The Discreet Charm of the Obvious.


The ultimate prize goes to this statement:

I can’t wait to meet these “foundational figures” in person – it’s going to be exciting, even though they have the same ontological status as the plumbers, I still think they will be very foundational and very special people.

24 thoughts on “The Discreet Charm of the Obvious.

  1. Hold on there, buddy, Objectology puts things in the CENTER? I thought it was just all equalizing and not privileging? I mean H-man goes on and on about who he, not unlike Copernicus and/or Darwin, does not mean to diminish humans, just put things in perspective. But if there is a CENTER here, then there’s a periphery too. Whoever wrote that paragraph was grossly misinformed.

    I demand a show trial of this matter!

  2. So object-oriented ontology, as the study of existence, is the science of every thing? This could make for an awkward conversation: “So, what do you study again?” – “Every thing.” – “Everything?” – “Yes, nothing is left out.” – “Hmm.”

    I hope this “inaugural meeting” does not end up being the only meeting or, more embarrasingly, being the first of only two (like that “Speculative Realism” series fiasco) – you can’t really call it an “inaugural meeting” if it only inaugurates two symposiums.

    I do like that it’s not a real conference with “calls for papers” but more of a show case (with famous founders and obscure responders), a public demonstration, if you will. Should be very entertaining. I’m coming dressed as a reluctant banana.

    • I’m sure they have at least several of those planned. Otherwise why call it “inaugural”? I mean what sort of people would plan one symposium and then call it “inaugural” even though no more symposiums are planned, right? I’m sure they will unveil the awesome object-oriented take-over of philosophy during the event.

      I predict the following split of OOO (as is customary in their circle):

      a) popular objectology wing (Bogost/Shaviro) characterized by clear prose and light-hearted attitude.

      b) scholastic “heavy-duty” objectology with thick volumes of technical prose and small font by Bryant.

      c) principled objectology of H-man who will, as always, go his own way because no one understand him or appreciates the novelty and the profundity of his impact on the world of philosophy

  3. As someone pointed out to me in another context, much of the whole OOO thing may only really be a problem if you take Heidegger seriously. In fact, Heidegger’s aim in criticizing the tradition, at least the way I understand it, was not so much to show that Cartesianism was completely wrong in making “the human” the subject and sole center of meaning, but to rather restore to the tradition important elements which he believes it had forgotten. I would even venture to say that for MH, the Cartesian subject can’t be wiped out because it is a historical product and, why not, a “revelation of Being.” So, in de-centering the subject Heidegger isn’t attempting to eradicate the idea of a foundation, as many pomo types following him assume. Nor does MH insist on a weird homogeneous mass without any differentiation or the on the other hand, the schizzes and flows of some sort of cool Dionysian reality. Why? Because of the ontological difference, which is to say, he doesn’t eliminate the difference between beings themselves or between beings and Being, but instead brings it to the forefront of the ontological debate. Enter in Objectology! So yes, while Heidegger leaves behind the modern concept of the subject, he does not leave behind the idea that every entity is a center of meaning. Since every entity creates a web of meaning around itself, it gives meaning to its world, in Heidegger’s view.

    In part, that’s why we have all of these idiotic lists floating around. I’ll say it, such things annoy me in Heidegger’s later work, just like they annoy me in Aristotle’s categories. For me, running with Heidegger and Aristotle in this way is not all that interesting (or novel). If others think it is, cool. Let 1000 projects bloom! What seems to be forgotten or ignored or bracketed is this: in insisting on Dasein as his starting point for analysis, H does not in any way in my mind (I know this is somewhat controversial) deny the superiority of cognition. A defining feature of Dasein is its questioning, and this is the basis of knowledge. Dasein is the only being that asks “why this and not that.” This, of course, reveals that it has an understanding of Being. According to H, from my perspective, the problem with Descartes’ view and the whole of the tradition is that they turn knowledge into method. And we’re left with dogmatism. For H, “knowledge as method” is yucky; it doesn’t provide us with any information about the actual nature of philosophy or human being. As is well known, H distinguishes between knowledge derived from what he calls “calculative thinking” and that which stems from what he calls “meditative thinking”. For MH, of course, it is meditative thinking that is appropriate to philosophy. However, Heidegger himself started writing god awful poetry in the 60’s–too much meditative, perhaps…

    I’m kind of annoyed at myself for falling into Lou’s trap–damn you Deeptrek!

      • I think most of the hilarity comes from non-Heideggerian participants like everyone that’s not H-man. I have to say that I do like to hear the voice of being once in a while, you know? Makes life somewhat less dull.

      • Mikhail, you and I both know you haven’t ever heard the call of Being. What you meant was the call of the blini in your refrigerator. Now go contemplate the ontological battle raging between blinis and refrigerator, and blinis and sour cream!

        Asher, a “thanks” is in order. And I thought I was ranting…

      • Good point, I am exposed (or “unmasked”) as a deaf-to-the-call-of-Being! The only battle that blinis and sour cream have to worry about is the battle with my mouth. I just realized I kind of want to go to Zaidy’s and get some latkes…

      • I don’t know the call of the blini either but I feel there is a call of Langhe Rosso and a deep and silent interaction between me and it. Liquid matter that changes other matter and uses a nervous system for repeated seductions. It must have an and though. No harmony is forever.

