Anyone want to improve this?

This is a good blog post but the Google translator doesn't do it justice. Anyone with better chops than I want to take a run at improving it?

Here is the link to the original.

Here is the Google translation:

About Michel Serres

 One of the themes announced in this blog is the thought of Michel Serres and behold, I almost forgot to report his latest book and the very rich book of Herne devoted to him.
 This book is called Biogée, Life and Earth to tell their fundamental continuity that we have insanely separated at the point of risking death. The work of the philosopher-Hill ("Greenhouse", in Gascon, meaning "hill", p.24) is haunted for years by the ravages of the hard sciences and political subservience to have made, and it is constantly forced to resume this theme because it is obvious he is not yet understood.
 But that, each time from a different input. One that retains Serres, here, is that experiments he made, personal and critical, this close relationship between what was known formerly kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human), not in his thinking ( thought, alone, always runs the risk of cutting oneself off from reality) but in his body flood of the Garonne or the earth trembles, California, birth or death which always fulfilled in the opening gaping of the earth-mother.
Biogée is thus the most personal book that Serres has given us the most "literary" as "writing" the most beautiful perhaps (what will not fail to reproach him in the little world of philosophy).There are pages on hallucinated ghost ships, lyrical evocations of the union of oak and linden, memories always present from childhood. Book meetings at the crossroads of his life and grace given to the joys they have created. "I sing these strong turbulence and weak, inert, alive and human, in roundels, chorus, repeatedly tunes, waltzes, ballads and barcaroles" (p. 179)
In this year of his eighty spring, Serres is the youngest and most Prohet of our thinkers. And I hope he remains a long time and we do not notice too late the importance of his work.
That this work is devoted to a Cahier de l'Herne, provided very items from around the world and enriched with a number of unpublished texts of Serres. I can not enter their analysis, it will take hours. I just want to remember that many say the friendship has developed between the author and Michel Serres from experiences in common whether it is a publishing project (the monumental Corpus of philosophers in French) a hiking or climbing (Anne-Marie Delaunay, "Variations on a rope"), whether a course or conference and trade that do not fail to ensue . 
This friendship is awakening of thought, awakening thought, it not be blinded by the problems that the philosophy of Serres no shortage of lift without necessarily provide an answer, she said the generosity of a teaching that has always preferred forward to new discoveries to stagnate in vain polemics. Those that media notoriety annoys discover that the reflection of Serres was built in solitude on the sidelines of the French philosophical institution too often encased in his mediocre power struggles and that novelty repels. Those who are repeating, without having read his books, this is not philosophy - because it does not find the trace of a certain academic rhetoric, may have the opportunity to become aware of their complexity and authenticity of their questioning.
For all those interested in the work of Serres this book is an indispensable tool. He is also in that it leaves open many avenues of research. We are far from having taken the full measure of the contribution of Serres.


Five Senses - a reflection from Stefan

You'll enjoy reading Stefan's post on what he thinks of Five Senses. Here is the introductory tidbit:

How to approach this book on the five senses (that aren't really five after all)? I loved it, but it's so hard to explain why. It's more the ideas it gives birth to than what's in it. But let me try:

Take your index finger and place it on your bottom lip. Do it! You have to do it, or you wont understand this post. Please do it.

Now, without moving, fix your attention on feeling your lip through your finger (do it, take your time, close your eyes if it helps). OK? Now, shift perspective, and feel your finger through your lip. Isn't that amazing?! One moment you are in your finger, feeling your lip - another moment you are in your lip, feeling your finger! Your consciousness, your self-awareness is somehow shifting place, moving from inside your lip and outside your finger to inside your finger and outside your lip. Yet only one event, one touch, is actually happening. So where are you? In this encounter, this relation, this instance of first-hand knowledge, you are both the knowing subject and the known object. You are outside and inside.

Read more of Stefan's post here.


The Facebook Neural Network - with disparity included

A fine addition to the brilliant blue map that I posted yesterday. This one includes mapping data showing high population densities along with the Facebook digital neural networks. The disparity evident in this map is also very much in keeping with the growing divide that technology can fuel and that Serres laments in Angels.


The Facebook Neural Network

This image of global Facebook usage reveals the extent to which our societies, cultures, businesses and friendships do indeed form an electrical nervous system of exchange and communication. There are myriad angels in this image, winging their way around the world at luminal velocities. This image feels very Serresian, indeed.


Alfred Korzybski: Another Geographer of Thought

Alfred Korzybski came up with the phrase "the map is not the territory" and other things. Has anyone read Korzybski? I have not and came across him via this theory of communications post that features Korzybski, The Natural Contract and other communications theory ideas.

