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kritik books and articles for next year's (HS) topic

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This is a place to suggest books and articles that will be particularly good for next year's high school topic. Thus, not to say things "Schlag will be useful" but to suggest unique critical literature ground.

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I'll start Thom Kuehls' Beyond Sovereign Territory: The Space of Ecopolitics.

 

From the press webpage:

An ecological critique of political thought that insists on the centrality of ethics.

 

How should we think about politics in a world where ecological problems—from the deforestation of the Amazon to acid rain—transcend national boundaries? This is the timely and important question addressed by Thom Kuehls in Beyond Sovereign Territory. Contending that the sovereign territorial state is not adequate to contain or describe the boundaries of ecopolitics, the author reorients our thinking about government, nature, and politics.

 

Kuehls argues that changes in technology and the scope of governmental aims have rendered conventional ecological and internationalist aims anachronistic—and ultimately ineffective—in the face of impending environmental collapse. He questions the process by which land is transformed into an object of sovereignty—into "territory"—demonstrating how representations of political space that focus on territorial sovereignty fail to come to terms with much of what is involved in ecopolitics.

 

Engaging social and political theory texts from such diverse thinkers as Michel Foucault, Donna Haraway, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari, Kuehls moves through the fields of ecopolitical thought and international relations on his way to articulating an ecological politics that exceeds the space of the sovereign territorial state. Throughout, Beyond Sovereign Territory juxtaposes traditional conceptualizations of nature with unorthodox-and enlightening-alternatives.

 

Kuehls articulates a governing "eco-ethic," what he calls an "ethics of care," one that insists on the centrality of ethics to the space in which ecopolitics exists. Ultimately, Kuehls critiques an orientation that privileges a certain utilitarian relationship between humans and nonhuman nature, one in which the earth is largely interpreted as given to humans. Deeply humanistic and challenging conventional wisdom, Beyond Sovereign Territory will be of interest to readers of environmental politics, geography, international politics, and political theory.

 

“Beyond Sovereign Territory is an ambitious book which covers much ground clearly and concisely. Kuehl's originality lies in his attempt to outline a new ecological ethic.” —Millennium

 

“A useful, challenging text that forces us to acknowledge the shifting character of sovereign territory in an ecologically interdependent world.” —American Political Science Review

 

Thom Kuehls is an assistant professor at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, where he teaches political theory.

192 pages | 5 7/8 x 9 | 1996

Borderlines Series, volume 4

 

amazon link (you can search inside)

http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Sovereign-Territory-Ecopolitics-Borderlines/dp/0816624682/ref=ed_oe_p

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http://www.amazon.com/Batailles-Peak-Energy-Religion-Postsustainability/dp/0816648190

 

"As the price of oil climbs toward $100 a barrel, our impending post-fossil fuel future appears to offer two alternatives: a bleak existence defined by scarcity and sacrifice or one in which humanity places its faith in technological solutions with unforeseen consequences. Are there other ways to imagine life in an era that will be characterized by resource depletion?

 

The French intellectual Georges Bataille saw energy as the basis of all human activity—the essence of the human—and he envisioned a society that, instead of renouncing profligate spending, would embrace a more radical type of energy expenditure: la dépense, or “spending without return.” In Bataille’s Peak, Allan Stoekl demonstrates how a close reading of Bataille—in the wake of Giordano Bruno and the Marquis de Sade— can help us rethink not only energy and consumption, but also such related topics as the city, the body, eroticism, and religion. Through these cases, Stoekl identifies the differences between waste, which Bataille condemned, and expenditure, which he celebrated.

 

The challenge of living in the twenty-first century, Stoekl argues, will be to comprehend—without recourse to austerity and self-denial—the inevitable and necessary shift from a civilization founded on waste to one based on Bataillean expenditure." (from Amazon)

 

so yeah... that...

