Yet, at the heart of consciousness is sadness—a deep and abiding melancholia found through close attention. Stopping. It is strangely peaceful there, in this heart, a stillness that is its own reward; aware of our own suffering and the suffering of others, it is a paradoxical prize. It is from here that we can see more clearly, though in pain—indeed it is the pain that brings some clarity. What becomes clear is this: the world is more unknowable than we ever imagined, and so, we must act frugally, with restraint and always with “care and concern” for alterity.  This is what it means to live a life of meaning. Shattering the toxic epistemology, it is the only antidote for the lethal compound. Ironic that what we humans have always avoided—pain and suffering—are actually keys to understanding. Though the idolatry of algorithms got us here, awareness may yet save us still.
Alexander Nazaryan has written a fine review of Tim Morton’s new book, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World for Newsweek magazine. Morton is a leading thinker in the emergent school of philosophy known variously as Speculative Realism, or Object Oriented Ontology, though he himself might demur from that role. The movement seeks to relocate humans in a posthuman world: when we pay close attention we see that we are not the center of all there is. It is a Copernican revolution seeking to undo the damage wrought by the certainties and consequent hubris of the Enlightenment, and its progeny, industrial modernism and postmodernism.
Nazaryan is to be commended for bringing Morton’s work to a broad audience—a major development—and for doing it so well. Heretofore Morton and others (Harman, Bryant, Bennett) have worked among their peers in academia, searching for a way out of our certain condition. The movement itself exemplifies a certain grassrooted-ness: almost wildly interdisciplinary, this emerging school is being built by philosophers, artists, literary critics, poets, game theorists, political scientists, and more, all of whom seem to be running towards each other in a desperate attempt to re-understand the world in time. Common to all is the realization that no single discipline is up to the task alone. That’s exactly right. Academic silos mirror the reductionism of science and economics. What’s needed is a complete revolution—a leveling to reach the perspicacity of humility. It is a monumental task. Yet as Nazaryan says, “Morton’s ideas tap into a rising collective unease,”  so perhaps the ground is increasingly fertile. The review is below. Here’s hoping it inspires you to read Morton’s book and to join in the new-world making, from down here, where it hurts.
Sad to say, nothing less will do.
My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
So much has been destroyed
I have cast my lot with those
who, age after age, perversely,
with no extraordinary power,
reconstitute the world.
--Adrienne Rich 
 Pignarre, Philippe and Stengers, Isabelle. Capitalist Sorcery: Breaking the Spell. Palgrave Macmillan 2011
Morton, Tim. The Ecological Thought (Harvard 2010)
 Nazaryan, Alexander. Newsweek Magazine January 3, 2014
 Quoted from Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken Penguin Books 2007, from Adrienne Rich, “Natural Resources”, The Dream of a Common Language: Poems 1974-1977 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1993), p. 60.
See Tim Morton's blog, Ecology Without Nature here
You’re Only Human. That’s the Problem
A new book taps into the rising collective unease about global warming and other thereats that are beyond our ability to grasp.
By Alexander Nazaryan
If you have the leisure time to read Newsweek, then you probably live with a generally manageable nexus of concerns. You know you are going to die, but are not terribly bothered by existential finitude. It is the mundane that overwhelms you: the way someone at the office chews crackers loudly, how this one college friend always calls to complain, where you might vacation next. Sometimes, your mind ranges further afield, into speculative realms: Is this what I thought I'd be doing at 40? Should I give more to charity? What is the point of recycling? But these are infrequent divagations.
Then there are the things you could not possibly think about, even if you had the time. Maybe you can conceive of the inexorable infinity of death, but I am close to certain that no human mind can grasp the not-quite-infinity of 4.468 billion years, which is the half-life of uranium-238. Or 210 million gallons of oil, the amount deposited in the Gulf of Mexico by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The World Wildlife Fund says we may be losing as many as 100,000 species to extinction each year. That number is alarming, but so large that it passes quickly from the astounding to the incomprehensible, before collapsing into irrelevancy. Same with the number of Americans estimated to have gotten cancer in 2013: 1,660,290. You probably don't know or care about 1,660,289 of them. It's very hard, after all, to worry about something you can't understand.
Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World by Timothy Morton is a book of quasi-popular philosophy (hope you've at least skimmed your Heidegger and Kant) about the very big things that have come to dominate human existence: cancer, global warming, radionuclides, petrochemicals. Morton is the head of the English department at Rice University and a leader in the field of object-oriented ontology, affectionately known as OOO, a relatively recent philosophical movement that declares the human being just one thing among many things. Human consciousness, for OOO true believers, isn't all that special, even if we are a thing that can write epic poems, perform Bach concertos, and run a mean pick-and-roll.
Continue reading at Newsweek...
[Morton] marshals ...disparate allusions in the service of a cogent idea, one that manages to come off as both intuitive and radical.
Morton is the head of the English department at Rice University and a leader in the field of object-oriented ontology...a relatively recent philosophical movement that declares the human being just one thing among many things.
Morton's ideas tap into a rising collective unease.