For what it’s worth, here’s the Power Point that went along with my talk. I changed the title to “Beatnik Brothers? Harman’s Objects and the Becoming-Whiteheadian of Deleuze.” I meant “of Deleuzians” (some of whom were in the audience: Manning, Shaviro, Massumi and Hansen I think). The first two slides are the original title (slide) and the revised one.
Tag Archive: Harman
Graham Harman’s note reiterating his position that Whitehead, Latour, Deleuze, Bergson, and Simondon (among others) do not make up a coherent philosophical “lump” — “pack” or “tribe” might be more colorful terms here (if philosophers were cats, how herdable would they be?) — makes me want to clarify my own position on these thinkers.
Isabelle Stengers’s Thinking With Whitehead arrived in the mail today. The publication of the English translation of this tome, a long nine years after the French original, is a genuine Event in the world of process-relational philosophy (or whatever you’d like to name the “beatnik brotherhood,” as Harman calls it, of philosophers of immanence and becoming — a brother/sisterhood that Harman asserts does not constitute a counter-current to the hegemonic alliance of philosophies of essence, substance, and onto-theological transcendence, but that Deleuzians and others would like to think does).
Graham Harman has written a post about me in which he says that I was trying to “refute” OOO in my “2 cheers” post, and that I “claim[ed] quite frankly that OOO is wrong.” I thought it worth pointing out that nowhere in that post did I mention OOO, or Graham’s philosophy under any other name. Those three magical letters appear in a quote from Tim, but I don’t take that part of the quote up in my comments afterward, which are about music. My entire post was a reply to Tim Morton’s 11-paragraph rejoinder to four short sentences I wrote in a comment on Tim’s blog. Those sentences concerned stability and instability, stability being an achievement, and the role of his “lava-lampism” notion in OOO. View full article »
(I try not to edit things once they’re published, but I couldn’t resist adding a Chevy Impala to this blog.)
It may not quite be Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, as Graham Harman’s blog post title suggests, but Chris Vitale has clearly had a change of heart, a dropping of resistance that’s resulted in a much warmer embrace of object-oriented ontology. The latter has now become, for Chris, a “fellow-traveller,” a compatible and friendly sparring partner at the very least, and certainly no longer an opponent. The difference between OOO and the process-relational views Chris, Steve Shaviro, I, and others have espoused is not one of radical incommensurability but one of emphasis, language, and not much more (as I’ve said myself, for instance here.)
In a series of two posts, Chris announces that change of heart — in terms that remind me a little of Tim Morton’s actual conversion on the road to Damascus — and then fleshes out the main differences and how they are collapsing. What follow are my initial thoughts on Chris’s posts. I’ll be out of commission for the rest of the day and most of tomorrow, and these thoughts are written quickly and imperfectly.
Hot on the heels of yesterday’s UCLA summit on speculative realism, which Tim Morton has been podcasting with relentless (and admirable) abandon, Graham Harman is now at Claremont and appears to be live-blogging the Whitehead conference:
And follow it live at his blog.
From patient and deliberate thinking and slow writing, philosophy has become a live, blazingly high-speed (and partly vicarious) art form. Fantastic. If the production of concepts continues to speed up, we will need the philosophical equivalent of a slow-food movement. (That is, if we don’t ascend into some transconceptual hyperspace.) A slow thought movement. But for now, eyelids pressed to our screens and neurons firing, we enjoy.
(findings, briefings, reports, call them what you will… I’m in an Agnes Varda mood, which is helping me deal with the loss of several weeks of gleanings in the hard drive crash that will define my life as “before 11/20/10″ and “after” it)
Scientists found that Asian and American brains respond completely differently when faced with images of dominance and submission, and when evaluating character traits of themselves as opposed to other people. Asians and Americans gathered with other world leaders to fiddle at a Mexican resort while buildings burned. (Some Americans stayed away. Activists grew distressed.) Hermetic libraries began giving off their own whiff of smoke amidst the dust. Google added trees and climate prognoses to the digital Earth. James Cameron tried to add a whole forest. U.S. corporations, meanwhile, gave thanks for their record profits.
Irish humanities academics called upon Irish humanities academics to help save the country’s sinking economic ship. Worldchangers sadly jumped their own ship, with barely a whimper. Anthropologists convening in the shipwrecked city of New Orleans slugged it out over whether or not they were scientists. Graham Harman and Steven Shaviro got ready to slug it out in the middleweight neo-realist philosopher category of the international thought-wrestling society. (The heavyweights are mostly dead, though their thoughts persist, and a few of them linger on.) A heavyweight of another kind, Chalmers Johnson swam away from it all quietly.
(More on the Harman-Shaviro showdown, as well as other object-relational matters, soon. And of course I’m being facetious with my terms here. Both are great intellectual role models, among the best and most public and genuine of the new breed of philosopher-metaphysicians, and I eagerly await the results of their deliberations. You all know which of them I agree with more, but the debate has been truly invigorating, and has been the main cause of my own interloper’s slide into philosophy sui generis – or so I hope that it’s generis. Wish I could be there at the Whitehead conference.)
I’m looking forward to Graham Harman’s forthcoming review of Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter, and I’m glad to see that this discussion between object-oriented philosophy and Bennett’s vibrant materialism (and, by extension, the other theoretical impulses she draws on, which this blog, for the most part, enthusiastically shares) is getting underway. That discussion will no doubt continue over the summer as this blog, Critical Animal, Philosophy in a Time of Error, and maybe a few others engage in a collective reading of Bennett’s book. (Perhaps that should be followed by a group reading of Tim Morton’s new book, The Ecological Thought.)
While Graham’s argument that relationism is “a spent force” is obviously not one that will convince the growing number of scholars drawing in productive ways on relational theories (Whitehead’s, Deleuze’s, Bergson’s, Simondon’s, Latour’s, Serres’s, Stengers’s, et al), he’s entitled to make that case. He summarizes his objection here in this way:
Graham Harman replies here and here to my last contribution, and Paul Reid-Bowen joins in with an interesting and original take on the debate at Pagan Metaphysics. I’ll try to keep my reply to both of them fairly brief in what follows.
Graham writes that “You can’t find the cane toad by summing up all the effects it currently has and receives from all other entities.” I agree. To find the cane toad you would have to interact with it, and even then you would only find what you were capable of finding. If, theoretically, you could interact with it in such a way that you would be able to observe and summarize all its effects on and from all other entities, including the effects that manifested over the time of your observations (since these take time and, to some extent, always affect what is being observed) and all of its internal relations (which include its potentials or virtualities carried over from the past), then I suspect you would have come as close as possible to “finding the cane toad.”
Levi Bryant’s detailed and generous replies to my critical queries, both in the comments section of this post and at Larval Subjects, and Graham Harman’s replies here (and in an e-mail exchange) have helped me get a much clearer sense of where the main differences lie between their respective “object-oriented” positions and my relational view. In the process, I’ve been once again impressed with both of these philosophers’ willingness to engage with those who disagree with them, and to do that publicly, and practically at the speed of (digital) light. Here I just want to summarize what I see as the main difference between an object-oriented account of the world and a process-relational account.