The End of Growth

I’ve been making my way through Richard Heinberg’s The End of Growth for over a year now and it raises some very pertinent concerns about a Capitalist economy and the energy that sustains it. Thanks to the people over at Occupy Educated, I was intrigued into getting it and has been a good source of alternate analysis to the status quo “everything is fine unless you stir things up” discourse of the mainstream. In seeking a range of economic backing to address worries over the viability of our social order, the peak oil theorists seem to deserve a look, especially considering their popularity.

The question nagging me with the fury of a bee protecting its hive is: “does our economy – whatever that is – need a material increase in energy and speed to keep growing?” And then to follow that up, “without a growth based economy moving goods around with increased efficiency, does the whole system just collapse in spectacular chaos?”

I am convinced that an economy based on the principles of Capitalist organization, as this increasingly global one surely and without question is, demands growth in some form or another. The imperative to make more and more money, to have your money become a means to acquire more money somehow, necessitates a growth based economy when extended outward into the social field as a whole – playing the dominant role in our relationships with one another. Where that growth comes from (commodity exchange, financial securitization, lifelong debt slavery, or just plain old wage slavery) is important in the narrowing down of capital’s function into more specific contexts, but the big problem that must be thought here is this: without some kind of economic growth, do we really get doom and gloom, chaos and destruction, fantastical apocalypse?

Or is that a mere blocking device characteristic of our collective imagination mediated by those in charge of government and the spectacle?

First of all, let’s bring in Heinberg on growth based economies:

…we have created monetary and financial systems that require growth. As long as the economy is growing, that means more money and credit are available, expectations are high, people but more goods, businesses take out more loans, and interest on existing loans can be repaid. But if the economy is not growing, new money isn’t entering the system, and the interest on existing loans cannot be paid; as a result defaults snowball, jobs are lost, incomes fall, and consumer spending contracts – which leads less businesses to take out loans, causing still less new money to enter the economy. This is a self-reinforcing destructive feedback loop that is very difficult to stop once it gets going.

In other words, the existing market economy has no “stable” or “neutral” setting: there is only growth or contraction. (p.6)

If what Heinberg writes is true, then business as usual means the large economies of the world continue steamrolling with capital expansion in a positive feedback loop or it rapidly disintegrates in the opposite direction and we have a depression. This probably the most basic and essential logistical fact of the last 150 years or so of human history. A strategy of continual and material expansion has developed and found its way into the central aspects of society. Without it, we are plunged into uncharted territory; something we cannot predict and have an extremely hard time imagining must take its place. But this exercise in the imagination does take place and for a reason: we are very much culturally aware of this system’s limitations and the cliff that it is bringing us closer and closer to.

The main message to take home about “economic growth” – a phrase uttered repeatedly in high political discourse – is that it needs, requires, demands, and cannot exist without the complementing energy to move around material goods. This has been taken for granted in the last 150 years and we’ve hit a wall. The fossil fuels supplying this energy will not only peak and destroy a growth based economy, they will destroy the non-growth based ecology of the biosphere. A fundamental restructuring of the economy is the only thing that will stop those expecting returns on their investments in a monetary scheme (capitalists) from ruining it for all of the rest of us, most living organisms included.

Skipping ahead in the book, after his more thoroughgoing analysis of the bubble burst of 2008 and how growth and the economy in general cannot return, Heinberg explains the wall we’ve hit:

We have accumulated too many monetary-financial claims on real assets – consisting of energy, food, labor, manufactured products, built infrastructure, and natural resources. Those claims, essentially IOUs, exist in the form of debt and derivatives. Our debt cannot be fully repaid: every dollar saved in the past is owed ever-multiplying returns in the future, yet the planet’s stores of resources are finite ands shrinking. Claims just keep growing while resources keep depleting – and real prices of energy and commodities have begun rising. At some point it will become clear that this vast ocean of outstanding claims will never be honored, and the result could be a tidal wave of defaults and bankruptcies that would sweep away most of the economy. (p.236-7)

What we are experiencing now is this in slow motion. The Fed policies that funnel credit to giant banks hoping that tried-and-true methods will “revive” the economy fail to take the material aspect of energy and resource depletion. The plan so far from our insular elites is to inject more credit into this system from the top to get things moving as they once were – without any fundamental restructuring of wealth or value. This economy is dying and can only die more or less slowly. Considering the violent domineering that militaries have enacted on the behalf of economic growth, I hope it will die quickly and without to much “fuss”.  Transitioning away from the growth-based model might require a slower, steadier work to avoid the confusing shocks that go to the benefit of the military.

The great question that will define our age and also the fate of all subsequent ages so long as they are able to retain an historical memory is: how best can we transition from this devouring monster of a system into another more ecological system? How can we slay these vampire squids and stop the zombie apocalypse? If we cannot answer these question and/or reorganize ourselves against economic growth, the preventable consequences will be horrifying, but very much imaginable.


Manuel DeLanda Lecture on the City and Capitalism

Here is a video of Manuel DeLanda giving a talk about the network of cities and trade in Europe for the last 500 years or so. His use of Assemblage Theory here diagrams how Capitalism was born of a stabilization of symmetrical trading between territories. Before getting to Fernand Braudel and his version of capitalist economic history, he maps the town/city nodes from the big cities to the smaller provinces according to Walter Christaller.

This lecture is especially noteworthy because DeLanda explains his adherence to Braudel’s work in contrast to Marx when it comes to how value is created. With DeLanda and Braudel, economic value is inseparable from the vast interconnected web of trade. The flow of goods between disparate territories connected by trade routes is essential to the rise of modern capitalism.
These sovereign territories include a capital city and a port city, the latter acting as a hub of trade and the former being the diplomatic entity uniting nations and solidifying borders. The capital city is the center of culture and has the ultimate decision-making ability in war, but the port cities are equally important in the economic wealth of a nation in creating value by increasing the flow of trade.

DeLanda breaks with Deleuze and Guattari and his Marxist past and attacks Marx’s labor theory of value and surplus extraction. Braudel gives him a base for this attack. *This gets really interesting after the first hour*. The labor of the workers, which is exploited by bourgeois capitalists, is not the source of value here. DeLanda includes the machines of production along with the humans in creating value. A dialectical collapse of capitalism’s own contradictions misses a fundamental mistake of Marx’s pinpoint the source of value creation in human labor and the accumulation of surpluses.

After the American and French Revolutions, a system of mass production was streamlined in the military. France’s method of fashioning inter-changeable parts and automated processes was copied by Thomas Jefferson in America far sooner than Henry Ford. This allowed for a seemingly unceasing increase in economic growth when coupled with the capital-port city duality of secure, non-confrontational cross-cultural exchange.

Brian Holmes: Silence = Debt

Here is a link to a teach-in that Brian Holmes did with Occupy Chicago.

He researched the giant scheme of the Universities with the Banks to impose escalating debt levels on college students which cannot be relinquished. His talk demonstrates the privatization of public universities and the transformation of public Universities into private Capitalist profiteering machines.

Agent Swarm on Unitive Deleuze

Here is a succinct and accessible post on Deleuze’s Pluralism in relation to dualities from Terrence Blake. A dualism that ends in mere opposition, or takes the side of one versus the other falls into a never-ending quest of how to find the “magic formula”: One = Many. Monism = Pluralism.

Dualisms are not escapable and are a necessity for making sense – for the production of meaning and meaningful discourse. An introductory step, which rids oneself of the demand to take a false choice of “one or the other”, is to affirm pluralism (a non-monism and non-reductivism), but after that initial move a vast array of things, worlds, signs, flows, patterns, intensities, etc. open up. We encounter dualities as we traverse these many forms and styles without losing sight of the relations and interactions to the others. A pluralist avoids the reduction to mere opposition and its two-way usage of negation, it opens up a multiplicity of possibilities and potentialities in the Virtual which either do or do not become actual.

