The Hills Are Alive

Jane Bennett’s “Vibrant Matter” is like an acid trip (perhaps to a lesser extent). Psychedelics opens our sensory pathways and the gates of our unconscious mind. There is a sense of discovery of perceptual nuances that help reveal, in many ways, the “true” nature of our lives.


With LSD, you begin to appreciate and conceive the existence of domains that are typically unacknowledged or unknown. Bennett seems to be calling for us to perceive the world around us in a completely new and different way.

She notes that all matter is vibrant and pulsing with life. In other words, everything is alive. We often overlook and don’t think about how non-human elements and objects are “alive” in the sense that they, too, can affect (or have effects) the world in which we live in (in the same way that they can be affected by human elements).

To put it simply, Bennett argues that nothing truly acts by itself (an actant never really acts alone). While we often possess the power to choose the outcome of an experience, It is somewhat scary to think this way, because it means that perhaps, at the end of the day, we are not really autonomous creatures. After all, Bennett notes that there are “nonhuman powers circulating around and within human bodies” which can “aid or destroy, enrich or disable, ennoble or degrade us.”

During our class discussion of Bennett, all I could think of (but was too embarrassed to mention) was the lyrics to The Sound of Music and Maria’s vivid personification of the hills as well as her heart.

The hills are alive,
With the sound of music
With songs they have sung
For a thousand years

The hills fill my heart,
With the sound of music
My heart wants to sing
Every song it hears

My heart wants to beat
Like the wings of the birds
That rise from the lake to the trees

My heart wants to sigh
Like a chime that flies
From a church on a breeze

To laugh like a brook
When it trips and falls
Over stones on its way
To sing through the night
Like a lark
Who is learning to pray


Teresa Brennan also seems to be suggesting in “The Transmission of Affect” that, again, we aren’t truly autonomous individuals (in the sense that we are completely not subject to some sort of control from the external world).

She notes that the “transmission of affect means that we are not self-contained in the terms of our energies.” Other people’s burden can affect you (and vice versa, even if they may “appear bloodless). As a result, there is a sense of communication and shared feelings between humans as well as their environments (living and non-living beings).

In my prospective ecology (where I take a look at two different neighborhoods), I may want to inspect closely inspect the different (or similar) “energies” that are being projected and absorbed. Perhaps I’ll begin to notice the non-human elements, their “thing-power,” and their effects on the complex interrelationships that they are apart of.

~ by Teerin on February 7, 2016.

7 Responses to “The Hills Are Alive”

  1. STYLE = I felt like this post showed a lot of style and new perspective. The way you compared Bennett and Brennan’s reading to LSD and The Sound of Music was truly something I did not expect to hear about. I found it very entertaining and easy to read, especially with your addition of a photo, gif, and the way you formatted in the lyrics.

  2. I thought your blog is the best in terms of style. The way you connect the readings with LSD and The Sound of Music really offers me a new and interesting perspective of examining those texts. I also like how you incorporate image and GIF in your blog. It would be better if you can be elaborate a bit more on your prospective ecology though. Great job 🙂

  3. Overall best: I like the honesty of your post, and also I’m extremely jealous because I was so going to make a Sound of Music reference only to look on the blog and discover it was already there… God, I love that movie. Your post is really relatable and direct, as well as casual (in a good way), which I really appreciate.

  4. I loved your post overall, the way you compared the readings to drugs and one of my favorite movies actually helped me understand the complicated concepts better. I found that some of the comparisons done by the authors themselves are still too distant for me to grasp but you did a really good job on putting it in terms that (at least of me) are easier to grasp. I also really liked your style, I think interrupting the paragraph-style text with images and lyrics made it first of all better to look at, but also allowed me to follow what you were saying since it wasn’t one long, dense post. Awesome job!! 🙂

  5. Overall best- I thought this one was great, not only because it compared our readings to a psychedelic drug, but also because it took these abstract and, somewhat dense, readings and made them easier to understand and relate to. Great style, good use of class readings, overall, just great!

  6. I particularly like this post as you relate the readings to an object vastly different to what is deemed socially acceptable. The link is powerful whilst quite simple to comprehend. The use of media and formatting of the post also adds to the overall success of this post. It is personal, relatable and intellectual. Awesome!

  7. I think this is the best overall post. I too actually thought of Sound of Music when I first tried to think about the idea of rhizomes and affect! But I think both the design, writing, and substance of the article really draw one into the post and the reading overall. Brilliant my friend! 😀

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