• “Matter fell from grace during the twentieth century. What was once labeled ‘inanimate; became mortal. Very soon after that, it was murdered, exploded at its core, torn to shreds, blown to smithereens. The smallest of smallest bits, the heart of the atom, was broken apart with a violence that made the earth and the heavens quake. In an instant, in a flash of light brighter than a thousand suns, the distance between heaven and earth was obliterated—not merely imaginatively crossed by Newton’s natural theophilosophy but physically crossed out by a mushroom cloud reaching into the stratosphere. ‘I am become death, the destroyer of worlds’” (G103).
  • Barad’s essential question: what happens to time in a nuclear explosion? “Radioactivity worldwide is now synchronized to the bombings in Japan. The entire world is entangled with the explosion, a global dispersal of the bombing. The bomb continues to go off everywhere (but not everywhere equally). The whole world is downwind” (G106).
  • “These devastated landtimescapes are surely haunted, but not merely in the sense that memories of the dead, of past events, particularly violent ones, linger there. Hauntings are not immaterial. They are an ineliminable feature of existing material conditions” (G106–07).
  • The ability of an atom to level a city confounds our notions of scale, of what can affect what meaningfully (G108). So too with time: “The temporality of radiation exposure is not one of immediacy; rather, it reworks this notion, which must then include generations before and to come. Radioactivity inhabits time-beings and resynchronizes and reconfigures temporalities/spacetimematterings. Radioactive decay elongates, disperses, and exponentially frays time’s coherence. Time is unstable, continually leaking away from itself” (G109).
  • Barad proposes quantum physics as a “conceptual tool for understanding the politics of mtter and the matter of politics” not because of any scientific value per se, but rather because as an epsitemological tool quantum physics emerged from and is entangled with the developing of the atom bomb: “the theory and the bomb materially inhabit and help constitute each other” (G110).
  • Here’s her big summary of agential realism: “Entanglements are the ontological inseparability of intra-acting agencies. Naturalcultural phenomena are entanglements, the sedimented effects of a dynamics of iterative intra-activity, where intra-actions (contra interactions do not assume separability, but rather) cut together-apart, differentiate-entangle. Phenomena are specific material relations of the ongoing differentiating of the world, where ‘material’ needs to be understood as iteratively constituted through force relations. Phenomena are not located in space and time; rather, phenomena are material entanglements enfolded and threaded through the spacetimemattering of the universe. Entanglements are the iterative intra-active (re)configurings and enfoldings of spacetimemattering” (G111).
  • Coterminous development of the Manhattan project (space) and quantum field theory (time) (G112).
  • Mushroom cloud as pharmakon: “At the crux of the matter is a fascination with and anxiety over the alchemical notion of transmutation, hitched to fantasies of human control over life and death. Harkening back to the birth of modern science in the crucible of these desires, alchemy itself was transformed into a mature, rational, and mechanistic philosophy. Transformation is arguably a particularly charged kind of change, and an entire history of modern sciences, persecution of witches, and more is packed into it” (G114).
  • “It is not simply that there is a homology between terrestrial and atmospheric mushrooms; rather, there is an uncanny material topology: each inhabiting the other” (G116).