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Pornographic Ecology: Hearthism and the Logic of Political Action

Ecographies

The subject of Eco Porn came up over at Tim’s Violent Signs, as he highlights and discusses the site Fuck for forest (FFF), which touts itself as a ‘all natural” “sexy” way  save the planet. The site and project are one thing (at a few glances, too lallapolooza-burning man/member porn-site for me), but Tim’s general juxtaposition gave me to think about the possible powerful connections between Ecology and Pornography. There is something to this alliance, aside from a certain 60s liberation confluence of “free” and “love” that provokes. Unlike, perhaps Porn for Animal Rights (which brings the “animal” in human sexuality into the fore, and seems to translate violences unto each other), Porn for Nature creates other ideological ambiguities and leveragings. Instead of Herzog’s depiction of Nature as one vast chain of murders (is that how he put it in My Best Fiend?), Nature (the ideological image) tends towards one vast orgy. But porn is not an orgy. Porn consists of localized, quite staged (staging is part of its aesthetic) intensified and captured action, a kind of sitism meant to communicate itself to other sites. If anything Porn aligned with Nature gives one to see the localized eruption, the acute collision between what is supposed to be human and supposed to be natural, almost in a political sense. Nature itself becomes localizations of stagings, species collisions, environment intersexualizations within confines to be analyzed, broadcasts of itself in a heightened viability.

This leads to the immediate thoughts I had in response to Tim Matts piece, that in the very logic of Ecology and in Pornography, as both instrumentally instruct our experience and analysis of the world, the is a kind of exportation of border, a reconfiguring of Home. And, we can see, that pornography and ecology support themselves in the variety of their expansions, at least as political projects:

There is one, radically conceptual way that I can imagine that pornography (of any sort) connects itself to ecology, and that is at the etymological level. The “eco” in ecology is the study of the hearth, the home, with all its attendant social normatives, its structured persistence in every culture. Ecology is one might say, Home-ism. [And I don’t think that Idealism’s alienating and essential binaries of self/other, home/fremde are helpful here]. Pornography, the writing of prostitutes, are etched displays of that which at several levels appears to violate the home. Sex, moral sex, is supposed to occur right there at the core of the home, making a kind of double hearth. That Odysseus  is recognized as being home through the identification of his wedding bed – a great immovable tree hewn – into speaks to the anchoring of home in sexual act. Problems of ecology, we want to say in a qualified way, are problems of Home-ism, defining the Home in an incomplete and bordered way. Economics, the laws of hearths, attempts to trace out the nature of a hearth’s extension, but pornography immediate leaps and puts-out-aleady at the investigations’s limit, the sexual act, (seemingly) far beyond the terminus of the hearth. Yet the act itself is generative, is hearth-making, but in a potentially dislocating fashion. It encourages the imagination of Home-ism beyond where home might be, outside in the wilderness; and as hearth-making sexual acts (under economic auspices) are pyrophilic embers, threatening forest fires of another kind. Pornography propels the inside of the hearth to be re-started beyond the walls of home, and ecology forces the mind to expand those walls deep into systematic wholes never before imagined to be circulated. Pornography instantiates a de-centering that throws the ecological logic out into its sphere, but, as a fire-starter, also prevents (and threatens) and cohesive final vision of what a new-home might be. A fantasy flattening of hearth-making and of Home which the pornographic conflagration can tend to induce, itself is not an eco-end as it can merely dissipates the energy it generates, as well as laying its sexualized structures to appropriation.

Thoughts on Porn and the Political

There seems to me that there is found in pornography the essentially political act in the sense that it is both “framed” but also that the framing is meant to expose/reveal the absolute nexus of the human and the natural (as they are presupposed as divorced). One recalls the brute apogee of Sade’s work from the Bastille, and the presence of rampant porn publishing surrounding the French Revolution, to take the text book case. And as I discussed in the questions of freedom at stake in US versus Stevens: The Affects of Law and Protection, it is that porn takes as its mode of communications and replication the affective conduits of image, an intentful proliferation and economic bonding through the eidentic, that allows it to unnerve, literally, un-nerve the very weave of law and sense itself, on sites of the body, what each political act (conservative or liberal) threatens if for only a moment to do.

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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.