News | Year: 2011

25 Dec 2011

Herman Philipse feels your pain.

1. Introduction

In this paper I attempt to substantiate the thesis that the core-beliefs of religions are irrational. These core-beliefs are the monotheist contention that there is one God or the polytheist opinion that there are a number of different gods. Outside mathematics, the word ‘irrational’ may signify two different things. Either it means that a sentient being is not endowed with reason, for instance if one speaks of ‘irrational animals’ such as slugs. Or it means that a belief or an action is contrary to reason, that is, unreasonable, utterly illogical, or absurd. I claim that all religious core-beliefs are irrational in this second sense. And of course, irrationality should be avoided.

It will be objected to my thesis that beliefs cannot be accused of being unreasonable unless they are situated within the province of reason. Could one not argue that religious beliefs are not located within this province because, as Pascal said, ‘the heart has reasons which reason does not grasp’? According to some religious authors, the domain of reason is somehow limited, and faith must be situated entirely, or in part, beyond the limits of human reason. I shall argue that even if faith transcends reason in this manner, the core-beliefs of religions are unreasonable.

(more…)

16 Nov 2011

Universal-Knowedge.jpg
If you are in Stockholm between 17 to 22 November, I will be talking over skype on limits and possibilities of speculative thought within a universalist framework.
Details below:
In this seminar Reza Negarestani will take a systematic approach to the modern landscape of thought where reason and speculation, earth and cosmos, regional and universal resources of thought intermingle and synthesize so as to deliver us ��� remorselessly ��� into the open. Beginning with a geocosmic reappropriation of Freud’s and Ferenczi’s theories of trauma and a universal reinstatement of Darwin’s evolutionary thesis characterized by Peirce as a major trajectory of speculative thought, Negarestani outlines a modern landscape of thought fully in accord with the revolutionary imports of Darwin’s assault on Aristotelian essentialism and Freud’s transcendental evacuation of human conscious experience. By navigating this modern landscape and highlighting its terrains and boundaries via figures such as Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Sandor Ferenczi, Wilhelm Reich, Charles Sanders Peirce, Fernando Zalamea, Lorenzo Magnani, Guerino Mazzola and Gabriel Catren, Negarestani develops an asymptotic thought of the open ��� a universalist mode of thought at last cut loose from the overgrown lineage of planetary myopias.
Dates and Times
17 Nov 10.00 ��� 13.30
Introduction to seminar and Reza Negarestani by M?�rten Sp?�ngberg

Reza Negarestani Seminar 1: The Map and the Compass
��� Outlining the modern landscape of thought (a schema)
��� Sketching a speculative philosophy for navigating the modern landscape (a scheme)
��� Introducing alternative speculative schemes

18 Nov 10.00 ��� 12.30

Reza Negarestani Seminar 2: The Pit and the Pendulum
��� Universal continuum and a modern conception of the Earth
��� Toward a geophilosophical realism, or a systematically focused universalist philosophy

19 Nov 10.00 ��� 12.30

Reza Negarestani Seminar 3: The Universal and the Regional
��� Universalizing tensions and syntheses of the modern landscape (a geocosmic deepening of trauma)
��� A traumatic rehabilitation of the terrestrial horizon of thought

21 Nov 10.00 ��� 12.30

Reza Negarestani Seminar 4: The Earthman and the Open (150 mins)
��� Traumatic syntheses and the open
��� A non-trivial conception of openness and its revolutionary import

22 Nov 10.00 ��� 13.00

Reza Negarestani Seminar 5: The Trans-and-Absolutely Modern Man (180 mins)
��� Logic of alternatives and developing the asymptotic thought of the open
��� Modern man, or the enforcer of openness
Closing discussion and final notes with M?�rten Sp?�ngberg

Location: University of Dance and Circus – DOCH
Brinellv?�gen 58, T-bana Tekniska H??gskolan
Stockholm, Sweden

Contact
Anders Jacobson, course assistant
anders.jacobson@doch.se

01 Nov 2011

We are pleased to announce that the entire contents of Collapse Volume II is now available online (here).
This groundbreaking volume from 2007 introduced the words \’Speculative Realism\’ into the lexicon, with the first published translation of work by Quentin Meillassoux (the essay \’Potentiality and Virtuality\’), Ray Brassier\’s commentary and critique of Meillassoux, and essays by Reza Negarestani and Graham Harman, along with fascinating interviews with theoretical cosmologist Roberto Trotta and Neurophilosopher Paul Churchland, and work by artist Kristen Alvanson and filmmakers Clémentine Duzer and Laura Gozlan.

14 Aug 2011

Race and Class

To begin with the first. In the Memoirs of Granville Sharp, lately published, there is an anecdote recorded of the young Prince Naimbanna, well worthy the attention of all unfledged sophists, and embryo politicians.

(more…)

15 Jul 2011

In order to get familiar with some of the fundamental concepts of category theory and Zalamea’s project, I have compiled a short list of recommended readings. While there are many monographs on category theory, I think the following titles are the most helpful for introductory and philosophical purposes:

1. Conceptual Mathematics: A First Introduction to Categories by William Lawvere (Lawvere’s book is exceptionally layman-friendly. I haven’t been aware of this title until recently. Thanks to Nick Srnicek for mentioning this book.)

2. Topoi: The Categorial Analysis of Logic by Robert Goldblatt (Goldblatt’s book contains some helpful introductory chapters. Thanks to Gabriel Catren for recommending this).

3. Tool and Object: A History and Philosophy of Category Theory by Ralf Kr??mer (An absolute essential for an in-depth analysis of the development and concepts of category theory.)

4. What is category theory? edited by Giandomenico Sica (A collection of both technical and relatively accessible essays. This title is particularly helpful for becoming familiar with broader perspectives and applications of category theory in physics, philosophy of science, etc.)

15 Jul 2011

James Murdoch paid £100,000 to meet Pope
By Jerome Taylor, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Friday, 15 July 2011

The Catholic Church has been criticised for accepting a six-figure donation from James Murdoch ahead of him being given a personal audience with Pope Benedict during last year’s papal visit. Mr Murdoch was among major donors who were invited to personally greet Pope Benedict after a special mass at Westminster Cathedral during the pontiff’s visit last September. It is believed that the Murdoch family paid a contribution towards the Papal visit of around £100,000.

