Poetic Metrics

Unfolding Dissent in Intensive Space

  • Scott W. Schwartz CUNY Graduate Center
Keywords: Measurement, Capitalism, Algorithmic governance, Causality, Climate change, Object-oriented ontology, poetics


This work traces a distinction between the extensive optics of capitalized knowledge production that engender extraction and accumulation, and an intensive optics that relies on integration and errantry. This distinction reflects the extensive and intensive properties observed in physics and measurement. Within, I map this distinction onto notions of narrative and poetic causality. At heart, this work is concerned with operationalizing the social changes necessary to halt the perpetually accelerating asymmetrical growth of wealth that beckons the mass extinctions of the Anthropocene and manifests injustice and inequity around the globe. To such ends, this discussion unites threads within philosophy, physics, and literature that posit causality as emergent and contingent, as opposed to sequential and teleological. That is, this article allies itself with the stance that time and space are not extensive qualities of a pre-existing universe, but rather intensive affordances that emerge through material interaction. I attempt to deploy these strands of theory toward political engagement with a novel form of non-cumulative measurement to destabilize the data-based epistemology used to justify inhuman development policies. Specifically, I examine the increased neoliberalization of urban space over the past decades, and the effects of this homogenization on public demonstrations of outrage and dissent.

Author Biography

Scott W. Schwartz, CUNY Graduate Center

Ph.D. Candidate


Arkani-Hamed, Nima, and Jaroslav Trnka. 2014. The Amplituhedron. Journal of High Energy Physics 10: 1-33.

Barad, Karen. 2007. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.

Bernard, Daley Zaleha, and Andrew Szasz. 2015. Why conservative Christians don’t believe in climate change. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 71(5): 19-30.

Bonilla, Yarimar, and Jonathan Rosa. 2015. #Ferguson: Digital Protest, Hashtag Ethnography, and the Racial Politics of Social Media in the United States. American Ethnologist 42(1): 4-17.

Boyd, Candice. 2017. Research Poetry and the Non-Representational. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 16(2), 210-23.

Brassard, Lydia, and Michael Partis. 2014. Standing their Ground in #Ferguson. Anthropology News 55(9): e15-23.

Brassier, Ray. 2011. Concepts & objects. In The speculative turn: Continental materialism and realism., eds. Levi Bryant, Nick Srnicek and Graham Harman. Melbourne: Re.press.

Châtelet, Gilles. 2000. Figuring Space: Philosophy, Mathematics, and Physics. Boston: Kluwer.

Châtelet, Gilles. 2014. To Live and Think Like Pigs: The Incitement of Envy and Boredom in Market Democracies. Falmouth, UK: Urbanomic.

Cuboniks, Laboria. Xenofeminism: A politics for alienation. 2015. Available from http://laboriacuboniks.net.

Daumal, René. 2012. Pataphysical essays. Cambridge, MA: Wakefield Press.

Edelman, Lee. 2007. No future: Queer theory and the death drive. Durham: Duke University Press.

Evans, Bryan, Ted Richmond, and John Shields. 2005. Structuring neoliberal governance: The nonprofit sector, emerging new modes of control and the marketisation of service delivery. Policy and Society 24(1): 73-97.

Forrest-Thomson, Veronica. 1978. Poetic artifice: A theory of twentieth-century poetry. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Foucault, Michel. 1977. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Pantheon Books.

Fraser, Nancy. 1993. Clintonism, welfare, and the antisocial wage: The emergence of a neoliberal political imaginary. Rethinking Marxism 6(1): 9-23.

Glissant, Édouard. 1997. Poetics of relation. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Gordon, Colin. 2014. Mapping decline: St. louis and the fate of the American city. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Harman, Graham. 2010. Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures. Winchester, UK: Zero Books.

Halberstam, Jack. 2005. In a queer time and place: Transgender bodies, subcultural lives. New York: New York University Press.

Harman, Graham. 2007. On Vicarious Causation. Collapse 2: 187-221.

Harrison, Peter. 2015. The territories of science and religion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Holleran, Sam. 2018. The MTA and de Blasio's electronic ads threaten New Yorkers with visual overload. Garage. https://garage.vice.com/en_us/article/paq7mb/the-mta-and-de-blasios-electronic-ads-threaten-new-yorkers-with-visual-overload

Land, Nick. 1998. Mechanomics. Pli - Warwick Journal of Philosophy 7: 55-66.

Land, Nick. 1993. Machinic desire. Textual Practice 7 (3): 471-82.

Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the social: An introduction to actor-network-theory. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Machlup, Fritz, and Una Mansfield. 1984. The study of information: Interdisciplinary messages. Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Merry, Sally. 2016. The seductions of quantification: Measuring human rights, gender violence, and sex trafficking. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Moore, Jason. 2016. Anthropocene or capitalocene?: Nature, history, and the crisis of capitalism. Oakland: PM Press/Kairos.

Morton, Timothy. 2010. Guest Column: Queer Ecology. Publications of the Modern Language Association of America 125(2): 273-82.

Negarestani, Reza. 2008. Cyclonopedia: Complicity with anonymous materials. Melbourne: Re.press.

Parson, Sean. 2014. Breaking bread, sharing soup, and smashing the state: Food not bombs and anarchist critiques of the neoliberal charity state. Theory in Action 7(4): 33-51.

Poovey, Mary. 1998. A history of the modern fact: Problems of knowledge in the sciences of wealth and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Preciado, Paul B. 2017. Testo Junkie: Sex, drugs, and biopolitics in the pharmacopornographic era. New York: Feminist Press.

Schwartz, Scott W. 2017. Temperature and capital: Measuring the future with quantified heat. Environment and Society 8 (1): 180-97.

Sieferle, Rolf Peter. 2010. The subterranean forest: Energy systems and the industrial revolution. Cambridge: The White Horse Press.

Smith, Neil. 2005. Neo‐Critical geography. Or, The flat pluralist world of business class. Antipode 37 (5): 887-99.

Smith, Neil. 1984. Uneven development. New York: Blackwell.

Squires, Peter. 2012. Neoliberal, brutish and short?; cities, inequalities and violences. In Criminalisation and advanced marginality., eds. Peter Squires, John Lea, 217-240Policy Press at the University of Bristol.

Weber, Rachel. 2002. Extracting value from the city: Neoliberalism and urban redevelopment. Antipode 34: 519-40.
How to Cite
Schwartz, S. (2019). Poetic Metrics. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 18(2), 264-284. Retrieved from https://acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1709