Today I received the proof for my upcoming “reaction” article in Archaeological Dialogues (Vol 22:2)”Going against the flow: reaction to Veronica Strang.” A few hours earlier Quaternary International accepted my article “Multi-scalar cognitive time: experiential time, known time, and Maya calendars.” The latter article is to be found in a special issue on the “material dimension of cognition.”
Apart from teaching and supervising a couple of theses I am currently wrapping up two projects: one of my own (Water as an archaeological object) and one as a participant (The early modern town). After this I will be able to focus on my project on time (The necromantic ordering of days). I also have an idea of a future project focused on rare events with broad impact that I can relate to my previous research on time (Black Swan events) and water (i.e. tsunamis). Remains of a tsunami deposits have recently been found in Yucatan but this project intends to focus on the phenomena worldwide (Japan, Indonesia, India, Mediterranean, Norway, etc.).
I recently came back from a 17 days trip to Hainan in China (where they celebrated the Chinese New Year). Later this year I will visit Indonesia and Malaysia again. Hopefully I will be able to squeeze in Myanmar as well since Bagan is one of my must see sites. One month from now I will also go to Nordic TAG in Copenhagen. Apart from my session I will join a plenary discussion regarding the next 30 years in theoretical discussion (I better polish my crystal ball)…
I just uploaded a new article on my Academia.edu site. It is an object-oriented gender study of a queen mentioned in the inscriptions of Yo’okop in the Cochuah region. This is not the final version of the article. I will upload the final version once I receive it. There are only minor changes, such as a caption to the figure in the text.
Considering that this is a “dormant” blog it has been quite active the past weeks. Anyway, here is a session proposal for next year’s Nordic TAG in Copenhagen.
April 16th – 18th 2015
Department of Historical Studies
University of Gothenburg
Correlationism describes the position where subject and object cannot be thought of separately, they are always correlated with each other. Speculative Realism (SR) is an umbrella term for various attempts to break with this correlate. So far it is the Object-Oriented Ontologies (OOO) that has had greatest impact outside philosophy. Some of the strengths with OOO are that they take a stand against reductions of objects to processes and networks. Objects are not exhausted by these relations; they are existent in their own right. Time and space are the result of objects and not the opposite. Rather than inserting objects into an anthropocentric narrative, objects are the starting point of a multiscalar view where all processes occur inside objects.
Being a discipline focused on objects archaeology could not just make use of these ideas but also elaborate on them and put them into operational use. Concepts like vicarious causation, alien phenomenology, gravity, bright objects, incorporeal machines, hyperobjects, etc. change the way archaeological objects can be treated and understood. This session invites contributors to discuss how OOO and SR can be useful for archaeological studies focusing on a wide range of topics such as materials, landscape, settlement, social organization, gender, etc.
Please submit abstracts for papers (max. 200 words), including title and names and contact details of authors to Johan Normark (firstname.lastname@example.org) by January 1st 2015.
Abstract proposal for a TAG session in Manchester:
An assemblage is co-constituted with its time and space. In Manuel DeLanda’s perspective, an assemblage emerges from a formless, topological, and symmetrical virtual continuum. Intensive processes break this symmetry and discontinuous actual forms emerge. Because of Graham Harman’s object-oriented critique of process and external relations, Levi Bryant has relocated the virtual within the actual. All processes and relations occur within assemblages, not between them. To Bryant, time is the duration a machinic assemblage needs to produce the parts it consists of. Still, Bryant follows the Bergsonian-Deleuzean tradition where past and present are merged into a creative flow. Future is ignored.
Tristan Garcia suggests an order of intensity of presence. The past is always moving away from presence but there is an order of this past. The past is relatively present and the future has only absence. Future is not ordered but it is a fixed point of reference. To Garcia the present comes first, followed by the past which has less degree of presence. Last comes the future which has maximal absence. As the past of an assemblage grows it becomes richer in determination which for archaeological contexts means that origins are open but later trajectories follows the constraints and entanglements set up by the assemblage itself. Its predicted future becomes increasingly narrower until the assemblage ceases to work. This end is often an unexpected Black Swan event to the assemblage itself whereas archaeologists, in hindsight, insert a narrative behind the demise. One such narrative fallacy is the Maya collapse.
A brief update for those of you who still follows this blog. I have been busy writing articles and books (and still am I must add). Earlier this week I submitted an article for the proceedings of the 18th European Maya Conference in Brussels last year. Here is the prelimary abstract for the article “Colonial period analogies and the mega-drought hypothesis for the Maya collapse”:
Palaeoclimatological models for the Maya area suggest that a series of droughts coincided with the Maya collapse (ca AD 750-1050). In order to find correlates to how these droughts affected Prehispanic communities, researchers have used direct historical analogies from the Colonial and modern periods. These correlations neglect the changes that the Spaniards brought to the area, such as the reducción and the congregación. This text focuses on how “black-boxed” analogies from the Colonial period affect some contemporary interpretations of the earlier Terminal Classic collapse. Colonial period changes in local and regional settlement patterns reveal some inherent assumptions in the generalized and reductionist palaeoclimatic studies.
Another artice will also be published in Current Swedish Archaeology, entitled “Water as a hyperfact” and this is the preliminary abstract:
Most entities studied by archaeologists share the same basic necessary conditions. They are limited spatiotemporal units which are continuous within a human frame of reference. These entities cannot dissolve into their constituent parts without affecting their function, capacity, and morphology. Further, they usually occupy one physical state at a time. The hyperfact, on the other hand, is vastly distributed, it can dissolve into most of its parts without affecting its “essence,” and it can be in several physical states at the same time. Water is a typical hyperfact, existing on multiple scales, from molecules to the hydrological cycle.