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Tim Luke

Tim Luke's areas of research specialization include environmental and cultural studies as well as comparative politics, international political economy, and modern critical social and political theory. He teaches courses in the history of political thought, contemporary political theory, comparative and international politics.

http://www.cddc.vt.edu/tim/papers.html

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Timothy Morton's new book seems useful. Even Slavoj Žižek liked it, and decided to give a lecture on the book in Athens. Here is a link to a website where you may purchase the book:

 

http://www.amazon.com/Ecology-without-Nature-Rethinking-Environmental/dp/0674024346

 

For some useful commentary to complement the book, here are the links to the lecture that Žižek delivered on it:

 

Part I:

 

Part II:

 

Part III:

 

Part IV:

 

Part V:

 

Part VI:

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wow. This is sort of crazy-- I am in the middle of writing my senior thesis about the current ecological movement... well at least all this will help with my research!

 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/richpub/syltguides/fullview/24E8W4R6SGVFH/ref=cm_syt_dtpa_f_2_rdssss0?pf_rd_p=253457301&pf_rd_s=sylt-center&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0816648190&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=06C2YD7CD1K1DNSKD07N

 

I found that a very useful primer. I would also find it helpful if people mentioned some authors/specific critiques that are common on environmental issues. Heidegger is the big one, I know...are there any others?

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http://www.amazon.com/Batailles-Peak-Energy-Religion-Postsustainability/dp/0816648190

 

"As the price of oil climbs toward $100 a barrel, our impending post-fossil fuel future appears to offer two alternatives: a bleak existence defined by scarcity and sacrifice or one in which humanity places its faith in technological solutions with unforeseen consequences. Are there other ways to imagine life in an era that will be characterized by resource depletion?

 

The French intellectual Georges Bataille saw energy as the basis of all human activity—the essence of the human—and he envisioned a society that, instead of renouncing profligate spending, would embrace a more radical type of energy expenditure: la dépense, or “spending without return.” In Bataille’s Peak, Allan Stoekl demonstrates how a close reading of Bataille—in the wake of Giordano Bruno and the Marquis de Sade— can help us rethink not only energy and consumption, but also such related topics as the city, the body, eroticism, and religion. Through these cases, Stoekl identifies the differences between waste, which Bataille condemned, and expenditure, which he celebrated.

 

The challenge of living in the twenty-first century, Stoekl argues, will be to comprehend—without recourse to austerity and self-denial—the inevitable and necessary shift from a civilization founded on waste to one based on Bataillean expenditure." (from Amazon)

 

so yeah... that...

 

I cannot recommend this book enough. I had already cut it for the high school topic before the ag topic was decided for college. Much of this work speaks to the heart of next year's HS resolution. A wonderful and unique interpretation of Bataille to the current energy debate. One of, if not the best book I have read all year.

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I cannot recommend this book enough. I had already cut it for the high school topic before the ag topic was decided for college. Much of this work speaks to the heart of next year's HS resolution. A wonderful and unique interpretation of Bataille to the current energy debate. One of, if not the best book I have read all year.

LOL. See, one of the skills high school debate teaches is the ability to discriminate if authors are qualified to speak on specific fields of study.

 

Observe:

 

Allan Stoekl is professor of French and comparative literature at Penn State University

 

 

 

Now I'll make it real simple, think about questions regarding peak oil on the high school topic: economics, international relations, politics, French literature. Which one of the four departments doesn't fit?

Edited by Synergy
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Synergy is right; if you hold one position at one point in life, it probably represents the totality of you qualified areas of experience. For example, an anonymous, satirical web troll is probably not qualified to speak about substantive academic work.

 

Interestingly enough, I never claimed he was "qualified" to speak about international peak oil issues. I simply said his application of Bataille was concerned with things that are central to the topic which generally makes for a good source of critical literature for debate.

 

Stop being pissy. It's a good book. Read it. If you disagree, no major loss other than your time (which seems none too precious).

 

Edit:

Jesus, Shayan's post during the time my window was idle in the quick response box is making me look over-protected now. Oh well.

 

Edit2 - More Books:

Also of note

 

Norman K. Swazo - Crisis Theory and World Order: Heideggerian Reflections

Robert Kirkman - Skeptical Environmentalism: The Limits of Philosophy and Science.

