This year's (virtual) winter residency featured a series of three lectures throughout the week. As with every IDSVA lecture, students were asked to "formulate the question" in advance of Q&A. With each Q&A session, the lecturer and the students "took a seat at the table" and continued the ongoing construction of the history of ideas.
This lecture urged us to think collaboratively about the extraordinary ways in which complex subject/object conglomerations challenge assumptions about the limits and boundaries of the human, in relation to the animal and technology. The puppet is the form that perhaps most deftly disrupts the quiet stasis that is necessary in order to maintain subject and object distinctions. The puppet compels us – when it is most successful – to embrace its autonomy, its agency. The puppet need not mimic a ‘naturally live’ being, such as a person or an animal: yet it can still persuade the audience to embrace its agency, its volition, its affective dynamism. This is an enigma, and it is a principle that has underwritten many engaged questions in various domains from psychology, to film studies, anthropology, commodity theory, theology and exchange theory. What is it that drives the vitalism of the thing?
Through a series of examples, variations on the theme of the vivarium, this lecture unfolded the prospects of living in a multi-species cohabitation. It addressed the questions: What are the philosophical consequences of this predicament? And how do contemporary artists reveal novel sensibilities for the neglected landscapes of the world? The experience of living in a planetary vivarium was explained through the introduction of the concepts of “bio-geo-ontology” and “decreation.” Illustrations were drawn from Italy, Ecuador, New Mexico, Outer Atmosphere, and Dream-Realm.
George Smith’s lecture on “Western Metaphysics and the Future of New Philosophy” tied modern European metaphysics together with Anglo-American analytic philosophy as branches or factions of Western metaphysics—what Smith calls “scientific-technological thinking.” To “scientific-technological thinking” Smith contrasts “scientific-poetic thinking,” what he calls New Philosophy. According to Smith, mankind phased into the Age of the Anthropocene through “scientific-technological thinking” and will escape only by way of “scientific-poetic thinking,” New Philosophy.