  4. I’m afraid calling OOO “obvious” just shows how blissfully ignorant some of you academics are of the real situation out there in the real world. I hate to burst your utopian bubble here, but those of us who actually go out and about among ordinary objects on a daily basis continue to witness object-discrimination of all kinds almost every day, and in many sectors of society it’s not even so much as frowned upon. You complacent liberals sitting in your ivory towers may like to believe that this sort of thing doesn’t happen any more, and that everyone is as ontologically egalitarian as you are, but I can promise you this is really NOT the case! In fact it even continues to happen in our universities, with particle physicists, for example, continuing to get away with pampering a “special” class of very small objects as if they were royalty while belittling bigger things like handbags and cola bottles as if they were ontological second-class citizens. When challenged about why they seem to think that physical particles are more worthy of study than toothbrushes or coffee mugs, they will typically come out with some half-ass story about how physical particles are somehow more “fundamental” than toothbrushes — and then have the affront to tell you that they’ve have even heard of Graham Harman or Levi Bryant when you tell them that these thinkers have shown such attitudes to be nothing more than pernicious ontological elitism! And it can hardly be denied that such discriminatory behaviour is more than amply rewarded by governments, who are prepared to allocate billions to so-called “fundamental physics” research trying to find out things about little guys like hadrons and mesons and quarks, but seemingly unwilling to similarly fund more egalitarian ontological projects like Harman’s which treat muons and quarks and space-time as being on an ontological par with clown’s noses, toasters and haircuts.

    It also happens in the commercial sector, of course. Witness these brazen elitists, for example:

    http://snobject.com/

    If it weren’t for the efforts of the OOOs, this kind of thing might continue to be regarded as socially acceptable for decades!

    • You’re right, comrade! Objects themselves lack the class self-consciousness (and just general self-consciousness, of course) and can only reach in their struggle a level of trade-unionism. They need a vanguard party of objectologists to fight for them. I really hope the First Congress of Objectology looks like this:

  5. The next stage is ordinary object philosophy, which defends ordinary objects from “undermining” and “overmining.” I’m sure Plato and Aristotle can be recruited into this phenomenologically inspired defense of ordinary opinion philosophy. Research agendas aplenty, it looks like. Now if they can just find a conference center in Italy and the whole thing will truly reach junket status . . . Every philosophical movement begins as a research agenda and ends as a racket, as the saying goes.

  6. I’m concerned that no one is really pointing out how really obvious this “objectology” is – we are going to pay attention to things! really? what are things? those things? yes! [head explodes] – no wonder people think academics are a bunch of useless wankers.

  7. > They need a vanguard party of objectologists to fight for them.

    Exactly, now you’re getting it!:

    A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of OOO.

    And clearly a New Declaration of Independence will be needed:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all objects are created equal.

    > The next stage is ordinary object philosophy, which defends ordinary objects from “undermining” and “overmining.”

    Oh yes, no question: OOOO (Ordinary Object Oriented Ontology) is on its way:

    Every thing is just what it is, no more and no less.

    It can never be our job to reduce anything to anything, or to explain anything. OOOO is purely descriptive.

    OOOO may in no way interfere with the actual use of objects. It can in the end only describe them.

    OOOO leaves everything as it is. It simply puts everything before us.

    This offshoot will of course have to deny that there is anything that is hidden, so will be quite heretical from the orthodox Harmanian point of view. Perhaps the latter will then have to be re-branded as OOOOO (Original Orthodox Object Oriented Ontology)?

    • OOOO leaves everything as it is.

      Finally, a valid excuse for children of the world to stop cleaning their rooms: “Who am I, dear parent, to disturb the objects or to tell them where to be? I am leaving them as they are!”

      We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all objects are created equal.

      Correction: “all objects are translated equal(ly)”

      May the difference that makes a difference yet makes no difference be with you!

  8. > Correction: “all objects are translated equal(ly)”

    Hmm, I’m not sure whether I want to take that whole ‘translational turn’; it seems a little heterodox to me. That breathing *caricatures* oxygen is of course orthodox OOO doctrine, which I fully accept, but as a strict Harmanian I feel uncomfortable saying that breathing *translates* oxygen, because it would seem to imply the heretical suggestion that breathing and oxygen somehow interact with one another, i.e. that they are not vacuum-sealed objects.

    By the way Mikhail, I object (no pun intended) to your suggestion above that objects have no self-consciousness. How do you know that? Have you (per impossibile) fathomed the inscrutable, subterranean depths of a cotton bud? NO! So how do you know that it doesn’t have feelings?

    Don’t you realise that it’s precisely on these grounds that people continue to discriminate against so-called ‘inanimate objects’, as if DVD players have less worth than people, or as if (to quote Heidegger’s memorable example) there were some kind of difference worth caring about between “the motorised food industry … and the production of corpses in the gas chambers and the extermination camps”? (Some people take the latter quote to be somehow ethically dubious, of course, but from an OOO perspective it’s clear that what Heidegger was saying is that all objects are of equal value, so we should respect lettuces just as much as we do Jewish people.)

    As you well know, Harman has proposed a new philosophical discipline called “speculative psychology” dedicated to investigating the “cosmic layers of psyche” and “ferreting out the specific psychic reality of earthworms, dust, armies, chalk, and stone”. So please don’t patronise objects as if they were stupid. The point is not that they need us to stand up for them. Rather, the point is that WE ARE ALL OBJECTS – you, me, the Andromeda Galaxy, adverbs, rashes, games of ping-pong, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, Popeye’s left nostril, deoxyribonucleic acid, the sixteenth century, hallucinations, that feeling you get sometimes when you’re doing something really depraved and you suddenly realise that someone might be watching you … – AND WE ARE ALL EQUAL.

    • It appears there is nothing new under the (vacuum packed) sun . . . Google tells me that the phrase “a democracy of things” occurred in the New York Times in 1923.

      “Mr. Bertrand Russell, for instance, does speak o! a “democracy of things” and declares that “in respect of being or reality all – are on an equal .” Mr. Lewis remarks that Mr. Russell, !f he could. “would lead a revolt of the upholstery and of the humble, put-upon springs” . . .

      The furniture of the universe has been in revolt for a very long time, it seems.

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