There’s certainly no shortage of discourse on the pseudo-ephemeral nature of money. The medieval (or even older) malleability of meaning surrounding the ledger, and of the (negative) magnitude of debt, the disentanglement of currency from its geological-metallic weight, the ever-widening role of credit, and the more recent complexities of crypto-currency and off-shore tax shelters, have seemingly stripped the coin and bill of all materiality, if not their tactility. Yet, the feeling that money is always ‘more than,’ in some vague pseudo-magical or fetishistic sense remains, it remains to such a degree that one has to wonder if the materiality of money is an inexistent origin we are constantly defining money against, i.e., money was never material we just convinced ourselves it was/is, or, whether the tricks and games of money’s ever complicating history tell us that materiality was never what it was.

While the main interpretative axis is here is Marxist/psychoanalytic, particularly in regards to the first formulation (money was never so-material), the second formulation (how money questions materiality) is taken up, in various circuitous ways, by the performance artists Goldin+Senneby. The novel Headlesswritten by the non-existent K.D. created by G+S, presents itself as a novel about the ghost-writing of a story about off-shore finance and its relation to the Acéphale society, and the philosophy of Georges Bataille.

There have been numerous discussions of Headless, as well as G+S’s ongoing projects looping through (and around) off-shore finance and the general nature of money. While the book focuses on the headless/acephallic nature of covert capitalism, of essentially how far a shell game can go internationally, Bataille’s concept of base matter haunts the text, and G+S’s work, more generally. That is, the headless or hyper-efficient machinery of blame and responsibility shifting of finance is chased by the material traces of not only those quick activities, but the physical or resource-dependent modes such activities plug into (pointing to yet another Bataillean concept – general economy). This is evident most in the role of proof in Barrow’s research, the photographs, the camera, and, in particular, the search through the woods at the very end GPS in hand, looking for where a meeting for the sake of human sacrifice may, or may not have, taken place.

Continue reading ‘Hunting Headless: Money, Matter, and Fictions of Value’


Having defended my dissertation Schelling’s Naturalism: Space, Motion, and the Volition of Thought I’m now in the strange position of looking for an academic job. But, in the meantime, I thought I would give a general update.

1 – Starting the end of this month I’ll be team teaching a course on German Idealism and systematic philosophy along with Pete Wolfendale for the New Centre. More information is here.

2 – Will be co-organizing several philosophy events at PAF (in St Erme, FR) for late October, early March, and sometime in the summer months. While details will be forthcoming some great speakers have already been confirmed.

3 – Will returning to France in the spring to attend an event on the transcendental but more details on that will be emerging soon…If anyone knows of other events going on in Europe in the spring please do let me know.

4 – I am writing two articles currently: one is on the relation of Ray Brassier and Iain Grant’s work in terms of scale and conceptualization (which will appear in French) and the other other will be on Schelling and contemporary thought for the Schelling issue of Angelaki.

5 – Manuel Correa, Anna Kasko, and Emil Olsen’s film #ArtOffline premièred in Bergen recently. It features interviews with Julieta Aranda, Mo Salemy, Clint Burnham, Suhail Malik, myself and many others.

6 – I’m writing a book on naturalism, abstraction, and various forms of externalism (embodied mind, ennactivism, etc). It will focus on Chatelet, Merleau-Ponty, Longo, and the relation between intuition, gesture, and diagram. This project is also in relation to a collaboration which is in its infant stage so more will come out of that soon.

7 – In terms of books, my first text Slime Dynamics is being translated into Russian. More information on that soon as well.


The initial chatter around Pete Wolfendale’s book generally seemed to fall into two camps. The first being that the text was merely a massive pile of vitriol directed towards OOOers with the second being the question ‘Why would Pete devote so much of his time to a provocation that may well go unanswered?’ Wolfendale addresses the second question first in the preface (ix) while the issue of reception is more indirectly approached in the introduction (7) but these concerns feed into one another. Those defensive of Harman, and/or the Object-Oriented approach generally, could take the book’s rigor (and length) as a sign of Wolfendale’s rancor for OOO/OOP whereas those sympathetic to the critique could merely take solace in the polemical moments of the text thereby eliding the painstaking vivisection performed throughout. But leaning too hard either way reinforces the starting point of both sides and little else. Rigor and a polemical tone are of course not contradictory (I suspect one would have a much harder time finding examples that are not both rather than the other way around) but work to make the text alluring to critics and sympathizers. Switching between a rather straight-forward analytic style and a polemical one makes the text surprising for those that would only expect only vitriol or only analysis, it brings along readers from both sides of the debate who could claim to have ‘heard it all before.’

