10 April 2011

Book: Jane Bennett, Vibrant Matter

This relatively new 2010 publication (Duke University Press) sees Jane Bennett critically extend the work of her earlier book, The Enchantments of Modern Life: Attachments, Crossings, Ethics (2001) into the interrogation of “thing-power” through the formation of a vital materialist perspective.

Bennett's anecdotal style finds a fitting model to poetically introduce the strange intimacy of her subject matter while simultaneously understating the ambitious trajectory of her text, which seeks to displace so many entrenched discourses surrounding issues such as the ontology of objects and matter, consumption, environmental politics and democracy.

Following, as Bennett herself identifies, “in the tradition of Democritus-Epicurus-Spinoza-Diderot-Deleuze” (xiii) (most especially Deleuze), Vibrant Matter segues from a meditation on the vitality of an ordinary gathering of items by a storm-drain grate - a work glove, oak pollen, a dead rat, a plastic bottle cap, a stick - to an ultimate consideration of the possibilities of forming a different kind of ethics premised on assemblages comprising of both human and non-human affective relations, and a different kind of agency which takes into account the powerful actant capabilities of "inanimate" matter.

"The aim is to articulate the elusive idea of a materiality that is itself heterogeneous, itself a differential of intensities, itself a life. In this strange, vital materialism, there is no point of pure stillness, no indivisible atom that is not itself aquiver with virtual force." (57)

1 comment:

Empire of the Will said...

If anyone would like to read a critical review of Vibrant Matter's festival of trendy jargon, please consult 'Empire of the Will' :)