Oil and Dust
Oil and Dust
Theorizing Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia
This chapter offers a reading of Reza Negarestani’s 2008 novel Cyclonopedia: Complicity with Anonymous Materials as an experimental bricolage of literary and theoretical writing that uses a creative engagement with the insights of Speculative Realist philosophy to open new perspectives on oil capitalism. Aside from petrocapitalism, it considers oil-based American foreign policy, a perspective that playfully engages the tenets of Speculative Realism and Middle Eastern mythology while contesting the imperial discourses and dominant media narratives underpinning American oil imperialism. The various components of Cyclonopedia, including fictive narrative and republished web content, advance a nonanthropocentric imagining of oil, the extractive landscapes of the Middle East, and the oil wars pursued by the United States. The novel uses two tropes, the “blobjective” to reimagine oil as a nonhuman entity invested with its own agential power, and “dustism” to refigure the Middle Eastern landscape as a radically autonomous being. Using the theoretically charged theme of the cyclone, Cyclonopedia offers a new outlook on oil that diverges from, and attacks, the ideologies of technological mastery and imperial militarism that drive contemporary petrocapitalism.
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