The continuing scandal over phone hacking has placed religious institutions in a moral quandary. There have already been calls for the Church of England to divest its £3.8m shares in News Corp, a request which church leaders have so far resisted.

There is growing disquiet within the Catholic community over the Murdoch family’s close ties to the church in Britain, America and in Rome.

Although not a Catholic, James’s father Rupert was made a Knight Commander of St Gregory by the previous pontiff Pope John Paul II, one of the highest civilian honours the Vatican bestows on people. His wife at the time, Anna Torv, was a practising Catholic and the following year Mr Murdoch gave $10m to help build a cathedral in Los Angeles.

(more…)

14 Jul 2011

Versus Laboratory has announced a forthcoming lecture by Colombian mathematician and philosopher Fernando Zalamea to take place at Jan Van Eyck Academie on 29 September, 2011 (details here). While I highly encourage you to attend this seminar, I use this announcement as an opportunity to very briefly introduce Zalamea’s project in the context of a prologue to the future series of introductory posts I intend to write on Zalamea and his universalist project in mathematics and philosophy.

Zalamea.gif

Fernando Zalamea (Bogotà, 1959) belongs to a contemporary and transmodernist renaissance in which science, philosophy, and art enter new synthetic domains. The underlying thesis of Zalamea’s project is simple and can be described — albeit reductively — as follows:

Mathematics is able to map universality and bring the labyrinth of the universal continuum — in its different modalities, global-regional reflexivity, general openness and particular designations — into focus. And it is universality through which (a true-to-the-universe) knowledge can mediate the abyssality or depth of an absolutely open and reflexive universe:

Universality – Knowledge – Abyssality

The triadic commutation above systematically reveals the reflexive web of the universe (from the universe to the universe, or universe-for-itself) which can be traversed by trans-modal, trans-regional and synthetic-analytic passages. The web of the universal and open continuum, thus, illuminates the continuous and reflexive passage Universality Abyssality in terms of real alternatives (Universality / Abyssality). Here, real or true-to-the-universe alternatives should be understood as free transits, transformations, twists, syntheses and relations to the open which simultaneously factor in particularities of local fields and an unrestricted conception of globality inexhaustible by any collection of multitudes or regional horizons. The logic of (real) alternatives, accordingly, is concerned with free expressions of the Universal in all its global-local horizons and through various relational and modal webs. Reflexivity of the universe, therefore, should be thought in terms of free expressions of the Universal, or more accurately, in terms of alternative passages through which the universe traverses back-and-forth between global and local horizons. In other words, reflexivity is the modally and relationally unbound universe-for-itself.

Following the rich legacy of universalism represented by thinkers such as Ramon Llull, Novalis and Charles Sanders Peirce, Zalamea approaches the logic of real alternatives implicit to the triadic universal commutation by way of combinatorial (Llull), compositional (Novalis) and synthetic (Peirce) environments where fusion of modalities, gluing of local fields of knowledge and plastic interweaving of analytical poles can take place. The logic of real alternatives (or free expressions of the Universal) implicit to the abyssal self-reflexivity of the universe is naturally embedded in a true-to-the-universe synthetic landscape that can be systematically approached. This universally synthetic — which by definition means both analytical and synthetic — landscape, therefore, is the topos of (universal) knowledge that highlights and constitutes the reflexive passage Universality – Abyssality.[1] Every true-to-the-universe thought — that is, rational, Copernican and speculative — must pass and work through this synthetic environment, its relational and modal webs, its local filters or perspectives for decanting truth and free global-local dialectics that encompass all nature and culture. Without any prior and systematic observation of this universal synthetic environment, philosophy risks either regional myopias (analytical saturation, local rigidification, over-axiomatization …) or a sort of speculative universal incompetency arising from restricted and often whimsically polarized conceptions of universality (all is synthesis, no particularly exists, …).

Maps and compasses which are required for exploring this synthetic environment or universal web of transits (constituted of integration and differentiation, continuities and obstructions, exact and vague distributions of truth) have been available in the Protean realm of contemporary mathematics. Whilst sophisticated tools and constructs in category theory, sheaf logic (where the synthetic-analytic continuity reflects in sheaf-presheaf categories) and post-Grothendieckian mathematics are to some extent compatible with the aforementioned synthetic universal environment, their speculative valence is still concealed behind formalization and certain desiderata imposed by inter-relations between mathematical fields. As easy as it is to be repelled by the level of mathematical knowledge required to engage contemporary fields of mathematics, it is also easy to be lured and mislead by the exotic formalism of certain mathematical concepts and tools in these fields such as category theory. Resisting suturing philosophy to mathematics, Zalamea’s project highlights the speculative scope of contemporary mathematics not by glossing category theory with contemporary philosophy or finding philosophical equivalents of mathematical concepts in subtle ways but by conducting a creative surgery on contemporary mathematics itself: Rather than directly working with category theory, Zalamea immerses category theory and sheaf logic in the Peircean program of universal and creative mathematization by passing the arsenal of category theory through natural and diverse filters inherent to the Peircean universal and open continuum, intermediating intuitionistic logic and classical logic through sheaf logic,[2] loosening Kripke’s discrete modal logic through the modal geometry sketched in Peirce’s existential graphs, asymmetrization of category theory-set theory dialectics through Freyd’s generalizing allegories and Peirce’s universalizing mathematics of modal geometry, broadening various forms of global-local dialectics in terms of trans-modality of the continuum, compossibilization of different analytical poles in the plastic environment provided by the open continuum, reinscription of the universal continuity within and between incommensurable loci of analysis, …. Here there is no suturing, only recombination of mathematical grafts, transplantation of one field into another, partial gluing, systematic generalization, filtering, decanting, magnification, dilution, Peircean trisection and triplasty.

