TERRIBLE IS THE EARTH
TERRIBLE IS THE EARTH continues ...

Yes, there is hope, infinite hope. But not for us.
- Franz Kafka

Image courtesy of Catie Newell

The manuscript (currently in production) develops research from my doctoral thesis on the morality of aesthetics in Kant, Georges Bataille, and Robert Smithson - all read in relation to the anthropocene thesis - and expands the scope of the reading to analyze other relations among geology, political economy, and philosophy to advance a theory of the anthropocene in the all-too-human epoch. The book contends that the theory of the sublime, and the aesthetic infrastructure upon which is depends, require a reexamination of the theory of the earth in the wake of the anthropocene thesis.

TERRIBLE IS THE EARTH
For the Humanities in the Age of the Anthropocene

Table of Contents
1 Who Does the Earth Think It Is, Now?
2 Stoppani's New Force
3 Benjamin's Cosmic Labor Struggle
4 Bataille's Aesthetic Premonition
5 Marx's Earth, Lyotard's Revenge
6 Intensive Origins of the Anthropocene

By developing a reading of the I = PxAxT equation (seen below) through the theoretical humanities, the book contests the aesthetics of the sublime by demonstrating that it is, in fact, the accumulation of human artifacts that outscale and thus terrify the human as one among many agents in the anthropocene's great acceleration.


Courtesy of Linch-pin.org.

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Terrible is the Earth research recently included in Making the Geologic Now

Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse of Smudge Studio have released their edited volume Making the Geologic Now: Responses to the Material Conditions of Contemporary Life. You can read the book online, or order or download it through Punctum Books. Included in the volume are two essays from my recent research for TERRIBLE IS THE EARTH.

I collaborated with Italian architect Valeria Federighi to select excerpts and edit her translation of Antonio Stoppani's Corso di Geologia (Miliano: G. Bernardoni, E G. Brigola, Editori, 1873), with photographs by Lisa Hirmer.

From the essay:

"The Italian geologist Antonio Stoppani is a remarkable but little known figure in the history of science and the theoretical humanities. Recently, following debates about the Anthropocene initiated by the Dutch chemist Paul Crutzen, some scholars have returned to Stoppani’s writing for its eloquent argument regarding the appearance of human activity in the archive of deep time – the earth. Born in Lecco in 1824, the young Stoppani studied to become a priest of the order of the Rosminiani, and was ordained in 1848. In the same year, Stoppani participated in the resistance during the Cinque giornate di Milano (Siege of Milan), where he both fought on the barricades and, fantastically, invented and fabricated aerostats that were used to communicate with the periphery and the provinces, sending revolutionary messages to the countryside from inside a barricaded Milano. In this endeavor, he was helped by the typographer Vincenzo Guglielmini, who worked with Stoppani to ensure that the aerostat balloons would travel from the Seminario Maggiore di Porta Orientale over the walls erected around the city (and the Austrians trying to shoot them from the sky) to encourage Italians to revolt against the Austrian Empire."

Photograph of Antonio Stoppani, 1824.

The second text included in the volume, Robert Smithson's Abstract Geology: Revisiting the Premonitory Politics of the Triassic, considers Robert Smithson's anticipation of the discourse of the anthropocene.

From the essay:

"But, these reptilian figures, while popularly associated with the legacy of the Jurassic period, also witnessed events corresponding to the politics of the earlier Triassic age (250-210 million years ago). They saw the slow but decisive break-up of Pangaea into the two supercontinents, Laurasia and Gondwana, evidence that any form of stable unity is a fiction undone by the viscous earth. And they observed the morphological emergence of ceratitida, the order of nearly all ammonoid cephalopod genera, whose planispiral shells suggest a coiling figuration that would later be rescaled in Smithson's most well-known earthwork."

Image of emergent form of the certatitda (bottom right) in the 'remote times' of the Triassic, courtesy of Anexact.org.

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Notes from the Icelandic Edition

We're all going to be dirt in ground.
- Tom Waits

While cycling the ring road highway in Iceland during July, 2012, I managed to edit and develop several chapters, including a substantial reappraisal of the value of an "intensive genealogy." Below are some images taken by Multiplicative along the way. Drafts of chapters 1, 2, 5, and 6 will be posted and published in 2013.



No place like home, courtesy of Multiplicative.


Icelandic comment on architecture and urbanism, courtesy of Multiplicative.


Eastern Fjords, courtesy of Multiplicative.


Barn in the mountain, courtesy of Multiplicative.


Remains of a house, courtesy of Multiplicative.


Grain in foreground, glacier in background, courtesy of Multiplicative.


Landslide-intensified passage, courtesy of Multiplicative.