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

Timothy Morton timothymorton303 at gmail.com
Sun Jun 17 05:31:45 EST 2012

Hi all,

It's Tim Morton of Rice University here. I'm going to take Jack's suggestion and paste this post I wrote here. I am an OOO person who writes on ecology and philosophy.


OOO, Gender, Sexuality
I can't sleep. I was up grading so by rights I should be knackered. But I've also been up having the best conversation ever, with the best ever, and elements of it are beeping away in my head.

So I double checked my Internet and noticed Judith Halberstam, Ian Bogost, Michael O'Rourke, Rob Jackson and others were having a detailed discussion on empyre. 

Now I don't belong to it and I'm too busy to get with it right now--also these thoughts are fizzing in me. 

So I hope some kind person(s) will paste this or the link to the discussion list? 

Okay. I've written essays on queer theory and ecology and on OOO and feminism (that last one is forthcoming). I am and have been considered a deconstructor, and my most recent talk (soon essay) was on OOO and race. 

Of the 6 Ph.D. students of mine explicitly doing OOO (out of about 15), three are women, one of whom is working on gender and sexuality. Two are men, both gay, working on performativity.

If you think about it, OOO provides a very beautiful way to think gender and sexuality issues at the ontological level--Levi Bryant has done some of the heavy lifting there, as well as Michael O'Rourke.

Withdrawal--no object is subsumed by its use-by any (other) entity--surely accounts for gender switching, non-genital sexuality, BDSM and queerness (for want of a better word) at a deep level. 

Now my next remarks are addressed to those scholars who like Judith Halberstam (did I meet you when I was at USC last year?) are concerned about OOO.

I use y'all, for some weird reason. I'm actually English but was recently kidnapped by Rice!

Y'all are a bit scared of "ontology" because it was the province of the metaphysics of presence and all that it entails. Correct. 

But OOO is explicitly designed to account for a reality without this presence, yet without evaporating everything into (anthropocentric) powder.

Although I did just write on Karen Barad, etc etc., we look like we are sidestepping some recent theory because we believe that it contains some weird code that goes all the way back to Heidegger, weird unnecessary code that affected Lacan, and through him Barthes, Derrida and Foucault--and on up to now. 

The bug is why Derrida was so leery of ontology as such, for instance. 

That's why Harman went back to Heidegger. He dismantles the code from that point. That's why he's so important. 

This is a big deal. We are not ignoring you. We are going back to the Heidegger U-Boat and debugging it from the inside. Y'all are floating around above a gigantic coral reef of beautiful things we call "objects," including you (look it's you down there!).

But you can't see it cos this Heidegger bug has got your windshield all fogged up. 

In no way does OOO try to yank you back up to the surface of prepackaged ideologemes of race, class and gender. We are simply asking you to look down. 

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