It is the synoptic, panoramic and systematic surveying of this synthetic landscape – or universal transit of the abyss — through various mathematical lenses that characterizes Zalamea’s project and endows an immensely rich dimension to his universalist thesis. It is not controversial then to distinguish Zalamea — whose body of works spans mathematics, philosophy and cultural criticism (art, architecture, literature, …) — as a post-Copernican heir to Llull, a new Peirce for contemporary logic and mathematics, and a transmodernist Lautman for philosophy in the 21st century.

[1] An alternate and absolutist version of this speculative passage is also presented by Gabriel Catren in his fascinating essay The Outland Empire: Prolegomena to Speculative Absolutism: ‘The speculative movement par excellence is in effect the subsumption of extrinsic transcendental critique within an immanent speculative self-reflection. The reflexive passage from a knowledge-in-itself (i.e. a theoretical procedure that does not reflect in its own transcendental conditions of possibility) to a knowledge-for-itself would thus constitute the immanent dialectic of speculative knowledge itself.’ This is something we will return to in future posts.

[2] Colombian mathematician Xavier Caicedo has also admirably worked on this front: see L??gica de los haces de estructuras.

07 Jul 2011

covers.jpg
���Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism��� has been published and is available now.
My contribution to the Venice Biennale 2011, entitled Rainbows and Rationalism, can be read in the main biennale catalogue, ILLUMInations.
The new Thackery T. Lambshead fiction collection exquisitely compiled and edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer is now available. My text in the volume is a short fiction written on a drawing provided by China Mi?�ville. Other contributors include China Mi?�ville, Mike Mignola, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Minister Faust, Jeffrey Ford and Lev Grossman among others.
I have also a short text in the new issue of MACBA’s magazine.
On the philosophical front, a couple of new essays on geophilosophical realism and the Copernican thought should be available soon in anthologies including the promising Realismus Jetzt!
If nothing unforeseeable happens, I will start a series of introductory posts on Fernando Zalamea’s mathematico-philosophical project on this blog (there will also be interspersed commentaries on Peirce, contemporary rationalism, Gabriel Catren, �Ķ). In the meantime, for those who are interested, the new volume of Collapse ���Culinary Materialism��� contains some brief introductory passages on Zalamea in the editorial introduction. Manabrata Guha’s multi-dimensional essay in the volume also builds on Zalamea���s work on Peirce.

02 Jul 2011

We are pleased to announce that Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism is now available.

Contributors to the volume include: AO&, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Gabriel Catren, John Cochran, Sean Day, Rick Dolphijn, FIELDCLUB, Michael A. Morris and John Gerrard, Carole Goodden, Iain Hamilton Grant, Manabrata Guha, Dorothée Legrand, Vanina Leschziner and Andrew Dakin, Dan and Nandita Mellamphy, Jeremy Millar, Eugene Thacker, Richard Wrangham, Fernando Zalamea.
There has never been a time when cookery was so high on the agenda of Western popular culture. And yet endlessly-multiplying TV shows, obsessive interest in the provenance of ingredients, and "radical" experiments in gastronomy, tell us little about the nature of the culinary.
Is it possible to develop the philosophical pertinence of the culinary without using philosophy as a support for this endlessly-expanding culture of gastronomy? How might cookery in the restricted sense connect to an extended philosophical sense of the culinary, in which synthesis, combination and experimentation take precedence over analysis, subtraction and axiomatisation?
Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism brings together work that explores, from many different perspectives, the multifaceted question of cookery and eating. In this volume, a range of contributors – philosophers, chefs, scientists, anthropologists, artists – explore the links between philosophy, chemistry, experimental practice and the culinary arts; chart the consequences of the contemporary return of cookery to scientific precision, in the rarefied world of haute cuisine as in the world of mass-manufactured confections; and explore the material, symbolic, and existential dimensions of food and its preparation. Along the way we discover that the question of a culinary materialism is bound up with some profound and enduring issues in the history of philosophy, and can also suggest new approaches to contemporary philosophical problems.

