[-empyre-] Meillassoux / Harman

Ian Bogost ian.bogost at lcc.gatech.edu
Fri Jun 15 22:53:12 EST 2012


Thanks for these comments. Before I dive into you're comments, I'm going to point you to a reflection on the matter by Tim Morton, since he is not a member of the list but has been reading the archives, and hoped someone would link to him.

> Ian - I am reading and enjoying very much your book Alien Phenomenology right now so no offense meant in terms of the masculinity orientation of many of the OOO conversations. But to try to flesh out why we might worry about such an orientation and to respond to Michael briefly here are a few elaborations on that them
That's very kind on both counts.
> 2. What is that larger problem? Well, as any Feminism 101 course will show us, the gender hierarchy that assigns male to the 1 and female to the 0 in the binary coding of gender, also assigns male to the status of subject and female to the status of object. Hence, having occupied the status of "object" for some time within both the symbolic and the imaginary of the cultures within which we participate, surely the category of "female" should allow for some access to the question of what is it like to be an object. 
Surely! But—also surely, you don't think I disagree? Nor Harman, nor any of the others who have been mentioned in this context. Or do you? I'm not being coy, I think it should take more than a study of someone's bibliography to conclude that they are excluding a whole category of being. Particularly when their entire philosophy is built on the assumption that all that is exists equally. 
> After Butler, object oriented philosophy, it seems to me, would have to pass through the gendered territory of the subject/object relation. 
Have you read Levi Bryant's account of objects in relation to Lacan's graphs of sexuation? It's in Democracy of Objects, which is available online, or here's a short post: http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2010/06/28/lacans-graphs-of-sexuation-and-ooo/
> 4.  And since Michael believes that the onus of representation/critique falls to those who say they have been left out, one word: Fanon!
I'm not sure what how to respond to this comment. All I think Michael meant is that the opportunity space for analysis is open, and those with different backgrounds, interest, and commitments can take it on. I know you don't mean to suggest that dropping names like Fanon and Spillers on an email list is sufficient rhetorical work, but neither is it  sufficient to conclude that all questions have been already answered by a favorite theorist. 
> So, ok, if women and racialized bodies have all too often been rendered as "things" in the marketplace of commodity capitalism, and if a lot of the work on on Object Oriented Philosophy leaves the status of the human unmarked even when rejecting it in favor of the object and relations between objects then surely we need a queer and or feminist OO philosophy in order to address the politics of the object. 
I have no objection to this. Why would I, right? Surely once more, you don't think I would, nor Harman, nor Morton, nor Bryant, nor anyone? You'll find at least one comment in Alien Phenomenology, albeit very brief and really just cursory, that touches on this issue, later in the book. Katherine Behar organized a set of Object Oriented Feminism sessions at the 2010 SLSA conference, to which I was fortunate to serve as one respondent. You can find the abstracts at the following link, along with my response from the conference: http://www.bogost.com/blog/object-oriented_feminism_1.shtml. 

Behar is organizing a follow-up at this year's SLSA, which will include Patricia Clough, Katherine Hayles, Eileen Joy, Jamie Skye Bianco, Anne Pollock, Rebecca Sheldon, and others. Is this a sufficient measure? No, of course not. But it's a start of something, just as Harman tried to start something, rather than a quick judgement meant to fuel an engine of reprisal.

Again, I think this is what Michael was saying. Let's just do the work!


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