Wolfendale is explicit about his positions and even the points where he agrees with Harman though they are few and far between (35) which, at times, and as Dominic Fox points out, leaves the impression that Harman and Wolfendale are like ships passing in the night: their views of philosophy in general are too different. On the other hand, given philosophy’s universal address, to my mind philosophy needs to, at the very least, adequately provide a structure to translate between its own fields and it would appear that without epistemology, which Wolfendale so greatly champions, this is awfully difficult. This apparent failure to communicate, as well as the responses to the text already mentioned, indirectly point to a strange assumption in academia and one that I’ve seen in philosophy and theory. There is often an assumption that the theorists or philosophers one chooses reflects one’s personality and conduct in academic and extra-academic affairs. To put it somewhat jokingly, the assumption being something like Hegelians are tyrannical jerks, Derrideans are all friendly animal lovers, and Deleuzians are open-minded sex-weirdos. While this will (hopefully) invoke laughter, it is incredible how the attitude of a philosophy’s utilizers are always-already behaviourally coded and, how this cuts down the kinds of arguments one makes from the get go. I would hope that a text like Wolfendale’s demonstrates how this doesn’t hold up at all. This is particularly evident in his extensive footnote on the analytic continental divide (404-405).

Since Fox has already done a great review of the text (linked above) this allows me to focus less on the specific critiques of OOO and more on how the text expands beyond being a specific critique of Harman. The book is to be praised for the depth of its historical conceptualization and the breadth of its contemporary conceptualization in that Wolfendale demonstrates how OOO falls in regards to the development of post-Kantian thought (with particular regard to the noumena-phenomena relation in Kant and Husserl and the consequences it has for Heidegger) as well as how OOO is part of a broader trend of ontological liberalism (209-299). This is, I hope, far less egregious then it sounds given the fact that nearly a quarter of the book is dedicated to this problem.

Continue reading ‘Ontological Methadone: A Review of Peter Wolfendale’s Object-Oriented Philosophy’

Despite the fact that Schelling is a German Idealist or, more broadly, a post-Kantian thinker, there is not (to my knowledge) anything resembling a consensus regarding Schelling’s relation to Kant. Iain Grant sets up the relation as an overtly hostile one (akin to what the Furies do to Orestes) while thinkers such as Arran Garre balk at such an assertion.

From Schelling’s writings it is clear he has immense respect for Kant, calling him the Aristotle of Germany (as he puts it in The Grounding of Positive Philosophy) and that he nearly perfected negative philosophy through the Critiques. By negative philosophy Schelling means a pure rationalism that addresses the conceptual specifically or, in other words, the negative philosophy determines what is real but not reality (GPP, 131). By no means does Schelling assert or infer that the negative philosophy is unnecessary only that, by its own definition, it can have have no content other then what is determined according to its own ground such that as soon as reason determines something as real the reality of that conceptual content dissipates.

In texts prior to The Grounding (namely the Freedom Essay and The History of Modern Philosophy) Schelling attacks Kant from another position as well in claiming that Kant’s notion of the in-itself not only sabotages the First Critique in epistemological terms (in that the CPR assumes that the a priori of reason is the a priori for reason) (GPP, 127) but also does injustice to nature in that in assuming the a priori is for reason its is denied a properly dynamic character. Or, in other words, the a priori, as Kant defines it, is for reason in that it is empty of content except as a content that grants reason its reach, its momentum. Yet how is it that it grants this capability alone and that this capability is that of and for reason only?

Continue reading ‘Schelling and Kant (pt 1)’

Some recent publications:

An essay on Tombs and Design appeared in the journal Design Ecologies with a preface by science fiction author Peter Watts. Details here.

An essay based on a talk on parasitism and Schelling is in the Weaponsing Speculations collection. Details here.

My essay version of a talk done in London on Schelling and Ecological aesthetics is in Speculative Aesthetics released by Urbanomic. Available here.

I wrote the entry on ‘Transcendental Materialism’ for the just released The Meillassoux Dictionary.

I wrote a short piece about a modern Ariadne for a short film available here.

Upcoming Events:

February: I will be in Australia doing a masterclass on the work of Reza Negarestani in Sydney (as a lead up to Aesthetics after Finitude), a workshop on creation and the concept of worlds in Melbourne, and possible another event to be confirmed.

From February 26-March 1st I’ll be in Amsterdam speaking at The Geological Imaginary conference. Website here.

Beyond that I’ll be in France for some months planning an event on Geopolitics and Geophilosophy at PAF for the Summer.


