Archive for the ‘Manuel DeLanda’ Category

The speculative turn

28 December 2010 has just released The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism, edited by Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman. It’s a 430-page compendium of the speculative realism movement and its associates, downloadable as a free PDF and also available in paper format.

The Speculative Turn

There are many reasons to be excited about this volume, besides it being 430 pages and free. With all the buzz  in the blogosphere about speculative realism and object-oriented ontology in recent years, newcomers to this emergent field had to rely on the wikipedia entries for an initial introduction. Chapter 1, “Towards a Speculative Philosophy” by Bryant, Srnicek and Harman does now provide a more thorough yet still very accessible introduction to this movement’s origins and main concerns.

The egalitarianism of the book is also admirable, as it contain contributions from academics at various stages in their academic career, from PhD students to academic celebrities. There are pieces here by all the original founders of speculative realism (Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Graham Harman, and Quentin Meillassoux), as well as some of the philosophers who inspired them (Alain Badiou, Manuel DeLanda, François Laruelle, Isabelle Stengers, Slavoj Žižek).

Naturally much of the book revolves around the debates between the main proponents of the movement – as well as with some of their attentive readers – which should contribute to a further crystallisation of the various competing positions. There are however also some interesting contributions by those aforementioned forerunners, for example Latour on modes of existence, DeLanda on emergence, Žižek on Hegel, and Stengers on materialism. Indeed, the excellent introduction provides a very helpful overview of the included essays.

Finally, let me just add that I love the cover image of the book, the debating bypass secateurs (at least I think they are debating), which seems very appropriate for this compendium. First of all, there is the reference to tools, which are so central to Harman’s Heideggerian argument (‘tool-being’ and all). These secateurs are broken tools in a sense, because they are made to be present-at-hand, by the very fact that they are presented on a book cover, in dramatic, anthropomorphic poses, as if they were engaging in a dispute. Then there is also the association to what these secateurs usually do, what they are used for: essentially cultivating and then harvesting things. And they do this through pruning,  by shaping trees and bushes, and here, arguments.

P.S. As the re:press site is down right now, here is an alternative download site.

Academic fashions

16 December 2010

Google’s Books Ngram Viewer seems like the ultimate tool for tracing academic fads and fashions. It charts how often a word or phrase has been mentioned in books over a time period (in the last 200 years). Here are some Ngrams just for fun, on ANT, Latour, Heidegger, Harman, Deleuze, Whitehead, Sloterdijk and others. More on Ngram Viewer at The Guardian.

Towards Speculative Realism

10 November 2010

Graham Harman’s new book of old essays and lectures has just been published under the title Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures, by Zero Books. Its publication is a proper ANTHEM event, in the sense that this book deals with both actor-network theory and Heidegger, as well as Harman’s own attempt to build on both, through his object-oriented philosophy. Here are the contents:

    1. Phenomenology and the Theory of Equipment (1997)
    2. Alphonso Lingis on the Imperatives in Things (1997)
    3. The Theory of Objects in Heidegger and Whitehead (1997)
    4. A Fresh Look at Zuhandenheit (1999)
    5. Bruno Latour, King of Networks (1999)
    6. Object-Oriented Philosophy (1999)
    7. The Revival of Metaphysics in Continental Philosophy (2002)
    8. Physical Nature and the Paradox of Qualities (2006)
    9. Space, Time, and Essence: An Object-Oriented Approach (2008)
    10. The Assemblage Theory of Society (2008)
    11. Objects, Matter, Sleep, and Death (2009)

      Algorithmic Allure

      19 December 2009

      It is nice to learn from Graham Harman that his Bournemouth talk last year on Heidegger’s “origin of the work of art” essay has directly inspired this interesting forthcoming paper by Robert Jackson: “Heidegger, Harman and Algorithmic Allure.” That event was actually organised by Tammy Lu at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth (since then  renamed as the Arts University College at Bournemouth), although I was the one who took this crazy photo of Graham:

      Three days later Graham gave another talk on “The Greatness of McLuhan” at the Media School at Bournemouth University. We posted the recordings of both talks on this blog and they both became quite popular, however the Heidegger talk has the edge: it has been downloaded 1,027 times since 8 February 2008, as opposed to the 884 downloads of the McLuhan talk.

      Strangely, both of these talks are more popular than Harman’s first lecture at the LSE  “On Actors, Networks, and Plasma: Heidegger vs. Latour vs. Heidegger” on 29 November 2007, which has been downloaded 778 times, even though that was the event that launched the Heideggero-Latourian project most explicitly. I would have thought that the juxtaposition of Heidegger and Latour and the invocation of Latour’s concept of the plasma would be provocatively alluring (or alluringly provocative) enough to attract more attention. But the most popular Harman download (besides the respectable 1,688 downloads of the Harman Review itself) seems to be his “Assemblages According to Manuel DeLanda” from November 2008, with 1,385 downloads since then.

      [Although I should hasten to add that these figures are somewhat misleading, as both the plasma talk and the Harman Review are also available on the LSE website, so probably just as many people if not more would have downloaded them from there. As for the DeLanda talk, it received a boost after being listed on Speculative Heresy.]

      Jackson’s paper sounds very interesting though, so I’ll reproduce his abstract here:


      The Speculative Turn

      4 July 2009

      News of the Speculative Turn anthology have hit the blog waves. There is now a holding page for the forthcoming book on the site, and Levi Bryant provides the genealogy.

      Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman (editors) (Forthcoming), The Speculative Turn: Continental Materialism and Realism. Melbourne,


      Continental philosophy has entered a new period of ferment. The long deconstructionist era was followed with a period dominated by Deleuze, which has in turn evolved into a new situation still difficult to define. However, one common thread running through the new brand of continental positions is a renewed attention to materialist and realist options in philosophy. Among the current giants of this generation, this new focus takes numerous different and opposed forms. It might be hard to find many shared positions in the writings of Badiou, DeLanda, Laruelle, Latour, Stengers, and Zizek, but what is missing from their positions is an obsession with the critique of written texts. All of them elaborate a positive ontology, despite the incompatibility of their results. Meanwhile, the new generation of continental thinkers is pushing these trends still further, as seen in currents ranging from transcendental materialism to the London-based speculative realism movement to new revivals of Derrida. As indicated by the title The Speculative Turn, the new currents of continental philosophy depart from the text-centered hermeneutic models of the past and engage in daring speculations about the nature of reality itself. This anthology assembles authors, of several generations and numerous nationalities, who will be at the center of debate in continental philosophy for decades to come.


      Realism without materialism

      23 June 2009

      Graham Harman delivered a brilliantly dense paper in Zagreb over the weekend. He defined and redefined realism and materialism only to abandon both (in favour of the term “realism without materialism”), in pursuit of an object-oriented philosophy that fuses the most interesting insights of Heidegger and Latour. Download the audio file [100MB MP3] of the lecture and the discussion that followed [1 hr 49 min] from the website of the 21st Century Materialism Workshop.

      The Assemblage Theory of Society

      5 January 2009

      In addition to the recording and the PowerPoint slides of the ANTHEM session where it served as the basis for the discussion, a copy of Graham Harman’s paper “The Assemblage Theory of Society” on Manuel DeLanda is now also available online [PDF], courtesy of Nick at Speculative Heresy. This paper was first presented at the Deleuze2008 Conference in Stavanger, Norway. Check out the Resources page of Speculative Heresy for some other goodies.

      Harman on DeLanda recording fixed

      4 December 2008

      It appears that in recent days the audio file of Graham Harman’s talk on Manuel DeLanda has become corrupted on eSnips, the free data storage service we use for hosting the ANTHEM recordings. We are not sure if it happened because of the volume of downloads (over 160 in a few days) or because of a change in service quality at eSnips, which has been recently acquired by another firm. In any case, after a number of failed attempts we have managed to upload a fresh copy of the file, which seems to work fine for now. Here is the link to the audio recording once more. Apologies for these technical problems, and also for the overbearing advertising on eSnips. Up until now we were fairly happy with this service but we may have to look for an alternative solution if these problems keep recurring. Any suggestions for other free file hosting services would be most welcome.

      Recording of Graham Harman’s talk on Manuel DeLanda

      28 November 2008

      A recording of Graham Harman’s ANTHEM seminar talk at the LSE yesterday, entitled “Assemblages According to Manuel DeLanda,” and the discussion that followed, is available here (1 hr 47 min). A PDF file of the PowerPoint slides can be downloaded from here.

      Harman evaluated the ontological assumptions behind DeLanda’s realism, his notion of assemblage and his theory of causation, by tracing their origins in Deleuze and Bhaskar, among others. He then contrasted DeLanda’s ontology with that of Bruno Latour and concluded by presenting his own object-orientated approach to thinking about causation, objects, and emergence.


      Assemblages According to Manuel DeLanda

      24 November 2008

      As announced earlier,  we are expecting Graham Harman to join us at Thursday’s ANTHEM seminar. Dr Harman has also very kindly agreed to give us a talk, accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation, in order to summarise but also expand on the main points of the paper (“The Assemblage Theory of Society”) that he has shared with us. The title of his talk is “Assemblages According to Manuel DeLanda.” The main themes are realism, causation, emergence, assemblages, essence, DeLanda, Deleuze, Bhaskar, Latour, and Harman’s own (Heideggerian) object-orientated philosophy.