Materialism and the Critique of Energy MCM Prime Press co-edited with Jeff Diamanti
Materialism and the Critique Energy brings together cultural, economic, and historical approaches to an engagement between Marxist critiques of capital and questions of energy infrastructures, regimes, and resources.
Contributors: Jasper Bernes, Amanda Boetzkes, Adam Brionowski, George Caffentzis, Gerry Canavan, Warren Cariou, Daniel Cunha, Elmar Flatschart, Peter Hitchcock, Matthew Huber, Kate Lawless, Andreas Malm, Jon Parsons, Dominique Perron, Amy Riddle, Allan Stoekl, David Thomas, Alberto Toscano, Sheena Wilson, and Daniel Worden and more!
“Reading Kim Stanley Robinson’s Three Californias Triptych as Petrofiction” 2017 article in Western American Literature 51.4
Kim Stanley Robinson’s Three Californias Triptych extrapolates three different futures from the present of the 1980s: blasted cities, tangled highways, and enlightened communes take shape in each story world. These novels—The Wild Shore (1984), The Gold Coast (1988), and Pacific Edge (1990)—unfold a chronology of fictional future events within the bounded cultural geography of Orange County. Robinson routes the Three Californias Triptych in parallel rather than in series, which does not prevent the generation of meaning across texts. A difference between a triptych and a trilogy is that the meaning gets fixed not in the bildung of character, but in the difference between these extrapolations of Orange County. Though each novel depicts a wildly different future for Orange County, all three are, tellingly, petrofutures, meaning that the social relations that allowed fossil capital to thrive still hold remarkable sway precisely in connection to the long afterlife of the built world of oil. In this way, they play off of an actually existing California caught in the full grip of fossil-fuel reliance. This observation does not mean they necessarily fall into the mode of extrapolation that Gerry Canavan describes as “retrofutures” (331); the Triptych does not get stuck in fantasizing about a return to a pre-fossil-capital past…
“The Inertia of Energy: Pipelines and Temporal Politics” 2016 book chapter in Time, Globalization, and Human Experience (Routledge)
The inherent question of this volume, the relation between time and globalization, finds form in the oil pipeline. Snaking across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America, miles of pipe take shape in order to convey fossil fuels from the source of extraction to refineries and distribution centres. Pipelines are part of a mechanism in fossil capital that generates an experience of the pure present. So long as oil keeps flowing, the length and duration of the journey does not matter—each instant when oil is fed into the mouth of the pipeline is completed in the barrel on the other end. Without an adequate replacement or without an alternative way of organizing the social, fossil fuels continue to be the driver of contemporary life. Pipelines are the mechanism that keeps the motor running. But, what kind of future does pipeline construction build?
Resource Aesthetics 2016 special issue of Postmodern Culture 26.2 co-edited with Michael O’Driscoll and Mark Simpson
Resource Aesthetics is a special issue of PMC. It explores and examines the aesthetics of resource culture in order to describe the ways in which we do, or do not, see, feel, and act in response to the abidingly material power of resources—not merely inputs, but forces, relations, and practices that fundamentally shape culture and society. It is available open access while it remains the latest issue of the journal here. Here’s a look at the table of contents:
Toward a Theory of Resource Aesthetics Brent Ryan Bellamy, Michael O’Driscoll, and Mark Simpson
The Biocapital of Living – and Art of Dying – After Fukushima Nicole Shukin
Resource Systems, the Paradigm of Zero-Waste, and the Desire for Sustenance Amanda Boetzkes
The Materiality of the Digital Carolyn Elerding
Energyscapes, Architecture, and the Expanded Field of Postindustrial Philosophy Jeff Diamanti
The Programmable Image of Capital Jonathan Beller
When Energy is the Focus A Conversation with Brent Ryan Bellamy, Stephanie LeMenager, and Imre Szeman
Afterword: Improvement and Overburden Jennifer Wenzel
Energy Humanities 2016 special issue of Reviews in Cultural Theory 6.3 co-edited with Jeff Diamanti
The special issue, “Energy Humanities,” gathers experimental and brief accounts of the cultural history of energy in order to figure new research in the emerging fields of Environmental and Energy Humanities. From plastics to oil and literature, pedagogy to pipelines and activism, loving oil to understanding energy infrastructure, this collection offers a snapshot of the various ways one might approach questions of energy in the humanities.
