The Limits of Fabrication : Materials Science, Materialist Poetics

Nathan Brown

Poetry, or poiesis, has long been understood as a practice of making. But how are experiments in the making of poetic forms related to formal making in science and engineering?

The Limits of Fabrication takes up this question in the context of recent developments in nanoscale materials science, investigating concepts and ideologies of form at stake in new approaches to material construction. Tracing the direct pertinence of fields crucial to the new materials science (nanotechnology, biotechnology, crystallography, and geodesic design) in the work of Shanxing Wang, Caroline Bergvall, Christian Bök, and Ronald Johnson back to the midcentury development of Charles Olson’s “objectist” poetics, Nathan Brown carves out a tradition of constructivist, nonorganic poetics that has developed in conversation with science and engineering.
While proposing a new approach to the relation of techne (craft, skill) and poiesis (making, forming), this book also intervenes in philosophical debates concerning the concept of the object, the distinction between organic and inorganic matter, theories of self-organization, and the relation between “design” and “nature.” Engaging with Heidegger, Agamben, Whitehead, Stiegler, and Nancy, Brown shows that materials science and materialist poetics offer crucial resources for thinking through the direction of contemporary materialist philosophy.