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Cover of Leper Creativity by Perry Hall: Sound Drawing 07-04 (2007)

Invention is the transposition of one phase state to another, of one resonance on top of another, and it expresses therefore the deep recomposability, indeed deep recomputability, of worldly substance. Catherine Malabou speaks of the world’s plasticity as a condition of its futurity. When or where? Less than deep recomputability causes a genuinely new condition to emerge ‘later in time’ simultaneous to some postponed event, it does so ‘here’ in the recombinancy of an infinite synchronic field of the longest possible ‘now’. This is the absolute contingency of mathematics collapsing into the moratal contingency of stuff. That is, does everything that has ever existed now, in the molecular transformation of geo-programmatic recycling, and also, does everything that will ever exist already do so in another larval, disorganized distribution?

Bratton Benjamin. Root the Earth in  Leper Creativity. Brooklyn: Punctum Books, 2012. P46

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Still from Jarhead by Sam Mendes (2005)

Oil is a fascinating geological product that contains in itself thousands of years old fossils and sediments and which drives explicitly or implicitly the majority of the world geopolitical behaviors. In his book Cyclonopedia (see the numerous previous articles about it), Reza Negarestani claims that the Middle East is a sentient entity whose shit is oil. Building-up on Deleuze and Guattari’s Thousand Plateaus and their War Machines, he indicates that such a machine requires fuel and grease that cannot be possible without oil. The film Jarhead recounts the encounter of the American army with this geological sentient entity during the first Gulf War. The film almost never introduce any Middle Eastern human being but the sand, dust and oil praised by Negarestani are the true vernacular elements that surround the heavy army.

In Najaf and Ninevah, contacts speak of a notorious female oil smuggler named Jay who has assembled a militant religious cult named Naphtanese in the mountains of Kurdistan in Iran. They believe that the Unlife of War feeds on oil or (as they put it) the ‘black corpse of the Sun’. Negarestani Reza, Cyclonopedia. Melbourne: Re-Press, 2010. P130

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“If, in middle-eastern tradition, gods deliberately allow themselves to be killed left and right by enemies, humans, or themselves without any prudence as to their future and eventual extinction, it is because they find more significance and benefit in their own corpes –as a concrete object of communication and tangibility among humans- than in the abstractness of their divinity. At last, as corpes, they can copulate and contaminate.”

Negarestani Reza. CYCLONOPEDIA. Complicity with anonymous materials. Melbourne: Re-Press 2008

The New School’s symposium organized last March 11st around Reza Negarestani’s fictio-philosophical masterpiece Cyclonopedia is now archived and visible online.
To be honest, several of those lectures are very difficult to understand -at least for me- as they involve a vocabulary and a system of thoughts that are specific to what we could call “dark materialism”. However, I decided to incorporate three of them here that are accessible to a broader audience.

The first lecture is given by Eugene Thacker, co-organizer of this symposium with Ed Keller and Nicola Masciandaro. The title of his lecture is “Black Infinity; or, Oil Discovers Humans” and focuses on the materialist vision offered by Black Gondolier, a short story written by Fritz Leiber.


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Good news for the non New Yorkers or people could not be at Parsons this Friday for the first Cyclonopedia Symposium, Leper Creativity (see the previous article I write about it with the links about Cyclonopedia on the Funambulist) organized by Ed Keller with Nicola Masciandaro and  Eugene Thacker around the amazing book by Iranian Philosopher Reza Negarestani, there will be an online streaming live and (probably archived) on the following link.

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Parsons assistant dean, Ed Keller with Nicola Masciandaro and  Eugene Thacker are organizing on March 11st, the first symposium around a book I have been writing about several time on this blog: Cyclonopedia by Iranian Philosopher Reza Negarestani.

The symposium is entitled Leper Creativity and the presentations will be organized in the following way:
Alisa Andrasek
-Embodied Patterns / Non-Human Agency in Design
Zach Blas
– Opening Queerness
Melanie Doherty
– Non-Oedipal Networks and the Inorganic Unconscious
Benjamin Bratton
– Peak Oil Apophenia & the Hyperbolic Archipelago
Alexander Galloway
– “Light” and Light
Perry Hall
– TBA
Ed Keller
– TBA
Kate Marshall Cyclonopedia as Novel
Nicola Masciandaro
– Gourmandized in the Abattoir of Openness
Eugene Thacker
– Black Infinity; or, Oil Discovers Humans
McKenzie Wark
– An Inhuman Fiction of Forces
Ben Woodard
– The Untimely (and Unshapely) Decomposition of Onto-Epistemological Solidity: Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia as Metaphysics

Previous article about Cyclonopedia on The Funambulist:
CYCLONOPEDIA. Complicity with Anonymous Materials by Reza Negarestani
Sympathy with the obstacle / Parkour in Gaza
Exhumation & Architecture in Cyclonopedia by Reza Negarestani

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Goreme in Capadocia (Turkey) / photo by Louise Frenico

Mehrdad Iravanian, the Iranian architect once suggested, ‘In order to study architecture, one must first investigate necrocracy.’ But we should go further: one must practice the art of exhumation too.
Reza Negarestani

As I already wrote in another article about this book, Cyclonopedia written by Iranian Philosopher Reza Negarestani is a fictitious reinterpretation of Deleuze and Guattari’s Thousand Plateaus based on the following proposition: “The Middle East is alive.

