Monthly Archives: October 2014

Toadvine’s always worth a read even if ultimately to reject


Ted Toadvine has a draft up of his new Research in Phenomenology paper, “The Elemental Past” (44: 262-219), a full-throated defense of Merleau-Ponty’s later phenomenology against the charges of correlationism, especially as regards the notion of time. (I happened to be on looking for something else when it nicely popped up as recommended [I’ve never used really, though now I see its dangers].) Nicely written, though I do wonder about the uses of the “eternal” in several places as prior and posterior to human life, given the thinking of finitude involved. In any case I happened to open the first chapter of my book on the new realisms and new materialisms with the nebula quotation in M-P that Toadvine discusses. (I was actually looking for work on Schelling and time and came across some bad renditions of Derrida using the notion of the eternal to link…

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“It is per­haps in trans­for­ma­tive alliance that works from and through dif­fer­ence, and which insists that sub­jects and groups might change, that mean­ing­ful “dis­rup­tion” occurs. The com­mon sense notion of dis­rup­tion equates it with the act or effect of dis­abling some­thing, in this case mate­r­ial cir­cu­la­tion. In this con­cep­tion, to dis­rupt is to stop the nor­mal work­ings of things for some period of time or in some space. No doubt this is an impor­tant way of con­ceiv­ing dis­rup­tion, and acts of this kind can pro­duce the kinds of effects detailed above. Yet there are other ways of con­cep­tu­al­iz­ing dis­rup­tion that have more pro­duc­tive con­no­ta­tions. Dis­rup­tion can also sig­nal a cre­ative destruc­tion that brings new pos­si­bil­i­ties into the world, as old or nor­ma­tive ways are brought to a halt. This is, in fact, a dic­tio­nary def­i­n­i­tion of the term. Indeed, as Toscano insists, “it is also pos­si­ble, and indeed nec­es­sary, to think of logis­tics not just as the site of inter­rup­tion, but as the stake of endur­ing and artic­u­lated strug­gles.”40 A vision of today’s many headed hydra as coali­tion on these terms responds directly to Tsing’s argu­ments about sup­ply chain cap­i­tal­ism as a struc­ture assem­bled through difference.
If logis­tics is essen­tially about net­works that pro­vi­sion and sus­tain both human life and the non-human ani­mals, machines, and infra­struc­tures that con­sti­tute our ecolo­gies, then it is in fact not a prac­tice, indus­try, or assem­blage that could ever be ceded to the cor­po­rate and mil­i­tary worlds that today work and fight under its ban­ner. Pro­vi­sion­ing and sus­tain­ing are also the labors of social repro­duc­tion that gen­dered and racial­ized peo­ples and social move­ments have always done. Along­side its mil­i­tary and cor­po­rate forms – in fact, pro­voked directly by these – we can see explicit take-up of logis­tics by dis­rup­tive move­ments in an alter­na­tive reg­is­ter. Now a crit­i­cal ele­ment of social move­ments from social forums to the Occupy move­ment, logis­tics is also a field that activists are actively explor­ing invest­ing in fur­ther for the future.41 Logis­tics is not only the cal­cu­la­tive tech­nolo­gies and mate­r­ial infra­struc­tures that order the global social fac­tory. Today, logis­tics also ren­ders a com­plex net­work of coali­tions through which dis­rupted futures of dis­tri­b­u­tion are assembled.”
Yeah so as you might expect I’m not a believer in “transformative” alliances but would gladly be wrong about such co-operative efforts, any examples of these sorts of things happening out there in the world in ways worth copying?

this may be the last word on Latour for my curating here as I think he has unfortunately become a real dead-end in terms of my interests.


If we accept Lyotard’s idea that the breaking up of any Grand Narrative is the anti-platonic lesson of our post-modern world then we are left with the problem that the proliferation of singularities and multiplicities, of fluxes and events, which was first conceived and experienced as a liberation, became fairly rapidly the depressingly banal state of affairs in the neo-liberal way of life. The democratisation and quantification of intensity led to the lowering of intensity. The underlying ontology is flat, and has flattened our everyday lives.

Resisting this depressive nihilistic state, diagnosed by Mehdi Belhaj Kacem in his book L’ALGÈBRE DE LA TRAGÉDIE, implies a process of intensification that is both faithful to the heritage of the philosophies of difference in some form of ontology of singularities and that combines it with an ethical seriousness. In Bruno Latour’s work we see such a flat ontology of singularities resulting in a…

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