Contents of Volume VII are as follows:
– In The Chemical Paradigm, an interview with Iain Hamilton Grant, the philosopher discusses how chemistry can serve as a model for a renewed naturephilosophy that operates not simply through analysis but equally through synthesis. Developing a "chemophilosophical" point of view, he challenges the nomological model of knowledge and tests the limits of the culinary as metaphor and as principle for a thinking of nature.
Carol Goodden, who, with artist Gordon Matta-Clark founded the restaurant FOOD in New York in 1971, discusses with us the extent to which the FOOD project, and Matta-Clark's interest in disrupting and transforming structure, can be related to a more general concern with alchemical or culinary transformation, exemplified in early works such as his Agar pieces and "fried photographs". The interview is accompanied by an archive of Matta-Clark graphic works that exemplify his conception of "building materials as nature���s food": "build to feed the worms an organic eat-a-tecture".
– The "semi-nomadic collective" AO&'s practice offers an example of how the restricted practice of the culinary can provide a locus for the exploration of broader networks of production, communication and consumption. In our interview they describe their "perverse" endeavour to fully inhabit the problem of food production in contemporary society, through a painstaking "disclosure" that makes possible an enhanced perception or phenomenology of the act of cookery. AO&'s practice involves within the ambit of "food preparation" the personal sourcing and assembly of every ingredient, including cooking materials, the preparation of the site, and the forging of connections with a network of producers – thus they ask, Where is the Edge of the Pot?, preparing the way for a generalised culinarism.
– In his contribution to the volume, Manabrata Guha reports on recent efforts to "weaponize" the massively potent Bhut Jolokia chili pepper, observing that the military effort to harness its non-lethal power to incapacitate and disorient indicate a shift in strategy, a failed attempt to contend with a new "enemy of all". Examining the inadequacy of the state���s employment of the Bhut Jolokia as a means to enhance an ill-adapted military model, Guha turns to the traditional culinary usage of the chili to reveal more fundamental lessons for the transformation of the schema of battlespace and the rise of a new, vague and inherently synthetic, adversary.
Rick Dolphijn adopts another culinary approach to the contemporary "state of emergency", analysing how the changing alimentary regime of the military anticipated and accelerated the rise of biopolitical governance through continual intervention. According to Dolphijn, the militarization of the world���s diet and the territorialization implicit in dietary programs have resulted in the emergence of a new terrestrial dietary/military continuum whose synthetic elements are "terroristsoldiers".
– In Reason in the Roasting of Eggs, anthropologist Richard Wrangham deepens the notion that "cooking that makes us human", expanding on his thesis that the advent of cooked food is one of the major drivers behind the development of the human brain. Wrangham reveals how the human culture of cooking is a part of nature's chemical and physiological horizon; and for this reason, must be seen in the wider context of a culinary continuum that includes the contingencies that made possible the human as such.
– In Theorizing Cuisine from Medieval to Modern Times, examining the transition from medieval to modern epistemes of cookery, Vanina Leschziner and Andrew Dakin argue that prevailing gastrological norms (in particular, the separation of sweet from non-sweet) exist at an intersection of many influences, where sociological, institutional and epistemic conditions drive the exploration of alternative conceptual articulations of the "phase-space" of possibilities provided by chemical, physiological, nutritional, hedonic, and adaptive factors.
Sean Day introduces us to the fascinating world of synaesthetic cookery. Molecular Gastronomy has, famously, experimented with the integration of different senses (not only olfactory but visual and aural) into dishes. But the curious experiences of synaesthetes reported by Day move him to call for an expanded multi-sensory culinary practice that engages not only with the sciences that are able to analyse and synthesise its matter, but also more fully with the neuroscienctific research that could inform a more systematic approach to the interaction of different sensory modalities.
– In Whey to Go, artist collective FIELDCLUB offer an insight into the deranged machinations of capitalism's food laboratories, uncovering a plot that implicates humans, agriculturally-adapted animals and industrial processes in new culinary syntheses, as the "pig-function" is absorbed by the capitalist exigency to full exploitation of the earth.
– In Object Oriented Cookery, Chef John Cochran proposes a culinary practice that opens itself to non-human participants. Chefs, like philosophers, have "ontological commitments" determined by their praxis, and which distort the objects they work with. Cochran critiques the radical claims of contemporary food movements that claim to break out of normative models of cookery – Molecular Gastronomy and Slow Food – and asks what a "flat cookery" could be.
– Anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro examines the extreme point at which the culinary meets the symbolic, proposing that in cannibalism we discover a remarkable example of a developed and socially-functional perspectivism: "anthropophagy as anthropology". Refusing an account of cannibalistic "sacrifice" as divine expiation, Viveiros de Castro develops a rethinking of sacrifice by examining the ways in which the devouring of the enemy also amounts to an inhabiting of "the enemy's point of view" on the self.
Eugene Thacker, in Spiritual Meat, offers us another perspective on cannibalism, drawing out a parallel between Bataille's "religious horror", and the perplexing problem of thinking corporeal resurrection, as addressed by Athenagoras; discovering beyond the "dead life" and the "eaten life" – corpse and meat – an anonymous, unhuman "cooking" and a "desolate culinarism".
– In her contribution Ex-Nihilo: Forming a Body out of Nothing,, Doroth?�e Legrand introduces a move toward a deep (intra-subjective) phenomenology of consumption (in general) and eating disorders (in particular). As Legrand demonstrates, this relation between the diet and production is manifestly highlighted in anorexia, where "eating nothing" translates into a series of complex semiotic, phenomenological and cognitive procedures for the subject with regard to the production of identity; and a resistance against the anonymous dimensions of the self revealed in the act of eating.
John Gerrard and Michael A. Morris's Corn Bomb traces the implication of nitrogen in the industrial alimentary regime, and the way in which the "ingredients" for postwar human culture were prepared and "cooked" by war and petropolitics. This tangled story of military, agricultural and scientific developments, and their reterritorialisations of the earth, provide the backstory to Gerrard's realtime 3D portraits of desolate industrial facilities that act as batteries to fuel hungry cities.
Dan Mellamphy and Nandita Biswas Mellamphy develop a post-geophilosophical culinarism, rethinking "ecology" as an "ec[h]ology" wherein man is "translated back into nature", and the planet "feasts upon itself". Connecting the ourobouric or ovoid figure of such an autophagy to the Nietzschean will-to-power, they develop an ecology that peers into the al-chem, the black earth, as into a stomachos or "pit of blackness".
Fernando Zalamea pursues his mathematico-philosophical project committed to a de-rigidification of thought by providing "two trivial recipes" that dramatise the culinary dilemma of contemporary philosophy: Analytical Jelly and Transmodern Tatin.
– and the new "recipe" for philosophy offered by Gabriel Catren's On Philosophical Alchimery, Or Why All Chimeric Compositions are Philosophical Stones proposes that only a "consistent unheard of combination of heterogeneous ingredients" allows us to concoct a truly concrete "philosopher's stone".
The volume concludes with an Appendix compiled by the editors and including recipes from Darwin, Leibniz, Newton, and others.
Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism is also accompanied by Jeremy Millar's "Black Cake" – a print edition produced especially for this volume – based on a recipe passed on in a letter by Emily Dickinson.
Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism
July 2011
Eds. R. Negarestani, R. Mackay
631pp
Limited Edition 1000 Numbered Copies
ISBN 978-0-9553087-9-6
£12.99 – ADVANCE ORDERS £9.99

24 Jun 2011

Collapse editor Robin Mackay will be speaking at the AA School\’s FORMAT series, on Thursday 30 June in London: More information here.

13 Jun 2011

We are pleased to announce that Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism is now available for advance ordering, and will be published July 1st. A PDF preview of the editorial introduction to the volume is available here.
A launch event is planned, as a part of AO&'s residency with Outset in London. Editor Robin Mackay will discuss the new volume and the concept of culinary materialism, with Philipp Furtenbach of AO&, and Paul Chaney and Kenna Hernly of FIELDCLUB. Sunday 3rd July at 6.30pm, at Lincoln House, 33-34 Hoxton Square, London N1 6NN.

