Frames /sing

kvond

The Allure of a New Orthodoxy: Will “Collapse” Collapse?

Tim Matts over at his beautiful ecocritical, ecophilosophy blog, Violent Signshas some updates on the RealPolitik involved in the positioning of SRism, Harmanism and the various splintering pieces of the imagined movement. He focuses on the disseminating instrument – the  “Collapse” journal – and the coming and anticipated for eco-criticialists, Geo/Philosophy issue Collapse VI. It seems that in the editorial offices there is some worry that the journal will be swallowed up by this emerging Leviathan, ever mutating in its countless discoorinated hydra-heads. Can Collapse stand apart from this growing tide of commercialized thought, can it negotiate the path between meme-like viral fields condensing the aether into impromptu orthodoxy, and the possible failure to hook onto the Next Great Thing?:

Having recently spoken with editor Robin Mackay about the new volume, I can confirm that it is still in preparation, but an announcement will be made soon and advance orders will be possible at that time. Arriving some time in December, “late contributors and general perfectionism have held up publication…” Perhaps more interestingly, Mackay expressed concern over the journal’s affiliation with the latest philosophical trend, stating that “it’s not really centred on ‘SR/OOO’, indeed I’d be happy to distance Collapse from this apparent new orthodoxy!”

It seems that Tim jumped the gun in letting this “distancing” move of the journal out of the bag, and in doing so crossed the no-email-without-permission line that we find to be sacred. Tim felt that this was in good spirits and constructive, an interesting ethical topic in its own right, perhaps to be revisited. Its good to also post the “urbanomic” response, which does not refuse that such a distancing move is necessary, but that it needs to be clarified:

Hi Tim, to clarify – since you’re publicly quoting me from a hurried email response! – it’s not a matter of distancing Collapse from SR/OOO specifically – Rather, from the start the aim of Collapse was to avoid being associated with any philosophical ’school’, and to defy the tendency of philosophers to become jealous partisans of some particular camp or other and to spend their time defining and defending it; both by publishing important philosophical work that doesn’t fit into recognised academic categories – this was the reason for publishing Meillassoux et al in the first place – and by integrating work from outside philosophy.

Although this has always explicitly been its agenda, Collapse has inevitably been characterised in various places as being the ‘official journal of SR’ and suchlike, and even criticised for wavering from ‘real SR’. Whilst I’m more than happy with the association and with playing a part in disseminating that work, I don’t want readers to expect each volume to be some sort of ‘SR update’ and then to be disappointed. That’s why I mentioned it to you, since you were talking about reviewing the new volume as part of an overview of SR/OOO: Collapse played its part, but blogs and other publications will provide a much better overview of the current state of these developments.

I do think that we shouldn’t lose what’s important – the specificity and heterogeneity of each thinker’s work – in the excitement of a ‘next big thing’ and in the drive to determine affiliations and mark out territories.

Wrt your previous post, contrary to appearances, vol. 3 is in fact the best introduction, since it includes the full transcript of the original SR conference (year zero!)

And finally, one of the contributors to the ‘geophilosophy’ volume is Tim Morton, who you also discuss below (’speculative-realist-ecodeconstructionism’ set to become the next ‘next big thing?’

I’m not a great reader of Collapse (it was the home of Harman’s much discussed theory of Causation), but the coming issue certainly does strike a chord of interest, and Tim does a very nice job giving the context of the subject matter. For those of us interested in the local ethic which SR/OOP proliferation involves, the question of what substantive effect this loose theorizing and cadre-building (in particular the Harman/Levi variety) is having upon blogged philosophy, this new Orthodoxy associated chill is perhaps of abiding interest. In this way, as urbanomic says, if Collapse is an “SR update” I’m really not interested in reading it (though perhaps many people will be). Hopefully there will be other, more diverse ideas  involved. From the subject so described, I would have loved to have written on it.

Plus, I look forward to Tim’s promised comments on the question of Orientalization, either in Harman’s thinking (where it runs rampant) or in terms of ecophilosophy.

Advertisements

6 responses to “The Allure of a New Orthodoxy: Will “Collapse” Collapse?

  1. bryank November 18, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Very, very interesting. Thanks for linking to this Kvond, otherwise I would’ve missed it. I also thought that Robin (urbanomic)’s comment (“I do think that we shouldn’t lose what’s important – the specificity and heterogeneity of each thinker’s work – in the excitement of a ‘next big thing’ and in the drive to determine affiliations and mark out territories”) was pretty fantastic.

