There was an important proto-philosophical gathering at the LSE in early February — ANTHEM made the recording available here (check also here). What provoked the gathering was, apparently, the fact that some doctoral researchers in information systems got intrigued by what Graham Harman (speculative realist and guerrilla carpenter) had to say about Bruno Latour (metaphysical manager and irreductionist).

From an atmospheric perspective, it is most curious that at some point in the debate (after an hour and a half or so, just after Latour mentions the need for a “serial redescription” of organizations and gives Sciences Po as an example) we hear the sound of an LSE alarm bell ringing in the background (without triggering the slightest escape reaction from the people at the symposium, though).


  1. panik

    It would be nice (and heroic) to think that the lack of escape reaction was entirely due to the intellectual intensity of the proceedings. Alas, as so often is the case, the reason was much more mundane, despite the stimulating debate. The alarm was in another of the many buildings that compose the sprawling (architectural) assemblage that is the LSE. But was it a ‘real’ alarm, or just a fire drill?

  2. I was actually in a queue of participants, waiting for my turn to ask Latour a question about what he meant by ‘plasma’ in “Reassembling the Social” when the alarm went off and I thought “Oh, no, here goes my chance, I’ll never find out…” Fortunately one of my colleagues selflessly sacrificed herself and went out to make sure that we weren’t on fire, so I got an answer in the end. However, the symbolism of this occurrence is simply inexhaustible… Still, I’m glad we only had to deal with plasma in its metaphorical form, as opposed to the real thing!

  3. Graham Harman

    That’s funny, I didn’t even notice the alarm bell. Must’ve been too engrossed in the discussion.

  4. panik

    Yes, it was pretty intense!

    I was left wondering whether after all the intensity generated Graham had any new leads he is working on as a result of the encounter.

  5. panik, Peter, Graham

    Just as an experimental precaution, someone should inquire about that fire drill. Just imagine for a second that it was, for real, an LSE reaction against the threat of serial redescription (or, even better, an expression of material enthusiasm).

  6. I’m told that The Beaver (LSE’s student paper) ran a story on the fire alarm. Apparently it was a fake one: while the East Building was being evacuated someone broke into the student cafe’s till and stole 300 pounds! And we caught this on tape (I mean digital recorder)…

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