After a quick skim of his original Preface for Science and Sanity, I saw that Korzybski notes the implications of new advances in a unified field theory: 

While correcting the proofs of this Preface, I read a telegraphic press report from London by Science Services, that Professor Max Born, by the application of the non-elementalistic methods of Einstein, has succeeded in making a major contribution to the formulation of a unified field theory which now includes the quantum mechanics. Should this announcement be verified in its scientific aspects, our understanding of the structure of ‘matter’, ‘electron’, etc., would be greatly advanced and would involve of course most important practical applications.

Here is the link to a full online version of his Science and Sanity. If anyone else is familiar with Korzybski, I'd be interested to learn more about his life and work.


Serres and the US Debate Circuit

I have happily discovered that Serres's work is being utilized by US debate teams. Jamie Saker, a debate coach says:

We've had an interesting experience with Serres on the debate circuit. Iowa despises "critical" debate (anything beyond advocating policies), where Nebraska is highly critical. We reside on the faultline, closer geographically and philosophically to Nebraska. The current Angels case (with support from Genesis, The Natural Contract, and Latour's Conversations) is interesting but it's a bit complicated. I'm working on an edit for this weekend that narrows the alternative/advocacy portion down since we have too many things in motion. The critique others have of Serres doing "too much at one time" and jumping from Lucretius to Plato to Los Angeles of the sky to Goya in little space/time is even more challenging when you're constrained by an 8 minute affirmative constructive speech.

Indeed. Has anyone else seen Serres's work show up on this kind of debate format? Jamie has also been interested, as noted elsewhere in this blog, in getting English translations of more of Serres's work.


Serres Student Post

I came across this wonderful post from a former student of Serres's, Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, who pursued an entrepreneurial career path after her studies. There are some great photographs and a gracious tribute to the personal dimension of Serres's influence. The occasion was a Stanford celebration recognizing that he has spent thirty years at the university.

If that isn't enough incentive to visit, the subtitle of her website notes an interest in atypical people. It is indeed a heartening tip-of-the-hat to all who have decided to tack into the wind at an angle all their own. The nature and content of the posts are well worth reading and exploring further if you have any interest in thoughtful and seasoned approaches to business and organizational development.


Serres and ROM Crystal

Michael Boughn references Serres in the context of providing commentary on the Royal Ontario Museum architectural development project - the crystal. The article is worth reading if, for nothing else, it's a change of pace from what seems to be a drone about how much people dislike it. 

I took a few snaps in and around the ROM on a recent visit using the red glass sign as my colour filter in one shot and an edge shot through the glass for another.


Variations on the Body - Audio Version

Here is the audio of the English text of Variations on the Body that was given to me by Randolph Burks. I cleaned the text of footnotes and other apparatus, noted headings and sections, then fed it into NaturalSoft text-to-speech in four blocks.

It isn't as good as having a human being reading it but it does allow quick turn-around and will hopefully be a useful experiment.

Is this type of audio - or audio of written texts in general - of any value?

Part 1 - Metamorphosis

Part 2 - Potential

Part 3 - Knowledge

Part 4 - Vertigo


Syracuse Conference - Serres Themes Included

John Caputo and company are putting together a conference titled "The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion" at Syracuse University, April 7-9, 2011. Papers are being accepted until December 15, 2010 and decisions will be made February 2011.

Within the lengthy call for papers list of questions is this one referencing the work of Serres - "What about the new sciences of information and complexity in thinkers like Mark C. Taylor and Michel Serres?"

If this event is of interest either as an attendee or as a participant, contact and paper submission information can be found at the conference link above.

I'm working on a paper tentatively titled:
Respecting Complexity: Michel Serres and the Challenge of Reductive Cultural Analysis.

It looks at how: "the hazards of specialization encompass both the ‘specialists’ who do the work and the ‘objects’ of their reductive scrutiny, whether organic or inorganic, human or non-human. The specialist can lose contextual perspective leading to psychological fragmentation that mirrors the narrow focus of inquiry. An inability to integrate ideas and circumstances beyond the ‘known’ range of experience can produce anxiety as the apparently inassimilable information scrutiny can suffer too from the dissecting which specialization thrives on because certain emergent properties and qualities are lost when their various aspects are separated out from each other for independent examination."

Is anyone else working on papers related to Serres's work?


Variations on the Body - Michel Serres document

Randolph Burkes sent me this English translation Variations Sur La Corps with an open invite to make it available - see his note below.

Enjoy. I hope this is a helpful resource. It may be that some adjustment of layout, adding page numbers and other design/format ideas are worth considering.

