Archive for November, 2013

Lava lampy Whitehead?

While I find much to admire in Tim Morton’s writings (and in him personally, as I’ve recently related), I’m sure he knows that his writing on what he calls “lava lampy materialism” leaves me unconvinced. (I’ve discussed that topic here, here, and elsewhere.)

I haven’t read his Realist Magic yet, so I can’t comment on the book’s arguments as a whole. But I’ve read some sections of it, including those which reiterate Morton’s critique of Whitehead’s “lava lampy” process philosophy. And, as before, I have trouble following these arguments. I would have eventually articulated a response to them, but Nathan Brown has spared me that trouble with his review (pdf warning) of Realist Magic in the latest Parrhesia.

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The following are my notes from “Querying Natural Religion: Immanence, Gaia, and the Parliament of Lively Things.” (Live-blogging did not work, as we didn’t have a live internet connection.) These notes are followed by a brief set of post-event summary comments.

The setting: an airplane hangar of a hall in the Baltimore Convention Center. This made the audience of some 120 seem like a puny one.

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Imminently in Baltimore

Get ready for the lively parliament of immanent Gaianly agents…

Querying Natural Religion: Immanence, Gaia, and the Parliament of Lively Things” will take place this Saturday afternoon in the Baltimore Convention Center (right after Karen Armstrong’s plenary in the same room, on “The Science of Compassion”).

The revised speaker line-up is below. Unfortunately, Jane Bennett will not be able to present. And Bruno Latour cannot make it as respondent, but we hope to get a response from him in the special issue of the JSRNC (and/or book) that will be developed from the talks.

I plan to live-blog the proceedings as best as I can.

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50 years

A. O. Scott’s article on the Abraham Zapruder film of JFK’s assassination captures something of the 50-year transition from the first cinéma vérité president (Kennedy) to a world in which everyone is their own cinéma vérité celebrity — stars and legends in our own minds.

The Zapruder film in a sense predates all that — it comes just before the era of seamless televisual (ir)reality (which Scott describes well) and puts a boundary around it. Somewhere buried in it is the firstness of that primal trauma: the shot (and the secondness of Kennedy’s death).

Yet its many afterlives become part of that (ir)reality, in which proliferating meanings are woven into the phantasmagoric televisual texture of we-no-longer-know-what.

“The Zapruder film remains powerful partly because it seems to dwell in a zone of ambiguity that has become, over the years, a more and more familiar place. We accept it as true, without knowing what it means.”

Article here.



I did a double-take when a producer from BYU Radio — Brigham Young University’s faith-and-values based talk radio station, which broadcasts to millions around the world through Sirius XM satellite radio — approached me for an interview about Ecologies of the Moving Image. I presume the majority of listeners are members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, i.e., Mormons, as is a good portion of the content. (Which got me interested in LDS cinema. Go figure.)

The interview was live-broadcast on the station’s morning show last week. You can listen to it here, starting at about the 84-and-a-half minute mark and running for 20-odd minutes to the end of the show.

I found its morning show host Marcus Smith to be charming, intelligent, and very open-minded.



Society & Space interview

Society and Space has posted a conversation/interview that Harlan Morehouse carried out with me in early October.

While it’s focused on Ecologies of the Moving Image, we talk about plenty of other things — nature and culture, the eco-humanities, the Anthropocene, ontology, critical geography, Buddhism, Zizek, Peirce, nationalism, withdrawn objects, and more. And plenty of films, from Westerns and Bergfilmen (Weimar Germany’s mountain films) to science-fiction, Children of Men, Avatar, and the work of Herzog, Von Trier, and others.

(Had the interview taken place just a few days later, we would have talked about Gravity, too. What a film.)

Read the whole thing here.



I’m just managing to keep up with the Latour/AIME reading groups (both the one on my campus and the online one organized by Adam Robbert et al.), but not so much with the commentaries. Here’s my first brief reflection on the book…

1. You know that a scholar has made it to the top of the French academic heap when he can publish a 500-page book that lacks a single bibliographic reference.

2. That said, the references are evident for longtime readers of Latour, as the book is a culmination of View full article »