Now that a very busy semester has ended, I can return to the constructive speculative-metaphysical strand of this blog, in which I work out the process-relational philosophy I’ve tentatively labelled Ecosophy-G. A suitable acronym for this project might be “pre-G” (process-relational ecosophy-G), pronounced “pree-jee,” with the “pre” also indicating that the philosophy is a form of pre-articulation, a work in progress, and the “ge” referring, among other things, to the “Ge-” of geography, geophilosophy, and geode.
With just enough distance to sense that I miss it already (in a brain-body hangover kind of way), but not enough for this to be taken too seriously, I offer some morning-after thoughts on the Nonhuman Turn conference.
1. It was a tremendous gathering of forces, of people doing valuable work with ideas, with knowledge-building practices and critical interpretive and reframing strategies (some of them novel and experimental, some of them simply variations on what academics do). For all that was said (at the end) about how washed-out the academic conference format is, this one was actually a very well-scaled meeting, making possible the kinds of conversations and connections that a larger conference would preclude. It was well run, technically savvy, and enjoyable. Remarkable in many ways.
Bogost’s talk not being streamed (by his request).
Ian Bogost, “The Aesthetics of Philosophical Carpentry”
A talk about philosophy and the objects of which it’s made, in 12 parts (first 11 are pretend)
I. Enjoying This Presentation
II. The Things We Do: Airport tarmac. Philosophers in a lecture hall not unlike an aircraft approaching the runway. Multiple dancer airport performances. Air traffic controllers and graduate students. We do the things we do. Questions, comments. Thank you for flying.
For what it’s worth, here’s the Power Point that went along with my talk. I changed the title to “Beatnik Brothers? Harman’s Objects and the Becoming-Whiteheadian of Deleuze.” I meant “of Deleuzians” (some of whom were in the audience: Manning, Shaviro, Massumi and Hansen I think). The first two slides are the original title (slide) and the revised one.
Tim Morton, “They are here”
Talking Heads video “Crosseyed and painless” (dir. Toni Basil, featured the Elecric Boogaloos). Is the non-national anthem of global anxiety. The sound of the end of the world and beginning of history. The first moonwalk is here (not Michael Jackson). The Levinasian “il y-a”, environmental creepiness, but we don’t know what yet. The dancers are suspended in claustrophobic white space, in their world.
I took a break from live-blogging [added later: I had originally written "love-bloggin" LOL. I won't correct other typos, but there're probably many of them here] during the break-out sessions, taking advantage of the time to work a bit more on my own paper, to be given this afternoon. I’m picking things up now with Steven Shaviro’s plenary. Since Steven regularly blogs his work (at The Pinocchio Theory), and since I’m getting a little worn out keeping up with our great speakers, this may be a little less detailed.
Steven Shaviro, “Consequences of Panpsychism”
Opening caveats: We should resist conflating Speculative Realism with OOO; it’s like conflating animals with cats. Also, use of “human” better as an adjective than as a noun.
Our morning plenarist is Jane Bennett, whose work has been discussed extensively on this blog before (e.g., here).
Introduction by Kennan Ferguson: will Jane B. be throwing down a gauntlet?
Jane Bennett: “Systems & Things: a materialist and an object-oriented philosopher walk into a bar…”
This is the first of my blog posts from the Nonhuman Turn conference. These will be uploaded as they come over the next two and a half days. Special thanks to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for making this as easy as it is, and to Mary Mullen for making sure it is that way.
I arrived at the conference site not a moment too soon: the nonhuman rain (“like a monsoon,” someone just said) began pouring down almost as I stepped into the building. Milwaukee looked lovely through the window of the cab from the airport: all green and breathy with that pre-rain anticipation. I used to visit it a lot when I lived and taught in Oshkosh (ten years ago), but I don’t remember it being as green as this or having so many beaches up the lake.
“Ultimately, the thinking of speculative pragmatism that is activist philosophy belongs to nature. Its aesthetico-politics compose a nature philosophy. The occurrent arts in which it exhibits itself are politics of nature.
“The one-word summary of its relational-qualitative goings on: ecology. Activist philosophy concerns the ecology of powers of existence. Becomings in the midst. Creative change taking place, self-enjoying, humanly or no, humanly and more.”
These two short paragraphs close the Introduction to Brian Massumi’s recent, and thoroughly Whiteheadian, book Semblance and Event. They serve as a good epigraph to what I’d like to discuss here, which is the “neo-Whiteheadian wave” I see arising in cultural theory and its connections to ecology and to “speculative realism” (which, in Massumi’s hands, becomes speculative pragmatism; the differences are worth exploring).