OIL

by thomasmagnahastings

OIL is not an object, nor is it a commodity. It is a naturally occurring substance, the self-formation of which follows the same processes as that of the commodity. It is a consolidated distillation of millions of years worth of compressed matter and organisms like you or me (the dead labour of accumulated time). To that extent, oil is a matrix for everything: the world distilled. Oil materializes and makes real the Kantian claim to open access and universality (insofar as it includes you or me). When your expression is countenanced and reflected by a pool of oil, that is time moving forward looking backward. The visual phenomenon of oil, I would argue, sabotages and scrambles the networks of economic and social capital that circumscribe the individual bourgeoise-homme, reducing him to an infinitesimally, incalculably small and irrelevant droplet of oil-to-come. This is a metaphysical attack and a good thing. This is the moment when the Sublime is reclaimed by Mother Nature and launched back at the constituted subject, to invert what happens in the sublime moment – the flashing undoing of the subject in the face of the object followed by the return of reconciliation. (Here the reconciled subject is permanently undone). OIL presents a premonition a thousand times more gruesome than the guillotine. More than death for the individual, oil presents the death of species human. That is actually, our DNA splayed out and squelched together with the DNA and membranes of countless other, taxonomically unregistered, things. OIL is a giant soup in which one human life-span of life on Earth constitutes one drop. And now consider the fact that the world goes through 88 million barrels of the stuff a day.

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