“I honestly just don’t understand the nature of the question that’s being asked.”


I know you kids out there like to read all these gossipy posts about OOO, but I have a serious lesson for you today – for all of its obvious (and hilarious) faults, there one very good technique that you all need to learn and practice: playing dumb when confronted with questions. Rather than explain to you how this work, let me give you some examples from our favorite objectologist:

Exhibit A: “Similarly, no one would dream of suggesting that because the doctor wants to know what causes the bird flu, the doctor is somehow justifying the bird flu or claiming that it is a good thing.  No, the doctor wants to understand the bird flu precisely so he can prevent it.  I’ve thus been shocked to hear some say that if you claim that nuclear bombs are, you’re somehow claiming that nuclear bombs should be.”

Shocked, I tell ya, shocked! It’s important to feign genuine feelings when playing dumb.

Exhibit B: What I find perplexing about this is that all of you asking these questions seem to think that my claim that ontology and politics are distinct means I reject politics and ethics.

I am perplexed, I tell ya, baffled, befuddled, bewildered, puzzled, dumbfounded and confounded as to why “you lot” are just not able to get it. Blame the readers for your inability to understand a simple question. It’s their fault that they are not proficient enough to get it. By being perplexed, you are basically making a philosophical equivalent of this jab: “I find it perplexing that you are still wetting your bed.”

At the end, go for the kill:

Sure, I care about ontology for political reasons because I believe this world sucks and is profoundly unjust.  But rather than waving my hands and cursing because of how unjust and horrible it is so as to feel superior to all those about me who don’t agree, rather than playing the part of the beautiful soul who refuses to get his hands dirty, I think we need good maps so we can blow up the right bridges, power lines, and communications networks, and so we can engage in effective terraformation.

Opening with “Sure” is awesome (consider “Look” or “You see” as well). Then follows an amazingly brazen plagiarism from Kim Stanley Robinson who invents the term “terraforming” in his Mars Trilogy – slightly change it to “terraformation” and you’re golden! And, of course, the “kill” – my opponents are idiots who ask silly incomprehensible questions while standing around with their clean hands and retarded minds hoping for a better tomorrow to come on its own. Speechless!

What then follows is an exchange of comments (both on the blog and FB) from which I only select a few juicy ones to illustrate my point:  Continue reading

Epic Objectological Rant


UPDATE II: Sacilotto responds on FB (here and then scroll to the post on his wall). One of the editors from Speculations asks Bryant question, gets an incomprehensible answer (“…because I think we need to take seriously the reality of things like the properties of corn or the existence of ozone holes.”) Hilarity everywhere!

UPDATE I: Sacilotto responds here (very nicely, I thought). Bryant adds another less emotional rant here. Nothing is clarified, of course. My favorite part, I know you want to know, comes at the end when Bryant imagines a conversation between himself, Zizek (?) and Sacilotto (ignoring his spelling of “hear” as “here” – for someone who writes so much, re-reading your own posts must be luxury one cannot afford)…

I have seen them all over the years, but this is one of the best: enjoy it before he comes to his senses and edits it. I passed over the review by Daniel Sacilotto initially, foolishly assuming it was unadulterated praise of all things “onticology” – I should read it now, because clearly it hit the nerve if Objectologist the Son is so pissed off and whiny:

I’m not interested in legislating what “true reality” is, but in shifting discussion from an obsessive focus on how we know, on how our minds relate to the world, to a discussion of how things, including humans, interact with one another. Assertions made within this framework are not a mere “subjective whim”, as Daniel suggests. He’s welcome to question claims and ask for reasons. It could turn out that various accounts are mistaken. Be specific. Critique the account. That’s how accounts become better. Don’t, however, throw sand in the engine of inquiry. Daniel, I’m sure you miss this, but the basic point is that we’re tired of discussing your issue. We want to ask other questions and attend to other issues. That doesn’t mean we’re unwilling to provide reasons.

Notice the switch from “he” to “you” in the end there – beautiful. I’m not even going to point out all the obvious “pot calling kettle black” nonsense. “Stop accusing us of being simpletons and idiots, you pathetic simpleton and idiot who cannot understand what we are doing” – read it and weep!

