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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Mad Speculation and Absolute Inhumanism by Ben Woodard

In academia, literature, nature, philosophy, theory, writers on October 13, 2014 at 23:28

From: Mad Speculation and Absolute Inhumanism: Lovecraft, Ligotti and the Weirding of Philosophy by Ben Woodard, Berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

The strange trajectory is the following: Kant’s critical philosophy and much of continental philosophy which has followed, has been a defense against horror and madness. Kant’s prohibition on speculative metaphysics such as dogmatic metaphysics and transcendental realism, on thinking beyond the imposition of transcendental and moral constraints, has been challenged by numerous figures proceeding him. One of the more interesting critiques of Kant comes from the mad black Deleuzianism of Nick Land stating, “Kant’s critical philosophy is the most elaborate fit of panic in the history of the Earth.”

An absolute materialism, for Ligotti, implies an alienation of the idea which leads to a ventriloquil idealism. As Ligotti notes in an interview, “the fiasco and nightmare of existence, the particular fiasco and nightmare of human existence, the sense that people are puppets of powers they cannot comprehend, etc.” (Cardin, 2006) And then further elaborates that,“[a]ssuming that anything has to exist, my perfect world would be one in which everyone has experienced the annulment of his or her ego. That is, our consciousness of ourselves as unique individuals would entirely disappear” (Ayad, 2004). The externality of the idea leads to the unfortunate consequence of consciousness eating at itself through horror which, for Ligotti, is more real than reality and goes beyond horror-as-affect. Beyond this, taking together with the unreality of life and the ventriloquizing of subjectivity, Ligotti’s thought becomes an idealism in which thought itself is alien and ultimately horrifying. The role of human thought and the relation of non-relation of horror to thought is not completely clear in Ligotti’s The Conspiracy Against the Human Race.

Philosophy, if it can truly return to the great outdoors, if it can leave behind the dead loop of the human skull, must recognize not only the non-priority of human thought, but that thought never belongs to the brain that thinks it, thought comes from somewhere else. To return to the train image from the beginning “a locomotive rolling on the surface of the earth is the image of continuous metamorphosis” (Visions of Excess, 7) this is the problem of thought, and of thinking thought, of being no longer able to isolate thought, with only a thought-formed structure.

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Reposted with permission from: Berfrois

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Featured Essay: Happiness by John Zerzan

In anthropology, civilisation, Featured, nature, philosophy, society, theory on March 12, 2013 at 15:24

Featured Essay: Happiness by John Zerzan, http://www.johnzerzan.net

Reposted in full with permission from: John Zerzan

Is happiness really possible in a time of ruin? Can we somehow flourish, have complete lives? Is joy any longer compatible with the life of today?

A deep sense of well-being has become an endangered species. How often does one hear “It is good to be here”? (Matthew 17:4, Luke 9:5, Luke 9:33) or Wordsworth’s reference to “the pleasure which there is in life itself”[1] ? Much of the prevailing condition and the dilemma it poses is expressed by Adorno’s observation: “A wrong life cannot be lived rightly.”[2]

In this age happiness, if not obsolete, is a test, an opportunity. “To be happy is to be able to become aware of oneself without being frightened.”[3] We seem to be desperate for happiness, as bookshelves, counseling rooms, and talk shows promote endless recipes for contentment. But the well-worn, feel-good bromides from the likes of Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, and the Dalai Lama seem to work about as well as a Happy Meal, happy hour, or Coke’s invitation to “Pour Happiness!”

Gone is the shallow optimism of yesteryear, such as it was. The mandatory gospel of happiness is in tatters. As Hélène Cixous put it, we are “born to the difficulty in taking pleasure from absence.”[4] We sense only “a little light/in great darkness,” to quote Pound, who borrowed from Dante.[5]

How do we explore this? What is expected re: happiness? In light of all that stands in its way or erodes it, is happiness mainly a fortuitous accident?[6]

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Patterns in art and nature by Philip Ball

In aesthetics, art, biology, nature, photography, science, visual arts on February 24, 2013 at 01:03

From: Patterns in art and nature by Philip Ball, http://www.philipball.co.uk

Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa, near Mull in Scotland, has inspired artists (this is Turner) and composers – Felix Mendelsohn wrote his orchestral piece named after the cave in 1829. But it also made an impression on an awestruck Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society, when he sailed to Staffa in 1772 during an expedition to Iceland. This is what he said:

    “Compared to this what are the cathedrals or palaces built by men! Mere models or playthings, as diminutive as his works will always be when compared with those of nature. What now is the boast of the architect! Regularity, the only part in which he fancied himself to exceed his mistress, Nature, is here found in her possession, and here it has been for ages undescribed.”

Banks had noticed that the entrance to the cave was flanked by these great pillars of rock. Close up, you can see the regularity that Banks spoke about: hexagonal cross-sections.

Now, this of course has its counterpart on the west coast of Ireland itself: the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, built in legend by the giant Finn MacCool.

There are something like 40,000 pillars of rock in the giant’s Causeway, and they generally have this extraordinarily regular and geometric honeycomb structure. When we make an architectural pattern like this, it is through careful planning and construction, with each individual element cut to shape and laid in place. At Fingal’s Cave and the Giant’s Causeway, the forces of nature have conspired to produce such a pattern without, we must presume, any blueprint or foresight or design. This is an example of spontaneous pattern formation.

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Reposted with permission from: Philip Ball

Sloterdijk’s Moment by David Beer

In books, civilisation, culture, media, philosophy, science, technology, theory, writers on December 16, 2012 at 16:44

From: Sloterdijk’s Moment by David Beer, berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

Bubbles: Spheres I
by Peter Sloterdijk, translated by Wieland Hoban,
Semiotext(e), Los Angeles, 663 pp.

This weighty text is the first part of what is seen as Sloterdijk’s defining and most important intellectual contribution. In this particular text the focus is upon small-scale microsphereology. Volumes two and three build upon this foundational text through a focus upon the macrospherology of globes and the plural spherology of foam (see Couture, 2009). The book itself highlights a genuine openness, resourcefulness and creativity in Sloterdijk’s thinking. He pulls together wide-ranging points of reference in his writing, many of which are unexpected and revealing. His use of art in particular opens up a visual imagination that sits alongside a set of knowing encounters with a number of important philosophical figures. Soterdijk carves a way through the tangential possibilities of bubbles by drawing upon this type of intellectual eclecticism. Actually this is something of an understatement, this book runs-riot as it lurches across the major issues of our time. These issues include globalisation on a small scale, the understanding of the divergence of nature into culture, how history shapes the now, how the individual becomes isolated into social connections, and so on. There is a rhythm at work here, with long takes interspersed with short cuts. There are slowly argued explorations of all-sorts of references juxtaposed with sudden, and sometimes disoientating, blasts of philosophical proclamation.

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Reposted with permission from: berfrois

The Nature of Noise by John Kulvicki

In music, nature, philosophy, science, theory on November 1, 2012 at 13:45

From: The Nature of Noise by John Kulvicki, Philosophers’ Imprint, http://www.philosophersimprint.org/

Robert Pasnau rejects the ‘standard’ view that sounds are waves in media like air and water in favor of the views that sounds are properties of objects, like bells, that makes the media move (Pasnau 1999, 309). Sounds are perceived to have locations, and those locations seem to correspond to the objects that ‘make’ the sounds. Waves produced by an object fill the space around the observer, and thus are not correctly perceived to be at their source. So, Pasnau suggests, absent an error theory, it is better to identify sounds with objects’ vibratory properties than with pressure waves such objects produce. Casey O’Callaghan (2007, Ch. 3) dismisses the wave view for similar reasons but claims that sounds are events in which objects disturb the media around them. O’Callaghan approach relates closely to one proposed by Roberto Casati and Jerome Dokic (1994; 2005), according to whom sounds are vibration events rather than disturbings of media. Pasnau (forthcoming) recently expressed his support for Casati and Dokic’s take on things, while Roy Sorensen (2001, 281-285) recently defended the wave view against Pasnau and O’Callaghan.

This recent interest in sounds is welcome, since they have been relatively ignored over the past century. The growing consensus is that sounds differ dramatically from colors. While colors are qualities, sounds are particulars: either waves or vibratory events. In addition, all of the views just sketched insists that sounds are transient in a way that colors are not. Sounds are more like movements than like colors. Objects move in many ways, but it rarely makes sense to ask what kind of movements an object has, as opposed to ho an object is moving now or then.

The following suggests that philosophers have overlooked an impressively promising candidate for being sounds. Sounds are stable properties of objects that seem to have them. More specifically, sounds are dispositions of objects to vibrate in response to being stimulated. Sounds are perceived transiently, but they are not perceived as being transient and they are not in fact transient. This conception of sounds – the stable property view – casts them in a role more akin to colors that other theories do.