    • kvond November 18, 2009 at 7:24 pm

      Pretty fantastic, but can such a conception operate within a marketplace of Name-meme association and idea branding? I mean this seriously. What is interesting about the said thinkers of SR isn’t what supposedly, very losely joins them (and none of them associate themselves the way that Harman does with the group). I see the whole notion of their thought as some kind of movement as detrimental to the import of their positions, and it seems that though bonding together so as to brand themselves may have helped Network connections, it is really Harman whose thinking is the least compelling, least appealing to our philosophical problems, that has to most to gain from such an invented kind. It is actually in thinking of all four as a Four (with Levi trying as hard as he can to wedge himself in) produces one great yawn for me, while each as each, well, maybe of interest.

      • bryank November 18, 2009 at 7:35 pm

        Agreed. I find Meillasoux’s work to actually be especially interesting, even if I don’t agree with him at times, and am not familiar enough with Brassier or Grant’s work to really say. But it definitely seems as though the quasi-mythical and constructed “fourfold” of SR and the intense effort to market the movement and turn into some kind of “new orthodox,” to use Robin’s phrase—an effort largely perpetrated by Graham Harman and his zombie horde of desperate grad students—is really to the detriment of the kind of ingenuity and heterodox thought that first emerged out of Collapse. For the sake of their journal and its future, they *really* ought to distance themselves from much of the increasingly rigid doxa emerging on the Internet, as Robin correctly, if hesitantly, diagnoses.

      • bryank November 18, 2009 at 7:41 pm

        Additionally: I am waiting for the inevitable moment when Robin’s remarks begin to feverishly circulate around the SR blogosphere, but then each blogger immediately believes that they are of course not the ones being referred to in the message (the inverse process of ideological interpellation). It must be those *other*, *bad* SR bloggers… thereby increasing even further the orthodoxy of the SR blog movement, when new rounds of finger-pointings, more anathemas, and alleged deviations from the Party-line get slung around.

      • kvond November 18, 2009 at 7:49 pm

        What is a bit humorous is that Harman has been somewhat alienated from the said SR, as the other authors don’t seem at all to embrace the Identity as signficant to their work. Harman found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. He gained some sort of notoriety by saying “I’m with them!” but then he really wasn’t of their substance, so to speak, so then he tried to leverage himself via the Internet and got himself caught in the mess of blogging. This got him a bunch of cheap networking connections, grad-students and the what-not, and then a bizarre ally in Levi, who opposes almost everything Harman stands for, but who is trying the same old “I’m with them!” that temporarily worked for Harman. Harman distances himself from the blogging because a) it brought too much criticism to his work, b) it genuinely infuriated him to be exposed to some of the more unpleasant attacks that come with putting yourself in a position of importance and c) it all ate away with his time. This left him with only Levi and the remaining grad-students who think his theory is vaguely interesting (most of whom seem not to have read much of it critically), and Levi Bryant who is hanging on for dear life. All the while the image of a movement is still floating out there in some sort of autonomous internet phenomena, represented nothing of compelling substance.

        That’s at least how I have seen it play out. I actually feel a bit sorry for Harman for having to hook his horse up to Levi’s wobbly cart. But hell, he’s got a splinter group, what more could you want? Harman’s stuck between being a “real” author and an “internet” author.

  2. kvond November 18, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Bryan: “Additionally: I am waiting for the inevitable moment when Robin’s remarks begin to feverishly circulate around the SR blogosphere, but then each blogger immediately believes that they are of course not the ones being referred to in the message (the inverse process of ideological interpellation). It must be those *other*, *bad* SR bloggers… thereby increasing even further the orthodoxy of the SR blog movement, when new rounds of finger-pointings, more anathemas, and alleged deviations from the Party-line get slung around.”

    Kvond: Urbanomic’s criticism of the blogged reality of SR and its “defense” identity is very subtle, if at all. He simply says that if you want an update, its better to check out all the blogs. Which blog, who knows. Levi has a new theory ever five minutes, and Harman just lets us know how many words he typed, or what odd passage he found in Aristotle today. The Big SR authors don’t blog. So, I suppose he means the gradish students that post long link pages, and say how mean and unfair everyone is to Graham Harman. Is this the new orthodoxy?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: