The necessity of immediate transition from fossil fuels has made painfully conspicuous the fact that energy sources such as solar and wind do not have the same material properties as coal and oil, and has attracted critical attention to the ways in which the social values and political-economic possibilities of the last century and a half have depended on a fossil regime. This essay takes up the notion of solar economy to ask what such a perspective may reveal that goes beyond a petro-analytic framework centered on the material properties of fuel. Drawing on Marx, Bataille, and Deleuze and Guattari, I emphasize the interrelated themes of the distribution of excess, the socius or virtual body of the social, and the reproduction of form. Taking as an example California’s recent struggles to make good on what some have viewed as the revolutionary potential of solar, this essay argues that capitalist dynamics can survive a material influx of the solar energy if more is not done to elaborate a transversal and molecular distribution of excess that solarity as a general condition invites. This discussion provides a starting point for a broad assessment of the nature and status of subjectivity in relation to questions of energy, infrastructure, and capitalism today.
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Research Article| January 01 2021
The Abstract Grid of Distribution: Solar Economy beyond the Fuel Question
South Atlantic Quarterly (2021) 120 (1): 177–188.
Joel Auerbach; The Abstract Grid of Distribution: Solar Economy beyond the Fuel Question. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2021; 120 (1): 177–188. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8795815
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