The new year invites all sorts of retrospective instincts and it’s odd to see that this blog was the Zizek and Badiou show from 2007 to mid 2008 when SR started to seep in. Speculative Heresy was formed in July of 2008 and I shifted to the nature philosophy strain in late 2008 to early 2009. Though the term SR has been repeatedly denounced I sense it will remain as at least a scaffold, at least as a negative starting point for metaphysics. 2010 saw the spawning and soldification of various factions of SR – most notably the OOO/OOP wing in the work of Graham, Levi, Ian and Paul Ennis to name a few. In addition they have a journal on the way (Speculations) and various appearences in the flesh.
OOO/OOP will no doubt continue to grow and I often wonder why (besides having multiple prolific internet presences) it is the strangest/strongest of the SR factions. I think the best explanation is that the approach and even name of OOP reeks (justifiably) of novelty and this is only supported by the fact that Harman and others take what they need from philosophers and move on. This is not an attack but a high form of praise. For instance, it would be hard to call any user of OOO/OOP Heideggerian, Whiteheadian or even Latourian (though the latter would be the most probable) whereas Grant could easily be labeled Schellingian, Brassier Laruelleian (though less and less so over time) and Meillassoux Cartesian, Badiouian or, against his will but accurate I think, Hegelian.
In other words, they are deeper shadows for the other strains to combat in order to establish themselves as a new kind of metaphysics. A large part of this may be that largelynon- or anti-metaphysical theories are being used to cast a new metaphysics. A brief glance at the SR wiki entry confirms this. This is not to invoke sympathy but to commend OOO/OOP for the strength of its project (and name) in relation to philosophical history. For the Grantian wing the misappropriations of Schelling by Heidegger, Manfred Frank, Andrew Bowie, and others must be combated as well as the legacy of Deleuze: a giant which seems impossible to adequately engage given the conceptual novelty of him and his followers (DeLanda, Massumi, Ansell-Pearson, etc).
Futhermore, it is still a struggle to wrest realism from the boundaries of materialism and the philosophies of Zizek and Badiou which rely on Hegel via Lacan for the former and Plato via Lacan for the latter though both with serious modifications. In both cases materialism is de-materialized or overly spiritualized (in the Hegelian sense) or idealized. Realism, on the other hand, sets out to distinguish the boundaries of the ideal and the material under the rubrics of causation, ontological ordering, accessibility, and thinkability. Realism must consider how real, or real to what/whom, if it is to avoid falling back into a materialism where everything is material/real. This is connected to the ontology politics problem which continually reappears. It’s no surprise that Zizek’s crituqe of SR was that it is missing a theory of the subject and that Badiou’s was that it is missing a political element.
Filed under: Badiou, Brassier, Deleuze, Harman, Hegel, Iain Hamilton Grant, Meillassoux, Speculative Realism, transcendental materialism, Zizek | 3 Comments