Here’s a version of the theoretical model I develop in Ecologies of the Moving Image. (An earlier version can be found here.) Following Peircian phenomenology (or “phaneroscopy”) and Whiteheadian ontology, that model is process-relational and triadic. (*See Note at bottom for more on the relationship between Peirce, Whitehead, and their leading synthesist, Hartshorne.)
Everything is three. Or, everything there is can be thought of in terms of three relational processes:
(1) The thing itself, which is a qualitatively distinctive phenomenon. Let’s call it the thing-world, since it is an unfolding of a particular kind, which sets up a formal structure of internal relations and (externally) interactive potentials as it unfolds, and since our relationship to it is generally from its ‘outside,’ though we can enter into a relationship with it.
(2) The interaction of that thing with another. Let’s call this the thing-experience, since we (or others) experience it from the ‘inside.’ This experience is what happens with us when we enter into the relationship with (1). (Other things may be happening with us simultaneously; this thing-experience doesn’t exhaust us. It’s just what we’re trying to understand here.)
(3) The relating of the thing-world and thing-experience with the whole world. To keep things simple, we can call this the thing-world/extra-thing-world relation (with the thing-experience being a subset of this whole relation, and the only piece of it that is distinctly “ours”). Or we can call it the world-earth relation, or the world-universe relation, with the ‘world’ being the thing-world and the ‘earth’ or ‘universe’ being the unencompassable ground (considered either in its earthbound or its cosmic aspect) within which all thing-worlds have their being/becoming. This relation is the full set of connections and interdependencies within which the thing has its action. To map out this relation in its entirety is impossible, but to understand the more proximal and direct parts of it is possible and useful. It is, in effect, the thing come into its fullness: both its full glory and its full dispersion into (other) things.
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As ecocriticism expands and deepens in scope (of subject matter & media examined), extent (internationally), and diversity (in approaches, connections with other schools of thought, etc.), its interactions with non-literary fields such as cinema studies, theatre/performance studies, and musicology (as I posted about recently) are starting to develop in healthy ways. The ASLE conference had several sessions devoted to film — four panels, several papers within other panels, and a pre-conference session on film and media — which, I believe, is more than the conference has ever had. Since then, an Ecomedia Studies Wiki has been started, as has an Ecomedia listserv (with very little activity yet, only because I started it and I’ve been too preoccupied to get any conversation going). Among related ventures, the Media Ecology Association‘s 2010 convention will be on “Media Ecology and Natural Environments” (e-mail Paul Grosswiler for further info on that). A group of us are hoping to make a little splash at the Society for Cinema & Media Studies conference next year. If you have any interest in such things, feel free to e-mail me directly, but expect a slow response during the summer, as I’m on the road through much of it (between the cabin where I’m blogging from in Vermont and Amsterdam the week after next, then the west coast of British Columbia & Alaska, then New Mexico in mid-August).
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There’s a wealth of material in post-marxist and poststructuralist political philosophy to be found at the After 1968 web site, which documents a series of seminars and lectures held in Maastricht over the last few years. You can find texts by Agamben, Deleuze, Badiou, Ranciere, Baudrillard, Negri, Derrida, Nancy, and others there, though it will take some scrolling, clicking, and poking around to locate them.
One of the more interesting finds there is a link to the translated notes from a lecture by Deleuze on Spinoza’s concept of affect. It’s arguably this concept and its transmission through Deleuze, together with the more recent upsurge of research in the neuroscience of affect and emotion (by people like Antonio Damasio), that underlies the fairly dramatic upwelling of interest in all things ‘affective’ in recent social and cultural theory.
The site also provides links to Deleuze’s last published piece of writing, the brief, lyrical “Immanence: A Life…”, and to Giorgio Agamben’s insightful, meditative dissection of it (which, thankfully, is only slightly marred by Agamben’s own obsessions with sovereignty, “bare life”, biopolitics, etc.). Agamben spends three whole pages analyzing the punctuation – colon, ellipsis – of the title alone, and though that may sound overindulgent, it’s well worth reading.
Deleuze’s notion of immanence changed over the years and, as Christian Kerslake argues, left questions and inconsistencies in its wake. But it remains very evocative and, in this final version at least, sounds to me completely resonant with the (Madhyamika) Buddhist ontology I’ve been exploring.
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