Showing posts from September, 2013

That Was Nice

A three thousand word essay for Claire Colebrook in a day. The best was a 7000 word essay for New Literary History (hi Rita!) in three hours.

"But I Like It"

"My own experience confirms this. Here's our profile: healthy family of 3, with good income, living in NY, with both spouses now self-employed. We have been without health insurance for the past 2 years, since the best we could do was $3000/month for a basic plan through Blue Cross. 3000 dollars a month (that was the cheapest non-catastrophic plan, too)! Who could afford that? Anyhow, last week I called up the NY state agency to check prices through the exchanges and was quoted prices of between $400-$650/month, depending on the plan and whether it was Silver or Bronze. I literally couldn't believe it.

Clearly this is tyranny, fascism, socialism, the purest example of dictatorship I have ever witnessed, an affront to everything that is holy and American. But I like it."
--comment on the Obamacare rates on one of my favorite news sites today

Think Tank (PiL)

I like how the tank becomes military here.

Think Tank

A think tank is just a fake university run by conservatives or neoliberals to confuse people. Look at this for instance.

The chap spreading the wrong about Obamacare isan “adjunct scholar” at the American Enterprise Institute.

In other words he is supposed to appear a part-time, innocent eager beaver pursuing truth. Whereas his fee for the “research” alone is probably double or triple what an actual adjunct professor would be paid for teaching one class.

Latour on "Progress"

Continued from the last post: I can't tell you how awkward it was to be pathologized as one of these apocalypse mongers on numerous occasions, perhaps most intensely at U Wisconsin Madison last fall. Especially since like Latour (I say it all the time, in a slightly different register), my belief is that the apocalypse has already occurred. 

I was pathologized thus simply for stating a physical fact: at the rate we are going, by 30 years from now we will have emitted five times more gigatons of carbon than is necessary to, ahem, "transform" (I believe I used a coital verb) Earth beyond all recognition.

An arche-fact, if you like, one that doesn't depend on a correlator to make it real.

Bingo, Latour

Modernizers are extraordinarily good at freeing themselves from the shackles of the archaic, provincial, stuffy, local, territorial past. But when the time comes to designate the new localities, the new territories, the provinces...toward which they are migrating, they content themselves with utopia, with hype, and great movements of the chest...

No wonder they never paid any attention to where they were headed, obsessed as they were to escape from attachment to the old land. Good at detachment, they seem quite naive when the question is how to reattach themselves to a new boat, how to delineate a new nomos...

Funnily enough the more progress-oriented modernizers are, the more they are ready to deny that ecology could even be an issue. The more rabid is their contempt for they call “prophets of doom,” “apocalypse mongers.” If you push them a bit more they will even tell you that all the talk about the end of time, of the inuption of Gaia is nothing but so many schemes to exploit the poo…

Hyperobjects Day


You are receiving this because you are in some way connected with me and my book Hyperobjects, which is due out on September 23
Hyperobjects are things such as climate and radiation, not to mention Earth itself. Things that massively outscale us, things that are massively distributed in time and space. 
Rather than do a book launch--one place, one time, didn't seem appropriate--I decided to call 9.23 Hyperobjects Day. 
We will celebrate Hyperobjects Day in a necessarily rolling, phased way, because we are living on a gigantic thing that rotates. 
We will celebrate Hyperobjects Day in a contemplative manner. 
I wondered what the simplest thing to do might be to acknowledge the looming presence of at least one of our beloved hyperobjects. 
On Hyperobjects Day, on the hour of 10am wherever you are, I want you to take your shoes off for one minute. 
When you take your shoes off, you notice you are on Earth, for a moment. Two of the familiar “tools” in your world (your shoes) malfunc…

Why Did It Happen?

That parallel with Latour is strange. I wrote Hyperobjects in fifteen days in the summer of 2011. Latour gave the lectures in 2012. Presumably he was getting them together in 2011 too. Thinking is sometimes distributed such that you wonder whether there is such a thing as a zeitgeist.

Latour Hyperobjects

Watching the Gifford lectures in preparation for the American Academy of Religion, I"m struck by how when writing Hyperobjects I was thinking the same thoughts as Latour, a fact that has often been pointed out to me by our mutual editor Lindsay Waters of Harvard.

Several points of contact include our enthusiasm for the term Anthropocene (and damn the humanist hand wringing), our rejection of the concept Nature, and our thinking of what comes next (for Latour it is called Gaia) as like the "only a god can save us now" of Heidegger, in a strange ironic way.

