helsinki, June 11–13, 2015.

How to Read Any Poem, Anywhere (Syllabus)

You asked for it! There are not a lot of surprises in the syllabus. What is surprising is the way we do the class. Or did--now I teach a version at Rice, but the classes are much smaller, down to about 10 from 100! So my teaching is different.

Introduction to Poetry: How to Read Any Poem, Anywhere
Professor Timothy Morton

Grading: two short papers (45%), one exam (20%), homework and participation (35%).

What is a poem? Why is reading poetry important? Are there techniques of reading that anyone can learn and apply? In this class we shall study a wide range of poetry with a view to understanding how to read poems. This class will set you up for life, and certainly for the scope of your undergraduate career. Say goodbye to close reading anxiety. This class will sort you out.

2 essays. Four pages, double spaced, 12-point font. NO secondary texts.
Essay 1: Due 2.9. Close reading of ONE short poem or a SMALL part of a longer one (you will be taught how to do this).
Essay 2: Due 3.15. Close reading of ONE short poem or a SMALL part of a longer one (you will be taught how to do this).
You can do as many drafts of Essay 1 as you like. If you hand it in on or before the due date, you can revise it as many times as you like until the final class.
Homework. Homework is set for each class. On the syllabus below, you will find the homework for each particular class at the end of the entry for that class.
Homework exercises.
o You will be required to write something short.  Bring your answers in for discussion.
o You will be called on at random in class and we will check your name off.
o You will be called on at random for written work and we will check your name off.
o There is a 5% extra credit for homework. Higher points will be given if you hand in your homework on or close to its due date.
Attendance.  Non-attendance must be excused by Doctor's note or religious holiday.
o Attendance also means taking care of yourself and others and being aware of your environment in class.
o Attendance also includes the following: No mobile phones; No eating.
Reading!  You won't be able to keep up with this class unless you do all of it.
o Participation includes reading aloud, speaking mindfully, being aware of others in your environment and being kind to yourself and others.
o Identify yourself when you speak!
Final Exam. 2 close readings and terminology. Blue books please.
Students with disabilities: please contact me and every effort will be made to accommodate you.
January 10. Class 1. Rendezvous.

January 12. Class 2. Structure and space.
John Ashbery, from The System.
e.e. cummings, “spring is like a perhaps hand.”

January 17. Class 3. Structure: lineation and stanza form.
George Herbert, “Easter Wings.”
Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric,” from Leaves of Grass.
Brenda Iijima, “(a brittle day passed by).”
Homework: using two words on one page, arrange them in three different ways. Describe the effects of doing so.

January 19. Class 4. Structure: syntax.
William Carlos Williams, “This Is Just to Say.”
William Blake, “The Lamb.”
Homework: write four lines with cool lineation. Write four lines with hot lineation.

January 24. Class 5. Texture: rhythm 1: stresses.
Jane Taylor, “The Star.”
William Blake, “The Tyger.”
Christian Hawkey, “Hour of Secret Agents.”
Homework: write two sentences with cool syntax. Write two sentences with hot syntax.

January 26. Class 6. Texture: rhythm 2: feet.
Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”
William Wordsworth, “Tintern Abbey.”
John Clare, “I Am.”

January 31. Class 7. Texture: rhyme 1: end rhyme.
Shakespeare, Sonnet 116.
Percy Shelley, “Ozymandias.”
Homework: write two lines with a hot stress pattern. Write two lines with a cool stress pattern.

February 2. Class 8. Texture: rhyme 2: internal rhyme.
Wilfred Owen, “Anthem for Doomed Youth.”
Maya Angelou, Inaugural Poem.
Homework: write four lines with hot end rhyme. Write four lines with cool end rhyme.

February 7. Class 9. Perception 1: imagery ON or OFF.
William Carlos Williams, “This Is Just to Say.”
D.H. Lawrence, “Bavarian Gentians.”
T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton 1 (Four Quartets).
Homework: write three lines with hot internal rhyme. Write three lines with cool internal rhyme.

February 9. Class 10. ESSAY 1 DUE.
Perception 2: imagery ON; positive and negative.
John Milton, from Paradise Lost. (2.629–680).
Jean Valentine, “Your Number Is Lifting Off My Hand.”
Homework: Write two lines with absent imagery. Write two lines with present imagery.

February 14. Class 11. Perception 3: imagery ON; positive; tropes and figures 1 (brightness).
John Keats, “On a Grecian Urn.”
Amiri Baraka, “Something in the Way of Things.”
Audre Lorde, “Coal.”
Homework: write two lines of positive imagery. Write two lines of negative imagery.