Robertson et. al - Future Natural: Nature, Science, Culture [Questia]

Edited by Once-Ler

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You should at least read the book before you are so critical of it. It is definitely useful, that is all that really matters. Credentials, especially for kritikal authors, can be argued about, but rarely matter too much.

 

Qualification do matter in good debates. But maybe not in the rounds you've been in (not a dig at you, just following your logic).

First, Comparative Literature, as a major of study, is often based in Philosophy, particularly concentrating on the Continental Theorists debaters utilize. Additionally, the author's literacy in French would especially help in interpreting Bataille's works and that of other major philosophers of the time.

And?

 

Secondly, the authors of most kritikal arguments are not directly educated in any of the fields you mentioned, nor do they concentrate on them in their teaching careers in a rigorous manner. Granted, they may have written books or articles on the topic, but lack of a concentration on that type of study makes the book John referenced very similar to that most other debaters to construct their kritikal arguments.

Not really. Foucault or Agamben scholars are probably qualified to speak about critical movements, aesthetics, and how government manages the population. On this year's topic, there are many authors with degrees in environmental studies or polysci who write about how environmental security issues are approached.

 

But French literature and the socioeconomics of oil isn't even close.

 

Synergy is right; if you hold one position at one point in life, it probably represents the totality of you qualified areas of experience. For example, an anonymous, satirical web troll is probably not qualified to speak about substantive academic work.

Thanks asshole. Way to mislabel my argument and then sneak in a ad-hom attack. Do you even understand what a troll is? Or do you just label everyone who critisizes you a "troll".

 

This author STILL is a French lit prof. Still no degree in economics/IR.

 

Next time you try to be satirical at least make sure your logic make sense.

 

Interestingly enough, I never claimed he was "qualified" to speak about international peak oil issues. I simply said his application of Bataille was concerned with things that are central to the topic which generally makes for a good source of critical literature for debate.

 

Stop being pissy. It's a good book. Read it. If you disagree, no major loss other than your time (which seems none too precious).

Interestingly enough, you seem to have missed the point of my post. Qualifications are inextricable from judgments over how "good" a source of evidence is. By your logic, everyone should read Nyquist's rants or T.E. Beardon's latest article/book about zero-point energy.

 

Fortunately some of us can discern good source qualifications from bad ones and avoid wasting our time.

 

But I guess it's inevitable that this book will convince a few high school debaters who have not studied subjects like economics/IR enough to discern the validity of abstruse post-modern theory.

Edited by Synergy

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Stoekl's book seems to have very little to deal with the reality of peak oil one way or another.

 

So, yeah.

 

His book seems (after looking inside on amazon and reading the description) to have something to deal with how we relate to issues of waste and expenditure. Can we move our thought outside of a restricted economy (in which, for example, peak oil would matter a lot) to a general economy (in which we can understand the superabudence of life)? Seems like knowing french and philosophy might be a good skill set to have to being able to at least think about those questions.

 

Man, all that I get to totally bracket the question of quals and whatnot.

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Michael Hardt is a professor of literature and Italian at Duke and yet he's one of the biggest names in philosophy today for his work in geopolitics. I'd say on-face analysis of credentials isn't always a good marker of the quality of a text.

 

 

(granted, I'm not exactly an accomplished critical debater so maybe Hardt's lack of useful degrees actually damns him)

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Michael Hardt is a professor of literature and Italian at Duke and yet he's one of the biggest names in philosophy today for his work in geopolitics. I'd say on-face analysis of credentials isn't always a good marker of the quality of a text.

 

 

(granted, I'm not exactly an accomplished critical debater so maybe Hardt's lack of useful degrees actually damns him)

 

Hardt's undergrad degree is in engineering. How crazy is that?

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His book seems (after looking inside on amazon and reading the description) to have something to deal with how we relate to issues of waste and expenditure. Can we move our thought outside of a restricted economy (in which, for example, peak oil would matter a lot) to a general economy (in which we can understand the superabudence of life)? Seems like knowing french and philosophy might be a good skill set to have to being able to at least think about those questions.