I'll post some excellent lines of his on why Anthropocene is a very good term.

Object-Oriented Architecture

Oh yes I think so. A growing number of architects are into it. These were suggested to me as prototypical examples of it, and I'm thinking about it right now. Very beautiful essay on Harman and possibilities for OO architecture. More on that soon.. Judging by how many architecture and design journals and conferences I've worked for of late (and also Graham), I think yes of course.

And it's crystal clear that to be an architect you need to think about relationships with humans and nonhumans such as stones, sand, skid steer loaders and people heaving bags of groceries. And futurality.

"I'm sorry I have to take this"

This piece by Ian Bogost is just excellent.

Tweet Proof

Jeffrey Cohen was sending off some proofs today. I had forgotten to read them. So I thought the most efficient way to get them to him would be to tweet them--which turned out correct.

Slowmo Nonhuman Time

If you are a small animal, time passes slowly--strangely like in Spiderman... Thanks Cliff Gerrish...

Julian Yates on ANT: "Agent Orange"

Trying to take into account all the possible entities in an action such as making bacon and eggs, a blog post or a journal article. Actants, a neutral term for these.

This is Professor Yates's description of actor network theory, in an undergraduate masterclass he's doing here today. I'm the professor of record.

He has placed an orange on the table and he is asking the students what they have made recently.

A fact of making things is that you unmake them. Yates reads from Pandora's Hope. "Whenever we make something we are not in command--we are slightly overtaken by the action...constructivism uses a vocabulary of mastery that no construction worker would agree to."

This is all in the line of talking about poetry as poiesis.

Politeness and welcoming is required.

Making things is messy and you need a messy description of it to maximize the number of things.

There are cascades of irreversible events.

You have to make better and more inclusive lists. Yates does this wit…

Time and Space Are Emergent

A rather wonderful mathematical object drastically simplifies calculating the scattering of quanta. And suggests that spacetime emerges from things, as I've been banging on about for ages now.

Thank you Cliff, once more!


Dawn happens here somewhat later than it would in northern climes such as England. It's quite noticeable, having been in the UK for nine weeks. It's still dark out here as I type this at 6:50am. In London by now it's pretty bright.

Dawn is also a lot faster. In the next fifteen minutes, it will be day. It reminds me very much, and in a good way, of the time I spent in the Amazon in this biology research station quite a long time ago.

Sometimes it gets so humid that the air just seems to precipitate rain about three inches above your head. It doesn't fall out of the sky so much as begin to surround you.

Alphonso Lingis writes somewhere about how you get directives from the “levels” emitted by things--I call them zones. You can feel for instance that the Antarctic is your real home, as strange as that may sound to someone else. It feels like that in this subtropical place without doubt.

Koch Brothers, Here Is An Even More Frightening Obamacare Ad

"Imagine not having any health insurance at all."


More than 300 scholarly citations now for Ecology without Nature. I was wondering when that might happen. I'm not sure whether it's a lot. But it is a bit more than the other ones. I think perhaps because there is a lot of art, music and literature analysis in it. And it topples over a pile of dominoes that needed to be toppled over. And it's quite historicized, as they say.

Art/France/Ecological Thought

In Bourges

Ghost Nature is a group exhibition based around the strangeness of the natural world. As contemporary philosopher, Timothy Morton posits in his book, The Ecological Thought (Harvard University Press, 2010) ‘nature qua nature’ no longer exists as an “over there” place. Humankind is wholly integrated within its “mesh” and as such, the Romantic desire to commune with a landscape beyond the scope of humanity is impossible. Nevertheless there remains an inherited desire to so. It is a glitch. The tickle of a phantom limb. A desire forever unfulfilled but nonetheless maddening. Artists Sebastian Alvarez, Irina Botea, Marcus Coates, Every House Has A Door, Milan Metthey, Rebecca Mir, Katie Patterson, Tessa Siddle, Agnes Meyer-Brandis and collaborative duo, AOo will install, perform and screen works that explore the dynamic between human and non-human spheres. As with Katie Patterson’s Earth-Moon-Earth or Rebecca Mir’s Long Distance Relationship with the Ocean: Rock + Two Letters,…

More Hyperobject:Homeland

As it is a hologram it changes depending where you are. Like a hyperobject!