Contributors to the volume include: AO&, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, Gabriel Catren, John Cochran, Sean Day, Rick Dolphijn, FIELDCLUB, Michael A. Morris and John Gerrard, Carole Goodden, Iain Hamilton Grant, Manabrata Guha, Dorothée Legrand, Vanina Leschziner and Andrew Dakin, Dan and Nandita Mellamphy, Jeremy Millar, Eugene Thacker, Richard Wrangham, Fernando Zalamea.
There has never been a time when cookery was so high on the agenda of Western popular culture. And yet endlessly-multiplying TV shows, obsessive interest in the provenance of ingredients, and "radical" experiments in gastronomy, tell us little about the nature of the culinary.
Is it possible to develop the philosophical pertinence of the culinary without using philosophy as a support for this endlessly-expanding culture of gastronomy? How might cookery in the restricted sense connect to an extended philosophical sense of the culinary, in which synthesis, combination and experimentation take precedence over analysis, subtraction and axiomatisation?
Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism brings together work that explores, from many different perspectives, the multifaceted question of cookery and eating. In this volume, a range of contributors – philosophers, chefs, scientists, anthropologists, artists – explore the links between philosophy, chemistry, experimental practice and the culinary arts; chart the consequences of the contemporary return of cookery to scientific precision, in the rarefied world of haute cuisine as in the world of mass-manufactured confections; and explore the material, symbolic, and existential dimensions of food and its preparation. Along the way we discover that the question of a culinary materialism is bound up with some profound and enduring issues in the history of philosophy, and can also suggest new approaches to contemporary philosophical problems.

Contents of Volume VII are as follows:
– In The Chemical Paradigm, an interview with Iain Hamilton Grant, the philosopher discusses how chemistry can serve as a model for a renewed naturephilosophy that operates not simply through analysis but equally through synthesis. Developing a "chemophilosophical" point of view, he challenges the nomological model of knowledge and tests the limits of the culinary as metaphor and as principle for a thinking of nature.
Carol Goodden, who, with artist Gordon Matta-Clark founded the restaurant FOOD in New York in 1971, discusses with us the extent to which the FOOD project, and Matta-Clark's interest in disrupting and transforming structure, can be related to a more general concern with alchemical or culinary transformation, exemplified in early works such as his Agar pieces and "fried photographs". The interview is accompanied by an archive of Matta-Clark graphic works that exemplify his conception of "building materials as nature���s food": "build to feed the worms an organic eat-a-tecture".
– The "semi-nomadic collective" AO&'s practice offers an example of how the restricted practice of the culinary can provide a locus for the exploration of broader networks of production, communication and consumption. In our interview they describe their "perverse" endeavour to fully inhabit the problem of food production in contemporary society, through a painstaking "disclosure" that makes possible an enhanced perception or phenomenology of the act of cookery. AO&'s practice involves within the ambit of "food preparation" the personal sourcing and assembly of every ingredient, including cooking materials, the preparation of the site, and the forging of connections with a network of producers – thus they ask, Where is the Edge of the Pot?, preparing the way for a generalised culinarism.
– In his contribution to the volume, Manabrata Guha reports on recent efforts to "weaponize" the massively potent Bhut Jolokia chili pepper, observing that the military effort to harness its non-lethal power to incapacitate and disorient indicate a shift in strategy, a failed attempt to contend with a new "enemy of all". Examining the inadequacy of the state���s employment of the Bhut Jolokia as a means to enhance an ill-adapted military model, Guha turns to the traditional culinary usage of the chili to reveal more fundamental lessons for the transformation of the schema of battlespace and the rise of a new, vague and inherently synthetic, adversary.
Rick Dolphijn adopts another culinary approach to the contemporary "state of emergency", analysing how the changing alimentary regime of the military anticipated and accelerated the rise of biopolitical governance through continual intervention. According to Dolphijn, the militarization of the world���s diet and the territorialization implicit in dietary programs have resulted in the emergence of a new terrestrial dietary/military continuum whose synthetic elements are "terroristsoldiers".
– In Reason in the Roasting of Eggs, anthropologist Richard Wrangham deepens the notion that "cooking that makes us human", expanding on his thesis that the advent of cooked food is one of the major drivers behind the development of the human brain. Wrangham reveals how the human culture of cooking is a part of nature's chemical and physiological horizon; and for this reason, must be seen in the wider context of a culinary continuum that includes the contingencies that made possible the human as such.
– In Theorizing Cuisine from Medieval to Modern Times, examining the transition from medieval to modern epistemes of cookery, Vanina Leschziner and Andrew Dakin argue that prevailing gastrological norms (in particular, the separation of sweet from non-sweet) exist at an intersection of many influences, where sociological, institutional and epistemic conditions drive the exploration of alternative conceptual articulations of the "phase-space" of possibilities provided by chemical, physiological, nutritional, hedonic, and adaptive factors.
Sean Day introduces us to the fascinating world of synaesthetic cookery. Molecular Gastronomy has, famously, experimented with the integration of different senses (not only olfactory but visual and aural) into dishes. But the curious experiences of synaesthetes reported by Day move him to call for an expanded multi-sensory culinary practice that engages not only with the sciences that are able to analyse and synthesise its matter, but also more fully with the neuroscienctific research that could inform a more systematic approach to the interaction of different sensory modalities.
– In Whey to Go, artist collective FIELDCLUB offer an insight into the deranged machinations of capitalism's food laboratories, uncovering a plot that implicates humans, agriculturally-adapted animals and industrial processes in new culinary syntheses, as the "pig-function" is absorbed by the capitalist exigency to full exploitation of the earth.
– In Object Oriented Cookery, Chef John Cochran proposes a culinary practice that opens itself to non-human participants. Chefs, like philosophers, have "ontological commitments" determined by their praxis, and which distort the objects they work with. Cochran critiques the radical claims of contemporary food movements that claim to break out of normative models of cookery – Molecular Gastronomy and Slow Food – and asks what a "flat cookery" could be.
– Anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro examines the extreme point at which the culinary meets the symbolic, proposing that in cannibalism we discover a remarkable example of a developed and socially-functional perspectivism: "anthropophagy as anthropology". Refusing an account of cannibalistic "sacrifice" as divine expiation, Viveiros de Castro develops a rethinking of sacrifice by examining the ways in which the devouring of the enemy also amounts to an inhabiting of "the enemy's point of view" on the self.
Eugene Thacker, in Spiritual Meat, offers us another perspective on cannibalism, drawing out a parallel between Bataille's "religious horror", and the perplexing problem of thinking corporeal resurrection, as addressed by Athenagoras; discovering beyond the "dead life" and the "eaten life" – corpse and meat – an anonymous, unhuman "cooking" and a "desolate culinarism".
– In her contribution Ex-Nihilo: Forming a Body out of Nothing,, Doroth?�e Legrand introduces a move toward a deep (intra-subjective) phenomenology of consumption (in general) and eating disorders (in particular). As Legrand demonstrates, this relation between the diet and production is manifestly highlighted in anorexia, where "eating nothing" translates into a series of complex semiotic, phenomenological and cognitive procedures for the subject with regard to the production of identity; and a resistance against the anonymous dimensions of the self revealed in the act of eating.
John Gerrard and Michael A. Morris's Corn Bomb traces the implication of nitrogen in the industrial alimentary regime, and the way in which the "ingredients" for postwar human culture were prepared and "cooked" by war and petropolitics. This tangled story of military, agricultural and scientific developments, and their reterritorialisations of the earth, provide the backstory to Gerrard's realtime 3D portraits of desolate industrial facilities that act as batteries to fuel hungry cities.
Dan Mellamphy and Nandita Biswas Mellamphy develop a post-geophilosophical culinarism, rethinking "ecology" as an "ec[h]ology" wherein man is "translated back into nature", and the planet "feasts upon itself". Connecting the ourobouric or ovoid figure of such an autophagy to the Nietzschean will-to-power, they develop an ecology that peers into the al-chem, the black earth, as into a stomachos or "pit of blackness".
Fernando Zalamea pursues his mathematico-philosophical project committed to a de-rigidification of thought by providing "two trivial recipes" that dramatise the culinary dilemma of contemporary philosophy: Analytical Jelly and Transmodern Tatin.
– and the new "recipe" for philosophy offered by Gabriel Catren's On Philosophical Alchimery, Or Why All Chimeric Compositions are Philosophical Stones proposes that only a "consistent unheard of combination of heterogeneous ingredients" allows us to concoct a truly concrete "philosopher's stone".
The volume concludes with an Appendix compiled by the editors and including recipes from Darwin, Leibniz, Newton, and others.
Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism is also accompanied by Jeremy Millar's "Black Cake" – a print edition produced especially for this volume – based on a recipe passed on in a letter by Emily Dickinson.
Please note: we have had to increase the price of this volume in order to cover costs – but advance orders can still take advantage of the old price.
US readers can purchase from Sequence Press.

Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism
July 2011
Eds. R. Negarestani, R. Mackay
631pp
Limited Edition 1000 Numbered Copies
ISBN 978-0-9553087-9-6
£12.99 – ADVANCE ORDERS £9.99

09 Jun 2011


Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism has gone to press, and the introduction by editors Robin Mackay and Reza Negarestani is available for PDF download here.

14 May 2011


Most of Urbanomic\’s publications are now available directly in the US through Sequence Press.
We\’d like to take this opportunity to thank readers in the US and elsewhere who have continued to order from Urbanomic over the years despite the extravagant shipping costs – Thanks for your support!

12 May 2011

Florian Hecker\’s Speculative Solution is here (on Editions Mego) … copies on sale in our store soon.
SpeculativeSolution2c_DSC5620-1.jpeg
SpeculativeSolution1_DSC5576-1.jpeg
Photography: Peter Derbsch
Cat. No.: eMEGO 118
Artist: Hecker
Title: Speculative Solution
Format: CD + Book
Barcode: 9120020387859
Release Date: May 23rd, 2011
Speculative Solution 1 32:00
Speculative Solution 2 2:57
Speculative Solution 2 2:55
Octave Chronics 19:10
Written and produced by Florian Hecker, March 2009 – November 2010
Book edited by Robin Mackay; featuring essays by Elie Ayache, Robin Mackay and Quentin Meillassoux.
Typesetting by Tina Frank, Elvira Stein
CD mastered by Rashad Becker

Editions Mego and Urbanomic are pleased to announce the release of Speculative Solution, a CD and book with contributions by Florian Hecker, Elie Ayache, Robin Mackay and Quentin Meillassoux.
Originally commissioned by Urbanomic and developed over the last year, this collaborative project brings together Hecker‘s sonic practice and psychoacoustic experimentation with philosopher Quentin Meillassoux\’s concept of ‘hyperchaos‘ – the absolute contingency of the laws of nature.
In an apparent departure from Hecker‘s previous release Acid in the Style of David Tudor (eMEGO 094, 2009), the four titles featured in Speculative Solution contain a series of micro-chronics and sequences of auditory contingencies, ranging from extreme stasis to the most dynamic intensities, crisp dramatisations of what Meillassoux calls in his text ‘extro-science worlds‘.
As Mackay states in his contribution to the book, Hecker‘s composition “participates in a circuit in which it, the accompanying texts, and diverse other objects, enter into a perpetual catalysis that must annihilate all priority, representation, reference, and even entity.”. Both “scripture and prescription”, Speculative Solution invites its users to integrate its sonic and textual components, as they enter into an accelerative cycle, becoming “truly ‘literalist‘ marks which have no reason to be as they are, and which could have been – and still could be, at every moment – otherwise”. With Speculative Solution Hecker proposes that the concepts of absolute contingency and hyperchaos offer a rigorous new alternative to the employment of chance and randomness in avant-garde composition.
It is recommended to listen to Speculative Solution on loudspeakers at high volume. Headphone use is not advised. Frequent recitation of the included texts is also indicated.
Speculative Solution is Hecker‘s 13th release with (Editions) Mego. It comes in an embossed, deluxe box with a bilingual (English / French) 160 page book and 5 metal balls (ø 3,969mm). Available only in this format.

