Month: March 2014

John Protevi reviews Malabou/Johnston book

Here. Malabou’s section is a good primer on her reading of psychoanalysis, though it’s unclear on the crucial question of the self–in the beginning of her piece, she takes up Spinoza; near the end it’s Metzinger, which are two very different views. Overall, she argues, as Protevi notes, that psychoanalysis cannot account for what she calls the “new wounded” (her paradigm case is Alzheimers), while Johnston’s section, as one might expect, argues for psychoanalysis’s continuing relevance.

Introductions to three new Speculative Realism books put on-line by Edinburgh University Press – New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science

Via Jon Cogburn, the introduction to three books in the Edinburgh speculative realism series. I have a chapter on Adrian in my forthcoming SR book (the chapters are on, in order, correlationism, Meillassoux, Harman, then sections on Ian  Grant, Jane Bennett, and Liz Grosz, then Ray Brassier, Adrian Johnston, then Malabou, with some more in there. Basically, I took up in the latter part of the book thinkers using the word realism–with Grosz an interesting example. I didn’t write enough about my worries about her critiques of Butler et al, or her turn to evolutionary theory as an explanation of culture, and thus her attack on certain supposed “constructivist” feminisms, but I think she is a central figure in recent “renaturalizations” of philosophy not mentioned enough. (Barad is another, though space meant leaving that for a future project, though she has very different claims, based in her work in quantum mechanics.) 

  1. Tristan Garcia’s Form and Object (here),
  2. Adrian Johnston’s Adventures in Transcendental Materialism (here), and
  3. Levi Bryant’s Onto-Cartography (here).

via Introductions to three new Speculative Realism books put on-line by Edinburgh University Press – New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science.

‘Thermonuclear Monarchy,’ by Elaine Scarry out

‘Thermonuclear Monarchy,’ by Elaine Scarry – NYTimes.com. I taught Scarry’s Thinking in an Emergency last year, which starts with the claim that all emergency thinking is anti-democratic, leaving power for a declared emergency in the hands of a few. The reviewer of this new book wonders why she spends time on Swiss plans if a nuclear war should come as strange, but it’s an example she used in Thinking, and for her, I presume, she wants to link such planning to the ultimate emergency that would come before the unleashing of such a weapon and its aftermath. Also, this paragraph is quite chilling:

Scarry illustrates her point most effectively early on, quoting Richard Nixon in 1974, when he was threatened with impeachment. Revealingly, he told reporters, “I can go into my office and pick up the telephone, and in 25 minutes 70 million people will be dead.”

 

Why Did Oklahoma Inject Drugs Into the Corpses of Death Row Convicts? | The Nation

A story from The Nation here:

Executioners injected drugs into the corpses of death penalty convicts for “disposal purposes,” according to documents obtained by the Independent. Oklahoma prison officials say it is protocol to inject the remaining drugs of a three-drug cocktail when inmates overdose on the first drug, an anesthetic. But a former pathologist says this practice could distort postmortem toxicology results, hindering medical examiners from determining the level of pain experienced during an execution.

That last part speaks for itself, among the macabre hypocrisies of “measuring” pain.

via Why Did Oklahoma Inject Drugs Into the Corpses of Death Row Convicts? | The Nation.

Harman Responds to My Dublin Lecture

Here. I appreciate the response, and I really wish I could take back that line that he found shrill–in fact, I almost didn’t post the audio because I remembered I said something flippant, not least because he’s right that each book has a purpose and I’m sure in the SR book alone, I say “I don’t have the space to argue,” etc., several times.

In any case, I’ll just add it’s a good response, which will be good to think through. I do use the word “eternal” several times. Here is the quotation I was using:

According to the object-oriented model only the present exists: only objects with their qualities, locked into whatever their duels of the moment might be. In that sense, times seems to be illusory, though not for the usual reason that time is just a fourth spatial dimension always already present from the start. Instead time does not exist simply because only the present ever exists. Nonetheless, time as a lived experience [that is, within the sensuous; here he follows Husserl to the letter] cannot be denied. We do not encounter a static frame of reality, but seem to feel a passage of time. It is not pure chaos shifting wildly from one second to the next, since there is chance with apparent endurance. Sensual objects endure despite swirling oscillations in their surface adumbrations, and this is precisely what is meant by the experience of time. Time can be defined as the tension between sensual objects and their sensual qualities.[i]

The first sentence is the key to it: the Platonists (thus why I used Platonism, not Aristotle, though Harman’s right that his notion of substance is closer to Aristotle)–and this reasoning is central from Plato to Plotinus to Augustine–held only the present truly exists beyond the world of becoming, and the label they used for that was the “eternal.” In any case, that was my reasoning and I’ll think this through–and Graham has some excellent comments distinguishing Derrida and Heidegger on the question of onto-theology.

One small point, Marie-Eve Morin, who read through a draft, noted that she liked the book because it’s a place where you can read about speculative realism without the trolling you get in online discussions, so I’m glad that one errant moment aside, Harman found the lecture in that spirit as well.


[i] “The Road to Objects,” 176, my emphases.

My Talk in Dublin Last Night

It was wonderful to meet some good friends in Dublin–a really incisive collective of people. (Greatly, Paul Ennis turned out to be as nihilistic and funny as I found him in email contact.) Paul suggested I give a talk to the (mostly) art students on object oriented ontology, in which they were interested, and it was an excellent crowd. I borrowed a bit from a chapter on that in Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects, but also moved out the paper as much as I could for ad hoc comments. Here is the audio. In the beginning, I’m really in front of the audience pointing to this diagram and working through it:

quadruple-object

 

Thank you to Fintan Neylon for setting this up. There’s a good scene there in Dublin and I miss it already. (Also there are references to Deleuze: I came to an earlier reading group where some people in the audience were discussing bodies without organs, and so I make note of that.)