"Techno-politics is always a technical body, an alloy that must emerge from a process of manufacture whose ingredients are both human and nonhuman both intentional and not, and in which the intentional or the human is always somewhat overrun by the unintended. But it is a particular form of manufacturing, a certain way of organizing the amalgam of human and nonhuman, things and ideas, so that the human, the intellectual, the realm of intentions and ideas seems to come first and to control and organize the nonhuman."
Timothy Mitchell: Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity. pg 43.
"Social science is always founded upon a categorical distinction between the ideality of human intentions and purposes and the object world upon which these work, and which in turn may affect them. There is little room to examine the ways they emerge together in a variety of combinations, or how so-called human agency draws its force by attempting to divert or attach itself to other kinds of energy or logic. No explanation grounded in the universalizing force of human projects of intentions can explore whether the very possibility of the human, of intentionality, of abstraction depends on, at the same time as it overlooks, nonhuman elements. These appear merely physical, secondary, and external."
Timothy Mitchell - Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity pg 29
Environmental Humanities is an international, open-access journal that aims to invigorate current interdisciplinary research on the environment. In response to a growing interest around the world in the many questions that arise in this era of rapid environmental and social change, the journal publishes outstanding scholarship that draws humanities disciplines into conversation with each other, and with the natural and social sciences.
HUGE NEWS!!! Scientists Declare: Nonhuman Animals Are Conscious!
Click photo and link below for full details!
Latour: experimental metaphysics
“Metaphysics has a bad reputation. Politicians mistrust it almost as much as scientists do. Speculations of philosophers alone in their rooms imagining they can define the essential furniture of the world on their own - just what no serious person should be indulging in any longer. Yet scorn of this sort would keep us from understanding political ecology. If we were to abstain from all metaphysical meditation, it would be tantamount to believing that we already know how the world is furnished: there is a nature common to all, and on top of that there are secondary differences that concern each of us as a member of a particular culture or as a private individual. If this were the case, those who have the task of defining the common good would have nothing to worry about, for the bulk of their work would be accomplished: there would already exist a unified, unifying, universalized common world. All they would have left to do would be to bring order to the prevailing diversity of opinions, beliefs and viewpoints - a thorny task, of course, but not one presenting fundamental difficulties, because this diversity does not touch on anything essential, anything that could involve the very essence of things - matters of fact being stockpiled separately in the cold storage of external reality. Now, to speak of nature in this way, separating the question of the common world from the question of the common good, is to cling, as we have seen in the three preceding chapters, to the most politicized of metaphysics, that of nature.”
Bruno Latour. Politics of Nature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004. p. 128.
"To distribute roles from the outset between the controllable and obedient object on the one hand and the free and rebellious human on the other is to preclude searching for the condition under which - the trial through which, the arena in which, the labor at the price of which - one can, one must, make these entities exchange among themselves their formidable capacity to appear on the scene as full-fledged actors, that is, as those who forbid any indisputable transfer (of force or reason), as mediators with whom it is necessary to reckon, as active agents whose potential is still unknown."
Bruno Latour. Politics of Nature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004. pp. 81-2.
Wired: You almost refer to molds and fungi as if they were people.
Hodge: They’re just beautiful and magical. They’re moody and expressive. I’m fascinated by the small world at the threshold of human vision. I forget sometimes that being a person who likes molds is weird! But I won’t give them up. They’re so cool. Maybe it’s like having obnoxious neighbors. Why expend energy shunning and avoiding them? You might as well befriend them. They probably have interesting parties.
Noticing inspires artists as well as naturalists. American composer John Cage (1912-1992) was a mushroom hunter who thought noticing mushrooms and noticing sounds in music were related skills. In contrast to other musicians, he wanted a music that forced listeners to attend to all the sounds around them, whether composed or incidental; noticing mushrooms was a way of teaching this open yet focused attention. In one of his compositions, one-minute anecdotes are performed in random order to draw listeners to attend to indeterminacy (also the name of the piece). Many of the stories are about people’s interactions with mushrooms. Mushrooms are unpredictable; they help one listen. In this entry (#113), Cage is explicit:
Music and mushrooms:
two words next to one
another in many dictionaries.
Where did he
write The Three-Penny Opera?
buried below the grass at the
foot of High Tor.
Once the season changes
from summer to fall,
given sufficient rain,
or just the
mysterious dampness that’s in the
carrying on, I
am sure, his
business of working with
That we have no ears to hear the
music the spores shot off
from basidia make obliges us
to busy ourselves microphonically.
Basidia are part of mushroom reproductive organs; from basidia, spores are ‘shot off’ into the air. One mushroom, the ‘cannonball fungus’ (Sphaerobolus stellatus), throws out its spore mass with a sometimes-audible pop (but not from basidia). For most mushrooms, however, the shooting-off of spores cannot be heard by human ears. In the sounds we miss, Cage wants us to find inspiration for music.
Donna Haraway on human exceptionalism