05 Apr 2011

Laruelle\’s The Concept of Non-Photography has arrived – advance orders will be dispatched at the end of this week following the festivities in New York.

Readers in the US will be pleased to learn that the website and online store of Sequence Press will soon be ready to take orders for Collapse and other Urbanomic publications.

04 Apr 2011


Having sat in on many a Steve Goodman position paper, Sphaleotas wonders whether the VF 2.0’ll steering committee’s portrait of the CCRU as ‘psychedelic transhumanists’ might not be a case of one Aricept banana-smoothie too far.
[Update 2011-04-28]

Renowned creationist Steve Fuller has just been confirmed as a speaker – truly a ‘must-see’ for Texans and fans of Richard Seymour’s ‘Lenin’s Tomb’ blog!

03 Apr 2011

Just a reminder of the series of events this week in New York. Video of the events should be available soon after.
Tuesday April 5th, 7pm
Urbanomic/Sequence Press Launch, with Dexter Sinister
Wednesday April 6th, 7pm
François Laruelle and Non-Philosophy Symposium
Thursday April 7th, 7.30pm
François Laruelle – The Concept of Non-Photography
more details

27 Mar 2011

The Chapmans-Noumena

Fanged Noumena: Collected Writings 1987-2007
Nick Land
March 2011
Edited and with an Introduction by Ray Brassier and Robin Mackay


Level 1, or world-space, is an anthropomorphically scaled, predominantly vision-configured, massively multi-slotted reality system that is obsolescing very rapidly.
Garbage time is running out.
Can what is playing you make it to Level 2?



Fanged Noumena
assembles for the first time the writings of Nick Land, variously described as ���rabid nihilism���, ���accelerationism���, and ���cybergothic���. Wielding machinically-recombined versions of Deleuze and Guattari, Reich and Freud, in the company of fellow ���werewolves��� such as Nietzsche, Bataille, Artaud, Trakl and Cioran, to a cut-up soundtrack of Bladerunner, Terminator and Apocalypse Now, Land plotted a rigorously schizophrenic escape route out of academic philosophy.
���Land���s incisive assessment of the machinic reality of a schizo-capitalism currently in the process of penetrating and colonizing the innermost recesses of human subjectivity exposes the fatally anachronistic character of the metaphysical conception of human agency upon which ���revolutionary��� thought continues to rely. The anachronistic character of left voluntarism is nowhere more apparent than in its resort to a negative theology of perpetually deferred ���hope���, mordantly poring over its own reiterated depredation. Worse still is the complacent sanctimony of those ���critical��� theorists who concede that the prospect of revolutionary transformation is not only unattainable but undesirable (given its dangerously ���totalitarian��� propensities), but who remain content to pursue a career in critique, safely insulated from the risks of political praxis. The challenge of Land���s work cannot be circumvented by construing the moral dismay it (often deliberately) provokes as proof of its erroneous nature, or by exploiting the inadequacies in Land���s positive construction as an excuse to evade the corrosive critical implications of his thought. Nor can it be concluded that this alternative philosophical path cannot be further explored. [�Ķ] Everything in Land���s work that falls outside the parameters of disciplinary knowledge can and will be effectively dismissed by those who police the latter. In Bataille���s incisive formulation, ���the unknown [�Ķ] is not distinguished from nothingness by anything that discourse can announce���. Like his fellows of the ���inferior race���, what we retain of Land���s expeditions are diverse and scattered remnants, here constellated for the first time. These are also tools or weapons; arrows that deserve to be taken up again and sharpened further. The wound needs to be opened up once more, and if this volume infects a new generation, already enlivened by a new wave of thinkers who are partly engaging the re-emerging legacy of Nick Land���s work ��� it will have fulfilled its purpose.��� (Ray Brassier and Robin Mackay)
Land���s work is rife for misunderstanding, but this is essential since it forces us to recalibrate his weapons and to reevaluate our capacities as humans while we renavigate minefields at the outer frontiers of thought (and praxis). All in all, here is Nick Land as the patient zero of speculative thought in the 21st century.
More information here:
https://www.urbanomic.com/pub_fangednoumena.php

25 Mar 2011

SpecSol.jpg
Cat. No.: eMEGO 118
Artist: Hecker
Title: Speculative Solution
Format: CD + Book
Barcode: 9120020387859
Release Date: May 23rd, 2011
Speculative Solution 1 32:00
Speculative Solution 2 2:57
Speculative Solution 2 2:55
Octave Chronics 19:10
Written and produced by Florian Hecker, March 2009 – November 2010
Book edited by Robin Mackay; featuring essays by Elie Ayache, Robin Mackay and Quentin Meillassoux.
Typesetting by Tina Frank, Elvira Stein
CD mastered by Rashad Becker

Editions Mego and Urbanomic are pleased to announce the release of Speculative Solution, a CD and book with contributions by Florian Hecker, Elie Ayache, Robin Mackay and Quentin Meillassoux.
Originally commissioned by Urbanomic and developed over the last year, this collaborative project brings together Hecker‘s sonic practice and psychoacoustic experimentation with philosopher Quentin Meillassoux\’s concept of ‘hyperchaos‘ – the absolute contingency of the laws of nature.
In an apparent departure from Hecker‘s previous release Acid in the Style of David Tudor (eMEGO 094, 2009), the four titles featured in Speculative Solution contain a series of micro-chronics and sequences of auditory contingencies, ranging from extreme stasis to the most dynamic intensities, crisp dramatisations of what Meillassoux calls in his text ‘extro-science worlds‘.
As Mackay states in his contribution to the book, Hecker‘s composition “participates in a circuit in which it, the accompanying texts, and diverse other objects, enter into a perpetual catalysis that must annihilate all priority, representation, reference, and even entity.”. Both “scripture and prescription”, Speculative Solution invites its users to integrate its sonic and textual components, as they enter into an accelerative cycle, becoming “truly ‘literalist‘ marks which have no reason to be as they are, and which could have been – and still could be, at every moment – otherwise”. With Speculative Solution Hecker proposes that the concepts of absolute contingency and hyperchaos offer a rigorous new alternative to the employment of chance and randomness in avant-garde composition.
It is recommended to listen to Speculative Solution on loudspeakers at high volume. Headphone use is not advised. Frequent recitation of the included texts is also indicated.
Speculative Solution is Hecker‘s 13th release with (Editions) Mego. It comes in an embossed, deluxe box with a bilingual (English / French) 160 page book and 5 metal balls (ø 3,969mm). Available only in this format.

