[-empyre-] the real and reality in speculative realism and OOO/P

Clough, Patricia PClough at gc.cuny.edu
Sun Jun 17 10:20:58 EST 2012

I am not sure this got through    since I am also missing some of Tim's  I think  but I will put it here below but first.   Just to say that objects in OOO are not objectifications   or mere things or commodities.   A  turn to ontology  (whether OOO or feminist queer ones) is to give us a sense that objects differ from themselves; they exude temporality.  They are lively before or without human consciousness.   I think this arouses more respect for the environment and the cosmos not to mention human beings and other living things.   This seems especially important in raising questions about the boundary between species and organic and nonorganic.   If those technosciences we worry about are doing what they are doing that worries us  we need to imagine an ontology that meets their capacity in order to think the possibilities of politics.    But of course OOO/SR isn't everything that is needed.   And so I am interested in how we write or argue or philosophize   We need poetry and  artistry  so we can have hesitancy and allusion  where causality is alluring....  And so the reference by Michael ( I think)  to transitional objects is something I want to take up.   I prefer  Bollas's transformational objects that Lauren Berlant makes such good use of  in her work  recently again in Cruel Optimism.    Patricia 

(repeat maybye )
Well starting off in the last week is difficult.   So much going on over the last three weeks.   Thanks to Zach and Micha for the invite and  to everyone else offering some great thoughts  to ponder.

As for discussion around feminism, queer and OOO/ SR  There are (still/even more)  worrisome issues  of oppression, exploitation and repression   that come to mind with queer, feminist, postcolonial, anti-race, debility theoretical/political formations  but there also are troubles which are before us,  feminist neoliberalism or  pink washing and queer, for examples.  Politically, institutional arrangements are much more complicated than identity politics sometimes presented itself as being  in the demand for subject  recognition  which led to decades of debate on the truth of representation and the deconstruction of  the authority of discourse with a hesitancy  to reference the real in support.   Here a certain Althusserian/Lacanianism played a weighty part  and then add   Derrida  Spivak Butler Foucault Berlant, Sedgwick  and more. For many of us this work has been a go to intellectual and political resource for some time.  Clearly these authors  put philosophy  intimately in play with a politics (often  Marxism, and then Marxism plus) that was easily felt in their work.   In  OOO/SR , this tight connection is less obvious if there at all.  What I do not want to overlook however is that OOO/SR came when the former (not necessarily the thinkers themselves) was not easily working as an intellectual resource in the face of several issues:  what to be said about political economy except to say again and again neoliberalism or even biopolitics (even though I keep saying those);  what is to be said about subjectivity and the unconscious after deconstruction and along with a profound transformation in social media;  what is to be said about the human, the organism as figure of life, about matter  after posthumanism and with the development of various technologies we should call biotechnologies (but now all technology seems to have always been) or even more incredible nanotechnologies?  What to say about the persistence but varied forms of racism oppression exploitation?  How to let all this feed back to rethinking our philosophical assumptions?

I think that for some of us OOO/SR made us think again about the intellectual resources for our work and how to address some of the questions I just raised by turning us to ontological issues beyond constructivism asking us to critically address the assimilating act of human consciousness embedded in most of our materialisms (thus the new materialisms and  a recent paper by Liz Grosz on matter and life is exquisite here) .  This new materialisms  comes in part as a response to recent developments in technoscience  and as a social scientist (of sorts) I am so aware that social science leans on scientific assumptions if not ideals that need updating to say the least. But I think this is the case for many of our materialisms. This rethinking of technoscience including digital technologies has in part raised interest in OOO/SR   and  that is the case for me.   But I am not sure that  the elective affinity between  digital technologies,  the growth of computational studies  and algorithm studies etc.  and OOO/SR yet has been well stated.  I do not think that all OOO/SR thinkers find this to be  central while some do.   Debates around OOO/SR with which Steven Shaviro is involved usually speak to digital technology  (and Bogost of course)     All this to say that the 'affect' that I have most written about is the Spinoza Deleuze Whitehead Masssumi  Parisi version (although I want to talk more about feelings and emotions this week).  The Spinoza Deleuze Whitehead Masssumi  Parisi version of affect I believe has always required an ontological shift (which is central to the Affective Turn volume). That  ontological shift has everything to do with the way affect is experienced through a technological intensification  since it is otherwise preconscious if not nonconscious and a-social   While language generally is an intensifier  I have been more interested in intensifications that did not necessarily raise to consciousness but simply intensified experience  inciting resonances rhythmicities   oscillations etc.  and which then could be about bodies other than human ones or organic ones--queering body.  This seemed to require an ontological shift, one involving  matter.  I have been arguing for some time that matter is affective or informational (well maybe we should just say energy) and this  led me to OOO/SR.   But before checking out OOO/SR  I was much indebted to Deleuze and the others   and  since  studying OOO/SR  I feel the noteworthy tension  between Deleuzians and  OOO/SR (although there are those trying to negotiate the tension as I am).   During the next week  I want to offer some thoughts (and can't wait for response and interventions) about  this tension in relationship to affect.  I hope we can discussion  more the recent focus on aesthetics which has enabled me to think in the tension rather than against it  and find a way as well to dwell  in rather than  simply put an end to the  aporia between ontology  and epistemology that affect and non-human perception produces.   I think  aesthetics and the turn to Whitehead's rereading of Kant points to a way to engage the liveliness of  what Eugene Thacker calls a world without us  or not for us.

Finally,  during the first week  I much enjoyed all the sites to which I was sent and all the efforts to make stuff, queer stuff, with  digital technology as well as with other technologies.   This doing along with thinking (crude way of putting it) seems important to a critical engagement with what we once would have called  knowledge production.    Looking forward to ongoing conversation(s)   Patricia

From: empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au [empyre-bounces at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au] On Behalf Of Michael O'Rourke [tranquilised_icon at yahoo.com]
Sent: Saturday, June 16, 2012 7:40 PM
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] the real and reality in speculative realism and OOO/P

Hi Tim! Cheers for your thoughts. Take a look at Christina's work here:


I think it resonates in many ways with yours.


--- On Sat, 16/6/12, Timothy Morton <timothymorton303 at gmail.com> wrote:

From: Timothy Morton <timothymorton303 at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [-empyre-] the real and reality in speculative realism and OOO/P
To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Date: Saturday, 16 June, 2012, 23:25

Hi Everyone,

This is my first (or possibly second if the other got through) message to the list, and I'm responding to a brief discussion of the notion of flat ontology initiated by Michael O'Rourke (hi Michael!) and Frederic Neyrat.

OOO comes in various flavors and is not necessarily flat. Mine and Graham Harman's has two levels. Levi Bryant's and Ian Bogost's have one, but differ in how that one level works.

Other forms of realism such as Manuel De Landa's are flat, or flatter, than OOO.

Frederic I'm a Derridean and the idea of the singularity is my idea of the strange stranger, which is Derrida's arrivant.

Just apply this notion of arrivant to non-life and you get the OOO "object."

You can have all the singularities you want in a non-all and by definition non-hierarchical set, which is the OOO universe.

Yours, Tim


Ecology without Nature<http://ecologywithoutnature.blogspot.com/>

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