Yes I know, I have ceased to blog so I should not post anything more here (115 days have gone since my “last” post). All I will do here and in the future is to post links to my texts on Academia.edu. Here is a paper I presented last week in London.
Comments Off on The 2012-phenomenon and the (new) age of hyperobjects
Posted in Archaeological theory, Mayanist studies, New age and creationism | Tags: 2012, 2027, Apocalypse, Apocalypticism, Aztec, Aztec calendar stone, Calendar, Calendar Round, Frank Waters, Graham Harman, Hyperobject, John Hoopes, John Major Jenkins, Kevin Whitesides, Levi Bryant, Mayanism, Meillassoux, Michael Coe, New Age, Timothy Morton
As I mentioned in my previous post I have decided to stop blogging. This is the final blog post but the blog will remain online. It will remain online partly because if my plans work out I will write at least two more articles on my blogging about the 2012-phenomenon.
I have written 821 posts, there are 3146 comments and at the time of writing 564,422 views. Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting on it for the past 4.5+ years.
Why am I ceasing to blog? There are several reasons. The blog has served me well when I actually wrote about Maya stuff or theoretical issues. More recently my posts have tended to focus on the books I have bought, the conferences I have attended (and not attended), vacations, etc. I feel that I no longer have a genuine interest in maintaining what the blog originally was about. It has almost turned into an extension of my facebook account. Although I seldom posted stuff on the blog during the past six months it still took time to maintain and overview the blog. I do not have that time anymore.
I may create a webpage where I update my research but less often than on this blog. However, that is not something I plan to do in the near future. If I do it I will add the link on this blog.
Today is the ha’b (365-day) anniversary of the end of the 13th Baktun last Gregorian year (and even this year the December solstice falls on the 21st). I thought that would be a good date to “terminate” the blog. But who knows, maybe “I’ll be back” like another terminator (?)…
Happy solstice everyone. A new age emerge today. As it coincide with the death of the composer of one of my favorite tunes I end the blog with this beautiful instrumental tune.
I should have been presenting two papers in Bournemouth during the last two couple of days but the flu struck me on Sunday and I have spent the three last days indoors and in bed here in Göteborg. Hence, I will not be reporting anything from the TAG conference as I had originally planned.
My interest in this blog has also plunged during the past six months or so. Therefore I have decided to stop blogging on December 21, i.e. one year after the supposed “end date” of the Maya Long Count. Thus, I will only write one more blog post which will be #821. If you want to see what I am up to in the future you should visit my Academia.edu page.
I have not been active on the blog for about two weeks as my focus is elsewhere. This is a busy time of the year but two days ago I received an unexpected phone call. A project application of mine (“The necromantic ordering of days: from the Long Count to the Short Count in Maya calendars”) had been approved so now I can begin my fourth postdoctoral research project in seven years. This happened just as I was about to start writing on a fifth project application, this time together with my former thesis advisor Per Cornell and my new colleague Christian Isendahl (also a Mayanist, formerly at Uppsala University). This (fifth) project, in cooperation with INAH-QR in Mexico, will deal with the settlements along the Cancun-Tulum coastline during the contact period. Let’s see if we receive funds for that project as well.
So what is my new (fourth) project about? It emerged from my coverage of the 2012-phenomenon on this blog (who says blogging is a waste of time?) and elsewhere on the internet. It sparked my slumbering interest in the Maya calendars. Since time and temporality are some of my main interests in archaeology I saw a way to combine three different aspects of time in this project: the Maya view(s) of time, archaeological views of time and ontological aspects of time. My growing interest in the field of “neuroarchaeology” (Malafouris, Renfrew, etc.) will also be applied in this project. That is, how do objects shape our mind? Or to put it in the context of my project: how did the Maya calendar(s) shape the mind(s) of the Maya?
Time-keeping and calendars emerge through the interaction between objects and the events they generate. Once codified, the calendars are “necromantic” objects that affect the perception of time across multiple generations. Just like our own lives are shaped by ancient Roman months and a later Papal calendar reform, the lives of the Classic period Maya were affected by calendar systems created by long-dead Formative period people.
The specific aim is to study how the Formative (2000 BC–AD 250) and Classic (AD 250–1050) Maya Long Count of accumulative time disappeared in favor of a cyclical Postclassic (1050–1519/1697) Short Count. The “divine kingship” was associated with the Long Count until the cessation of dated monuments at the beginning of the 10th century AD, an event that coincided with the Maya collapse. In the Postclassic period the Short Count dominated and did so until the Spanish conquest of Noj Petén in 1697. This calendar consists of cycles of 256 years and its importance in the Postclassic coincides with myths of previous ages. Knowledge of earlier history, past collapses and perception of ruins enforced a calendar change that emphasized previous creations and/or repeated periods of time. The change in how the Maya used their calendars will primarily be studied from changes in site plans, artefact assemblages, etc. and when these occurred in relation to known calendar periods.
A weird coincidence. In a couple of previous posts I have described the “2012-phenomenon” as a hyperobject. I will also give a talk about it next year in London. Roughly one year ago I went to Tjolöholms slott (Tjolöholm Castle) outside Göteborg for an interview for the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter. The interview was about the 2012-end date and the reason why we went to Tjolöholm was because it was the setting for parts of Lars von Trier’s movie Melancholia. Two days ago this review of Timothy Morton’s book Hyperobjects was posted. It uses Melancholia as an example throughout the review.