The description clearly implies that the author is trying to speak on subjects such as the price of oil, energy sustainability, fossil fuels, and energy alternatives. While you're right that he's totally qualified to speak about French philosophy and critical orientations to life, my point was that he's unqualified to relate how his theory will affect energy markets and areas outside of his field of study. Does "the superabudence of life" account for OPEC backstopping or relations with the Saudi royal family?
Michael Hardt is a professor of literature and Italian at Duke and yet he's one of the biggest names in philosophy today for his work in geopolitics. I'd say on-face analysis of credentials isn't always a good marker of the quality of a text.

 

How many books has he written on oil and renewable energy? And if he has (I seriously don't know), how many economists/scientists/IR think tanks took him seriously?

 

Edit:

Born in Washington DC, Hardt attended Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland. He studied engineering at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania from 1978 to 1983. In college during the 1970s energy crisis, he began to take an interest in alternative energy sources.[1] Talking about his college politics, he said, "I thought that doing alternative energy engineering for third world countries would be a way of doing politics that would get out of all this campus political posing that I hated."

 

After college, he worked for various solar energy companies. Hardt also worked with NGOs in Central America, doing tasks like bringing donated computers from the U.S. and putting them together for the University of El Salvador. Yet, he says that this political activity did more for him than it did for the El Salvadoreans.

Haha - the Hardt example actually proves my point a different way - he actually IS somewhat qualified to talk about renewable energy.

Edited by Synergy

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Credentials, especially for kritikal authors... rarely matter too much.

This point is slightly ironic.

 

Perhaps that's exactly the reason why no one (outside the academy) gives a shit about what today's "kritikal authors" have to say? Just a thought.

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... and you're worried about this guy being a prof of french and comp lit?

 

The description clearly implies that the author is trying to speak on subjects such as the price of oil, energy sustainability, fossil fuels, and energy alternatives. While you're right that he's totally qualified to speak about French philosophy and critical orientations to life, my point was that he's unqualified to relate how his theory will affect energy markets and areas outside of his field of study. Does "the superabudence of life" account for OPEC backstopping or relations with the Saudi royal family?

 

Did we read the same description? And more importantly, did you bother to look at the TOC of the book or read some of the what amazon lets you read for free? (or look at the index?). From what I can tell (and what I know about Bataille), this is probably some critique of how understanding oil et cetera has something to do with restricted economies rather than general economies. Bataille wants us to reverse the standard economic and political questions, which all deal with production, and instead deal with consumption (how do we ethically consume?). Waste, pure prodigality, become holy and ethical duties in the writings of Bataille. I have no clue if the author talks about peak oil at all (the word doesn't appear in th index, and doing a search inside appears only once in the main text of the book, and three times in back matter), but that seems hardly the focus of the book.

 

Anyway, I haven't read the book and you've done even less. I'm not going to keep arguing about what the book really talks about until one of us starts quoting the book.

 

If he talks about things like, "peak oil will hit exactly in 2012, and the political civil war in the middle east will be immediate" blah blah blah, those sorts of statements should probably be treated with some suspicion, agreed. But that doesn't seem to be what he does, and I'm not sure he needs to for uses in debate.

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... and you're worried about this guy being a prof of french and comp lit?

 

 

 

Did we read the same description? And more importantly, did you bother to look at the TOC of the book or read some of the what amazon lets you read for free? (or look at the index?). From what I can tell (and what I know about Bataille), this is probably some critique of how understanding oil et cetera has something to do with restricted economies rather than general economies. Bataille wants us to reverse the standard economic and political questions, which all deal with production, and instead deal with consumption (how do we ethically consume?). Waste, pure prodigality, become holy and ethical duties in the writings of Bataille. I have no clue if the author talks about peak oil at all (the word doesn't appear in th index, and doing a search inside appears only once in the main text of the book, and three times in back matter), but that seems hardly the focus of the book.

 

Anyway, I haven't read the book and you've done even less. I'm not going to keep arguing about what the book really talks about until one of us starts quoting the book.