10 Mar 2011

Update on Fanged Noumena ETA : Friday 18th March. And that's a promise from the printer.
Meanwhile, Laruelle's The Concept of Non-Photography is next to press, and should be available at the beginning of April to coincide with a series of events with Laruelle in New York.

25 Feb 2011

The rationalist resonator

Reza Negarestani

Tuning Fork

[The tuning fork of speculation] has two prongs. One is the prong of reason; the other prong is a razor. The speculative artist or philosopher at the same time has a razor in one of his hands, and reason in the other. These two, reason and the razor, are essentially not interchangeable. The razor, by itself, is a romantic and blind tool. It cuts for the sake of being extreme. And reason itself does not have the tenacity or audacity to evacuate even the rational ground of itself. So, what it does, what this tuning fork does, it tunes speculation. The razor cuts for the extreme, it sheds possible grounds, future grounds and methodically cuts in different ways — not only restlessly carving out the regional from the universal but also transplanting universal into regional fields of thought. On the other hand, the other prong, the prong of reason, sheds light on the field of the surgery of this razor — it sharpens the blade while revealing new depths for the operation of the razor. Or it alternatively brings into focus what has already been cut. Now, the movement of these two prongs resonate with one another in such a way that they tune the field of speculation. A resonantly excited field of speculation is a continuum synthetically interwoven by vibrations of the prongs of the fork, the razor and reason. As a continuum, the synthetic field of speculation adds a new phantom prong to the fork. Whilst the two prongs of the fork are elastic, the third phantom prong is plastic — a resonant and plastic web of continuities between reason and the razor where all nodal points are interfused and welded together so thoroughly that the symmetry of reason and the razor collapses, their respective segregations are abolished and a new universal and generic expanse is brought forth. This universal expanse that represents the third, or more accurately, the plastic prong of the fork that is brought about by the synthesis of reason and the razor should be considered as the topos of speculation wherein thought approaches the local from the perspective of the absolute and a true-to-the-universe conception of globality. In short, the plastic prong thinks and approaches the local non-trivially through and according to the universal continuum which is absolute, open and plastic. At last, the two-pronged fork of speculation unbinds the alternative field of thought: the third prong through which asymmetries are unfolded in symmetries and the unreasonable becomes gradationally continuous to rationalism. (from The Medium of Contingency)

17 Feb 2011


The Medium of Contingency is now available.
_visd_00B3JPG004N3.jpg
Also of note is Ivorypress\’s new book on the work of artist John Gerrard. Edited by Urbanomic director Robin Mackay, with texts by Mackay, Reza Negarestani, Yoani Sanchez and Ed Keller, the book provides a survey of Gerrard\’s work, focussing on the new Cuban School project currently showing at Ivorypress in Madrid. More details here.

And Robin is in conversation with artist Charles Avery in the first issue of a new journal Drawing Room confessions.

07 Feb 2011

The chariot of cyclones

E. Lang Auditorium
55 West 13th Street, 2nd Floor
The New School, NYC
March 11, 2011
10:00 am – 6:30 pm
RSVP here, more information regarding the symposium’s schedule here
PLENARY SPEAKER
Robin Mackay
PRESENTATIONS
Alisa Andrasek
Zach Blas
Melanie Doherty
Benjamin Bratton
Alexander Galloway
Perry Hall
Ed Keller
Kate Marshall
Nicola Masciandaro
Eugene Thacker
McKenzie Wark
Ben Woodard
Sponsored by Media Studies, The New School and Parsons the New School for Design

27 Jan 2011

13 Jan 2011

place-your-bets.jpg
On January 19th (6.30-8pm), in discussion with Elie Ayache, Robin Mackay, Matthew Poole, Miguel Abreu and New York based artist, Scott Lyall, I will give a short talk on contingency, philosophy and art via videolink. More details on the event can be found here:

NEW YORK TO LONDON AND BACK ��� The Medium of Contingency January 18 ��� February 19, 2011
The Directors of Thomas Dane are pleased to present a collaboration with New York gallerist Miguel Abreu and with Robin Mackay and Tobias Huber of Urbanomic. The latter is a unique organisation based in the UK, which aims to address crucial issues in contemporary philosophy and science in relation to contemporary art practice. The project at Thomas Dane Gallery takes the form of an exhibition, a public discussion, a film screening and a publication, over the course of a four-week period.
Exhibition Private View: Tuesday, 18 January, 6-8pm
Artists in the exhibition include Kristen Alvanson, Hans Bellmer, Liz Deschenes, Thomas Eggerer, Rachel Harrison, Gareth James, Alison Knowles, Sam Lewitt, Scott Lyall, R. H. Quaytman, Eileen Quinlan, Raha Raissnia, Jimmy Raskin, Blake Rayne, Pamela Rosenkranz, Pieter Schoolwerth, Amy Sillman, and Cheyney Thompson.
In association with Sutton Lane.
Discussion: The Medium of Contingency: Wednesday, January 19, 6.30-8 pm
The notion of ���contingency��� has become crucial both in contemporary philosophy, and, as the artists in this show suggest, in contemporary art. If thought and practice are to abandon the idealism of autonomy and acknowledge the networks they are a part of, the question becomes one of developing a thought and a practice that opens to contingency. The discussion will explore how works of art write contingency into the present; are in turn written by the contingency of their materials; and how these exchanges interact with the market.
Thomas Dane Gallery
First Floor
11 Duke Street
St James’s
London SW1Y 6BN
http://www.thomasdane.com/