Hyperobject:Homeland Where?

It is in New York. Paula Dawson. I wrote a brief piece for her show called “Paula Dawson, Hyperobject Detector,” which you will find it you go there...


Book Launches

I have never understood them, ever. It seems particularly absurd in the case of Hyperobjects, considering how they are “everywhere” all at once. I reckon I'm happier to do launchy type things here on this blog. But the idea of wasting everyone's time in some smallish bookstore--the schlepping to it (it will inevitably be in New York, which is also disconcerting for me) and so on included--just fails to ignite anything within me whatsoever.

So just go ahead and pre-order it! It will be “everywhere” fairly shortly and right now it appears to be squaring off against Barthes, Horkheimer and Adorno, and a pop critical thinking manual. Maybe that quite adequately describes the scope of the book's intellectual structure :)

And if you're in New York go to see Paula Dawon's Hyperobject:Homeland at Interference:Coexistence.

Essays Coming

The piece on plexiglass chairs for Marina Zurkow's Petroleum Manga project is done and nearly out.

My essay for Olafur Eliasson is being revised (hi Olafur! Thanks for the kindnesses!)

The essay on Irigaray and ecology for The Journal for the British Society for Phenomenology is still happening. It is called “This Biosphere Which Is Not One.”

I wrote “Paula Dawson, Hyperobject Detector” for an exhibition of her work called Hyperobject: Homeland.

I'm writing what is now called “Colored Space” on the elements and the elemental for Jeffrey Cohen.

I'm writing “Derrida and Ecology” for Claire Colebrook.

I've written “Ecology” for Imre Szeman and Patricia Yaeger.

The International Social Studies issue on ecology is now happening as is my essay in it called “From Modernity to the Anthropocene.”

I'm revising “She Stood in Tears amidst the Alien Corn” for diacritics.

I've done my essay “Buddhist Objects” for Bryant and Bogost.

I'm now writing “Specters of Ecology” for a big e…

Get Your Lovely Hyperobjects Here!

Pollution, global warming, radiation--go on, you know you want to. Number 3 in Criticism!

Julian Yates on ANT at Rice

Yes that's right, this Friday.

One Week to Hyperobjects

Get your advance copy! That and The Ecological Thought appear to be doing rather well in what is known as the Criticism chart.

Performing Objects UK

Colebrook, Wolfe, Anthropocene

Well at least there's this! Thanks Cliff!

Colebrook Recorded?

Some of you have asked. Alas no. Next time, if you are near to Professsor Colebrook and she is talking, do pay attention...

Claire Colebrook

...just gave the best talk on ecology and the Anthropocene that I've heard since I arrived last year at Rice. Sorry other speakers but it's the truth!

Claire wrote a book with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller that I very much admire called Theory and the Disappearing Future; ended up endorsing it.

In particular the brio with which she described the dire situation in which the Anthropocene has caught some humanities scholars with their posthuman pants down was just awesome.

"Not Predictable"

...said a right wing pundit on the threat of attack >> congress >> diplomacy with looming threat of attack.

Good. He is paying attention as is Syria at last.

A reasonably effective Sun Tzu kind of a tactic is to appear crazy and unpredictable.

And so far not a shot fired. Not that he will get any credit for it until about ten years later.

Anthropocentrism 101

"Humans are niche creators. We transform ecosystems to sustain ourselves. This is what we do and have always done." Erle Ellis

From the New York Times today. Thanks Cliff. The trouble is, this chap went over to the humanistic side of things, where it's Harold and the Purple Crayon time. Which is not an old thought at all. He jumped ship from Malthusian biology. 

But ants are niche creators. Ducks are niche creators. Bacteria are niche creators. 

The thing is not to laud humans as niche creators (Zizek, Marx, this chap). Everything is at it! Correlationism for all! 

The fact that we are niche creators (and correlationists to boot) is not the reason why we are unique or good. Niche creating, like "worlding," should not be a normative category. The Assad regime is a niche creator. 

The thing is to wonder why an elephant or a polar bear should put up with the kind of niche creating going down in our neck of the woods. 

The pro-modernity argument now goes: "Hey liste…

Deleuzian Autism 2

...and is a non-modern state immediate and non-reflexive? And is the modern state (newly) reflexive?

Is there such a thing as ecological consciousness that has been purged of the dreaded loops?

