Wednesday, October 15, 2014

more Nick Land on the meltdown of SR + Wolfendale's response to Cogburn

"Meltdown" certainly better describes what's happening rather than "dust up" or "kerfuffle" (although head nod to Brian Burt for coining "the Wolfendale Kerfuffle").  It's certainly an end of an era and a rather concretely stated transition that (perhaps) occurred back in 2007, as in "stillborn," or only recently "died" in meltdown with a Postcript which re-states emphatically the view expressed by all of Wolfendale, Brassier, Niemoczynski, and Blake.

Either way, things are very, very different now and the future once again is open.  Perhaps another axis has formed...who knows.

First, Nick Land:
Urban Future is merely scavenging irresponsibly around the edges of the Speculative Realism meltdown, attracted by turbulence, and connected tenuously to some of the figures involved. The greatest advantage of such detachment is that it allows for a free framing of the issues at stake, and these are becoming truly fascinating. The battle over the New Ontology (aka ‘Speculative Realism’) is spiraling into the question: does it — itself — actually exist?

Second, Pete Wolfendale's post HERE, below we have in excerpt a response to Jon Cogburn's post on "Circular Firing Squads" (HERE).

I urge everyone to read for themselves Pete Wolfendale's lengthy post and Jon Cogburn's (as well as the comments in Jon's)It's definitely worth a look if you are looking to get your finger on the pulse. 

An excerpt from Pete's post linked above:

There’s a lot I could say in response to Jon’s claim that SR obviously exists, and that to say otherwise is either trivially false, or worse, contradicts my claims about the collapse of the SR blogging community. There’s no doubt that there are people who self-describe as speculative realists, and that there are CFPs, conferences, and art exhibitions where it gets referenced liberally. However, if all SR means is a renewed concern with metaphysics in the Continental tradition, then there’s no clear reason why it doesn’t include people like Deleuze, Badiou, Zizek, Stengers, and the like. If nothing else, this is amply demonstrated by the extent to which these figures (and people influenced by them) form the most natural interlocutors of those who count themselves as speculative realists. What is it about the work of Meillassoux and Grant that warrants them being categorised separately from these other figures, as somehow more appropriately listed beside Harman than any of the others, other than the fact that they attended a workshop together in 2007? There are others who have come to the SR label later, such as those interested in Whitehead, Latour, and various strands of so called New Materialism, who genuinely have more in common with OOP/OOO than these figures, but if SR is taken to index these commonalities, then it has by far more to do with OOP than any of the other work it was originally supposed to index (hence the inevitable slippage to ‘SR/OOO’).

The claim that SR doesn’t exist is simply the claim that there isn’t any distinctive philosophical common ground indexed by the intersection of Meillassoux/Harman/Grant/Brassier. However, this is entirely compatible with the claim that at one point it looked like there might be, and that this promised a potentially new philosophical trajectory that would be genuinely distinct from extant trends. The sense in which SR can be said to have ‘died’ is simply the sense in which this promise proved to be false. This sort of thing happens. It’s precisely what Badiou tries to capture in his account of fidelity, wherein one simply has to commit oneself to the existence of an Event despite its occurrence being indiscernible. Sometimes the fidelity pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t.