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Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects

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ISBN: 9780615625355 Year: Pages: 311 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
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Animal, Mineral, Vegetable examines what happens when we cease to assume that only humans exert agency. Through a careful examination of medieval, early modern and contemporary lifeworlds, these essays collectively argue against ecological anthropocentricity. Sheep, wolves, camels, flowers, chairs, magnets, landscapes, refuse and gems are more than mere objects. They act; they withdraw; they make demands; they connect within lively networks that might foster a new humanism, or that might proceed with indifference towards human affairs. Through what ethics do we respond to these activities and forces? To what futures do these creatures and objects invite us, especially when they appear within the texts and cultures of the “distant” past?

Beowulf: A Translation

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ISBN: 9780615612652 Year: Pages: 312 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
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Many modern Beowulf translations, while excellent in their own ways, suffer from what Kathleen Biddick might call “melancholy” for an oral and aural way of poetic making. By and large, they tend to preserve certain familiar features of Anglo-Saxon verse as it has been constructed by editors, philologists, and translators: the emphasis on caesura and alliteration, with diction and syntax smoothed out for readability. The problem with, and the paradox of this desired outcome, especially as it concerns Anglo-Saxon poetry, is that we are left with a document that translates an entire organizing principle based on oral transmission (and perhaps composition) into a visual, textual realm of writing and reading. The sense of loss or nostalgia for the old form seems a necessary and ever-present shadow over modern Beowulfs.What happens, however, when a contemporary poet, quite simply, doesn’t bother with any such nostalgia? When the entire organizational apparatus of the poem—instead of being uneasily approximated in modern verse form—is itself translated into a modern organizing principle, i.e., the visual text? This is the approach that poet Thomas Meyer takes; as he writes,[I]nstead of the text’s orality, perhaps perversely I went for the visual. Deciding to use page layout (recto/ verso) as a unit. Every translation I’d read felt impenetrable to me with its block after block of nearly uniform lines. Among other quirky decisions made in order to open up the text, the project wound up being a kind of typological specimen book for long American poems extant circa 1965. Having variously the “look” of Pound’s Cantos, Williams’ Paterson, or Olson or Zukofsky, occasionally late Eliot, even David Jones.A glance anywhere in Meyer’s text demonstrates the stunning results. One place he turns it to especially good effect is the fight with Grendel in Fit 11, transforming the famously hyper-condensed syntax of the scene from a discouraging challenge for the translator into a visually pleasing strength:The eyes of Hygelac’s kin watched the wicked raiderexecute his quick attack:without delay,snatching his first chance,a sleeping warrior,he tore him in two,chomped muscle, sucked veins’gushing blood,gulped down his morsel, the dead man,chunk by chunk,hands, feet & all.& thenfootstephandclawfiendreachmanbedquicktrickbeastarmpainclampnewnotknownheartrunfleshofeargetawaygonowrunrunnever before hadsinherd feared anything so.Here the reader is confronted with the words themselves running together, as if in panic, in much the same way that the original passage seems in such a rush to tell the story of the battle that bodies become confused. This is just one example of the adventurous and provocative angle on Beowulf to which Meyer introduces us. His Beowulf—completed in 1972 but never before published—is sure to stretch readers’ ideas about what is possible in terms of translating Anglo-Saxon poetry, as well as provide new insights on the poem itself.

Leper Creativity: Cyclonopedia Symposium

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Essays, articles, artworks, and documents taken from and inspired by the symposium on Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials, which took place on 11 March 2011 at The New School. Hailed by novelists, philosophers, artists, cinematographers, and designers, Cyclonopedia is a key work in the emerging domains of speculative realism and theory-fiction. The text has attracted a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary audience, provoking vital debate around the relationship between philosophy, geopolitics, geophysics, and art. At once a work of speculative theology, a political samizdat, and a philosophic grimoire, Cyclonopedia is a Deleuzo-Lovecraftian middle-eastern Odyssey populated by archeologists, jihadis, oil smugglers, Delta Force officers, heresiarchs, and the corpses of ancient gods. Playing out the book’s own theory of creativity – “a confusion in which no straight line can be traced or drawn between creator and created – original inauthenticity” – this multidimensional collection both faithfully interprets the text and realizes it as a loving, perforated host of fresh heresies. The volume includes an incisive contribution from the author explicating a key figure of the novel: the cyclone.

Dark Chaucer: An Assortment

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Although widely beloved for its playfulness and comic sensibility, Chaucer’s poetry is also subtly shot through with dark moments that open into obscure and irresolvably haunting vistas, passages into which one might fall head-first and never reach the abyssal bottom, scenes and events where everything could possibly go horribly wrong or where everything that matters seems, if even momentarily, altogether and irretrievably lost. And then sometimes, things really do go wrong. Opting to dilate rather than cordon off this darkness, this volume assembles a variety of attempts to follow such moments into their folds of blackness and horror, to chart their endless sorrows and recursive gloom, and to take depth soundings in the darker recesses of the Chaucerian lakes in order to bring back palm- or bite-sized pieces (black jewels) of bitter Chaucer that could be shared with others . . . an “assortment,” if you will. Not that this collection finds only emptiness and non-meaning in these caves and lakes. You never know what you will discover in the dark.