When asked what ‘one’ believes or identifies with, where ‘one’ stands on this or that issue, the proclamation of pluralism leaves one’s commitments open to the unexpected or hitherto unconsidered of the ‘many’. The oneness of belief and its internalized demand to hold onto and keep the being or proposition freezes time and promotes and endless repetition of the same. Differences are always made and understood in relation to the single place where one is located as a coordinate cross-section compared to another’s coordinates in a monistic frame. A repetition with difference shatters the one into other avenues of motion enabling both expansion and dissipation. Pluralism suggests a movement where Monism suggests a positioning.



Deleuze does not oppose dualities frontally but tries for a more supple approach. He thinks that they are an intrinsic part of language and that we can only undo a dualism here by producing or reinforcing another dualism there. So we are condemned to fall victim to dualities from an absolute point of view, while being able to dissolve them on a local basis, by strategic or pragmatic interventions. Deleuze, with Guattari (and this “with” is important, as it was one way of overcoming a dualism between philosophy and psychoanalysis, between logos (concept) and psyche (affect, percept, intensity), declared that a dualism was acceptable as a preliminary overcoming of a dogmatic monism on the way to a pluralism. This pluralism he claimed was subtended by a non-preexistant more fluid unity. Hence the equation “monism=pluralism” is called “the magic formula that we are all looking for”, ie a forever unaccomplished process…

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The Ecological Thought vs. Gaia Theory

A direct engagement in a response that Tim Morton made to my projected stress onto him about James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory and the imminent collapse of the biosphere:

The positive and negative feedback loops that Lovelock uses in his Gaia Theory operate as systemic interactions between objects that accelerate one way or the other. Either they unleash certain objects that wreak havoc on the total of the environment of the Earth and disrupt the balance that Lovelock believes stabilizes the Earth to make it habitable for life, or the feedback loops ‘cancel out’ negatively and balance the objects in the environment. The negative feedbacks have certain objects and the processes in which they are caught up in pushing against each other, working towards a goal of hospitality for life and complexity (life and its mutations into new life forms). These processes of positive and negative feedback are like the difference between unchecked expansion of empires or viruses and the system of checks and balances or the limits that environments pose on the breeding of populations beyond a certain “threshold”.

Positive feedback loops have a potential of spiraling out of control and disrupting the environment to such an extent that most of the living beings cannot cope, for (as Lovelock claims) the loops that have persisted for a few billion years (1/4 of the supposed life of the universe) have altered to such an extent that the biodiversity working its complexifying magic would be seriously stunted: most life and species would die off. This is the terrifying thought that Lovelock is said to have uncovered and I sought out Tim Morton’s advice on, seeing as his ecological thought is so penetrating and formative of my own thought (still in its early stages). His response is two-part and can be found here and here.

Morton sees the holism of Lovelock as a form of Big Modernity on which we project a metaphysics of presence. Not having come to grips with “the nothingness in the phenomenal-thing gap”, we readers are narrowed down into a forced choice and can only resort to our particular decisions or some grand project of modern technological advance. The grand technological fix of the future that humans can make to the biosphere at large would be the only option to maintain the constant presence of Gaia, preserving our ‘more present than thou’ attitude of an existing Reality. It is the only alternative to one’s less significant decisions to drive a car (spilling CO2 into the air) or not when the holism of Gaia Theory is under consideration, or so Morton thinks. Relying on a technological salvation from the apocalypse to save the presence of the Real would be the only thing else one could think of in contrast to the decision to carefully measure one’s individual *carbon footprint* – insignificant considered in isolation. Morton seems to think that the fire and brimstone of Lovelock’s lament over the destruction of the Gaian aspect of the biosphere forces us into an impossible position that leads to cynicism and resignation, due to our (the reader’s) divided powerlessness at such a really existing entity.

This giant entity is an environment as well as a quasi-fiction (he named it after a goddess), and, being a kind of Whole, it is irreducible to the component parts that make it up – swallowing our actions in their individuality (the reader reading alone) up into obscurity. But the problem of the whole remains, only now we can only dream of the potential for a “great future innovation” to save us. The problem I have with this interpretation of Gaia (that terra-ism necessarily follows from such holism) is that Gaia is not considered more real or present than something else but a mere self-organization of matter in a far from equilibrium condition. It doesn’t seek the reality of presence in the way that Nature or the external world in its totality does but simply describes a scenario in which a machine has come to self-regulate given certain conditions, namely, being far from equilibrium. There is a newish science to this phenomenon of self-organization that can be both modeled virtually and observed, as Manuel DeLanda has shown in his impressive works. Gaia is just a localized theory of this science in the planet Earth system.

