I presented this paper at the “New Materialisms and Economies of Excess” conference at Emory last September/October. A link to the PowerPoint that went along with it:
If one were to trace the genealogy of what is being called ‘new materialism,’ one would find, if only in terms of textual reference, figures like Henri Bergson, Alfred North Whitehead, and Gilles Deleuze preeminent – and, as we saw in the first day of presentations, the work of Georges Bataille has come into favor as well; and, later, thinkers such as Manuel DeLanda, Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, Rosi Braidotti, and Michel Serres would further shape the desire to rethink the relationship between nature and culture, form and matter. My purpose here today involves a relatively modest proposal: that, just as the works of Bataille and, as we saw this morning, Jacques Derrida are being mined for how we might think or, perhaps, rethink materialism and materiality, that we do so similarly with the work of Freud.
I presented this paper at the “Abstraction” graduate conference at UC Irvine last March. Here’s a link to the PowerPoint that went along with it:
What I would like to do today is trace a line of thought from the 18th century Natural History of Pierre Maupertuis and the Comte de Buffon on the one hand, and the 19th century Biology of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck on the other; and I do so aware of Foucault’s argument in The Order of Things that such an exercise is a waste of time. His reason is this: for Natural History, ‘Life’ does not yet exist as an analytic, only ‘living beings’ distributed across a non-temporal and homogenous surface orderable according to their identities and differences. At the beginning of the 19th century, with the emergence of Biology, this surface begins to be dissociated and an opposition arises: differences proliferate on the surface while, deeper down, they begin to fade, merge, and mingle in that invisible focal unity called ‘Life’, from which the multiple derives. For Natural History, order is the given and difference is what must be explained; for Biology, difference is the given and order is what must be explained; and between the two is what Foucault describes as ‘an essential rupture’.