February 16. Class 12. Perception 4: imagery ON; positive; tropes and figures 2 (contrast).
Gerard Manley Hopkins, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire.”
Ezra Pound, “In a Station of the Metro.”
Homework: write two lines containing metaphor. Write two lines containing metonymy.

February 21. Class 13. Narrators 1: Point of view. Grand march past of the genres.
William Blake, “A Poison Tree.”
Dorothy Parker, “Résumé.”
Homework: write two lines containing hot imagery. Write two lines containing cool imagery.

February 23. Class 14. Narrators 2: Subject position.
William Blake, “The Clod and the Pebble.”
Homework: write an epigram.

February 28. Class 15. Narrative 1: plot and story.
John Milton, from Paradise Lost (1.1–125).
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
Homework: write a four-line poem that forces the reader to read it from the subject position of a stupid but very rich playboy.

March 1. Class 16. Narrative 2: frequency and duration; beginning, middle, and end.
Homer, The Iliad (book 1).
Christian Rossetti, Goblin Market.
Homework: Write a four-line story with strong aperture. Write a four-line story with strong closure.

March 6. Class 17. Advanced poetics 1.
William Wordsworth, from The Ruined Cottage (first two verse paragraphs).
Percy Shelley, from Alastor (first two verse paragraphs).
Homework: Write a six-line story with strong development.

March 8. Class 18. Advanced poetics 2.
T.S. Eliot, from The Waste Land (part 2).
Brenda Hillman, from Cascadia (first page).
Homework: Write a sonnet.

March 13. Class 19. Advanced poetics 3.
John Ashbery, “Clepsydra.”
Homework: Write an ode.

March 15. Class 20. ESSAY 2 DUE.
Revision class.

March 22. FINAL EXAM. 10.30am–12.30pm. Blue books please.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

You Could Be Doing This

Take a Stand: Chairs Are Driving You Round the Bend

We have become chair vectors. Chairs are a virus we reproduce for no good reason.

BMC Public Health issued the following news release about a new study finding a link between sitting and increased anxiety:

Increased Anxiety Associated With Sitting Down

Low energy activities that involve sitting down are associated with an increased risk of anxiety, according to research published in BMC Public Health.

These activities, which include watching TV, working at a computer or playing electronic games, are called sedentary behavior. Further understanding of these behaviors and how they may be linked to anxiety could help in developing strategies to deal with this mental health problem.

Many studies have shown that sedentary behavior is associated with physical health problems like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. However, there has been little research into the link between sedentary behavior and mental health. This is the first systematic review to examine the relationship between anxiety and sedentary behavior.

Anxiety is a mental health illness that affects more than 27 million people worldwide. It is a debilitating illness that can result in people worrying excessively and can prevent people carrying out their daily life. It can also result in physical symptoms, which amongst others includes pounding heartbeat, difficulty breathing, tense muscles, and headaches.

Megan Teychenne, lead researcher and lecturer at Deakin University's Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN) in Australia, said: "Anecdotally - we are seeing an increase in anxiety symptoms in our modern society, which seems to parallel the increase in sedentary behavior. Thus, we were interested to see whether these two factors were in fact linked. Also, since research has shown positive associations between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms, this was another foundation for further investigating the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety symptoms."

C-PAN researchers analyzed the results of nine studies that specifically examined the association between sedentary behavior and anxiety. The studies varied in what they classified as sedentary behavior from television viewing/computer use to total sitting time, which included sitting while watching television, sitting while on transport and work-related sitting. Two of the studies included children/adolescents while the remaining seven included adults.

It was found in five of the nine studies that an increase in sedentary behavior was associated with an increased risk of anxiety. In four of the studies it was found that total sitting time was associated with increased risk of anxiety. The evidence about screen time (TV and computer use) was less strong but one study did find that 36% of high school students that had more than 2 hours of screen time were more like to experience anxiety compared to those who had less than 2 hours.

The C-PAN team suggests the link between sedentary behavior and anxiety could be due to disturbances in sleep patterns, social withdrawal theory and poor metabolic health. Social withdrawal theory proposes that prolonged sedentary behavior, such as television viewing, can lead to withdrawal from social relationships, which has been linked to increased anxiety. As most of the studies included in this systematic-review were cross-sectional the researchers say more follow-up work studies are required to confirm whether or not anxiety is caused by sedentary behavior.

Megan Teychenne said: "It is important that we understand the behavioral factors that may be linked to anxiety - in order to be able to develop evidence-based strategies in preventing/managing this illness. Our research showed that evidence is available to suggest a positive association between sitting time and anxiety symptoms - however, the direction of this relationship still needs to be determined through longitudinal and interventional studies."