Deleuzian Autism

I've had this beef with Deleuzian panegyrics to autism. Don't they reproduce the primitivism with which immediacy = who we really are = good versus bad, bad, reflexive loops = artifice = bad bad civilization?

What is avant-garde about this?

And what in this speaks to the immense suffering of autism?

Is autism chosen because it's even more hardwired than schizophrenia, D&G's favorite mode? More "primitive," therefore?

700 Pre-Orders

...of Hyperobjects. That's more than the first edition of my first book (1994).

A Polar Bear Called Suzan (Interview)

Interview with Lisa Doeland, De Groene Amsterdammer, August 1, 2013, 50–51

Timothy Morton on becoming ecologically conscious

“We have to learn to hesitate”

If we want to solve the ecological crisis, we have to stop trying to do the right thing, posits ecosopher Timothy Morton. “Everything we do is a little bit wrong. We have to face that.” By Lisa Doeland

The work of British Timothy Morton can easily be called eclectic. He received his doctorate in 1992 for research on the body and food culture in works by Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and later wrote The Poetics of Spice. In 2007 he created a sensation with the publication of Ecology without Nature, in which he bluntly states that the reigning thought about ecology has got it wrong, because it assumes “nature” as something that is removed from people/humanity, as something that people are destroying in their drive for progress. If we want to save the world, he writes, we can’t do anything with a concept such as nature—“calling …

Mal-Functioning (MP3)

From Ecology and the Environmental Humanities, Rice University, September 13. Larry Butz presiding. Claire Colebrook in attendance. Rice is nice as there are a lot of auditoria in which to do such things. This was in Farnsworth which is a rather attractively octagonal one.


Voyager 1 Has Now Entered John Coltrane's Mind


I Shall Be Questioned by Robots

Against Species

Thanks Cliff! 

The argument is reductionist and similar to standard model quantum theory: below a certain scale things behave very differently. Then a conclusion from that: there are no medium sized things at all.

Except that the QT goes very differently from reductionist biology, because of the mysterious contradictoriness of quantum phenomena such as coherence and entanglement. Things can be moving and still simultaneously, in two different places at once, and so on.

I would prefer to say that there are no species for the opposite reason. Not because species is only a human (or subjective or whatever) imposition on the hard data. But because a lion is always a not-lion at the same time.

But this line of reasoning does resemble parts of mine! Happy to read it!

The Trouble with Doctors

Can you and your staff please try to be as polite and professional as I am with my students? I'm fed up with being treated like a second class citizen, being asked to spell my name brusquely by brusque receptionists ("Say again"), and on and on and on. Misdiagnosed and not apologized to--am I really going to sue you if you say sorry? Would it hurt just to act a little tiny bit less overempowered?

I'd be hauled into the Dean's office if I treated my students like you and your staff treat me.

Red Is Not Evil

"Mind and its projections are innocent. They are very ordinary, very natural, and very simple. Red is not evil, and white is not divine; blue is not evil, and green is not divine. Sky is sky; rock is rock; earth is earth; mountains are mountains. I am what I am, and you are what you are. Therefore, there are no particular obstacles to experiencing our world properly, and nothing is regarded as problematic."
--Trungpa Rinpoche

Are You Listening, Huffington Post?



Now Here's a Contradiction I Don't Endorse

I heard a Republican say this today:

1. Obama should have just bombed a few week ago.
2. Now that it's up for a vote, he shouldn't bomb.

Why? Oh I remember. Because he's a Republican and everything Obama does is wrong.

Eco Symposium Friday and Saturday, Rice

You should totally come to this if you are near. Claire Colebrook's talk ("Sex and the Anthrpocene City") will be superb. PDF program.

There Is Nothing Ozric Tentacles. I really like the first tune, “The Sacred Turf.”

Heidegger on Geoengineering

That's right Clive. He would say that!


This gives you a good idea of the James Turrell piece here. I wrote an essay on it called "The Space between Things" coming out in a collection on materialism and ecocriticism.

Definition of Consumerism

Take it away Colin Campbell: 

"a distinctive form of hedonism, one in which the enjoyment of emotions as summoned through imaginary or illusory images is central” plus “the ranking of pleasure above comfort"

The Aesthetic Dynamics of Horror

"There is absolutely no reason to signal to the enemy when and how, and for how long, you plan to strike them -- none. As I’ve said before, you don’t send out a save-the-date card to the enemy." (Mitch McConnell)

Actually this is a rather good idea. A good idea along the lines of what Žižek says about the best horror films: they tell you they will horrify you, then they do. It actually increases the feeling of surprise. 