On an Ungrounded Earth: Towards a New Geophilosophy

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ISBN: 9780615785387 Year: Pages: 118 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Philosophy
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"The world is deep: and deeper than day has ever comprehended."~Nietzsche, Thus Spoke ZarathustraFor too long, the Earth has been used to ground thought instead of bending it; such grounding leaves the planet as nothing but a stage for phenomenology, deconstruction, or other forms of anthropocentric philosophy. In far too much continental philosophy, the Earth is a cold, dead place enlivened only by human thought—either as a thing to be exploited, or as an object of nostalgia. Geophilosophy seeks instead to question the ground of thinking itself, the relation of the inorganic to the capacities and limits of thought. This book constructs an eclectic variant of geophilosophy through engagements with digging machines, nuclear waste, cyclones and volcanoes, giant worms, secret vessels, decay, subterranean cities, hell, demon souls, black suns, and xenoarcheaology, via continental theory (Nietzsche, Schelling, Deleuze, et alia) and various cultural objects such as horror films, videogames, and weird Lovecraftian fictions, with special attention to Speculative Realism and the work of Reza Negarestani. In a time where the earth as a whole is threatened by ecological collapse, On an Ungrounded Earth generates a perversely realist account of the earth as a dynamic engine materially invading and upsetting our attempts to reduce it to merely the ground beneath our feet.

Speculative Medievalisms: Discography

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Proceedings from the two Speculative Medievalisms symposia, held at King’s College London (Jan. 2011) and The Graduate Center, City University of New York (Sep. 2011), and organized by The Petropunk Collective (Eileen Joy, Anna Klosowska, Nicola Masciandaro, and Michael O’Rourke). These interdisciplinary events were dedicated to dialogue and cross-contamination between traditional concepts of speculatio, present-minded premodern studies, and contemporary speculative realist and object-oriented philosophies. In its medieval formulation, speculatio signifies the essentially reflective and imaginative operations of the intellect. Here the world, books, and mind itself are all conceived as specula (mirrors) through which the hermeneutic gaze can gain access to what lies beyond it. “To know is to bend over a mirror where the world is reflected, to descry images reflected from sphere to sphere: the medieval man was always before a mirror, both when he looked around himself and when he surrendered to his own imagination” (Giorgio Agamben, Stanzas). Correlatively, speculative realism, as the term suggests, is characterized by the self-contradictory intensity of a desire for thought that can think beyond itself — a desire that proceeds, like all philosophy, in a twisted and productive relation to the phantasm of the word.Aiming to rise above and tunnel below the thought-being or self-world correlation, speculative realism “depart[s] from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the past and engage[s] in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself” (The Speculative Turn). Speculative Medievalisms, like some weird friar-alchemist in an inexistent romance, plays the erotic go-between for these text-centered and text-eccentric intellectual domains by trying to transmute the space between past and present modes of speculation from shared blindness to love at first sight. Possibly succeeding, the volume brings together the work of a motley crew of philosophers and premodernists into prismatic relation.

Reality in the Name of God

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ISBN: 9781468096361 Year: Pages: 356 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Religion
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What should philosophical theology look like after the critique of Onto-theo-logy, after Phenomenology, and in the age of Speculative Realism? What does Kabbalah have to say to Philosophy? Since Kant and especially since Husserl, philosophy has only permitted itself to speak about how one relates to God in terms of the intentionality of consciousness and not of how God is in himself. This meant that one could only ever speak to God as an addressed and yearned-for holy Thou, but not to God as infinite creator of all.In this book-length essay, the author argues that reality itself is made up of the Holy Name of God. Drawing upon the set-theoretical ontology of Alain Badiou, the computational theory of Stephen Wolfram, the physics of Frank Tipler, the psychoanalytical theory of Jacques Lacan, and the genius of Georg Cantor, the author works to demonstrate that the universe is a computer processing the divine Name and that all existence is made of information (the bit). As a result of this ontic pan-computationalism, it is shown that the future resurrection of the dead can take place and how it may in fact occur. Along the way, the book also offers compelling critiques of several significant theories of reality, including the phenomenological theologies of Emmanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Marion, Process Theology, and Object-Oriented Ontology. Reality in the Name of God explores how the concepts of Jewish mysticism can be articulated and deployed as philosophical theses within current metaphysical debates. It provides a new and dynamic Structural Realist ontology of information. Ultimately, the book aims to deal a death blow to the restriction of philosophy and theology in relation to elaborations of a how a believer relates to a God outside the mind and to return thought to a direct encounter with the divine nature of reality itself and its creator.

