Sunday, 31 January 2010

Collapse VI: Geo/Philosophy

Dear Friends,
We are delighted to announce that Collapse VI: Geo/Philosophy is now available.
Advance orders and subscription copies are being shipped immediately.
Please visit our website to purchase. A PDF preview of the editorial introduction to the volume is also available on the website.

Contributors to the volume include:
Charles Avery, Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain, Stephen Emmott, Owen Hatherley, F I E L D C L U B, Iain Hamilton Grant, Renée Green, Gilles Grelet, Manabrata Guha, Nicola Masciandaro, Timothy Morton, Greg McInerny, Robin Mackay, Reza Negarestani, Drew Purves, F.W.J. Schelling, Eyal Weizman, Rich Williams.

Following Collapse V's inquiry into the legacy of Copernicus' deposing of Earth from its central position in the cosmos, Collapse VI: Geo/philosophy poses the question: How should we understand the historical and contemporary bond between philosophical thought and its terrestrial support?

Collapse VI: Geo/philosophy begins with the provisional premise that the Earth does not square elements of thought but rather rounds them up into a continuous spatial and geographical horizon. Geophilosophy is thus not necessarily the philosophy of the earth as a round object of thought but rather the philosophy of all that can be rounded as an (or the) earth. But in that case, what is the connection between the empirical earth, the contingent material support of human thinking, and the abstract 'world' that is the condition for a 'whole' of thought?

Urgent contemporary concerns introduce new dimensions to this problem: The complicity of Capitalism and Science concomitant with the nomadic remobilization of global Capital has caused mutations in the field of the territorial, shifting and scrambling the determinations that subtended modern conceptions of the nation-state and territorial formations. And scientific predictions present us with the possibility of a planet contemplating itself without humans, or of an abyssal cosmos that abides without Earth - these are the vectors of relative and absolute deterritorialization which nourish the twenty-first century apocalyptic imagination. Obviously, no geophilosophy can remain oblivious to the unilateral nature of such un-earthing processes. Furthermore, the rise of so-called rogue states which sabotage their own territorial formation in order to militantly withstand the proliferation of global capitalism calls for an extensive renegotiation of geophilosophical concepts in regard to territorializing forces and the State. Can traditions of geophilosophical thought provide an analysis that escapes the often flawed, sentimental or cryptoreligious fashions in which popular discourse casts these catastrophic developments?

Continuing to combine and connect work from different disciplines and perspectives in innovative ways, this new volume of Collapse brings together philosophers, theorists, eco-critics, leading scientific experts in climate change, and artists whose work interrogates the link between philosophical thought, geography and cartography. This multiplicity of engagements makes Collapse VI a philosophically-rich yet accessible examination of the present state of 'planetary thought'.

