Emancipation is for us the meaning of nihilism.” – Gianni Vattimo

What comes after nihilism? This question might seem impertinent given the actual state and trajectory of things. Everywhere traditional, reactionary, and localising ideologies compete, conflict and continue colonising and recolonising the discursive terrains of our political and personal lives. This scattered and unevenly distributed field of actualisation has made it increasingly difficult to maintain semblances of coherence at all levels. How then can we claim to grasp what comes after nihilism while our cultural-subjective fields are still littered by the decaying corpses of quasi-religious, religious and secular-romantic narratives that had previously promised us much but are delivering very little? Have we even begun to evacuate the spaces of reasoning which have led our species to the brink of social disintegration and ecological collapse? How can we be beyond something not yet fully actualised?

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big money interests versus mere citizens, who will win?

Originally posted on PHILOSOPHY IN A TIME OF ERROR:


Yet neither an indictment nor a conviction of Darren Wilson would have given black Americans, or other populations of color, what is so urgent: a court system that sees the history of racial injustice through serial acts of police violence, that processes justice by taking into full account the history of slavery, and that of racial, political and economic segregation. Neither an indictment nor a conviction would have afforded long-term racial justice, in which police officers no longer represent the white ruling class of Ferguson, in which the governor of Missouri doesn’t send the National Guard to shut down the speech and protests of those who are the victims of racism. That form of racial justice — regardless of the decision not to indict — will need much more. It will need the cultural, legal and economic defeat of white supremacy. And that is a much longer, much…

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Last week Arran James proposed a reading group involving people interested in anarchism and speculative theory. I like the idea of asking activists and other politically inclined para-academics to spend some time checking worldviews against recent philosophical thought. We could stage such a reading/study group here at Synthetic_Zero.

The purpose of this study/research group would be to read a bunch of texts as a group and then discuss, discuss, discuss. These projects often require more attention than many of us can give so I propose we do away with the formalities and overarticulations and just dive in and get to the dialogue. For example, chapter summaries could be done by alternating members, but need only be BRIEF and to the point. Discussion and comprehension of insights is the goal.

Is there anyone out there who would be game for such a quick and dirty enterprise?

I propose the following list of possible “phase one” (theory-laden) books – in order of reading preference:

  • Nihil Unbound (Ray Brassier)
  • On An Ungrounded Earth (Ben Woodard)
  • The Ecological Thought (Timothy Morton)
  • The Three Ecologies (Felix Guattari)
  • Bodily Nature (Stacey Alaimo)
  • Levinas Unhinged (Tom Sparrow)
  • Vibrant Matter (Jane Bennett)
  • A Thousand Years on Nonlinear History (Manuel DeLanda)
  • Onto-cartography (Levi Bryant)
  • Political Affect (John Protevi)
  • Essays on Extinction (Clair Colebrook)
  • Posthuman Life (David Roden)

“Phase two” would be to move on to more practical/tactical oriented books as supplement and grounding. If these titles don’t interest you, or you know of more relevant theory-laden texts, please do let us know.

This group would be open to EVERYONE and strictly geared towards reading and discussing so the commitment would remain minimal..

Again, let us know.

Being in an Environment: A Performative Perspective “This talk lays out my general perspective on human relations with the environment. The central thread is a conviction that our thinking on this topic should start from a concern with performance and agency – the actions of people and things – rather than from scientific knowledge as a given point of departure. My approach is ontological rather than epistemological. It grows out of my earlier work in science studies, and I begin by reviewing some concepts developed there, and why they clash with mainstream academic discourses, before moving on to environmental topics and examples. Key threads include a distinction between two paradigms in scientific and engineering approaches to the environment, and an attempt to put science in its place – to see from the outside just how science figures in our relations with the environment. I am especially keen to establish the possibility of engaging nature in a directly performative fashion – one that does not centre itself on knowledge, science and the laboratory.”

“Darwinian Nihilism explains away ethics by showing that our ethical beliefs reflect dispositions very strongly selected for over long periods, which began well before the emergence of hominids, or indeed perhaps primates (vide the vampire bat). These dispositions are so “deep” that for most people most of the time, it is impossible to override them, even when it is in our individual self-interest to do so, still less when there is no self-interested reason to do so. Hence, the Darwinian Nihilist expects that most people are conventionally moral, and that even the widespread acceptance of the truth of Darwinian Nihilism would have little or no effect on this expectation. Most of us just couldn’t persistently be mean, even if we tried. And we have no reason to try. But Nice Nihilism is hardly “a stronger, sounder version of our most important ideas.” If it is the right conclusion then we must respond to Dennett’s final question “Does Darwin’s idea turn out to be, in the end, just what we need in our attempt to preserve…the values we cherish?” with a simple no.”



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