Bellamy and Diamanti – Envisioning the Energy Humanities
Clint Burnham – #PipelinePolitics
Brent Ryan Bellamy – Energy and Literary Studies
Jeff Diamanti – Three Thesis on Energy and Capital
Adam Dickinson – Energy Humanities and Metabolic Poetics
Peter Hitchcock – Energy Bars
Stepahnie LeMenager – Infrastructure Again, and Always
Jennifer Wenzel – Taking Stock of the Energy Humanities
After Oil 2015 book published by the Petrocultures Research Group co-written with contributors
In August 2015, thirty-five artists and researchers came together in Edmonton for the inaugural After Oil School (AOS). They were invited to think collectively about the challenges living in a petroculture poses for energy transition. This book captures the discussions had there. pdf here
Contributors: Lynn Badia, Darin Barney, Ruth Beer, Brent Bellamy, Dominic Boyer, Adam Carlson, Ann Chen, Ian Clarke, Cecily Devereux, Jeff Diamanti, Rachel Havrelock, Olivia Heaney, Cymene Howe, Bob Johnson, David J Kahane, Jordan Kinder, Richard Kover, Ernst Logar, Graeme Macdonald, Negar Mottahedeh, Michael O’Driscoll, Fiona Polack, Sina Rahmani, Jerilyn Sambrooke, Jackie Seidel, Mark Simpson, Lucie Stepanik, Janet Stewart, Imre Szeman, Kevin Taft, Michael Truscello, Aaron Veldstra, Carolyn Veldstra, Caleb Wellum, Sheena Wilson, and Saulesh Yessenova
“Into Eternity: On Our Waste Containments And Energy Futures” 2014 article in Paradoxa 26
The first shot of Michael Madsen’s documentary film Into Eternity (2010) captures the border between the snowy Finnish woods and what appears to be a power plant or transformer station in grayscale. The shot draws a visual comparison between the skeletal trees, standing silently, and the vertical structures interlaced with cables and wire in the background. Several large stones sit in the foreground of the shot. The only sound comes from the low rumble of a bass drum. The shot fades to black and a new shot fades in. The camera tracks down a well-lit concrete tunnel and the title fades into focus “Into Eternity: A Film for the Future by Michael Madsen.” A few more rumbles of the bass drum sound as the camera rounds a corner, revealing a narrowing of the tunnel that fades into pitch black in the background. Here, the voiceover beings: “I would say that you are now in a place where we have buried something from you to protect you and we have taken great pains to be sure that you are protected. We also need you to know that this place should not be disturbed and we want you to know that this is not a place for you to live in. You should stay away from this place and then you will be safe.”
“Life After People: Science Factions and Ecological Futures” 2014 book chapter co-written with Imre Szeman in Green Planets (Wesleyan UP)
As a way of probing the importance of form for ecological politics, we want to focus here on the problematic insights raised by a book that represents the ecological future: Alan Weisman’s bestseller The World Without Us (2007). This form—what we call ‘science faction’—has become increasingly prominent over the past decade, appearing not only in book form but in documentaries such as National Geographic’s Aftermath, The History Channel’s Life After People, and the BBC show The Future is Wild. Such quasi-scientific, quasi-science-fictional texts depict the world after the final collapse of civilization and the total extinction of the human race, often at hyperbolic geologic timescales extending millions of years. In addition to identifying the nature and function of this form, we want to critically examine what it tells us about narrative and political limits at the present time, and to consider what the problems of science faction tell us about what we might need to do to overcome such limits…
“Figuring Terminal Crisis in Steven Amsterdam’s Things We Didn’t See Coming” 2014 article in Mediations 28.1
This paper tracks a problem that emerges from within a contemporary post-apocalyptic novel, though is certainly not restricted to it. The formal limit to imagining a post-catastrophic future remains a historical one: how can a novel bent on representing anafter, bent on imagining the movement of history as such, do so “in an age,” as Fredric Jameson once put it, “that has forgotten to think historically in the first place.” Could it be that historicity, that sense of the present as subject to historical change, is once more returning in the contemporary moment? / continue reading / Afterword by Fredric Jameson
“Tear into the Guts: Whitman, Steinbeck, Springsteen, and the Durability of Lost Souls on the Road” 2012 Article in Canadian Review of American Studies 41.2
This article investigates the relationship between the concepts of freedom and conﬁnement and the metaphor of ‘‘the road’’ in the works of three signiﬁcant American cultural ﬁgures. A close analysis of the formal elements of the poetry of Walt Whitman, the novels of John Steinbeck, and the songs of Bruce Springsteen reveals a negation at the core of durability.These narratives pit characters, readers, and listeners against the ideology of freedom that structures road narratives and American durability.Whitman’s version of the road is open and apparently available to all,whereas Steinbeck’s version inverts these terms, making the road a place of oppression and conﬁnement. Beginning to unveil these contradictions,Springsteen’s music grasps the weight and emptiness of the road as a cultural signiﬁer. Finally, the article argues that only through collective thought and action within and against the contradictions inherent in durability can we stop simply persisting and start living.