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Reposted with permission from: Philosopher’s Imprint

“Architecture” by Georges Bataille (1929) by The Mass Ornament

In architecture, culture, society, theory on October 21, 2012 at 00:10

From: From the Golden Age of Media Criticism: “Architecture” by Georges Bataille (1929) by The Mass Ornament, http://themassornament.com

Architecture is the expression of the true nature of societies, as physiognomy is the expression of the nature of individuals. However, this comparison is applicable, above all, to the physiognomy of officials (prelates, magistrates, admirals). In fact, only society’s ideal nature – that of authoritative command and prohibition – expresses itself in actual architectural constructions. Thus great monuments rise up like dams, opposing a logic of majesty and authority to all unquiet elements; it is in the form of cathedrals and palaces that church and state speak to and impose silence upon the crowds. Indeed, monuments obviously inspire good social behaviour and often even genuine fear. The fall of the Bastille is symbolic of this state of things. This mass movement is difficult to explain otherwise than by popular hostility toward monuments, which are their veritable masters.

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Reposted with permission from: The Mass Ornament

Featured Essay: The Sea by John Zerzan

In civilisation, ecology, Featured, literature, nature, philosophy, poetry, society, writers on September 8, 2012 at 01:01

I have a special post for you today. Throughout the ongoing process of communicating with websites in the hope of receiving permission to repost their content, I had a few wonderful exchanges with writers and researchers. One of them was John Zerzan, author and philosopher, who sent me his latest essay for publication on this website. Enjoy the essay and feel free to comment.

HG

Featured Essay: The Sea by John Zerzan

Last remaining lair of unparalleled wildness. Too big to fail?

The whole world is being objectified, but Melville reminds us of all that remains. “There you stand, lost in the infinite series of the sea.”i What could be more tangible, more of a contrast with being lost in the digital world, where we feel we can never properly come to grips with anything.

Oceans are about time more than space, “as if there were a correlation between going deep and going back.”ii The Deep is solemn; linking, in some way, all that has come before. Last things and first things. “Heaven,” by comparison, is thin and faintly unserious.

“Over All the Face of Earth Main Ocean Flowed,” announced the poem by John Milton.iii Given its 71 percent predominance on this planet, why is our world called Earth instead of Sea? Much of the land, in fact, could be defined as littoral areas where land and sea meet.iv The sea is a textured place, infinite in its moods, forms, energies—and not so easily de-textured. But we see what happens when culture is privileged over place. The sea, where all life began just this side of four billion years ago, must still sustain us. Not only are its waters the original source of life, it also shapes the climate, weather, and temperature of the planet, and therefore the status of terrestrial species.

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St. Francis of Fukushima by Andrea Bennett

In Asia, biology, nature, politics, society on September 5, 2012 at 14:33

 

From: St. Francis of Fukushima by Andrea Bennett, Adbusters Magazine, http://www.adbusters.org

Naoto Matsumura’s body is completely contaminated with radioactive cesium. A year after the Tohoku earthquake, and the subsequent nuclear meltdowns in Fukushima, the 52-year-old farmer is the final holdout in Japan’s government-mandated 20-kilometre nuclear exclusion zone.

He says he’s full of rage. He says he refuses to let go of hunger and grief. He says he wants to die in his hometown. Matsumura, and the surviving animals he tends to, have very little access to water, and no electricity. He scavenges leftover coal and rations gas for energy; he survives off tinned food sourced from outside the evacuation zone.

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Reposted with permission from: Adbusters Magazine

A Great Silence Is Spreading Over the Natural World by John Vidal

In biology, civilisation, ecology, music, nature on September 5, 2012 at 14:23

 

From: A Great Silence Is Spreading Over the Natural World by John Vidal, Common Dreams, https://www.commondreams.org

“The birds are silent in the woods.
Just wait: Soon enough
You will be quiet too”

– Robert Hass

When musician and naturalist Bernie Krause drops his microphones into the pristine coral reef waters of Fiji, he picks up a raucous mix of sighs, beats, glissandos, cries, groans, tones, grunts, beats and clicks.Musician and naturalist Bernie Krause has spent 40 years recording over 15,000 species in many of the world’s pristine habitats. exti

The water pulsates with the sound of creatures vying for acoustic bandwidth. He hears crustaceans, parrot fish, anemones, wrasses, sharks, shrimps, puffers and surgeonfish. Some gnash their teeth, others use their bladders or tails to make sound. Sea anemones grunt and belch. Every creature on the reef makes its own sound.

But half a mile away, where the same reef is badly damaged, he can only pick up the sound of waves and a few snapping shrimp. It is, he says, the desolate sound of extinction.

Krause, whose electronic music with Paul Beaver was used on classic films like Rosemary’s Baby and Apocalypse Now, and who worked regularly with Bob Dylan, George Harrison and The Byrds, has spent 40 years recording over 15,000 species, collecting 4,500 hours of sound from many of the world’s pristine habitats.