The feedback loops that Lovelock harps on have indeed stabilized an environment that accommodates life. I have no problem with the usage of a mythical goddess to articulate an argument about a process that one has discovered, but it is in taking this thing as a whole that issues crop up. Lovelock makes a mistake by calling this thing a whole, indeed a direct contrast to the reductionism so often characteristic of scientific inquiry. The process of regulating materials in a systematic way has made life habitable on planet Earth: negative feedback loops have worked wonders in this far from equilibrium situation.

In spite of what Morton says, Lovelock does assert that for humanity to be burdened by the tasks that Gaia does for free would require way more central planning than any previous war and is near impossible. His solution is to embrace nuclear energy with all of its dangers in order to save civilization which he so reveres from carbon emissions. I don’t see civilization as such a thing that needs protection but instead point to a more ecological existence that empires and capitalists spawning from civilization have mostly tarnished. Lovelock is stuck with a desire to keep civilization while simultaneously understanding that it’s own unquenchable desire for growth is what is besieging Gaia. To his credit, he (a scientist) understands the limits of reductionist thinking, the harmonious-primordial-natural past and linear causality; unfortunately, he moves back to holism to explain the self-organization of Gaia. Perhaps there is a way to fuse self-organizing thinking with the ecological thought and not get hung up on Nature, Civilization, or other ‘Wholes’.

I am convinced of the truth of Lovelock’s theory, especially after reading about the science of self-organized phenomenon in far from equilibrium conditions in Prigogine and Stengers’ ‘Order Out of Chaos’. As a whole, a self-organizing process is able to detach itself from the parts that supposedly make it up – the things that are organized by Gaia. But the part-whole distinction raises up old conceptual formulations that are hard to shed. As something different from the component parts that compose it, Gaia seems to most like a transcendent being external to those parts. This is crucial and hard to fathom: Gaia is only a mythological being, a name standing in for a process that functions as a balancing act. It cannot really lay claim to the whole, but it is still a self-generating process far away from the equilibrium of classical physics and the concepts of the generic philosophical tradition.

We the readers and actors need not defer to some emancipatory future technology or bear the responsibility of global warming on our own personal shoulders, but the processes that Gaia allows must be rigorously defended somehow even if we don’t see clearly what that tract would look like. It makes no practical difference if one sees this as Gaia to be vanguarded or multiple processes that need to be maintained, so long as the bodies are mobilized in a way that life can go on instead of be attacked by its environment. Mythologizing a discovery of science in self-organized activity, an oddity to beings attracted by symmetry and having employed causal reasoning for so long, could be a benefit to the goal of keeping this system life-sustainable or not. A familiar name helps one grow accustomed to an unfamiliar, foreign idea. One way or another, this process is under extreme and abrupt stress and there is little time to reorganize human societies so as to keep the process flowing.

A process. This process will continue to assert itself regardless of what we humans do, but we are severely weakening it, and by weakening this process we will drastically weaken life’s capability to thrive. That there are a few million people scraping out for survival in the polar regions instead of bountiful biodiversity is an awful scenario; I really don’t mind if I have to resort to ethics or vitalist centralism to assert this – we have an obligation to both continue living (this includes non-humans) and to obey the processes of our environment that support our living once we have understood these processes (scientifically or otherwise). Having the means to conceptualize – or just even phenomenologically perceive the self-organization of one’s surroundings intuitively (like “mother earth is provider of us all and must be cared for” or whatever) – how contingent one’s life and each other’s life is on those systemic flows is a legitimate, justified reason to preserve that self-organized stability and not let it cross that threshold. Preventing the irreversible processes that will be unleashed after reaching a 2 degree rise in temperature are an ethical obligation unlike any injustice to the poor, the animals, or the environment because *one* or *we* living creatures cannot exist without the health of Gaia (the self-organization of the biosphere) from the outset. Perhaps using the term “ethics” is inadequate, but it’s the best we’ve got – without it, we humans will allow that which gives us life to dissolve (not disappear), all the while throwing our hands up and saying “oh well, that’s just how it goes!” when we could have stopped it and continued flourishing for who knows how much longer. Fossil fuel consumption is chipping away at the planet’s ability to foster life, it is time we face this fact and act so as to let life prosper again.