 

If he talks about things like, "peak oil will hit exactly in 2012, and the political civil war in the middle east will be immediate" blah blah blah, those sorts of statements should probably be treated with some suspicion, agreed. But that doesn't seem to be what he does, and I'm not sure he needs to for uses in debate.

again, i agreed that this author is qualified to talk about the subject of bataille's philosophy. i was responding to john cook's post and to the idea that this is a credible source with relevance to the topic of renewable energy and the socioeconomics of oil (not just peak oil).

 

for example, claims like this:

 

The dependency on concentrated sources of energy might be alleviated by ever more sophisticated and efficient methods of energy production and use (eg, wind and solar energy, cellulose-based ethanol), but it can never be eliminated because none of the alternative sources of energy promise anywhere near as great an EROEI as the fossil fuels. (p 216)

Edited by Synergy

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The dependency on concentrated sources of energy might be alleviated by ever more sophisticated and efficient methods of energy production and use (eg, wind and solar energy, cellulose-based ethanol), but it can never be eliminated because none of the alternative sources of energy promise anywhere near as great an EROEI as the fossil fuels. (p 216)

Isn't that claim just true though? Well short of a radical transformation in tech on the scale of the info-tech rev? Also, is this relevant to the value of an application of Bataille to energy politics?

 

Dude, also, scu's right, Bataille started a murder cult and wrote porn ( surprisingly good lit, but not in the least bit sexy). I am no expert, but I think his relevancy is going to be to question the economic/philosophical assumptions behind your experts analysis of the energy industry. Its not so different from any other k. If you win the thesis of the K and its application to the debate, you probably also win the "qualified" debate because you won the K...

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his relevancy is going to be to question the economic/philosophical assumptions behind your experts analysis of the energy industry

right... because if someone with more credentials makes an argument you disagree with, don't disprove his argument, write a reactionary critique of "credentials" themselves

 

ignoring source qualifications is a slippery slope to just reading conspiracy theory hacks who accuse everyone else of "not seeing the truth".. aka crap like time cube/zizek every round

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Whoa there, "Time Cube/Zizek"?! Paragons usually seperate things that are at least remotely similar. Zizek does serious academic work in the field of Lacanian pyschoanalysis and dabbles in mixing it with Marxian analysis of politics and economic structures. Gene Ray wrote the hate filled time cube website, published a few affiliate website, and called it good. Other than the fact that they are both tubby, kinda strange looking guys, I'm not sure why anyone would consider them equal.

 

I'll stop arguing with you about the importance of credentials when it comes to philosophical reflection on sociopolitcal conditions. We obviously disagree. I suppose in your high-level debates, they matter. I have never had credentials questioned in such a way as you are describing. Given that the author aims not to make market fluxuation predictions or any other predictions for that matter, I suggest that the qualification aren't of supreme importance.

 

For consideration, an excerpt from the intro which may help exemplify the type of work the author does throughout the book:

 

There is, however, a deeper connection between energy and religion. Energy is not just a commodity to be measured, stockpiled, sold, consumed, wasted. And religion is not just a method of resisting a relentless movement of production-consumption, nor is it merely a means of providing a stable alternative (God) that can ground society in the absence of (or against) the delusive subjectivity of the “age of the world picture.” Energy may in fact be a profoundly religious issue—energy in its vastness, its violence, its defiance, its elusiveness, its expenditure. And religion may be an event not of the establishment of God, or of his patronage of humankind, but of his death, his void at the peak of values and purposes. God’s death, in effect, may very well be inseparable from the movement of the violent expenditure of energy, all types of energy.

The French writer Georges Bataille (1897—1962) put forward a social model that sees religion and human existence as inextricable, and the religious experience — sacrifice — as entailing the profligate wastage of energy But therein lie the central questions: Which religion? And which energy?

