Monthly Archives: January 2013

Imagined Scientific Practices

It’s always kind of interesting to find the parts of science fiction in which fictional sciences are discussed. Here are a couple of my favorites that come to mind:

Shevek’s work in Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, specifically his “General Temporal Theory.” He attempts to tie a physics of time to philosophy and ethics:

The Anarresti hoped to restore the fertility of that restless earth by replanting the forest. This was, Shevek thought, in accordance with the principle of Causative Reversibility, ignored by the Sequency school of physics currently respectable on Anarres, but still an intimate, tacit element of Odonian thought. He would like to write a paper showing the relationship of Odo’s ideas to the ideas of temporal physics, and particularly the influence of Causative Reversibility on her handling of the problem of ends and means.

Next up is Hamid Parsani’s study of the “Telluro-Magnetic Conspiracy Towards the Sun” in Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia:


An essayist in Cyclonopedia writes:

For a long time now the magnetosphere, this ultra-ancient cocoon around the planetary body, has enriched the earth’s tellurian insurgency, telling the earth forbidden stories from the Outside, teaching it how to reach immanence with the Sun, and ultimately completing the hatching process of its inner black Egg, or the treacherous Insider. In Tellurian Insurgency, everything—whether stratified or not—assists the earth in hatching its xeno-chemical Insider.

Finally, as the second part of Stanisław Lem’s Imaginary Magnitude, is the introduction to fictional author Reginald Gulliver’s Eruntics—a work on bacterial linguistics:

The biochemical action of Gulliveria coli prophetissima behaves then as a transmitter linking various space-time intervals. Bacteria are a hypersensitive receiver of certain likelihoods, and nothing more. Bacterial futurology has admittedly become a reality, though it is fundamentally unpredictable in its consequences, since the future-tracking behavior of bacteria cannot be controlled.

This kind of inventive science can be fun to think about. I think it kind of influenced my input on the Data and Algorithm projects.

The Views from Planes

Maybe this is just the rural Ohioan in me speaking when I say this, but no matter how many flights I’ve been on, I’m always amazed by act of flying. I always choose a window-seat, and I always watch as we lift off into the air. I don’t understand how so many fellow travelers don’t even glance out the window during this. I really do feel like a child when I say things like that. But, here’s a short video I put together from video I’ve taken in the air:

It’s interesting how sometimes the view can be so abstract that it approaches a similarity to paintings by J. M. W. Turner or Mark Rothko.

Mark Rothko, "Untitled, 1969," acrylic on paper mounted on canvas (136.5cm x 108cm)

Mark Rothko, “Untitled, 1969,” acrylic on paper mounted on canvas (136.5cm x 108cm)

Of course, there is also this defamiliarization that such views cause in me, in which I’m bound to start thinking about us earthlings as inhabitants of just another planet, trying out our project of civilization. I suppose that is rather romantic in a sense.

Hito Steyerl at AIC, update

A few days ago, I finally got around to the Art Institute of Chicago to see the Hito Steyerl exhibition, I had posted about earlier. There were a few of her films being shown while I was there, but I only watched Adorno’s Grey (2012). The film was projected in an interesting way, in that it was projected onto multiple vertical panels, which was used to break up the visual space of the film with fields of differing gray. The panels also reminded me of drywall, which would make sense given the film’s topic. Adorno’s Grey is a short essay-film about two strange stories about Adorno—first, an odd protest in one of Adorno’s classes in which three women took off their shirts and danced around him, and second, the legend that Adorno had the walls of a lecture hall painted gray so as to help his students focus better. One can see why the panels would then resemble drywall for the sake of the latter story, but I still don’t understand the connection to the bare-breasted protest. I wish the film had been more than about 14 minutes, because it’s a very well done work, and simply looking at the composition of gray fields was great.

Upcoming Roundtable for the Object Cultures Project

click for larger view

click for larger view

The Object Cultures Project at UChicago will be hosting a roundtable discussion on object-oriented ontology, specifically with regard to material culture. The roundtable is coming out of a previous discussion on Graham Harman’s Guerrilla Metaphysics, but there was also mention of Speculative Realism (or Materialism) in the discussion.

I’m going to be presenting on the recent history of materialist philosophy, and the odd metaphysical strains in it.

The details on the roundtable:

It will take place at The Franke Institute for the Humanities [1100 East 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637] on Friday, February 1st 2013 at 4:30pm. Contact Amanda Davis at to RSVP.

Upcoming Conference, “Rethinking Work”

In March 2013, The Marxist Reading Group will be hosting their annual conference at the University of Florida. This year’s conference will be on the ideas surrounding work. To quote a bit of the prompt:

Thus, this conference proposes to follow Marx’s imperative to exit the “noisy” public sphere “where everything takes place on the surface and in full view of everyone” and instead enter “into the hidden abode of production” so that we may better understand the political power of the word “work,” the concept it signifies, and its material consequences for workers and non-workers around the world.

I wish I could check it out since there are already some interesting thinkers among the keynote speakers including Fredric Jameson, and Kevin Floyd—one of my professors at Kent State.

More information can be found here.