Preternatural

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ISBN: 9781105245022 Year: Pages: 38 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: History of arts --- Philosophy
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Preternatural is the catalogue for a multi-site art exhibition (9 December 2011 through 17 February 2012, in Ottawa, Canada) that draws from the idea that art itself is a form of preternatural pursuit, in which the artists participating explore the bewildering condition of being in between the mundane and the marvelous in nature. It questions a world that understands itself as accessible, reachable, and ‘knowable’ and counters it with a consideration of this heterogenous proposition.

Intimate Bureaucracies: A Manifesto

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ISBN: 9780615612034 Year: Pages: 60 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Political Science
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Intimate Bureaucracies is a history from the future looking backward at our present moment as a turning point. Our systems of organization and control appear unsustainable and brutal, and we are feeling around in the dark for alternatives. Using experiments in social organizationin downtown New York City, and other models of potential alternative social organizations, this manifesto makes a call to action to study and build sociopoetic systems.One alternative system, the Occupy movement, has demands and goals beyond the specific historical moment and concerns. This short book/manifesto suggests that the organization and communication systems of Occupying encampments represent important necessities, models, goals, and demands, as well as an intimate bureaucracy that is a paradoxical mix of artisanal production, mass-distribution techniques, and a belief in the democratizing potential of social media.Participatory decentralization, a mantra of political networks, expresses a peculiar intimate bureaucratic form. These forms of organization represent a paradoxical mix of artisanal production, mass-distribution techniques, and a belief in the democratizing potential of social media. Borrowing from mass-culture image banks, these intimate bureaucracies play on forms of publicity common in societies of spectacles and public relations. Intimate bureaucracies monitor the pulse of the society of the spectacle and the corporatized bureaucracies: economics as in Big Business, culture as in Museums and Art Markets, mass media as in Studio Systems and Telecommunication Networks, safety as in Big Brother militarized police forces, and politics as in Big Government. Rather than simply mounting a campaign against big conglomerations of business, government, police, and culture, these intimate bureaucracies and their works use the forms of corporate bureaucracies for intimate ends. Rather than reach the lowest common denominator, they seek to construct what those in the business world would call niche marketing to ultra-specific demographics. Businesses, interested in utilizing the World Wide Web and the Internet, already use these strategies for niche marketing. The historical examples and sketches, explored in this pamphlet, examine how these cultural experiments emulate and resist the systems used in Internet marketing.The apparent oxymoron, intimate bureaucracies, suggests not only a strategy, but the very basis for the new productive mythology surrounding the electronic World Wide Web.Intimacy, the close familiarity of friendship or love, by definition depends on a small-scale system of communication. Its warmth, face-to-face contact, and fleeting impact has often made it the subject of art and literature. It usually only appears in administration situations as either an insincere ornamentation of a political campaign (“pressing the flesh” or “kissing babies”), or as inappropriate office behavior (affairs, gossip, child abuse, etc.), but rarely as the center of a political system. The “small is beautiful” movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s did suggest the possibility of an intimacy in politics, but not how to scale the system to the size of a government.

Annotations to Geoffrey Hill’s Speech! Speech!

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Book Series: Glossator Special Editions ISBN: 9781468129847 Year: Pages: 282 Language: English
Publisher: punctum books
Subject: Languages and Literatures
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Geoffrey Hill’s Speech! Speech! (2000) encapsulates two thousand years’ worth of utterances in a symbolic act of remembrance and expression of despair for the current age, in which we find “our minds and ears fouled by degraded public speech—by media hype, insipid sermons, hollow political rhetoric, and the ritual misuse of words.” Through 120 densely allusive stanzas—“As many as the days that were | of SODOM”—the poem wrestles this condition from within, fighting fire with fire in an alchemical symbolic labour that transmutes the dross of corrupt and clichéd idiom into a dynamic logopoeia which proves true Hill’s persistent claim: “genuinely difficult art is truly democratic.” Such is the weird, ambivalently hostile position of poetry in the present world and thus the space of our real connection to it: “Whatever strange relationship we have with the poem, it is not one of enjoyment. It is more like being brushed past, or aside, by an alien being” (Hill).Befriending this estrangement, embracing it as a more amicable brushing-up-against, Hassan’s Annotations is a thorough and patient explication of Speech! Speech! that both clarifies and deepens the poem’s difficulties, illuminating its polyphonic language and careening discursive movement. The author’s method is at once commentarial, descriptive, and narratorial, staying faithfully with the poem and following its complex verbal and logical turns. The book generously provides, rather than direct interpretative incursion, a more durable and productive document of “the true nature / of this achievement” (stanza 92), a capacious, open understanding of the text that will prove invaluable to its present and future readers.

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