The death of Michel Serres at the age of 88 is sad news. I came to his work very late but over last year or so have started to study his books. The thrill of reading him has not been matched since starting to read Foucault many years ago (Serres’ student and then colleague). I think Serres is one of the most important thinkers in recent times, tremendously challenging and lucid. In particular, I love the way his hope in young people grew as he got older, his optimism about new communication technology and the internet, and his impatience with standard academic discourse.
If you have not looked at his work yet, here are just a few short quotations to give a tiny glimpse of the breadth of his thought:
‘If the researcher is in his niche, if he has his method, his cup of tea, his pressure group, he stops producing and starts reproducing’. Parasite.
‘In the places where thought has not yet been, it is difficult to think.’ Rome.
‘A continuous spectrum runs from the most refined views of the most cutting-edge science to the most ancient rites of history’. Rome.
‘ ….tourism is organising a literally world war against what remains of places or sites.’ Statues.
‘…the internet presents, under a thousand cartographies, a topology that’s crumpled, granulous, as mixed with local and global as cultures themselves. The Incandescent.
‘Each garden marks an epoch in the dawn of history, when the unknown forefathers of our forgotten ancestors were sowing space with menhirs, betyls, cromlechs, or cairns, megaliths that defined its singularities which were occupied for the first time by an animal recognising at once its world and its dead’. Statues.
‘ …mix the thousand and one different belongingnesses life meets with, undergoes and invents: in a completely different space’ The Incandescent.
‘No culture, ever, has sculptured a god for gravity’. Statues
‘. ..artificial intelligence is older than intelligence itself conceived as a faculty’. Geometry.
‘we no longer remember the time when the great separation – insistent, all-powerful – of the intelligible and the sensible didn’t rule our minds.’ Geometry.
‘So if you want to fight against said globalisation, fight instead, it seems to me, against particularism, the way of life of the most powerful. ’The Incandescent.
‘The oldest work of the human world, the invention of an empty local space’ Geometry
‘Knowledge parasites the world.’ Parasite.
‘You think you die alone, whereas you come quickly back, as in the good old days, to the boarding school and the barracks, to the hospital or brothel, where even to go to sleep you’re crushed’. Statues.
‘.. a new space of new transports is installed on a global Earth, a space more mixed than pure, more blended, variegated, tiger-striped, zebra striped, more multiple and inter-connected than smooth or homogenous’. Geometry.
Faced with these mutations, we no doubt needed to be inventing unimaginable novelties far outside the obsolete frameworks that still format our behaviours, our medias, and our projects ……. Why have these innovations not taken place?’ Thumbelina.