This failure to understand and transform our activity in light of Lovelock’s elaboration of Gaia(self-organization in the biosphere) would be an instance of life in self-destruct mode instead a mutually beneficial life-Gaia ecological mode. Life needs no verbal legitimation to persevere, but now we can chose an orientation that will continue life in a more life-favoring way or go into an era of mass death, extinction, and scarcity. Indeed, given the right plan and commitment of certain individuals and the proliferation of this new knowledge of self-organization among the correct population of decision-makers, a plan to continue the comfortable hospitability that our planet has provided us living creatures could be carried through. It is so obviously more desirable, both ecologically and vitalistically, to work towards this outcome that it is not a stretch to say that any elaboration leading towards an outcome incompatible with this self-regulating behavior (given that one understands these Gaian processes) is life-negating nihilism. In short, to disregard Gaia is to disregard that which conditions life – to be ambivalent about the continuation and enjoyment of life.

The apocalypse is on the horizon: the movies, video-games, and literature about zombies and post-apocalypse are on to something. There is a threshold that we cannot cross before catalysts take effect and the planet will be put on an irreversible course that will make our human lives and other animal’s lives a living hell. Yes, we need to act now positively and not in a cynical mode where the terrible event is off in the distance and inevitable, or a preservationist mode where as-yet-unimagined technology is the only thing that can save the Presence of Nature. But we must understand that there is a threshold of temperature rising that we cannot cross for it will create positive feedback loops that will place all of Earth’s creatures in a far less desirable state than the one we have now. A desirable state would be one where life strives with less pushback from from its environment, and the disparity of crossing the threshold and not crossing the threshold is staggering. There are folks who understand this and are trying to stop it like Bill McKibben with his essay on Global Warming’s Terrifying Math and David Roberts’ Tedx video in Grist.

This is an strange moment – perhaps the greatest and most epic moment that humans have been placed in: we know that our own stabilized practices will mutilate and impede the existence of life and we can change them – all that is left is to figure out *how to stop these practices*. When it comes to strategizing on actions I am all ears.

It is a comparably few who understand these processes of self-regulation and just how much damage to them is being done. The rapid industrialization of the twentieth century is like the World of the Forms crashing down on the Earth and stratifying it in its own permanent vision of equilibrium – all the while ignoring the fact that the biosphere of Earth operates in a *far from equilibrium situation*. Our human desire for elegant symmetry and equality in our theory could very well cause a mass die off that also could have been prevented by humans. Industrialization has allowed a clever and adaptive species to put the carbon in the ground into the air and, without a radical shift in practice, set this self-organizing system back 100,000 years. This is the basis for an ecological ethics. An ecological ethics must include not just things and bodies – living and non-living – but processes: systems that operate and disparaging scales such as those in far from equilibrium conditions resisting entropy. This is crucial to the continued prosperity of living things either human or non-human for the next 100,000 years.

I’m curious about this difference I have made here between things/objects and processes/systems. I had a twitter battle with Levi Bryant over Object Oriented Ontology (you’ll have to search if you want to find it since I don’t know how to get the conversarion history link – but it would be worth searching @onticologist with @billrosethorn) and its potential inability to think the latter. I don’t want to jump to conclusions but invite more conversation on this subject. This is something Lovelock has internalized about skeptical scientific inquiry: after his initial Gaia Hypothesis buckled under the poignant critique of Richard Dawkins he accepted its defeat and retooled it to make a more robust theory – holism issues aside. Similarly I want to be open to an ontology that is held by such penetrating thinkers as Tim Morton, Levi Bryant, Ian Bogost, and Graham Harman. This is far too important a topic to let academic quarrels get in the way and I have always viewed criticism as a positive, life-affirming exercise done between friends and not as polemics.

We need not care about the outcome of the Earth and the life in it. Our thoughts and concerns are infinitely moldable into one form or another. But to take the whatever attitude is to deny that which springs up from what one is (if it is reading this right now): A Life! This is nihilism and it takes many forms along with the thoughts we conjure up in our discourses. It is a topic that needs more attention on its own. As Nietzsche coaches us, and Deleuze constantly reminds us in Nietzsche and Philosophy, to desire nothing is still to desire. We cannot rid ourselves of the will to power of life, and to will nothingness is still to will – perhaps even more intensely. I end with this because when I met Tim Morton on Market Street in San Francisco, a few words of his words still ring true in my mind to this day: nihilism is not something one arrives at but something one must pass through. The good stuff comes after passing through nothingness.

I mentioned earlier the possibility of a joint venture between the ecological thought all this self/process theory. I am becoming more and more convinced that how we deal with the thought of nihility – nothingness – is the great question for this epic problem.

Here’s to a more hopeful future.


Matter Meteors

A materialism of bare substance and objects interlocking and composing larger objects or decomposing into smaller ones seems irrefutable when contrasted with a spiritual substance which acts as a primary force ‘moving matter from within’, or guiding the matter formally to an end. But the spirit – matter opposition sets us off on a dialectical course that can only lead us to a dead end. In terms of movement and animation of matter and the various forms that it takes or disintegrates from, the transcendental idea/notion is the result of the inability to observe the variety of organizational forms that persist but also fall apart and organize again another way.

This other world of transcendence (God, Heaven, Forms) is an imaginary world like so many others dreamed up in human cultures in folklore and literature but is obviously unique in its ability to put up a stop to and satisfy a demanding questioner. A source, a final reason for why people ask the question; that a direction is better than another, that some methods lead to destruction, that a certain pattern has stabilized rather than another – these juxtapositions give one a sense that the flow it is caught up in is not the only or necessary way but preferable and valuable. The method has worked and gotten us this far (this far for sure but also *at least* this far) and it will continue to be used as a tradition. The question as a potential danger to that tradition, but it is also the most generalized form of an adaptability to surprising and alien conditions that arise unexpectedly: environmental change. It is the most general because it is language’s way of deviating off course. It is sometimes justified for tried (and true) methods to reject radical questions and regard them as dangers, but it is also a way to adapt to shifts in conditions that could not be predicted by previous methods of thought and practice. In a globe changing rapidly, and a culture of symbols, images, etc. that mirror this rapidly shifting globe in its ability to reorient itself to cater to our desires and even create new ones, this ability to question and remain in a state of doubt without an answer (or pre-paved path) is crucial if we are to get off of this catastrophic cycle moving way too fast.

Back to Spirit vs. Matter and Dualisms in general: It would seem (again) like an empirical world or an emphasis on material objects should be the obvious focus of attention to turn to from the stand point of a virtual assemblage of imaginary objects that are used to attract and distract the attention of the measured masses with a painful scientific precision. The number of worlds, fantasies, and symbols have skyrocketed in the past 100 years or so and trapped us not in a single world of make-believe but in a giant landscape of many worlds to chose from, intensifying the ambiguity of the one world thinkers put much of their efforts into achieving in various philosophical and scientific discourses. Yet the true world – illusory world distinction itself is one born of the languages bearing abstract symbols that for all their accuracy become more complex and esoteric the closer they approach the boundary. (Reality). A great sigh of relief can be found in knowing a gap between worlds exists (and that worlds are many) and that going from truth to illusion is an impossible task as a final destination. However the work is far from done, a simple rejection leads to a new set of problems while the opposition one vs. many (worlds, things, forces, perspectives) remains a metaphysical *one* which can separate the knowledge, patterns, regularities, and consistencies uncovered in repeatable experiments and other human practices (including art) with the *one* mater-energy stuff – just in many different worlds, discourses, spheres, etc…

The best I’ve got for now is inhabiting the diverse worlds that abound and coming to grips with their logic and structure bearing in mind that they are not real nor ever can they be. Even those that lay claim to the logic of the UNIverse or the structure of existence like physics and maybe mathematics contain the strangest of symbols and variables, infinities and paradoxes, chaos’s and dissymmetries. Science Fiction and its worlds are perhaps more real than scientific ones by self-reflecting their fantastic quality and using this negative understanding to inspire wonder instead of arriving at the one. Going farther and farther into the imagination leaving the real world behind mimicks material reality in its fractal expansion, doing a better job than competing theories of reality because they don’t insist on their one-way bridge from their mirroring language to Nature. This all the while with the self-understanding that the bridge is uncrossable: Science Fiction is a paradoxical title to begin with if one takes the quest of science to be that one true world “over their”.

