On Sheer Madness of Tim Morton

No commentary is required here, just quotes:

The very people who most fervently endorse Hegel are quite tone deaf when it comes to issues of “subject position” (in Althusserian) or “style” (in phenomenologese). They are deaf to their guy’s big discovery. I find this irony not accidental. If you are not a Hegelian, this is how they sound, sometimes. It is as if someone has hidden a little ball under one of three cups, and is asking you to guess which one. They already know where the ball is:  “Is it under here? Noooo….Is it under here? Noooo…aha! Here it is!” Tin ear, you see? Because he (the policeman, emphasis on man) has admitted that it is a game with a pre-programmed outcome. A journey with a known destination: like a Romantic piano sonata, in two ways. Equal temperament is the way to tune piano strings (and hence, in piano-centric modernity, all other instruments), slightly fudging the harmonic ratios between them to enable maximum journey possibilities. A=A is the nadir of “not getting it,” of “falling at the first hurdle”—or of not even trying to jump over the hurdle. This is the quintessence of the OOO move. To return to A=A, to occupy that position, as it were, is to have exposed Hegelianism for what it is: a pre-programmed ruse that knows in advance that A=A must be disavowed/sublated, and the exact procedures of that disavowal/sublation. It goes without saying that this is caught up in a certain resistance to anarchism, which is why I use the term occupy.

A night in which all cows are black still has cows.

Sure, I put these all together and out of context, but trust me this is much better than the original.


Basic Principles of Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Irreversibility of Implication Principle

Bored with my previous series (that only went to two posts on Hegel and Spinoza), I am returning to my blogosphere roots – making fun of OOO and its “arguments” online. But first, some fundamental principles.

One principle that is easily discernible in any interactions with objectologists is The Irreversibility of Implication Principle. Stated simply, the principle is easy to understand (and to follow): Whatever conclusion an objectologist makes about an opponent’s implicit motivations for her position cannot be reversed and directed back at the said objectologist.

Let’s take a simple example from the freshly pressed text: Bryant’s “fighting words” of this morning. The overall conclusion of this semi-nonsensical post is clear: “Your thought is a reaction formation to the narcissistic wound of the fact that your existence is contingent and that you are only the third of the three great apes.” Here “your” stands for all the failed “Continental philosophers” who, unlike the cool kids, still cling to their outdated non-naturalist and non-materialist approaches. They do so because of some fundamental psychological and professional insecurity. Their thought is the direct consequence of their threatened status and their unwillingness to dispense with their privileges.

Makes perfect sense, you say. It does. There is nothing new about making such generalized implications. However, the freedom to do so is limited by the “irreversibility principle” – accusations directed at others cannot be reserved and redirected at the accusers. So if I said, for example, that Bryant’s entire project is motivated by his sense of profound insecurity and mediocrity, that everything he says and writes is aimed at proving to everyone (but mostly his father) that he is in fact a somebody, then objectologists would cry foul and would be absolutely correct. My statement would be a direct violation of the “irreversibility principle”: remember, kids, hot coffee in the blue mug warms cold air, cold air does not warm hot coffee…

Another example: every critic of object-oriented ontology/philosophy is a jealous loser, unable to reach a desired position of academic power and thus taking his/her angry frustration on poor naive original-to-the-bone philosophers of the future. Well, all of these things are certainly true in my case, but were I to try a reversal – perhaps the motivation behind all of this mindless speculation is some psychological need for praise and approval, some grotesque ambition to find glory and universal approval for originality – and I would be dead wrong.

I hear you grumble something about the “doctor heal thyself” principle and hypocrisy. Here is why you are all wrong:

1) To your witty “Doctor heal thyself” quote I give you my wittier “Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi” quote – what do you say to that? Mine is in Latin. You lose.

2) Hypocrisy argument, like critique, is the weapon of the weak and the powerless. They always want to hold great men accountable to their worthless little moralities. Let me ask you this question: How many books did you publish? You are only allowed to talk back if it is the amount equal to that of the most productive objectologist. The rest of you rest your objections and start getting some books published. This game is for big boys with long lists.

3) Can’t we all just move past the accusations and engage in some love and compassion? I am tired of all the fights and all the controversy that inevitably follows all the posts on OOO. All of your witty and thought-provoking comments exhaust me. Sure, maybe it is not a perfect system of philosophy, but it is trying its best, so let it be.

On Typical Symptoms of Academic Ressentiment

Another stranger reads something by Levi Bryant, discovers it’s mostly hypocritical shit:

The first thing I should point out is that there is a less than constructive, and ultimately sort of false, humility in Levi’s post. He begins as follows:

I ordinarily don’t like to give advice on writing as I don’t believe I’ve attained the status as a philosopher, academic, or writer to speak with authority on these sorts of issues. I often think of myself as a sort of rogue, scoundrel, or hobo that wanders about at the margins of the academy without having really established myself in any way. In other words, I have a pretty low opinion of my work.