But such is the rate of species extinction and the deterioration of pristine habitat that he estimates half these recordings are now archives, impossible to repeat because the habitats no longer exist or because they have been so compromised by human noise. His tapes are possibly the only record of the original diversity of life in these places.

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Reposted with permission from: Common Dreams

Overfished: LuLing Osofsky on “Chop City”

In civilisation, ecology, economics, nature, North America, society on August 21, 2012 at 21:28

 

From: Overfished: LuLing Osofsky on “Chop City”, Orion Magazine, http://www.orionmagazine.org

The Alaska you write about in this piece isn’t the Alaska you and I and other non-Alaskans might expect to see upon arriving there. Instead of evergreen trees and grizzly bears, you found fish heads and a sixteen-hour workday. What did you imagine Alaska to be before you got there?

The surprises began in the Anchorage airport. As I waited for my tiny plane headed to Naknek, Alaska, I looked around the small waiting area at the designated gate. There was a teenage girl with dyed blonde hair, heavy lipstick, ankles crossed, speaking urgently in Russian on her cell phone. There was a disheveled man at the complimentary coffee station tearing open packets of Sweet’N Low and chugging them down. A man with sores on his face was lying on the floor.

One of the things that’s striking about this story is the way nature—in the form of fish—is objectified, commoditized, and treated mechanically, and the way that treatment extends to the mental and physical lives of you and the other line workers. Was that something you tried to reflect in the style and arc of this piece?

Yes! Definitely. The fish could’ve been anything, they ceased to be “fish.” You know when you stare at any one word for too long, and it no longer makes sense? The word looks strange, right? That’s how I began to see fish, not as these things that once swam in the sea and yielded a delicious meat, but these strange objects that needed to have certain parts chopped off, skinned, hollowed out, sorted, shipped.

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Reposted with permission from: Orion Magazine

Assemblages: Félix Guattari and Machinic Animism by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato

In anthropology, culture, nature, philosophy, psychology, society on July 28, 2012 at 18:36

 

From: Assemblages: Félix Guattari and Machinic Animism by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato, e-flux.com

There is a certain very particular “animist” sensibility that one could call delirium. Of course it is a delirium by our standards; it is something that cuts psychotics off from a social reality that is completely dominated by language—that is, from social relations—thus effectively separating them from the world. But this brings them closer to the other world from which we are totally cut off. It is for this reason that Félix maintained this laudatory view of animism—a praise of animism. And obviously this leads us to speak about art. For Félix, art was the strongest means of putting something such as the Chaosmos into practice.

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Proving the ‘shifting baselines’ theory by Jeremy Hance

In biology, civilisation, ecology, nature, research on July 23, 2012 at 20:06

 

From: Proving the ‘shifting baselines’ theory: how humans consistently misperceive nature by Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

…In other words, due to short life-spans and faulty memories, humans have a poor conception of how much of the natural world has been degraded by our actions, because our ‘baseline’ shifts with every generation, and sometimes even in an individual. In essence, what we see as pristine nature would be seen by our ancestors as hopelessly degraded, and what we see as degraded our children will view as ‘natural’.

Shifting baselines requires that an ecosystem has changed. Looking at changing bird populations in Yorkshire County in England, the researchers were able to show empirical evidence of a population undergoing ‘shifting baselines’, both through generational amnesia and personal amnesia.

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Water by John Protevi

In government, history, philosophy, society on July 10, 2012 at 01:15

 

From: Water by John Protevi, rhizomes.15 winter 2007, http://www.rhizomes.net

[3] For Deleuze and for Deleuze and Guattari, being is production. The production process (intensive difference driving material flows resulting in actual or extensive forms) is structured by virtual Ideas or multiplicities or “abstract machines.” Multiplicities are composed of mutually defined elements with linked rates of change [“differential relations”] peppered with singularities. In mathematical modeling of physical systems, singularities are points at which the graph of a function changes direction. Singularities in models represent thresholds in intensive processes, where a system undergoes a qualitative change of behavior.  Being as production is symbolized in Difference and Repetition by the slogan, “the world is an egg” (251). What this means is that “spatio-temporal dynamisms” or intensive processes are that which actualizes or “differenciates” Ideas. These processes, however, are hidden by the constituted qualities and extensities of actual products. The example of embryology shows this differenciation of differentiation, as the dynamic of egg’s morphogenesis implies a virtual Idea unfolding in such a way that there are things only an embryo can do or withstand. The world is thus a progressive determination going from virtual to actual. Thought, however, is vice-diction or counter-effectuation: it goes the other way from production. It is a matter of establishing the Idea / multiplicity of something—”constructing a concept”—by  moving from extensity through intensity to virtuality.

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