Horrific Nature?/Metroidic Nature?
Michael ends a post partially in response to my last post that nature isn’t terrifying. Many of my posts here would seem to assert exactly the opposite – that a darkly vitalistic nature is a horrible monstrousity – but this darkness is a darkness for us and not in itself. This was suggested in comments to two posts.
In the first post Alex suggested here some time ago, that Eliminativism, once taken to its full extent, effectively eliminates the horrific experience of nature. If we know that something merely is an epiphenomenon with ontological machinery beneath it (machinery that to some extent remains unthinkable/unknowable) then is the horror of life abnegated?
In the second post Anthony Paul Smith commented here that the unknowability of certain mechanisms and the certainty of threats (entropy) does not impose a necessarily dark world view, or dark phenomenology.
The usefulness of the term vitalism here and of dark vitalism as an inorganic vitalism points to the problem of thinking life (life that thinks and trying to think life) in a nature which is a non-totalizable set of processes. Nature as an open system (seemingly boundless and inviting an attitude of cosmicism or indifference) yet phenomenon such as life shows us unbearable closeness or bottlenecking – where particular systems need to borrow from one another.
The eponymous creatures of Metroid are particularly interesting in that they are parasitic creatures which suck the life force (or elan vital) from other creatures – the counterpart to indifferent cosmicism is, as Lovecraft knew, proximal values – the fact that things in proximity affect one another and form ecologies. That is the deeper mechanics of nature can be severely mutated by spatial and temporal proximity. The very possibility of the parasitic thriving assumes spatial limitations.
The issue here is the ideality versus the reality of relations. As Levi has formulated in several posts most notably here, a significant issue in the various factions of SR is the status of relations and the status of difference. The difficulty lies in remaining steadfast on the highly processural nature of nature while being able to explain individuation.
Another connection to Levi’s flat ontology and what I am attempting to work out is the use of ecologies and localities in terms of process and individuation. To swing back to the metroidic – the discourse of sci-fi embodies the tension of the cosmic and the proximal – where despite the fact that space is vast horrors conglomerate. Life is essentially a form of nature which fights itself for vitalistic superiority over the contingencies of space/time. Nature is terrifying in its potentiality cross referenced with its proximity – this is the two darknesses – the ontological and the epistemological.
Filed under: nature, ontology, Speculative Realism, video games | 7 Comments
Tags: cosmicism, dark vitalism, flat ontology, levi bryant, lovecraft, metroid, proximal