Or, as one might say to one's children's before actually going berserk, "I am about to go berserk." That often does the trick.

Sun Tzu Corner

When you are perhaps going to war, it's good to appear crazy.


Is it okay for a leader to hesitate or change her or his mind in public?

(That is a rhetorical question.)

Instant Karma

"A police spokesman told an Orlando Sentinel reporter that Zimmerman 'appears calm, collected.' "

Male Floridian cop dudes, I hate to break it to you. But your machismo may be getting in the way here. Someone with no compunction about killing a boy in cold blood will indeed appear calm and collected after he has smashed his wife's iPad and punched his soon to be ex father in law, while goading them to come closer to his apparently gun toting self.

Ten Talks

Ten talks that reference my stuff at this coming Society for Literature, Science and the Arts. Blimey. I better start talking sense. :)

The Rice Consumerism Project

Dams as Hyperobjects

Anthropocene Redux

FYI--Clive and I hung out courtesy of Dipesh Chakrabarty at his Anthropocene conference in May, that's how I know him. Great mind and a good expresser of that mind.


Hi Clive! You made it onto Think Progress!

Math and Reality

Pretty Good on Pedagogy

This talk starts with a lot of language about "mastery" and has some quite helpful advice for beginning teachers, such as myself!

I'm listening to it to help with my Rice Symposium keynote next week, because eventually I talk about environmentality.

Punctum Things

EMP Seattle Conference

On mobility! I like the suggestion about stillness!

The Rice Consumerism Project

Professor Morton, what are you up to these days?

Well, I'm compelling my students to do regular blog posts on their consumerist (or lack thereof) activities. Here is how it went the first week.

We came up with a great term for Lacan's $ <> a, which is strictly unpronounceable. We call it Roadrunner.

Cultures of Energy Announces Hyperobjects

This is from the Center on Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences. A blog beautifully maintained by the effervescent Derek Woods. Nice discussion of it!

Slouching as Aggression

"When you slouch, you are trying to hide your heart, protecting it by slumping over. But when you sit upright but relaxed in the posture of meditation, your heart is naked. Your entire being is exposed—to yourself, first of all, but to others as well. Through the practice of sitting still and following your breath as it goes out and dissolves, you are connecting with your heart. By simply letting yourself be, as you are, you develop genuine sympathy towards yourself. When you sit erect, you proclaim to yourself and to the rest of the world that you are going to be a warrior, a fully human being."
--Trungpa Rinpoche

"Take It Off Congress"

"Because being a Monday morning quarterback is my way of exercising the ever popular cynical reason."

"During those discussions, I hope that other people in the international community would come forward and take this great decision off of the Congress, because we have to make it," he said. "Take it off of the Congress and provide some solution where we are not putting our kids in harm’s way to solve an international problem that we feel bounded, not by law, but because the president has drawn a red line." (source)


I've always been interested in this journal. I think the first essay I ever read in it was Derrida's one on nuclear missiles, in the "Nuclear Criticism" issue. It wasn't until a bit later that I read his "Economimesis," which came first.

I'm contributing an essay to the "Climate Change Criticism" issue--the obvious parallel to the nuclear one is evident.

I like my title and so does the editor, whose awesome comments I have just received ("Best title of the millennium"--though only thirteen years!):

"She Stood in Tears Amidst the Alien Corn: Thinking through Agrilogistics"

The reader's comments are extraordinarily good as well. To be read and understood is quite a wish for us scholars you know.

Talk Links Operative

In the Past Talks tab, all my recent talk mp3s.

Realist Magic Update

It appears to be doing reasonably well, I think. It is in the "Metaphysics" chart on amazon. Which means that it is competing with books by Heidegger and Kant, and books about "How to change your life with your mind" and so forth.

"Sound Familiar?"

"This week, the White House sought to thrust the nation into military action in the Middle East, claiming that its "high confidence" in our intelligence obviated the need to allow U.N. inspectors to complete their work. Sound familiar? " Arianna Huffington

No it doesn't sound familiar. If by "familiar" you mean invading Iraq. It sounds familiar if you mean going to the aid of Bosnians in death camps. 
The way the left is in lockstep with the right on this is, as in the case of Bosnia, quite quite sickening.