Wave. Particle. Duality. : The Entanglement of Matter and Meaning

For those who are interested, or those who missed it, or the overlap between those two groups, here is the Wave. Particle. Duality. Theory Performance from BABEL On The Beach.

Session 19. Wave. Particle. Duality. [THEORY-PERFORMANCE]

Organizer: Angela Bennett-Segler, New York University

Flâneur: Stacy Alaimo

3:30 – 4:30 pm

Humanities & Social Science Building: McCune Conference Room (6th Floor, Room 6020)


A critical performance detailing the results of a collaborative digital and (meta)physical experiment on the nature of matter and meaning across quantum physics and the humanities. This non-traditional panel will take up the central paradox of the physical universe, that of matter’s inherent duality as always simultaneously both particle and wave, and formulate a vocabulary from the group’s collective engagement with the New Materialism of Karen Barad (agential realism) that allows us to discuss the fundamental entanglement of the material and discursive in knowledge production.

  • Ada Smailbegovic (New York University): Wave *by video link
  • Karl Steel (Brooklyn College, CUNY): Particle
  • Brandon Jones (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign): Duality
  • Sandra Danilovic (University of Toronto): Apparatus of Subjectivity *by video link
  • Ashby Kinch (University of Montana): Scale of the Subject

Continue reading Wave. Particle. Duality. : The Entanglement of Matter and Meaning

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On Creation and Building I: BABEL and the Tower

As I leave this most excellent and convivial conference of Babel on the beach, I have six long hours of lonely driving down the coast, past the Huntington, and out into the desert flats that long were my home to reflect on our time together On the Beach.  I am left with the familiar feeling I get after Babel or Babel-heavy conferences: one of a sense of purpose, belonging, and renewed “stoke” for what it is that I am doing.  It wasn’t until this summer that I even thought to be troubled by that feeling. It wasn’t until I was in Reykjavík, at the New Chaucer Society when Sharon O’Dair asked the Ecomaterialisms panel “what’s the use” of all our getting together to talk about these things?  What was the use of us flying however many hours, using however many gallons of fossil fuel to get to Iceland so that we could sit around and talk about how human beings are driving the ecomaterial world into ruin–while simultaneously ruining it? And I wondered…

what are we doing, I mean really doing about these things we’ve come all this way to be so concerned about?

Sharon made good points.  Others rebutted with good points as well.  But still I wondered.  And so, after this conference, on the precaricity and risk at the edge of the world, I wondered what we’d done to deal with that risk.  Of course, the answer was in the other half of the conference’s title: “Life, Affinity and Play at the Edge of the World.” And yes, what we are doing is radically life-affirming, recognizing the vitality in other forms of life and entering into a (queer?) relationship with it that subverts the narrative of human colonialism over the ocean, the minerals, and the very air we all breathe. We are learning to live together.

Before I left Santa Barbara, I sat on the beach reading Marina Zurkow’s The Petroleum Manga next to a hot pink piece of plastic bag that had washed up onto the shore.  In Max Liboiron’s piece on “The Platisphere,” part of the section on Anhydrous Ammonia, Liboiron Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 10.49.36 AMpoints out that “the vast majority of ocean plastics are less than five millimeters in size, called microplastics, and they are inextricable from the larger oceanic ecosystem.” Indeed, Liboiron goes on to explain that microplastics are so inextricable from the lifecycles of our plante that they are in us, a part of our transcorporeal ecosystem.   Continue reading On Creation and Building I: BABEL and the Tower