Hi, I noticed you have a blog about Serres.
I've had a translation of his Variations sur le corps in my desk for about four years now but have had little luck getting such a heavily illustrated book published. So I've decided to just send it around to people who would be interested in having a copy.
Do with it what you please. Share it. I'm sure M. Serres would approve. Too bad I can't send the photos, but the references and captions are included.
Randolph Burks


Serres Paper Presentation - May 12 in London

Wednesday, 12th May, 5-6:30pm
FW101, Founder’s Building, Royal Holloway University of London

Prof. Jane Bennett (Johns Hopkins University)
“Michel Serres, A Topography of Becoming, and the Practice of History”

Abstract: There is a group of political theorists today who affirm one of the various ontologies of “becoming” that philosophers such as Nietzsche, Bergson, Whitehead, Deleuze and Guattari, and Michel Serres have articulated. For these thinkers, the cosmos is best characterized not as a fixed order but as a flow, generative process, creative evolution, or ontological ruckus. While a focus on the fragility and changeability of orders has received much attention, it is also important, I contend, for political theorists of becoming to try to characterize, to give some specificity to, the strange systematicity proper to a mobile and protean world. My essay draws upon Michel Serres to address the question of how it is that forms manage to appear amidst the general hustle and flow of life. Serres, I contend, offers a rich conceptual and metaphorical repertoire for thinking about the formativity of becoming and for mapping the course of its congealments. I first consider Serres’ metaphysics of “noise,” I then turn to the distinctive phases he discerns with it, and I conclude by drawing out some implications of his topography of becoming for the practice of doing history and political theory.

A one day conference on “The Margins of Citizenship” is planned for November, in collaboration with the Department of Politics, University of Leicester.


Serres Translation and the Mechanical Turk

There is some interest in seeing more of Serres's work translated. The usual process of working through expert scholars and translators is very labour intensive, expensive and if there isn't sufficient resource allocation, simply doesn't happen.

Having looked at a number of crowdsourcing options over the years, I've recently been more attentive to how a Serres translation might be accomplished via Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

I'm certain it would raise the ire of many academics but if the choice is between no translation of any sort for a particular book or a less-than-perfect translation, I'd lean toward having something that can be refined and improved rather than having nothing.

The structure of Amazon's Mechanical Turk is that you take a big project (like a book with 100,000 words) and the Mechanical Turk breaks it up into little bits that any number of people can work on (say a sentence or two of translation at a time). Then the material is reassembled and you can review it, etc.

I have no idea about relative costs, quality, feasibility, etc., but rather than waiting around for some of Serres's work to be translated, it may be a possible angle to consider for decreasing the turnaround time from years/decades to weeks/months.

Your thoughts?


Serres and Copenhagen Reflections

This is an interesting post from the Centre for Civic Governance based in Vancouver, BC. The context is a reflection on Haiti and Copenhagen - in particular the relatively unrealized potential of the global gathering. Serres is quoted in the context of a metaphor of battling giants:

I am reminded of a metaphor coined by the French philosopher Michel Serres. In his book The Natural Contract, Serres describes a clash of two giants, their swords flashing in combat, spectators all around, everyone urging on their champion. Combatants and spectators alike, however, pay no attention to the ground on which they are standing. It is quicksand, and all are sinking out of sight.

Serres' ecological metaphor characterizes the fractious, decades-long, global negotiation process. For the spectator/activists, it is time (to use another metaphor) to change the channel. The energies being expended in spectacular swordplay are needed elsewhere, in doing the real work. To talk about that entails a much bigger conversation, and much greater possibilities.

The creation of metaphors - deeply layered and always changing - is a hallmark of Serres's style and approach to learning, research, and explanation. A related metaphor that I find myself using in organizational settings where change is being discussed is the idea of what is safe and what is risky (foolish vs. wise). If you are on a ship that is sinking, it may feel safe to hold on to it rather than to let go and contrive a floating raft with which to launch out into the broiling sea. But holding on to a sinking vessel is more dangerous than creating another option while time remains, despite us feeling that the established vessel is really more safe.


Serres Bibliography and Wikipedia

I've made some additions to the bibliography for Serres on Wikipedia with assistance from a bits and pieces you've sent me over the years, including the listing from Steven Connors website.

However, there is a need for a complete bibliography in an open form online - perhaps using Endnote or Jorge or something similar. It would be great to have primary, secondary, web, and other sources listed in as wide a variety of languages as Serres's work has been translated into.

Can anyone help out with this? Go to Wikipedia to see what I've added - it will likely inspire you to do better.

ingenuityarts at gmail dot com


English translation of Statues?

We need some help from the Serres readership. A debate coach from the US, is looking for a good English translation of Statues : le second livre des fondations, Paris: Flammarion, 1989.

My bibliography does not include an English translation reference. I will look further online but thought some of might now if anything is available or is being worked on.

Here is the note:

Thanks for your continued work on the Serres blog - I very much enjoy the thought presented there. I was curious if you were aware of any effort for an English translation of Serres' 1987 work Statues. From Latour's "Conversations" with Serres and the reference to his perception of risk, it's a work I'm very much interested in.