Archive for the ‘process-relational’ Category

The geo-logical supersedes the ana-logical.   Leave a comment

Seventeen years after I started my first year studies at Glasgow University (geology, psychology, chemistry) I’ve found Schelling!

I’m so happy! On Friday I was explaining why I gradually become a storyteller after completing a geology PhD (Geophysiology/Gaia theory). Daniel Whistler’s early draft of Language After Philosophy of Nature: Schelling’s Geology of Divine Names confirms the underlying logic of this trajectory.

“Das Eine weise Wesen will nicht das alleinige genannt seyn, den Namen Zeus will es!

The One wise nature does not wish to be called that exclusively; it wishes the name ‘Zeus’. ”

Schelling, surely a friend in reading Finnegans Wake.

Posted January 30, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in Literary Theory, process-relational

Sandhyas! Sandhyas! Sandhyas!   Leave a comment


Ricorso – Dawn of the new era – The celbration of Kevin – HCE’s indiscretion published, scene of crime revisited – Mutt and Juva, the dispute between St Patrick and the Archdruid – ALP’s letter – Anna Livia’s soliloquy.

I spent the day warming up for this reading: straight through part IV of Finnegans Wake, and back round to the start.

The program was breakfast; a gym session; a trip to the market; yoga, and then some time with Deleuze and Guattari’s What is Philosophy? I read the conclusion, “from Chaos to the brain” and afterwards “The Plane of Immanence” chapter.

This got me in the right place. A cup of coffee after sun set, and I began to read.

It’s the first time I’ve had visual imagery (like a flickering mental film) whilst reading FW, tracing “The miracles, death and life” (605.3).  “Loonley in me loneness” (627.34).

Theory: process-relational etc   Leave a comment

Yesterday, I was reading Adrian Ivakhiv’s excellent post, process-relational theory primer, as I began to structure my post-Wake reading.

I also looked at Levi R. Bryant’s post on a-signifying semiotics. He writes:

“If I understand Guattari correctly (and I always find him challenging) when he evokes a-signifying semiotics he is referring to forms of operation that manipulate elements in ways that do not involve signification or meaning. The way in which DNA and RNA interact would be an example of, for Guattari, an a-signifying semiotic.

…Meaning and signification, of course, gets imbricated in these a-signifying semiotics when we encounter their results, but these operations do not in and of themselves function according to meaning or signification.”

This seems to be a fruitful lense through which I can continue to engage with the Finnegans Wake text.

Another quote that helps me articulate my thinking on FW comes from Deleuze and is quoted  Bruno Bosteels’ essay in Deleuze and Guattari: new mappings in politics, philosophy, and culture. It reads:

“The unconscious no longer deals with persons and objects, but with trajectories and becomings; it is no longer an unconscious of commemoration, but one of mobilization, an unconscious whose objects take flight rather than remaining buried in the ground”.

Bruno Bosteels‘ essay “From Text to Territory” continues, “Guattari’s institutional analysis departs from Lacanianism: first, of course, by considering the larger semiotic or even machinic experimentation of collective agencies rather than the linguistic expression of individual persons; second, by heralding a possible overcoming of the idea of a successful Oedipus complex; and finally, by breaking the axiomatic universality of the signifier and the name of the father” (160).

At the moment, I can (only) feel that this concept-bundle is central to my reading of FW. Continuing down Bosteels essay, “Hjelmslev’s model of stratification” (161); and its connection to Sassure’s view that language is “a form combining thoughts and sounds, the famous recto and verso of language as a single sheet of paper” also seem critical to my thinking (ibid.). And there is loads more to mine from the subsequent paragraphs of this essay in terms of how these thinkers can help a reader to relate to the “autopoeisis” of the “collective assemblages” operating at a “chaosmotic level” in FW.

My geologist’s head knows that assemblages font-émerger underlying relational process, “without presupposing any static image of the earth to begin with” (ibid.). As Deleuze says, “the object itself is movement”.

Posted January 28, 2011 by R.H.H. Nisbet in Literary Theory, process-relational

Technical Problems   Leave a comment

I went to the Finnegans Wake Reading Group in Zurich again last Thursday. It was good to spend an hour close reading with this group, numbering musicians, artists, neurologists and dancers – for many of whom Joyce is a muse. The imposing new Houyhnhnm Press edition of FW was passed around too and we admired the tome.

Back at the James Joyce Foundation on the Friday, I read Northrop Frye’s chapter, “Cycle and Apocalypse” in Vico and Joyce. On page five, Frye proposes that the Wake’s 4 sections correspond to Vico’s four cyclical phases of history. Hence:

Section 1 chapters 1-8 = mythical poetic period. (Legend and myths of the gods)

Section 2 chapters 1-4 = aristocratic phase.