Contents of Volume VI are as follows:
- In 'Becoming Spice: Commentary as Geophilosophy', Nicola Masciandaro (CUNY, argues that philosophy belongs not to the ‘folly’ of a vertically-oriented ‘straight path’ but to a ‘circular and endless’ movement on the surface of the earth. The practice of commentary provides the key to understanding this endless movement, as the continual production of knowledge, a practice which ‘proceeds by staying’. Masciandaro sees this role of commentary as being encoded in spice, as a global commodity whose currency and commercial movement figures the production of understanding through continual differentiation and distribution.
- One significant modern attempt to create a philosophy that encompasses the Earth system is F. W. J. Schelling’s naturephilosophy. In Schelling’s 1798 work On the World Soul, previously unavailable in translation, the philosopher revendicates the ancient theory of the ‘World-Soul’, entirely reconstructing it through the most contemporary science of his time, which he supplements with the necessary speculative basis that will allow him to effect this grand synthesis. As Iain Hamilton Grant tells us in his introduction to extracts from his new translation, Schelling’s book must be understood as a bold experiment in systematically thinking ‘the All’.
- Reflections on the contemporary problems of thinking the ecology of the planet follow, in extended interviews with research scientists working on computational models of climate change at Microsoft's Computational Science lab in Cambridge, England. Stephen Emmott, Greg McInerny, Drew Purves and Rich Williams discuss their work devising new predictive computational models which reflect the interconnectivity and complexity of the biosphere, and present us with the perspective of ecology as a science reborn and negotiating its foundations and principles in response to the urgency of environmental crisis.
- In 'Thinking Ecology: The Mesh, the Strange Stranger and the Beautiful Soul' Timothy Morton (Professor of Literature and the Environment at the University of California, Davis, and author of Ecology Without Nature) presents a challenge to the pious sentimentalisation of 'nature' in ecological discourse, challenging 'environmentalists' to leave behind the 'beautiful soul' and think themselves as enmeshed in a 'dark ecology'.
- A contribution from UK artist collective F I E L D C L U B extends Morton's critique of the ideology of environmentalism, and examines the technical mediation of man's relation to the biosphere, asking: 'How Many Slugs Maketh the Man?'
- In 'Fossils of Time Future', Owen Hatherley continues his project to rescue architectural modernism from the ‘Ikea modernism’ of ‘light and airy’ interior design belonging to the vacuous economic optimism of the late twentieth-century. He contends that, in restoring the links of modernism with its less palatable predecessors – such as the proto-brutalism of Hitler’s Atlantic Wall – we can reawaken a suppressed, but rich and provocative, historical lineage where architecture confronts the 'chthonic'.
- In an extended interview with architect and theorist Eyal Weizman, 'Political Plastic', we discuss the way in which he sees architecture per se as interacting with the ‘political architecture’ of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and how the structure of the latter has been involved in a conceptual commerce with theory. Discussing in depth his conception of ‘forensic architecture’, Weizman speaks about the way in which this materialist-pluralist conception of politics demands a rethinking of the notions of responsibility, ideology, and resistance, and how his project Decolonising Architecture’s processes of ‘design by destruction’ and ‘ungrounding’ seek to disrupt the very temporalities according to which the very question of a ‘solution’ to the problem of occupation has been posed.
- Graphic work by artists Angela Detanico and Rafael Lain examines the many ways in which the planet is coded; their playful constructions explore the peculiar grammatologies that emerge once this stenography between the geographical and the symbolic is in place.
- Manabrata Guha (Assistant Professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore, India) presents an ‘Introduction to SIMADology’ in which he addresses the ‘global security ecology’ and suggests that its regime of thinking the relation of war to the earth – inherited, as he suggests, from the ‘father’ of the theory of warfare, Clausewitz – fails to register the radical difference which terror-operations inpose on the martial landscape. What Guha calls the SIMAD – Singularly Intensive Mobile Agencity of Decay – disrupts the Clausewitzian paradigm, drawing war-machines into a ‘chthonic battlespace’ which they are constitutively incapable of navigating.
- Reza Negarestani’s contribution undertakes an analytic examination of an ‘architecture and politics of decay’. Excavating some of the more bizarre preoccupations of mediaeval thought, and tracing their influence on early-modern mathematics, Negarestani suggests that they offer us the formal basis for an ‘architecture, mathesis and politics of decay’.
- Artist Charles Avery presents a new 'epilogue' and images of work from his project 'The Islanders', prefaced by Robin Mackay's essay which discusses the history of 'Philosophers' Islands' and the relation of Avery's work to this philosophical-literary tradition.
- Philosopher Gilles Grelet presents an implacable manifesto refusing philosophy's role of carving up and dividing the earth; presenting 'boat-theory' as 'a full-on attack on the world’, an angelic thought whose ‘crossings’ operate without the imperatives of the ‘worldly’.
- Artist Renée Green's film work 'Endless Dreams and Water Between', presented as part of an installation at Greenwich Maritime Museum in 2009, and presented in transcript form in Collapse VI, tells the story of four women driven by a curiosity about the island as a ‘non-location’. In contemplating their island locations, Green’s protagonists move towards a collective thinking which expands into the realms of the abstract only on the basis of their localisation and the contingency of their respective interests and life-circumstances.
Collapse VI: Geo/Philosophy
January 2010
Ed. R. Mackay
Limited Edition 1000 Numbered Copies
ISBN 978-0-9553087-7-2

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