That this humble “hobo” is constructing this position out of his ressentiment can be seen in his response to my criticism, where he (quite rightly, I should add), points out that his work (and therefore his reflections on how he produced it) is worthy of some respect:

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with my own scholarly work. As someone who has done fairly well recognized scholarship– I’d direct you to my book on Deleuze –I’m not exactly speaking out of the blue, nor am I some young, idealistic upstart as you patronizingly suggest.

Moreover, on the Q&A on his faculty page, where we also learn that he is a perfectly respectable professor of philosophy, he tells us that, “I have wanted to be a professor since I was roughly 15 years old, so I haven’t really considered other possibilities.” It is not at all surprising that such a person would describe himself as a “rogue, scoundrel, or hobo”, but it is, I would argue, also a pretty typical symptom of academic ressentiment.

It’s strange that for all of his whining about his mortal enemies, Bryant manages to attract “negative energy” like no one in the business, including approving clearly critical comments that he then bravely engages only to reveal his ultimate double-edged idiocy: I’m an academic hobo, but I’ve done some great widely-admired scholarly work, I’m a rebel without a pause, but I’m also a typical professor of philosophy… Does he ever get tired?

The Hegel Variations

Fredrick Jameson has a new book coming out in June and it’s on Hegel (is the old-timer making a comeback? not that he was ever gone, mind you – I mean Hegel, of course, not Jameson):

Master philosopher and cultural theorist tackles the founder of
modern dialectics

In this major new study, the philosopher and cultural theorist Fredric Jameson offers a new reading of Hegel’s foundational text thePhenomenology of Spirit. In contrast to those who see the Phenomenologyas a closed system ending with Absolute Spirit, Jameson’s reading presents an open work in which Hegel has not yet reconstituted himself in terms of a systematic philosophy (Hegelianism) and in which the moments of the dialectic and its levels have not yet been formalized.

Hegel’s text executes a dazzling variety of changes on conceptual relationships, in terms with are never allowed to freeze over and become reified in purely philosophical named concepts. The ending, on the aftermath of the French Revolution, is interpreted by Jameson, contra Fukuyama’s “end of history,” as a provisional stalemate between the political and the social, which is here extrapolated to our own time.

In other news, our favorite Objectologist (the Son, yes, not the Father, he’s hopeless – a kid asks him for an advice and he uses the opportunity to talk more about himself – the lession? be like me and your life will be just dandy) has a couple of interesting posts in a Manifesto form. Despite all of my past annoyances and so on, I actually kind of like these – take a look, it’s straightforward and to the point (whether those points are valid is another issue, of course): Part 1 and Part 2. If you ignore the barbaric misreading of Kant (and his philosophical role – see previous battles vis-a-vis Kant as a strawman) and occasional nonsense (such as wrong book in reference to Hegel – but who has time to look up references, right? it’s a freaking Manifesto), it’s not bad. I hope this Manifesto is published in some more or less finished form (and not on, as the Father calls it, a “message board”) – I would certainly pass it around and see what people think. I think I’m starting to get this whole objectology business (even if I think it’s rather under-investigated, but this is what young ambitious academics are for, right?)

The Downer Principle: Overcoming the Overcoming.

In a series of posts, Larval Subjects is trying to articulate a sort of new philosophical approach that, he argues, is necessary to consider. Since posting a comment is usually a matter of an immediate reaction, at least for me, it is easier for me to tackle an issue or two in a form of a post. Alright, let’s start from the end of the story, a post called Hegemonic Fallacy. It opens with a rather strange sentence:

The danger faced by any object-oriented philosophy, especially in its beginnings, is that readers will conclude that the aim is to speak of things as they are in themselves, independent of any humans, thereby denying all that is human.

What is this “danger”? The readers are in danger, I am assuming, of making their assessment of this “object-oriented philosophy” in terms of old philosophical habit of separating the in-itself from for-us. Actually, it seems as though it is the danger for the new philosophical position, not so much the readers, the danger that from the very beginning it will have to address the issues of already-posed philosophical problems. I don’t see how this is a danger at all or even a problem – why shouldn’t a “traditional view” expect, in fact, demand explanation of any “newcomer”?

Here the grumpy tradition is speaking for itself: Continue reading

Graham Harman Blogs.

Check out Graham Harman’s new blog. I think Shahar posted something on Guerrilla Metaphysics some time back. Harman posts like three hundred posts an hour, so there’s plenty to read… Plus he sounds like a really down-to-earth sort of a guy which is always nice when it comes to philosophical types, although we mostly like pretension and arrogance here on PE, of course.