To destroy an object is to reduce that object to mere appearance. Somehow a weapon of some kind is inserted into the rift between essence and appearance and translates the object so radically that the rift collapses. The reduction of an object to its appearance (“criminal,” “scapegoat,” “cop killer”) is a reduction of an object to consistency.


Prudence Whittlesey is doing a series of paintings of philosophers and I sat for her before the show began. Her paintings of Jane Bennett and Graham Harman were incredible. She caught how Jane looks like she is on fire, and how there is vision coming out of Graham's eyes. Whittlesey is slated to do Badiou some time this week (I think).


An explosion is frightening not only because it threatens me. An explosion is frightening because it's ontologically uncanny. This uncanniness underlies the physical threat. What uncanniness? Quite simply, an object that just functions in “my world”—a plane, a skyscraper—suddenly comes to life in a very different way. My world wavers for a moment—even collapses.


The New School
September 14, 2011
Free and open to the public


...this is part of a talk I'm going to do at Queen Mary University in London in a few weeks, at the conference Emerging Critical Environments with Kate Soper and Tim Clark (and others). I already posted the opening on my blog.


It may not be so cool of me but I just loved Werner Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, his presentation of the Chauvet Cave, full of the oldest known human art, from 30 000 BC.


...oh God I'm going to catch some heat for this. When I used the phrase “as a recovering Marxist” at Johns Hopkins a few months ago, I was met with a constant barrage of “critique” for the rest of the conference. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!


We're all fairly familiar with proleptic irony: the irony of anticipation in which we know something that a character in a narrative doesn't know yet. Now meet its weird sister, born today: apoleptic irony. (Thanks office hours with a super smart undergrad!) I love it when a new term is born, this time with the help of my handy Woodhouse's English–Greek dictionary


What does the online speculative realism movement have to offer a conversation about gender and blogging? Easy: several years of experience dealing with intimidation and despair. Whenever you put new stuff out there, you get flak, no matter what your gender.


No, they shouldn't. At least according to Douglas Hofstadter, who holds Ph.D.s in Comp. Lit. as well as Physics and has published extensively on artificial intelligence. His reasoning? Does making swooshing sounds while holding a toy plane qualify you to be a pilot? (That's exactly how he put it to me in an impassioned message.)


Timothy Morton's picture
Timothy Morton
Timothy Morton is Professor of English (Literature and Environment) at the University of California, Davis. Professor Morton's interests include literature and the environment, ecotheory, philosophy, biology, physical sciences, literary theory, food studies, sound and music, materialism, poetics, Romanticism, Buddhism, and the eighteenth century. He teaches literature and ecology, Romantic-period literature, and literary theory. He has published nine books and sixty essays, including The Ecological Thought (Harvard UP, 2010) and Ecology without Nature (Harvard UP, 2007).