Fantasy worlds and their own logic bypass this tendency (which I am tempted to call a “natural tendency”) by respecting other worlds for their creativity but using a different standard for judging their merit: the problems, issues, blockages, in the well-worn path (questions) they provoke. Can this be said to be reflected in the material world? After all, Sci Fi internalized its falseness, so does this imply that what is real is affirmed yet untouched, unsensed? Surely the separation cannot be complete, and the fingers-typing, brain-firing of the author-body moves along with the imaginary worlds conjured.

The assertion of one’s fictional activity is then an inward folding condensation rather than a two-way speeding back-and-forth trap of dualisms. The movement in one direction then has a reverse direction that stretches it out and abolishes the point that was supposedly started from. A trajectory loses its origin because the line goes the opposite way as well. Imagine its bafflement when it tries to reach the point of the other (real world) and finds that the other point has vanished as well! The line needs not a point to reach, a place to settle, but can continue along indefinitely in both directions: Aion (for you Deleuzians out there). The distinction has then shifted fundamentally from two points and the movement inbetween (cathode – anode) to a stretching expansion of the line in both directions (past/future) vs. a condensing, intensifying gathering (present).

How can one still say that a pluralistic, fantastic assemblage of worlds is relfected or resonant with the “real” world of material existence? Must this put the one world at the center or on the thither side of the many worlded engagement? The single – plural opposition does in fact have value for it sets the “one” on an open path rather than a fixed choice between ‘there’ and back again, but a duality it remains. Within language we remain, within discourse we make sense. But we should not have to choose between the mirroring activity of Natural Philosophy (aka Physics) and the wondering activity of fiction/literature. Philosophy intensifies along with fiction (condensing) as well as fiction extends behind itself as it pushes forward into the false (expansion), the requirement is only that one choose the proper words to invoke the opportune movement: Selection.

We are stuck with Dualities to make sense, but multiplying the possibilities can be an effect of Philosophy and Natural Philosophy with Pluralsim (vs. the One). Fiction, Literature, and Myth fit into a dual scheme as well but not without breaking the points into a constellation and extending in at least two ways at once.

Brian Holmes: Cultural Critique for the 21st Century

A video of a lecture by Brian Holmes outlining a cultural critique that is fit for the present. He integrates multiple levels of critical inquiry and identifies five sites on which to focus:


Holmes’ application of virtual diagrams and maps in the Capitalist machine shows how financialization tried to eliminate risk and created a tight global Capitalist network. His models show a regularity and consistency permeating matter-manipulation in our age that suggest a rigid system who’s control is tightening, but it is also breaking down. Far from perfecting predictability, global financial capitalism has created a renegade system whose inevitable collapse is worsened by its totalization. These moments of crisis are an inherent moment in the system and the wave-nature of matter is appears in Holmes’ models in the ebb and flow of both capital and social movements.

These techno-cartographies combines with subjective performance to highlight how social movements of resistance can take on new forms. His “transdisciplinarity” moves between scientific quantification and personal-social transformation to make for a truly up-to-date cultural critique.

This is a cybernetics that Holmes calls ‘Technopolitics’, that remains cognizant of resistance and effective counter movement. He especially draws on Guattari but also Foucault and Deleuze.

Simon Critchley’s Faith of the Faithless Talk

This is a wonderful talk from Simon Critchley about contemporary politics and the allure of utopian projects. I watched it many times and had its ideas at the forefront of my mind while occupying.

That first line (after the German) resounds with truth: “We are living through a long anti-1960’s”.