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Category Archives: speculative realism

If I had eaten one pomegranate every day, costing £1 each, I would have spent  £22,958 on pomegranates!

Early start – left the house at 6am to pay a visit to Beltinge, Herne Bay.  Pefect conditions for fossil hunting.  0.1m low spring tide, strong offshore wind,  airpressure 998 millibars, sunrise about 7.30 am and tide at its lowest about 8.15 am.  The morning was not quite as sunny as expected but not bad.  Quite cold though – about 6 degrees centigrade.

This is the first time that the water has been low enough to wade out to the ‘island’.  In fact there were several shingle banks exposed even further out to sea.  The beach and the ‘island’ were very silty which made fossil spotting quite difficult.  Digging and sieving were more fruitful and I collected about 50 sharks teeth many of which were broken unfortunately.


Sharks teeth collected from Beltinge beach, Herne Bay.


Nice piece of 50 million year old carbonized wood. Chunks of glauconitic Thanet Sand are still attached.

My copy of Picturing the Cosmos: Hubble Space Telescope Images and the Astronomical Sublime by Elizabeth A. Kessler has arrived so I’ve just had a quick look at it…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Now – having read Picturing the Cosmos I found it to be a mainly a description of how astronomical images are compiled rather than why they are compiled in that way. Fenella Saunders of American Scientist reviews Picturing the Cosmos: Hubble Space Telescope Images and the Astronomical Sublime HERE. I think the Hubble Telescope Images are produced purely for advertising purposes and you would not see the objects portrayed by the images because the electomagnetic spectrum portrayed has been broadened to include wavelengths that the human eye cannot perceive. Also, the colours do not mesh with human perception. In the Hubble Telescope Images blue is often used to portray ‘hot’ areas with red for ‘cold’ areas. In fact the different colours are chosen for different purposes which is explained on the Hubble site.

I’ve stopped working on the Eskimo nebula painting, I need to leave it for the paint to dry and to give it a final appraisal in due course.

I’ve realized that my first ‘astronomical painting’ “It’s almost certainly a star” needs more work. I also need to remember to date my pictures.

Using a Mahl Stick (arm crutch) is very helpful!

Short field trip to Newhaven revealed fresh cliff falls along a fault to the west of the harbour. There is an excellent description of this section of the chalk contained in the Geological Conservation Review HERE. The Geological Conservation Review looks like a very valuable resource as it contains lists and descriptions of classic geological locations – well worth studying.

Fossils and flint collected from beach at Newhaven

Graham Harman considers Meillassoux’s “death” argument in After Finitude in his blog. At the moment I seem to be a strong correlationist although both Meillassoux and Badiou seem to argue that you can access reality mathematically??

TV programme – Order and Disorder: “Professor Jim Al-Khalili investigates one of the most important concepts in the world today – information. He discovers how we harnessed the power of symbols, everything from the first alphabet to the electric telegraph through to the modern digital age. But on this journey he learns that information is not just about human communication, it is woven very profoundly into the fabric of reality.”

Information is always embodied in a physical system it can never be divorced from the physical world. Information obeys the same laws of physics as everything else in the universe. Information can be transformed into binary digits – single zeros and ones are the fundamental elements of information binary digits = bits. The physical world is therefore fundamental to ideas because ideas use information. Therefore, there can be no such thing as an idealist!

Meanwhile work continues (slowly) on the Eskimo Nebula painting:


Eskimo nebula oil painting in progress.

Still contemplating about speculative realism. Have resumed painting.

Why there is something rather than nothing?
23 Questions from Great Philosophers
by Lezek Kolakowdki

A good readable roundup of the nature of reality and truth though apparently several important philosophers such as Heidegger are missing. Also, this book predates Speculative Realism.

I’m Investigating Quentin Meilassoux’s recent book The Number and the Siren which is an analysis of Stéphane Mallarmé’s enigmatic final poem Un Coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard (A Throw of Dice Will Never Abolish Chance)

Presently listening to
Quentin Meillassoux The Coup de dés, or the Materialist Divinization of the Hypothesis
but finding him rather difficult to understand.
For a short explanation see the Urbanomic press release.

For more ‘in depth’ analysis see Anthony Paul Smith’s post in Speculative Heresy and Adam Kotsoko’s article in The New Inquiry. Kotsoko’s article is also a good summary of Meillasoux’s first book, After Finitude.

The New Inquiry is a space for discussion that aspires to enrich cultural and public life by putting all available resources—both digital and material—toward the promotion and exploration of ideas.

The New Inquiry is a 501(c)3 non-profit and is not affiliated with any political party, government agency, university, municipality, religious organization, cadre, or other cult.

TNI was co-founded by Mary Borkowski, Jennifer Bernstein, and Rachel Rosenfelt.

Big critique of After Finitude by Christian Thorne, associate professor of English at Williams College

Garden of Eden or scene from the Antichrist?


BBC 2 Lucian Freud: Painted Life. A very informative round up of Lucien Freud’s life. Freud viewed and painted people as animals – humans are simply animals – not in any ‘special’ category of being (but what about conciousness?) (ref. philosopher Graham Harman ??). That is the fundamental proposition of Freud’s art.

I have just come across Lucian Freud: Filming with the Artist a BBC blog written by Randall Wright. “Making a painting was the most important thing anyone could try to do, if they were to get close to the essence of things, to approach an absolute truth.”

Visited Reigate Artists Summer Exhibition on Saturday – some very nice work here.

Saturday evening went to see Edd at Fabrica, Simpson & Hill’s response to Stéphane Cauchy – Cascade.

I need to reconsider how to mount mirror objects on the wall in a more elegant manner – need to visit exhibitions for ideas.

Thinking about Alison Turnbull.

    Considering the question Why Exhibit?

This question has been on my mind for several months now, ever since I asked Peter for advice on exhibiting and he asked “Why are you Exhibiting?” I think this question leaves me with a conundrum. My work references Meillassoux‘s Speculative Realism and since Meillassoux considers the meaning of the “arche-fossil”, which indexes a time before human conciousness evolved. This was a time before any humans were around to observe. Therefore, does it really matter if my artworks are observed or not? If I say it does matter then surely this is a correlationist’s stance. If I say it doesn’t matter then I take a Speculative Realist’s stance. As I believe in the ability of science to describe the ‘reality’ of the world/universe/cosmos even when remote in time and space, I take a Speculative Realist position. I need to check out Joash Woodrow.

Went fossil hunting in Betchworth yesterday. I was hoping to find some fossil sponges but no luck, only found a few unsuitable odds and ends.

Finished reading Ray Brassier‘s Nihil Unbound and with Caputo‘s help I’m beginning to understand Brassier’s ideas. I think Brassier’s hypothesis have more clarity than Meillassoux‘s proposals and I therefore prefer Brassier. Brassier: “[E]xistence is worthless,” he writes, “and nihilism is … the unavoidable corollary of the realist conviction that there is a mind-independent reality which … is indifferent to our existence and oblivious to the ‘values’ and ‘meanings’ which we would drape over it in order to make it more hospitable.”