Notes to myself
Currently trying to figure out what „Speculative Realism“ is & wants.
„At its worst, speculative philosophy is a lot like speculative finance, leveraging vast amounts of credit (both fiscal and metaphysical) on the basis of shaky, dubious foundations (or no foundations at all). But at its best, speculative philosophy rather resembles speculative fiction, for it cannot do without extrapolation.“
Steven Shaviro: The Universe of Things
„Spacetime turns from a grid-like box into what Einstein fantastically calls a “reference mollusk.” Reference mollusks exist precisely because of hyperobjects that emanate gravitational fields. In these fields geometry is not Euclidean. In the absence of graphics software that could morph and stretch a grid to convey Gaussian, non Euclidean coordinates, a squishy shellfish was the best Einstein could come up with. But in a sense the mollusk is just right. Time and space emerge from things, like the rippling flesh of a sea urchin or octopus.“
tentacular ones everywhere….
„Hyperobjects are Gaussian, disturbingly squishy and mollusk-like. The undulations of the mollusk flesh of spacetime fail to drop to zero. Gravity waves from the “beginning of time” are right now passing through my body from the edge of the universe. It is as if we were inside a gigantic octopus. H. P. Lovecraft imagines the insane god Cthulhu this way.“
„A high enough dimensional being could see global warming itself as a static object. What horrifyingly complex tentacles would such an entity have, this high-dimensional object we call global warming?“
Timothy Morton: Hyperobjects
„As we accelerate into the new millennium, questions about the posthuman become increasingly urgent. Nowhere are these questions explored more passionately than in contemporary speculative fiction.“
N. Katherine Hayles: How we became Posthuman
Imagining the future is never a politically innocent or ethically neutral act. To arrive at the future we want, we must first be able to imagine it as fully as we can, including all the contexts in which its consequences will play out.
N. Katherine Hayles: Wrestling with Transhumanism
A summer of cyber- and biopunk!
Rereading classics for science-fact-fictional clues
A thousand texts, a thousand contexts … drawings may help
Thinking some more about the relationship between utopian and science fictional critical future visions, reading Tom Moylan’s ‚Scraps of the Untainted Sky‘ (2000, here p.25).
„To be sure, sf is often misunderstood as bearing a direct, unmediated relationship to the author’s empirical reality, regarded simply as a „metaphorical“ (worse yet, „mythic“) retelling of the present moment. Or at the other extreme, sf is too readily regarded as a form of futurological analysis of things to come. Contrary to these unmediated engagements with the present, serious sf, with all the richness that fiction can muster, pursues a more complex engagement that enters into a dialectical negotiation of the historical tension between what was, what is, and what is coming to be.“
Not only „Scenario“ texts and Science Fiction have a lot in common, also Utopia and SF do. This does not come as a surprise as such, however what strucks me more and more is that they all share the same ‚issue‘ of oscillating between the pole described as e.g. possibility/pragmatism/hard and the pole described as e.g. utopian/fantastic/soft. Utopia & Science Fiction are celebrated for their imaginative approach, sparking innovation. At the same time, if you want to insult e.g. a technology developer, you tell her/him that her/his ideas will never be realized by calling them „Science Fiction“. If you want to discredit a political opinion, you call it „utopian“. I find Ruth Levitas‘ approach to this ‚issue‘ very interesting and will mind not to fall to easily into the soft / hard divide trap.
„When utopia is compensatory or expressive the the issue of possibility is beside the point. If its function is critical, then theoretical possibility and internal coherence may have some relevance. […] In a broader context, consistency may be less crucial: given the lack of consistency of most people’s beliefs, it is not clear that estrangement, the education of desire or political criticism require this characteristic of an alternative world. […] When the function of utopia is to catalyse change, then of course the issue of practical possibility becomes salient. But even here, utopia does not need to be practically possible; it merely needs to be believed to be so to mobilise people to political action.“
Ruth Levitas: The Concept of Utopia
At the moment I’m reading Visioneers by Patrick McCray and Elke Seefried’s Zukünfte in parallel and love it. These two books are very different in style and only partly feature the same people and events, but — or rather just because of this — you get a really interesting three-dimensional impression of the 1960s and the emergence of ‚Futurology‘.
… and to snack on some more psychadelic future visions …
After the Unsettling Scientific Stories Conference : Natural History Museum of London with fitting litterature.
Btw: The picture of this ’sammelsurium‘ page is an imagined dinosaur from Douglas Dixon’s The New Dinosaurs, introduced in the first talk of the conference by Will Tattersdill.
March 21st: I presented my project to my colleagues and some guests in the framework of the „Salon für Haarige Angelegenheiten“ & the ‚Open House‘ of the Kunstuniversität Linz. Since I was supposed to talk about ‚hairy business‘, I of course mentioned the wonderful tentacular hair of Binti by Nnedi Okorafor.
The 1st of march 2018, ‚Science Fiction, Fact & Forecast‘ officially started as research project at the Kunstuniversität Linz. I have settled in my office on the 4th floor of the Domgasse building & have brought some first books from home and the university library. Currently on my desk: