Monthly Archives: December 2013

“Are We Not Plants?!” – Upcoming Talk at MLA, Chicago

Are We Not Plants? Noöspheric Intelligence From the Text of Glas
Richard Doyle, Pennsylvania State University

“The innocence of the flower religion, which is merely the selfless representation of self…” Glas

This paper will model Jacques Derrida’s epochal and unheralded treatment of plant ontology in Glas. Here textual animals become heuristic vectors for metabolic and informational exchange fostered by plant “subjects” – e.g. seed dispersion. Instead of the usual categorical distinction between plant and animal, Derrida here resonates with and differs from a “holonomic” model of plant/animal interaction drawn from ecology that recognizes even the alterity that divides animal from plant – a seemingly straight forward taxonomical divide – as an aspect of much larger and deeply interconnected dissipative structures ( e.g. ecosystems, biomes, demographics) and their interactions. This notion of a plant ontology as immanent to animal ontology – animals are a capacity to move plant alleles around – will then provide an occasion for the exploration of attention (human and otherwise) as an evolutionary feedback loop for exploring the recombinant space of plant evolution through what Darwin called “artificial selection”, transforming human consciousness into a supplement for plant evolution. Drawing from contemporary thermodynamics ( e.g. Salthe, Sagan, Margulis, Schneider, Swenson, Kay) as well as Darwin’s work on artificial and sexual selection, the talk will suggest that this capacity of consciousness and its adjuncts ( e.g. writing) to observe and mark different traits by guessing at different thermodynamic outcomes (e.g. increasing yield, nutrition, flavinoids etc of plants) is the very ecological telos of attention, pulling us into a future that we both find and create in our ongoing search for energy gradients -Vernadksy’s concept of the “Noösphere” wherein the “selfless representation of self” evolves through continuous thermodynamic sacrifice ( Bataille).

Thursday, 9 January, 2014
129. Flowers: For the Fortieth Anniversary of Derrida’s Glas
5:15–6:30 p.m.


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