This book is about Bataille’s take on these issues and my version of what Bataille’s take would be if it were extrapolated to the twenty-first century Bataille died a long time ago, ages ago it seems, but one can perhaps rewrite him, all the while recognizing certain limitations of his approach, in an attempt to understand the possibilities of the future in a post—fossil fuel era. That’s what I try to do in this book. Bataille is hardly the last word on anything, but he is rare—in fact, unique—among twentieth- century thinkers in that he put energy at the forefront of his thinking of society: we are energy, our very being consists of the expenditure of quantities of energy. In this Bataille anticipates scientists like Howard Odum, who in a very precise way calculate the amounts of energy that go into a given product, a given lifestyle, and so on (and calculate as well how we can work to make the processes of production and consumption more efficient, given the scarcity of recoverable fuels). But Bataille is about more than simply quantifying energy; indeed, his approach both sees energy at the basis of all human activity, of the human, and puts into question the dominion of quantifiable, usable energy. That is precisely where religion comes in, since God, or religious “experience,” entails not purposive activity—the kind that would involve energy supplies quantified and then used with a goal in mind—but rather activity of the instant that leads nowhere, has no use, and is unconditioned by the demands of anyone or anything else: sovereign, in Bataille’s sense. Such sovereign activity involves an energy resistant to easy use—the unleashing of an energy that is characterized (if that is the word) by its insubordination to human purposes, its defiance of the very human tendency to refine its easy use.

My consideration of Bataille, then, will necessarily involve a critique of the notions of energy and religion that characterize our epoch—an epoch in for some interesting times as cheaply available energy from fossil fuels grows scarcer and scarcer. It will attempt to imagine how other notions of energy and religion will provide an alternative means of living in an era in which the truth of fossil fuel, and revealed religion, comes into question. Another model of spending, based on what Bataille called an “economy on the scale of the universe,” seems appropriate at a time when a certain human profligacy has revealed itself to be an ecological and cultural dead end. Bataille’s importance, however, stems from the fact that he puts forward a model of society that does not renounce profligate spending, but affirms it. What is affirmed, however, is a different spending—a different energy, a different religion—and that difference perhaps means the difference between the simple meltdown of a civilization and its possible continuation, but on a very different “scale.”

 

 

On the other hand, an ever more counterproductive orientation will assert itself in the years ahead. Such an orientation sees energy as an adjunct of, at best, a certain humanism: we spend to establish and maintain our independent, purpose-driven selves, our freedom as consumers, spenders of certain (rather lavish, given available reserves) quantities of refined energy, This model is doubly humanistic in that not only is the beneficiary the “free” self of Man; the human spirit itself is incessantly invoked to get us out of the jam. We are told over and over again that the human mind alone produces energy: when reserves are short, there is always a genius who comes along and devises some technology that turns things around, makes even more energy available, and so on.6 Technology transcends energy, in other words, and reflects the human mind’s infinite ability to derive energy from virtually nothing. We always find more efficient ways to derive energy from available fuels, and in doing so, we always are able to produce more fuel to produce more and higher quality energy. James Watt’s steam engine was first used to drain coal mines, producing more coal, which in turn could be used by more (and more efficient) steam engines to produce transportation (steam trains), electricity; and so on. And petroleum, an even more productive and efficient source of energy, replaced coal, and it will no doubt soon be replaced by something else, yet to be discovered. At this point we move from a historical account to a kind of uncritical faith in the capacity of human genius.

Fossil fuels, then, entail a double humanism: they are burned to serve, to magnify, to glorify the human or (what amounts to the same thing) the human in the automobile (“freedom,” “happiness,” etc.) as transcendental referent, and they are produced solely through the free exercise of the mind and will.

One can argue that the religion that confronts the fossil fuel—driven civilization of Man is equally grounded in the demands of a human subjectivity. People demand salvation, an ultimate purpose for which they are consuming so much fuel: I spend, or waste, so that I will ultimately be saved. Conversely, energy inputs are available because God has blessed me with them; the faithful are rewarded with a healthy, fertile, and energy- rich environment. God is the ultimate meaning of all that I think and do. There is no distinction between my personal belief and belief sanctioned by society, derived from a literal reading of a holy Book , this version of religious belief even more authority, law is grounded not in man but in God himself; literalism serves as a satisfying alternative to humanism.

 

[stoekl, , “bataille’s peak: energy, waste, and postsustainability”, p. xii-xiv]

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