Section 3 chapters 1-4 = demotic phase.

Final chapter = ricorso.

Frye asserts that “there is little evidence that the mature Joyce read technical philosophy with any patience or persistence – not even Heraclitus, who could have given him most of what he needed of the philosophy of polarity in a couple of aphorisms.” (5)  This is interesting given how the “riverrun” gushes right through the Wake.

Frye goes on to state that time for Vico is cyclical, but within a spatial metaphor; but that Bruno devised a new conception of space where “subject-object confrontation dissolves back into a temporal flux.Which makes for quite a folded and refolded image…(N.B. Joyce was interested in polarity due to Giorgano Bruno’s writings (5)).

My other reading last Friday included Joyce’s children’s story, The Cat and the Devil; and Alison Armstrong’s recipe book, The Joyce of Cooking. Consequently, this Christmas we will be delighting in “Combustible Duck”, as inspired by Ulysses (175).

I do hope I manage some more reading between now and then, but my mini disk player has conked out at the moment…

Please, check back here soon for more installments.

OOO   1 comment

This morning I have been listening to this MP3 post on object orientated ontology over at Ecology without Nature. It is a good introduction to OOO. And it has helped me to start to elaborate the statement I make on my profile page: that I’m interested in slippages between word and world… I’m interested in what this slipperiness belies -that Worlds (and words) are  constructs, pretenses at structural stability to block out- perhaps, what in geologist speak is called the dynamic Earth.

Making Worlds. Let’s at least own that complicity in pretense! Understand the slippery construction.

World making: Here is the advertising blurb for our new living room wallpaper:

“The outdoors comes in with this leaf stripe design, lightly distressed to give a subtle natural effect.
All of the papers in Graham & Brown’s eco collection are printed with water-based, VOC free inks, on FSC acredited, sustainable paper. The wallpapers are also wrapped in a compostable material.”


Assemblages   Leave a comment

Last night we talked about Bennett’s citing of the the electrical grid as an example of an assemblage:

“a volatile mix of coal, sweat, electromagnetic fields, computer programmes, electron streams, profit motives, heat, lifestyles, nuclear fuel, plastics, fantasies of mastery, static, legislation, water, economic thory, wire and wood” (25, Vibrant Matter).

My husband (a power engineer) accepted Bennett’s description, and concurred with the analysis of the 2003 North American power failure as being attributable to a variety of agential loci (26). One of these loci being the excessive consumption of reactive power. In my husband’s words, reactive power is out of phase power “sloshing around in the network” and users can take it out, and then immediatley put back, like playing catch:

take out 60 VAR

put back 60 VAR

Here is the static VAR compensator at CERN, where my husband works:

Anyway,the grid is dependent on its clients to responsibly compensate in this game of throw and catch, or, as Bennett says, Garrett Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” may arise: the whole assemblage becomes unstable and there is a power blackout.

Bennett proposes that actants therefore need to be aware of operating within a moving whole. She illustrates her point with the example of dynamic off-road biking (38). That made me smile, as her discussion had already made me think of my husband balancing his bike when the traffic lights are on red.

When I am on my bike a red light = STOP! Put your feet down on the tarmac.

Whereas, my husband stays enmeshed within the assemblage, trajectory-bike-gravity-body. He keeps his feet on the peddles, twisting his handlebars 1mm to the right 2mm to the left, shifting his weight forwards a little, backwards a little.

Being enmeshed runs in my husband’s family. His twin is a sommelier and an expert on natural wines: An example of an assemblage that fits with Bennett’s discussion about the Slow Food movement in chapter 3 of VM. Generally, I find the language of biodynamic farming to be more vitalist than vibrant. But, it still places food as an actant connecting inorganic matter and organic life:

Vibrant Matter   2 comments

I have got a really sore throat today. So no reading out-loud for me. Instead, I’ve started reading Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter: a political ecology of things (Duke UP: Durham and London, 2010).

I found the book referenced on Timothy Morton’s blog:

I think it will be valuable as I develop my own river-themed Finnegans Wake project.

Bennet pursues “a materialism in the tradition of Democritus-Epicurus-Spinoza-Diderot-Deleuze more than Hegel-Marx-Adorno” (xiii). I’m glad of the chance to better understand this genealogy. And to observe how Bennet relates such theory to the work of the Russian scientist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky, “who also refused any sharp distinction between life and matter” (8).

I’m also pleased to read about the “Spinozist notion of affect, which refers broadly to the capacity of any body for activity and responsiveness” (xii). And Bennet’s “willingness to theorize events (a blackout, a meal, an imprisonment in chains, an experience of litter) as encounters between ontologically diverse actants some human, some not, though all thoroughly material” (xiii-xiv).

This is sore-throat-compatible reading.