Wolfendale Strikes Back In Print


Gone are the days when philosophical blogosphere was discussing the “object-oriented ontology” (OOO) as some sort of a new philosophical phenomenon that required actual philosophical engagement and consideration. But Wolfendale persisted in treating it as such, dedicating large chunks of his blog (and time, I suppose) to the careful but largely thankless task of its critical assessment. It is fairly clear these days that it is mostly a matter of faith and conversion rather than any sort of rational debate, but it is still nice to see Wolfendale’s critique appear in print (hopefully serialized in 5-10 parts for future generations to enjoy repeatedly):

Let’s see if Graham Harman takes a large enough break from his missionary activity and writes a promised response to Wolfendale. My money is on “Not going to happen”…

“Who among them has not begun to shrug off the oppressive, anthropocentric legacy of Post-Kantian philosophy, bravely railing against the tyrannical correlationists of the continental academy, the dreary technicians of the analytic mainstream, and even the scientistic fury of its Neo-Kantian heirs?”

Object-Oriented Literature


Obviously, it must look something like this:

Man-made objects, or natural ones, inert in themselves but much used by careless life (you are thinking, and quite rightly so, of a hillside stone over which a multitude of small animals have scurried in the course of incalculable seasons) are particularly difficult to keep in surface focus: novices fall through the surface, humming happily to themselves, and are soon reveling with childish abandon in the story of this stone, of that heath. I shall explain. A thin veneer of immediate reality is spread over natural and artificial matter, and whoever wishes to remain in the now, with the now, on the now, should please not break its tension film. Otherwise the inexperienced miracle-worker will find himself no longer walking on water but descending upright among staring fish. More in a moment.

Clearly, Nabokov anticipated the great movement of OOO in 1972 – another mark of a true genius!

Pointing Out The Obvious Hurts Feelings, Causes Distress


Can’t ignore this awesome exchange in the comments.

Obviously OOO is build around a certain rhetoric of oppression and marginality – “We must fight the powers that be!” – “No one’s here to fight, man” – “What are you talking about? The enemies are everywhere – look! look! over there!” – “Sorry, mate, don’t see any. I am going to go have a beer and relax.” – “Traitor! Everyone is a traitor!”

I think it must have started here (judging by the angry and whiny fits in the consequent comments).

The victimhood and the complex of persecution is vital to objectology – good job on understanding this point and pursing it.

“We are under siege!”

[UPDATE] The original blogger responds with what is perhaps the most bizarre reinforcement of the above-mentioned persecution complex. How clever! I bet it’s just a really cool inside joke. No one can be that stupid and be so open about it…

Those Were The Days…


Blast from the past. Those were good times, I think. People were less uptight about making fun of that which was and remains rather laughable. A friend recently reminded me that it is important to ridicule that which is ridiculous lest people get used to it and treat it as legitimate philosophy. Let’s face it, unless graduate students are told something isn’t really as cool as they think it is, they will never learn: “Critical Thinking Generation”!

Are You an Object-Oriented Ontologist Yet?


With so many people converting to object-oriented ontology (Tim Morton “came out” as an object-oriented ontologist and our very own Jon Cogburn is summoned as the very first, but surely not last, “analytical object-oriented ontologist”), the important question now is: Have you accepted object-oriented ontology as your Lord and Savior? If you haven’t, here’s a useful list of points you can make while trying to persuade yourself and then your friends: Continue reading

Objectology: A Distorted View.


John comments on the issue of objectology and politics (I am going to combine both of his comments here):

Why should every philosophy be expected to address politics just because all philosophers are affected by politics? “Ontology is play-science for philosophers,” says the I.T. post in question, and I can’t help but agree. But I don’t see why “real” scientific work should be regarded with suspicion just because scientists don’t explicitly discuss in their scientific articles the political and economic factors that influence the trajectory of their work. To the contrary: I would be particularly suspicious of chemists or physicists who claimed that their scientific work and findings were influenced by their political position.

I think, though, that the objection is more direct than that: ontology is pointless, like alchemy; go make better use of your philosophical talents.

Although John is using the term “ontology” I think it’s clear that we are talking about a very peculiar kind of ontology, i.e. objectology. Here’s what I think, and it’s going to be fairly short: there’s a fundamental difference between understanding politics as what politicians do (elections, issues, platforms and so on) and politics as a simple structure of human coexistence (polis) – this is not a novel idea or a novel distinction. I think that John means politics as as an area of political activity done by or in some relation to politicians, I think most objections to objectology are not that its members are not politically active in this sense, but in a sense that the argument seems to suggest that a reconfiguring the relationship between humans and non-humans does not have any immediate political significance or is not in itself a political activity. Continue reading