More Summer Reading.


Adrian Ivakhiv is proposing to do a reading of Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. He doesn’t have any details yet, but hopefully that works out. Could be a fun summer then.

About these ads

2 thoughts on “More Summer Reading.

  1. Toward that end, she theorizes a “vital materiality” that runs through and across bodies, both human and nonhuman. Bennett explores how political analyses of public events might change were we to acknowledge that agency always emerges as the effect of ad hoc configurations of human and nonhuman forces. She suggests that recognizing that agency is distributed this way, and is not solely the province of humans, might spur the cultivation of a more responsible, ecologically sound politics: a politics less devoted to blaming and condemning individuals than to discerning the web of forces affecting situations and events.

    Hmm… ANT meets materialist mysticism, meets distributed systems, ecology and of course the web as a general metaphor for everything.

    I dunno. In this dissolved anything acts on anything within a distributed agency, there is still a dominant ordering scheme. On the one end there is a roughly classified material world and on the other end is Graham Harmans beloved iPhone which is also material but an act of directed agency of designers, workers and managers, capitalist investment and planning; it is an act of Zizekian “love” in the sense of a one-sided preference. It might depend on “ad hoc configurations” but also strives to abstract from them and control the conditions / configurations under which it exists. It doesn’t control anything else though because this is strictly impossible to do. So we focus on some aspects of the inputs and outputs in this will-to-the-consumer-gadget e.g. resources and pollution, which shall be both minimized. Of course they would reach their absolute minimum if the gadget wasn’t created and consumed in the first place. The critical question is this: is it enough of responsibility to reduce resources and pollution as some sort of generalized hygiene or do we have to move towards the absolute minimum and a politics of abdication which also comes along as a moralism? Or just one of relative abdication and taming the consumer society by a green political elite? Who wants to decide?

    I don’t want to discuss this to the end, just illustrate that it doesn’t require ANT, objectology, Deleuzian poetry, web metaphors, a symmetric anthropology of human and non-human agents and all those other distractions, which have become endemic, to work out a political question.

    • I’m with your final paragraph here. I’m certainly not against further and more interesting theorizations of political questions, but it’s not as though we tried these old models and they just don’t work or don’t get people excited, so we need to rethink and redo everything. My main issue with a number of “new” approaches is that they seem to be idiot-oriented in the sense that they wow an amateur (“we have never considered objects? no way!” etc etc) and annoy someone who actually read a book or two (“really? no one ever talked about objects? are you sure?”) – all this new lingo and new mix of thinkers to solve old problem is not a bad idea, but I’m always asking myself a) why is new stuff going to work? b) why should I abandon my old concepts in exchange for new ones?

      This is my primary question that I have at many points posed to all these exciting OOO/OOP folks: why should I care about objects? why should I abandon my subject-oriented approach? why must we become post-human (that’s Bogost’s new mantra, isn’t it?)? just because it’s new and exciting? Oh and don’t get me started on the Son’s utterly bizarre claim that philosophers haven’t paid attention to objects (they did) because of their philosophical lifestyle (whatever that means) – so fucking what? I’m pretty sure that philosophers’ lifestyle also prevented them from caring (for the most part) about the intricacies of plumbing or gardening, does it mean we have to now abandon our philosophical stance and study plants or pipes simply because we have ignored them for so long?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s