Process/Object/Ground

10Dec10

Against the limitations of time I have been trying to get some sense of what happened in California in the last week in regards to OOO and, in particular, its relation to process philosophy. This contrast and/or relation is no doubt due to Whitehead has being pulled into both camps. Furthermore, a set of exchanges between Levi, Ivakhiv, and Graham have occurred surrounding seemingly odd statements that

1 – Levi is a process philosopher

2 – OOO is Newtonian

3 – Process philosophy is a (to borrow Ian Bogost’s phrase) a fire house materialism

Here and Levi’s response and another response

There has also been related posts at the very interesting (and previously unknown to me) blog Archive Fire here and here.

I am probably missing some important posts but a quick glance at Archive Fire, Larval Subjects, and Immanence will give you a fair account of the hornet’s nest. I feel a need to step out of crazy weird land and walk back into metaphysics for a bit. I do not know enough about Whitehead to comment within that arena nor can I claim to know what Adrian’s process-relational metaphysics is (opposed to any other process philosophy) but the Claremont talks did leave me with some reservations which I think we might share.

More and more my reservations about OOO are around an phenomenological bias which asserts the fundamental nature of objects. Tim Morton’s concept of hyper objects for instance leaves me wondering how discussing something like climate change as a very big object is useful. OOO seems like an excellent theory for de-anthrocentrizing realms with are overwhelming anthrocentric – philosophy and politics and various forms of art – but in a larger universe the use of an object as a means for chopping up existence becomes a problem.

At the same time I think in many process philosophies (here I am thinking of Deleuze especially) anthrocentricity is imported in order to make a world of process metaphysics less alien in the last instance. In many ways OOO seems like the English system of measurements (practical but illogical) whereas process philosophies are like the metric system (logical but impractical).

Or in other words, we can see a collection of objects but not fission or electromagnetism or gravity.

Bogost’s ‘firehouse materialism’ comment however seems to assert monodirectionality of processes without proof. Also what about an ecology of processes, or simply what happens when processes collide. Bogost’s paper makes an excellent argument for procedure which seems to be in lieu with Bennett’s recent call for topograhpies of becoming.

Bogost states the question how does something reinvent itself is less interesting (from a OOO perspective) than how does something work. I would argue that any philosopher who takes becoming, or process, or contingency, hyper-chaos etc must ask how does something work (via processes and the interruptions or sedimentations of those processes) and continue to be reinvented, destroyed etc by other processes?

Notions of substantiality, which Levi invokes, seem to invoke an invest in a phenomenological form which, in a philosophy of process, would be substantial (that is in a metaphysical sense) only to the degree which it is a particular confluence of forces/powers and so on with any sense of withdrawnness being the source of its parts being so far flung backwards in time and distant in space. This, I would argue, haunts Schelling to the end of his days as he attempts to formulate a necessity of necessity – some ontogenetic burst from the time before the world – he even plays a bit with ideas of fate.

Ground is the important term in relating processes and procedures as it is places processes in localities (temporal and spatial) and suggests the importance of stratifactions as replacing individuation – with Reza’s twist as a means of bypassing the stupidity of individuation as just a happening from process instead of the failure of multiple processes shifting back and forth between each other. The very interelation between space and time is becoming-things where deriviative forces carve particularities into event-things misdirecting/redirecting other processes.

Also see Shaviro’s contribution to the Whitehead event as well.

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2 Responses to “Process/Object/Ground”

  1. Hey Ben, thanks for linking to Archive Fire. It’s interesting that you’d never visited there before, since I’ve been reading and occasionally commenting on your blog for over a year. Regardless, thanks.

    I found the following remarks very poignant :

    “…in a larger universe the use of an object as a means for chopping up existence becomes a problem… what about an ecology of processes, or simply what happens when processes collide… Ground is the important term in relating processes and procedures as it is places processes in localities (temporal and spatial) and suggests the importance of stratifications as replacing individuation – with Reza’s twist as a means of bypassing the stupidity of individuation as just a happening from process instead of the failure of multiple processes shifting back and forth between each other. The very interrelation between space and time is becoming-things where derivative forces carve particularities into event-things misdirecting/redirecting other processes.”

    Colliding events, interlocking processes, gathered contingencies and the particular stratifications these produce stretch the boundaries of schematization in way that seems to require a ‘going beyond’ any sort of dwelling on “objects”. The world, you might agree, is much weirder and darker that objectological thinking might suggest…

    cheers-


  1. 1 OOO, Language, Activity | Complete Lies.

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