[-empyre-] Subject: Re: Meillassoux / Harman

naxsmash naxsmash at mac.com
Sun Jun 17 04:41:45 EST 2012

"After Butler, object oriented philosophy, it seems to me, would have to pass through the gendered territory of the subject/object relation. "  - Judith Halberstam

As I was reading this thread yesterday I was struck by how a chasm opens when  as, mentally,  I make the move from 1- acknowledging that all things have 'life' to 2-what are the relations between these things of 'life'.  
I feel immensely sad when I realize that what was formerly known as the new media rhetoric- a vigilante version of cybernetics ('everything is 'info") has now blasted via 'object-oriented programming', into (everything is 'object').  Into this 
routine binary, comes an antagonist-- someone like Jack insists on something like this question--, "but wait: 'who is the object?"  - and where. 

Earlier this month I visited the nanotechnology building at UC Santa Barbara.  There is what they call an 'allosphere' inside, a black box sans-theatre, with a catwalk suspended in a large dark space, illuminated by contiguous high definition video screens. 
Here, programmers connect colours to algorithms, in the name of  data sets of various etiologies.  The director of the allosphere explained: "we are agnostic to the data." 
A phrase poignant in its poverty, and unintentionally so.  The content to which we are agnostic  is evidently an object of speculation vis a vis no ethics will derive.  inside the black box. 

What keeps the allosphere dark is the lack of cash to allocate to the facility+staffing budgets, so funding has to come from outside artists and others who bring funding with them. 
When the allosphere blazes it costs 3000 dollars an hour to run. The purpose of the  shining is said to be to map a set of algorithm into sounds and light in predictably encoded geometries.  
These geometries based on the programmer's generalizations of complex number fields, are described by the director as information mapping to enhance scientific understanding of data sets. And pretty, too. 
These are the objects the audience on the catwalk contemplates in silence. No speech, boredom, reverence, no drinks in case liquid gets on the equipment, already nearly obsolete after only 3 years.
The director is in a panic to get new machines.  Data must be visualized by somebody somehow, if we can just get the money. New projectors at 6 grand a pop, if we can sell these ones on e bay cause they don't keystone right. 

Afterwards I go to  Superica for a couple of tacos.  Here there are workers coming off a late shift.  The Spanish floats in arcs around my ears.  I watch their fatigue and their quiet relief in getting some food, very good food and not expensive.
The exchanges of food and talk from the kitchen through the food window to the tables ebb and flow under hanging exposed light bulbs from a ceiling made of rough white painted beams with turquoise colored trim. 
Most people don't even spring for a beer.

Up north a ways, where I live, I am trying to put together a 4 channel video installation. I have no spare change, so I am trying to buy 4 cheap projectors at various tech stores around the county which i'll return after i'm done making the install in my drawing shed.
I drive through the semi rural hills. The spectacular oak studded hills dropping to freeway.  I keep the AC on so I don't choke on the diesel fumes in the intake from the pickup trucks in front.
It's evening, long light makes everything delicious to the eye.Like the padres of the Entrada I move from one station to the next, from southeast to northwest along the Salinas River. 
The architecture in each shopping mall is Muscan (Mexican-Tuscan) with fake beige stucco.

 Not far north, towards the backside  of Big Sur, the freeway strip the oaks take over the landscape, especially in the military reserve of Camp Roberts, which flanks  San Miguel and San Antonio, the two great seventeenth century missions in our neighborhood. 

The Salinians were drafted out of these their oaks, and onto the flat plain of the Salinas River at San Miguel.  They were enslaved to a  dry agriculture.  They were broken by the tools they were forceably given.  Now they live still here in rancherias in the midst of the strip malls.
San Miguel's interiors are recently restored after the earthquake of 2004--without excessive decoration or revision. The interior volumes gain illumination from the large doorways flanked by massive oak doors.  The subtle ambient light is punctuated by votives. 

Without an ethics of subjects not as things, but as relations, these scenes are doomed. The Earth is dying.  To name objects as various sorts of things without within those naming-processes speaking the trace of the wounds and violence within their sites, their common ground, is to kill the very sensibility of
truth speech that drives song and generates the writing of a politics of the verb- the twist/clinamen- even, the queer.  What can we do about all this dying? About all this barely making it? In Eden God asked Adam to name, and he tried and it was a good thing to do, but it was
 Eve who marked,  through her actions,  the limits of tagging.  There is no going back.  We are out here in post-paradise trying to build our shed,  to sing our house. 

 We must have a poetics of relation, as Glissante said,  or we die. 



Message: 1
Date: Thu, 14 Jun 2012 19:15:46 -0700
From: Judith Halberstam <halberst at usc.edu>
To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Meillassoux / Harman
Message-ID: <70CE80EA-580A-43D6-B7A9-320DB6FA3BBF at usc.edu>

. 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. 

3.  Think of Butler's critique of Lacan here - in the lesbian phallus, she basically takes on those who would argue that feminist and queer critiques of Lacanian psychoanalysis miss the point. Arguing that if all bodies lack and female bodies are deployed metaphorically to represent that lack, and if all phallic bodies only possess the phallus contingently but male bodies are deployed metaphorically to represent that possession, Butler points to a heteronormative foundation to Lacan's mapping of the subject. Offering instead a "lesbian phallus" that is both detachable and mobile (what does OOO have to say about lively objects such as the dildo?), Butler shows that male narcissism leads to a) misrecognition of the penis as the phallus and b) the inability to theorize the object and the abject. After Butler, object oriented philosophy, it seems to me, would have to pass through the gendered territory of the subject/object relation. 

4.  And since Michael believes that the onus of representation/critique falls to those who say they have been left out, one word: Fanon! Indeed, again, as with Butler, we have an elaborate racial critique of the subject/object relation already mapped by Fanon in the "Fact of Blackness" and in Fred Moten's work on the elaboration of the Black subject as commodity and in Hortense Spiller's work on the "American Grammar" of race that assigns whiteness to the subject position and blackness to the perpetual object. 

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. 

--What are the relations between slaves and farm machines?
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