Among other things, Negarestani develop in a much more elaborated way, the notion -introduced by A Thousand Plateaus- of holey space (see previous article) as an alternative of the two Manichean striated and smooth space. Here are some excerpts from Cyclonopedia:

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Cyclonopedia is one of those books that drives you ecstatic for being so different from anything you have ever read so far. In this book, Iranian Philosopher Reza Negarestani elaborates a beautiful narrative of the Middle East seen as a sentient and alive entity. Following the tracks of Deleuze & Guatarri’s Thousand Plateaus, Negarestani go far beyond them by granting an alive autonomy to every entities composing the Middle East (sand, dust, oil, plague, rust, war, bullets, rats, corpes, Zoroastrian divinities etc.) except maybe human being themselves.
The text is very obscure and sometimes even esoteric, but the feeling of being lost in it provides even more jubilation when a paragraph becomes vivid for the reader.
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pyramid

Bao Steel #8 / Manufactured Landscapes series by Edward Burtynsky

What is Nature? An article written for the sixth issue (Summer 2015) of Too Much Magazine of Romantic Geography ///

As this issue of Too Much Magazine investigates artificial replications of natural elements, we might want to stop for a moment and wonder what these notions of artificial and natural could possibly imply. While the first part of this article will propose a non-anthropocentric interpretation of the world, which renders obsolete the distinction between these two notions the second will attempt to show that even within an anthropocentric rationale, their dissociation can no longer be made in our era, when all things are subjected one way or another to human activity.

The 17th century saw the collision of two Western philosophical paradigms about nature. I hope that readers will forgive me for the following simplification: While Descartes (1596-1650) argues that humans should make themselves “master and possessors of nature,” Spinoza (1632-1677) bases his entire Ethics on the idea that “Deus sive Natura” (God or Nature) is infinite and composes all things that exist. In the Spinozist interpretation, humans are thus fully part of nature and the belief that we can act outside of it — by exercising what we commonly call “freedom” — results from our ignorance of the causes that determine us. By stripping humans of the idea of free will, Spinoza inscribes them within an irresistible movement that engages all things. Such a vertiginous idea (because it shatters all our certitudes) is at the foundation of various philosophical materialist movements (including Marx’s work), the latest version being found in recent schools of thought, such as object oriented ontology and speculative realism.

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Parkour Gaza

I am aware of the fact that I already wrote a very similar article (same topic, same reference) a bit less than three years ago. Yet, with the forthcoming sixth volume of The Funambulist Pamphlets dedicated to Palestine, it might be a good time to revisit it.

The small group of Palestinians practicing parkour in the Gaza strip has been largely spread around the net (see Joseph Grima’s article in Domus for example with beautiful photographs by Antonio Ottomanelli). However, we should not be overwhelmed by the aesthetics offered by these bodies subverting walls in a region where walls embody the paradigm of the containment from which the people of Gaza suffer. We should nonetheless not refuse the symbolical aspect of such practice as symbols have a strong impact on collective imaginaries. The latter have various degrees of political involvement and one can easily understand that, in the specific case of Gaza, the collective imaginary built by the Palestinians have indeed strong political implications.

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As I wrote in a previous post, I was lucky enough to be included in LOG 25 Reclaim Resi[lience]stance, edited by Cynthia Davidson and curated by François Roche. My essay consisted in a historical philosophical interpretation of the two very specific architectures that are the barricade and the tunnel. As said in the text, the title Abject Matter, is both communicating my will to read them through a materialist philosophy, as well as my questioning of the recurrent terminology of counter-insurgent strategies that tends to associate insurrections and social movements with filthiness and infection. I concluded my text with a short introduction to Gilbert Simondon’s concepts of form and matter, that I am hopeful to develop a bit more in the near future.

Abject Matter: The Barricade and the Tunnel
by Léopold Lambert

Seen through a materialist reading, the built environment can be a way of contextualizing political struggle. Architecture, as a modification of the material world, allows us to observe the political implications of such transformations. Whether intentionally or not, it has been recurrently used as an instrument of control upon bodies, and considering architecture’s ability to transgress a given system’s rules, the discipline seems inherently in collusion with this same system. Given this conundrum, is it possible to conceive of a resistive architecture? Two different operations on matter – aggregating and digging – can be seen as acts of creation toward two potentially resistive architectural typologies: the barricade and the tunnel.

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