Labour, Repeat After Me, Frequently

“Austerity? Oh--you mean the religion based on nothing more than someone forgetting to press a calculator key?”

“Deficit? You mean the debt, or the deficit? They're really different.”

“Reduce the debt how? By raising taxes and cutting benefits? Like sawing off your arms to help you carry the shopping?”

"Left-Wing, Ideologically Driven [Greek] Government"

BBC Radio 4, Today about 35 minutes in.

What, as opposed to the right-wing, ideologically driven austerity religion?

A religion based on what? An error in an Excel file.

Monday, June 22, 2015

That Newsworthy Sixth Mass Extinction Essay (PDF)

I did the work for you and found it. Everyone's talking about it. Many of us have been talking about it for years. Click to download.

What Is After Biopolitics?

After Biopolitics, the 2015–16 Seminar, will expore how and why “life” in the broadest sense has become a central topic of politics over the past few decades.

The seminar will be led by Cary Wolfe, the Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor in English and director of the Center for Critical and Cultural Theory, and Timothy Morton, the Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English.

Over the past 30 years, no paradigm has become more central to understanding our own moment than the paradigm of biopolitics—a fact that has left hardly any discipline untouched, resulting in new formations such as bioart, bioethics, biotechnology, biomedia, biocapital, bioinformatics, biovalue and biocomputing among many others. The reasons for this are not hard to see: the engineering, domestication and commodification of life in the era of synthetic biology, at a level scarcely thinkable 50 years ago; rapid depletion of the earth's resources in the context of global warming in what used to be called the first world; seemingly endless debates over the political and economic complexities of health care, social security, lengthening retirement ages and dwindling personal savings rates in the developed West; confrontations over abortion and immigration in the U.S., in which the concepts of life and race are never far from view; and the post-9/11 context of the war on terror and ongoing anxieties about security resulting in the normalization of spaces and practices of judicial exception such as Guantanamo Bay, drone warfare and electronic surveillance at a level heretofore unknown. Add to these an increasing awareness of the plight of nonhuman life, whether in discussions of animal rights, factory farming and the bioengineering of nonhuman creatures or in the increasingly undeniable fact of the sixth major extinction event in the history of the planet. In the face of such developments, the seminar seeks to reexamine the theoretical, cultural, social and political underpinnings of the biopolitical paradigm and to explore conceptual resources for the possibility of thinking what has been the intersection of life and the political as a potential space of affinity, community and creativity.

The Rice Seminars program is an initiative of the Office of the Dean of Humanities and is funded by the School of Humanities and the Humanities Research Center.

For more information about the Rice Seminars, visit

For the Parents of White Supremacist Terrorists

The insect-headed worker-wife will hang her waspies on the line
The husband burns his paper, sucks his pipe while studying their 'causehion-floor
His viscous poly-paste breath comes out
Their wall-paper world is shattered by his shout
A boy in blue is busy banging out a headache on the kitchen door
And all the while Graham slept on
Dreaming of a world where he could do just what he wanted to

No thugs in our house are there, dear?
We made that clear
We made little Graham promise us he'd be a good boy, oh
No thugs in our house are there, dear?
We made that clear
We made little Graham promise us he'd be a good boy

The young policeman who just can't grow a moustache will open up his book
And spoil their breakfast with reports of Asians who have been so badly kicked
Is this your son's wallet I've got here?
He must have dropped it after too much beer
Oh, officer, we can't believe our little angel is the one you've picked
And all the while Graham slept on
Dreaming of a world where he could do just what he wanted to

No thugs in our house are there, dear?
We made that clear
We made little Graham promise us he'd be a good boy, oh
No thugs in our house are there, dear?
We made that clear
We made little Graham promise us he'd be a good boy

They never read those pamphlets in his bottom drawer
They never read that tattoo on his arm
They thought that was just a boys' club badge he wore
They never thought he'd cause folks any harm

The insect-headed worker wife will hang her waspies on the line
She's singing something stale and simple, now this business has fizzled out
Her little tune is such a happy song
Her son is innocent, he can't do wrong
'Cause dad's a judge and knows exactly what the job of judging's all about
And all the while Graham slept on
Dreaming of a world where he could do just what he wanted to

No thugs in our house are there, dear?
We made that clear
We made little Graham promise us he'd be a good boy, oh
No thugs in our house are there, dear?
We made that clear
We made little Graham promise us he'd be a good boy
No thugs in our house
No thugs in our house
No thugs in our house, dear

Cary Wolfe and Me, After Biopolitics

Let the mayhem commence.