A Note: Partitions/Swarming objects

10Jan12

I was quite unable to keep up with the exchanges between Jussi Parika, the commenters on his blog, and the OOO folks (Harman, Bogost, Bryant, Paul Caplan, and Robert Jackson).

It’s always hard in such situations to separate the critique from the shit talking as argumentative strategy falls right in the middle. Part of the rhetorical mess is that many Deleuzians still see themselves as occupying a minority position (a position which OOO may see itself in as well and rightly so). The former generally overlooks the longevity of its time in the spotlight while the latter generally overlooks the effect its fast rise has on those outside it. Anyways, these attitudes are problematic and muddy the arguments being made.

Jason Hills has said many things which I agree with here. The problem, as he put it in another post, really has to do with the idea of objects as ready-made, that there does not seem to be a good sense of generation or change. I think Michael Austin addressed this well in his essay in the first issue of Speculations. Though we disagree about the reach of phenomenology, the fact that there is some capacity or conatus or vitality (organic or inorganic) that is not reducibly to thought nor to strictly eliminative means seems important.

Both in drawing battle lines and in separating the epistemological from the non-epistemological, it becomes difficult to separate the partitions from the clouds of swarming objects.

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9 Responses to “A Note: Partitions/Swarming objects”

  1. 1 Jason Hills

    Are the “partitions” real distinctions or merely formal distinctions? If the latter, then those OOO-ers are metaphysical nominalists most likely, but then our OOO metaphysics cannot do much of the work that is claimed of it. Yet it seems that OOO can be nominalist or realist (i.e., reality of external world, abstract objects, categories, etc.), and the question might be what *should* it be.

    See also Archive Fire:

    http://www.archivefire.net/2012/01/riffing-on-withdrawal-part-1-difference.html

    and Intra-Being

    http://andreling.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/toward-an-oo-ontography-of-intra-being/

    • 2 Ben Woodard

      I’m really not sure – I think this is where Brassier’s demand for a better account of concepts and objects (see his essay in The Speculative Turn) is really important. You don’t want human agents carving up the world (where epistemology is pseudo-ontologized) but there needs to be some account for error or for the necessary yet inadequate bounding up of objects. I don’t think that is just nominalism (especially if you taken into account networks and real effects – though how you determine real is another huge problem).

      • 3 Jason Hills

        I’m with that, the better account of concepts and objects.

  2. 4 kb

    Yes, it seems that many Deleuzians smugly think they are automatically practicing minor philosophy through citation…without practicing much of a ‘minor’ method. But for some following D&G, it is less about citing D&G as minor philosophers but rather about work towards a minoritarian politics, of which OOO/SR, excepting Bryant and perhaps Negarestani, seems to eschew. I wonder what you think about this, since the new/feminist materialisms were brought into it.

    • 5 Ben Woodard

      I fully agree with your comment here – I am deeply appreciative of Negarestani’s politics in particular which, while taking into account the materiality of things (in a sense like Jane Bennett does) it is more concerned with a minitorian model on a weirdly cosmic level or at least on through the lens of a universalist complicity between stratifications. This connection seems kind of weird but I think there is at least a historical precedent with the influence of Schelling (and no doubt other thinkers associated with him) on American philosophy (particularly Pierce and Emerson http://www.cspeirce.com/menu/library/aboutcsp/callaway/schelling.htm).

      My biggest issue with the new materialisms is how much they still use the subject as a political given – not that the human as a political agent should be disregarded but there is at least the specter of an immutable human core in many discussions of ‘the subject’ which I think unrealistically draw political possibilities, motivations etc. But, I am not (by any means) a well versed thinker of politics.

  3. Just a note to say that I did respond to Parikka (you may have missed it; it was the holidays). While it’s not a big deal, it would be nice to see my name linked to that response (http://www.bogost.com/blog/object-oriented_answers.shtml), like my colleagues’ are. Thanks!

    • 7 Ben Woodard

      Sorry Ian – I thought I had linked your to you piece…my bad!

  4. 8 Jason Hills

    Wha oh. Did I get in-between a political cross-fire? Hey, Leiter has taught me how to *duck and run*.


  1. 1 NOO-NAUTICS: Ben Woodard’s Pluralist Paradox of Demarcation | AGENT SWARM

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