The massiveness of the nuclear is ‘lightened’ only by a catastrophe. The Earth is geophilosophically and geopolitically frustrating because it’s an ongoing nuclear disaster (a great heat engine as James Hutton understood it) but one that is metastable while proving itself the ground of all production whether noetic or material. Whether the collecting of ferrite for magnetic strips on subway cards or providing the iron source of painting, the Earth is a geo-chemical and geo-physical graveyard of potency.

Part of this frustration is due to the fact that the fact of this complicity or continuity is difficult to represent given its absurd spatio-temporal stretch. This is a fairly wide spread notion these days in part functioning as a conceptual sidekick to the anthropocene. One can look at the Smithsonian project above or the various works of Kate Paterson. Paterson has recently coupled with numerous authors (including most recently Margaret Atwood) in planting a forest for a library to be produced in 100 years. Prior to this Paterson had attempted to represent deep time through her fossil necklace in which each bead represented a different epoch.


Previously I was critiqued for utilizing pop culture references to discuss the geophilosophical. A defense I had not considered at the time was not only that science fiction does a particularly interesting job of representing the geological, but simply that film is especially adept at representing informational microcosms of deep time and the strangeness of life emerging from the Earth. For instance, it’s not surprising we are seeing a resurgence of monster films – these creatures index their own history (as coming out of mid-twentieth century nuclear traumas) which in turn make them ideal for embodying climatological disaster. The question remains however as to whether it is better to represent the disasters of the anthropocene in a series of cuts of its production by us.

A chemical explosion, to a flying particle, to a chain reaction, to a devastation. A scalar madness is etched in the brain and repeated by the creatures awakened. This is the indecision between continuity and complicity, in how much we take blame for ‘awakening’ the monsters but often seem forced to utilize the same technology, or other disastrous technologies, to combat them. Complicity is investigated by being scaled up and down. The scalar madness is folded outwards: we construct monsters to fight monsters. Nuclear solution twice over – reliable tech and nuking the breach in Del Toro’s Pacific Rim.

The recent rebirth of Godzilla takes this logic to a certain absurdity.

In the film nuclear testing awakened, tried to destroy, and then is utilized once more to try to destroy Godzilla and other creatures. It is quite telling that the devastation of Godzilla and his opponents (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms or MUTOs) receive more attention of the camera than the battles between the creatures. More directly, the film references the connection between climate disaster and nuclear disaster through a nuclear meltdown in Japan as well as a visit to Yucca Mountain. Deep waste repositories such as Yucca mountain (which I’ve written about here) are the real-world and slowed down version of Godzilla and his fellow MUTOs. The sites bear the remnants of nuclear devastation whether or not that devastation occurred in its’ intended’ fashion ie whether or not weapons were used. Deep repositories are the ‘slow violence’ version of nuclear disaster propelled speculatively (and monstrously) into the future.

One serious limitation (of which there are many) is that the imaginary scaling up of the nuclear (which might be better represented as a intensification or contraction of deep time into a disastrous space) is that these disasters-as-monsters necessarily go tromping through cities and other populated spaces. Nuclear waste, and many other environmental disasters, of course happen in more isolated locations. This isolation is of course not only geophysical/geographical but also geopolitical. There is an interesting asymmetry between the geopolitical forgetting of environmental disaster in the global south in relation to the geophysical entombment of the nuclear in the north.

The strangest aspect of Godzilla is the sense that Godzilla represents god-as-nature, as a monstrous force which is capable of putting things ‘back into balance.’ What exactly the relation between devastation and balance is, how the contracted time scale into the space of disaster can be subsequently unfolded seems to be the interesting question.

One of the core concepts of the neo-rationalist (and more broadly pragmatist) camp is that of boot-strapping – that certain capacities or processes, are capable of self-augmentation. While less colloquially discussed in terms of recursion (invoking a functionalist or mathematical context) boot-strapping indexes the material consequence of such activity or, in a related fashion, that a process can be recursively defined given it’s self-evident productivity. One instance would be discussing thought as a process of thinking which produces thoughts wouldn’t seem to get us too far except that we that this process engenders a massively complex chain of consequences for everything including itself.

Where boot-strapping indicates a metal act informing a self affecting physical act, a recursive definition seems to operate in one abstract realm yet, if this were the case, then recursion would be the same as circularity. But even in this abstract sense circularity can be avoided in terms of adding values and rules. Vicious circularity, or ill-defined self-recursion, can contain these elements but only produce nested recursion as in the case of a famous line by Hofstadter:

“This sentence contains ten words, eighteen syllables, and sixty-four letters”

Continue reading ‘Loops and Augmentation: Pragmatism, Accelerationism, and Navigation’