Tim Morton seems not to have liked my comment suggesting that reality is a mix of stability and instability, and that stability is an achievement rather than a default position.

The universe, I would say, is an achievement as well. His much-loved (?) lava lamps are achievements, as are Graham Harman‘s Lego blocks. They don’t fall from the sky; they are made into objects that withstand a fairly high degree of turbulence in their environments. Humans have become great producers of such things — of things that can be shipped all the way from China (as Leonard Cohen used to sing) and that work for a little while according to their instructions, before we tire of them and order next year’s model.

But even in a world without humans, there are achievements aplenty: planets and galaxies (amazing achievements, they); oceans teeming with life, some of it organized into social groups; and ecosystems, geological formations, bacterial networks, individual organisms, and all the rest. Even the things that do fall from the sky — asteroids and meteorites, for instance — are achievements, though the more impressive achievement is the atmosphere that protects those other things from the onslaught of the meteorites. They all take a fair bit of work being made and maintained — not necessarily work by “themselves” (though that, too), but work on a multitude of levels and scales. And they are all in process (or, to be more precisely, in various kinds of process), always modulating between stability and instability but, fortunately (for us) crafting enough stabilities to make a pretty richly diverse world possible.

“To frame the debate in this way is precisely to have conceded to a reductive materialism that has no time for objects.”

I don’t follow. (At all, frankly.)

“it’s the lava lamp school that suffers from a static notion of time as a container—the lamp in which the lava gloops, as it were. OOO sees time as a feature of the sensuality of objects themselves. If you want stasis, go with the lava lamps! If you’ve ever heard minimalist music, you’ll know what I mean. All those flowing processes produce the precise effect of stasis, of running in place. The first westerners to hear the gamelan noted this with wonder.”

Who/what is the lava lamp school? (Didn’t we deal with something like this in my exchange with Bogost about firehoses? Both lava lamps and firehoses are objects, relatively stable, manufactured objects, that in their functioning contain fluids. Some of these fluids shoot out, and others just circulate slowly, internally — which, incidentally, makes them almost entirely different kinds of things. Is there some deep philosophical point I’m missing about them? Are men from Firehoseland and women from Lavalampland? But it seems these metaphors are being shot at the same target…)

I loved minimalist music, back when it was actually minimalist (before Reich went symphonic and Glass overplayed his monotony, though I still like both as conceptualists). But I love Jordi Savall’s viola da gamba playing, and Beethoven’s later string quartets (no minimalist he), and Javanese gamelan music (which isn’t static at all, it just feels that way to those who have never learned to listen to it; listen to Nonesuch’s “Javanese Court Gamelan vol. 2″ several times in a row and tell me that nothing happens in it), and even the third movement of Yes’s Tales from Topographic Oceans (can one get less minimalist than that embarrassingly overmaxed band?). And sometimes Sunn O))), which Tim loves. Now there’s lava-lampiness, as a high art.

p.s. See also Chris’s reply to Graham on this topic here.

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