Here’s one of the participants at the AAA’s ontology panel, McGill anthropologist Eduardo Kohn, applying ontological speculation — including Peirce and biosemiotics — to animals and forests:
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For interdisciplinary scholars, it’s always a challenge to decide which conferences to attend and which to forgo. The problem is particularly acute when the conferences are held at the same time, as occurred last week with the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and American Academy of Religion (AAR).
As I’ve been attending both of them off and on for years, the decision hinged for me around the fact that I had organized the Latour session at the AAR.
Latour himself, however, would be attending the AAA. (We tried to get him to bilocate, but didn’t succeed.) And it turns out that his session, “The Ontological Turn in French Philosophical Anthropology” — featuring an all-star cast of Philippe Descola, Marshall Sahlins, Michael M. J. Fischer, Kim Fortun, and Latour — was scheduled for the very same time as our panel.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.)
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 »
The following is reblogged, excerpted and modified, from e²mc.
How do films deal with historical atrocities? And how might they enable them in the first place?
The Act of Killing is Joshua Oppenheimer’s chilling documentary about the perpetrators of the mass murders committed by the Suharto regime’s paramilitary death squads in mid-1960s Indonesia. The filmmakers interview some of the worst of the perpetrators and — controversially — invite them to re-enact the killings for the camera, filming these scenes in the style of their favorite film genres. This interplay between mass murder and Hollywood movies — gangsters, westerns, and musicals — is a focus of the film.