I’ve now nearly finished writing my keynote lecture for the Regimes of Calculation and Global Governance workshop at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (September 19-20). The title is “Geo-metrics” (abstract here). This is the third in a sequence of papers I’ve been working on, along with the Foucault material, over the past few months. The first was the ‘Earth’ paper at the CityState: A Lexical-Political Workshop in Tel Aviv back in June (abstract and audio recording here). The second was last week’s talk on “Terricide: Lefebvre, Geopolitics and the Killing of the Earth” at the RGS-IBG conference (abstract and audio here).
The problem is that the papers share crucial parts, even if the arguments go in different directions. This is, I think, fine for presentations – especially ones on three continents. The ‘Earth’ paper was the conceptual clearing-the-ground paper, with some gestures towards how this might help us to rethink geopolitics, and some discussion of Elizabeth Grosz’s work on geopower at the end. For a conference on concepts this worked okay, I think. The ‘Terricide’ paper began with the geopolitics argument, and then moved to discuss what Lefebvre might offer to all this, mentioned debates around urbicide, linked it to E.P. Thompson’s notion of exterminism, and briefly related this to Grosz and the other papers in the session around geology and geophysics. The ‘Geo-metrics’ paper begins with some general comments about the globe and world, rehearsing some of the arguments I’ve made before in relation to Fink, Axelos and Lefebvre, moves to a discussion of the global/geopolitics issue that it shares with the other two papers, a bit on the etymology and the risk of reactionary politics (from ‘Earth’), and then goes into a much longer argument about Heidegger’s work on calculation (drawing on my book Speaking Against Number). Calculation is obviously a crucial theme in the workshop, and presumably why I was asked to speak at it. It then returns to a discussion of Grosz (part of the ‘Earth’ paper), and discusses potentials in the tradition, and in the present, for thinking geo-metrics. Examples include the Roman land surveyors, Bartolus of Sassoferrato, lots of quick references to other work that I think shares a sensibility and sensitivity to these questions, and then moves to discuss Simon Dalby‘s forthcoming paper ‘The Geopolitics of Climate Change’, in relation to my ‘Secure the Volume‘ essay. Both those two papers were Political Geography lectures, and Simon generously picked up on my arguments in his paper. My paper, to be delivered at a workshop in the School where Simon now works, repays the favour.
Depending on publication plans, though, overlap presents much more of a problem. The ‘Terricide’ paper is promised to a Punctum Books project out of the sessions. There has been discussion of the Tel Aviv papers, in some form and arrangement, being published. But the Geo-metrics paper is probably going to be the strongest of these, at least as it develops over time. But I may have to sacrifice that, or the ‘Earth’ one, to make the others work – they share too many elements to be published as they are.