Saturday, December 31, 2011

Quantum hauntology

Recent IPS posts on quantum electrons led me to Bryant, who references Karen Barad, an advocate of Bohr's QM and who wrote Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement .... Here's one of her articles called "Quantum entanglements and hauntological relations" in Derrida Today 3.2 (2010): 240–268. The abstract:

"How much of philosophical, scientific, and political thought is caught up with the idea of continuity?

What if it were otherwise? This paper experiments with the disruption of continuity. The reader is invited to participate in a performance of spacetime (re)configurings that are more akin to how electrons experience the world than any journey narrated though rhetorical forms that presume actors move along trajectories across a stage of spacetime (often called history). The electron is here invoked as our host, an interesting body to inhabit (not in order to inspire contemplation of flat-footed analogies between ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ worlds, concepts that already presume a given spatial scale), but a way of thinking with and through dis/continuity – a dis/orienting experience of the dis/jointedness of time and space, entanglements of here and there, now and then, that is, a ghostly sense of dis/continuity, a quantum dis/continuity. There is no overarching sense of temporality, of continuity, in place. Each scene diffracts various temporalities within and across the field of spacetimemattering. Scenes never rest, but are reconfigured within, dispersed across, and threaded through one another. The hope is that what comes across in this dis/jointed movement is a felt sense of diffĂ©rance, of intra-activity, of agential separability – differentiatings that cut together/apart – that is the hauntological nature of quantum entanglements."


  1. "This paper is about joins and disjoins – cutting together/apart – not separate consecutive activities, but a single event that is not one. Intra-action, not interaction. Center stage: the relationship of continuity and discontinuity, not one of negative opposition, but of im/possibilities.... They are not wholly separate, nor parts of a whole.... My hope is that what comes across in this dis/jointed movement is a felt sense of diffĂ©rance...that is the hauntological nature of quantum entanglements" (244-5).

  2. "There are no separately determinate individual entities that interact with one another; rather, the co-constitution of determinately bounded and propertied entities results from specific intra-actions (see endnote 1).... Being is not simply present, there to be found, already given. There is no fixed essence or substance simply there for the measuring. Particles aren’t inherently bounded and propertied entities running in the void. Mattering is about the (contingent and temporary) becoming-determinate (and becoming-indeterminate)...without fixity, without closure. The conditions of possibility of mattering are also conditions of impossibility: intra-actions necessarily entail constitutive exclusions, which constitute an irreducible openness" (253-4).

    "1. Intra-action is a key concept of agential realism (Barad 2007). In contrast to the usual ‘interaction’, the notion of intra-action recognises that distinct entities, agencies, events do not precede, but rather emerge from/through their intraaction. ‘Distinct’ agencies are only distinct in a relational, not an absolute sense, that is, agencies are only distinct in relation to their mutual entanglement; they don’t exist as individual elements. Importantly, intra-action constitutes a radical reworking of the traditional notion of causality" (267).


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.