“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” — Franz Kafka
You know it’s the end of December when the blogosphere lights up with all sorts of ‘year in review’ type content! This is not really one of those posts. Not that I have anything against those kinds of posts, because frankly I find many of them fascinating and surprisingly useful. For me it is simply that I don’t have the time available to go over all the stuff covered on this blog this year.

Instead I’ll share a bit of the personal story and history behind this ‘project’ and let you know what might be coming in 2011.

First, I want to thank all those subscribers who have persevered with me over this past 12 months. I appreciate each and every person who took the time to read my thoughts, comment, share my posts and/or enjoy the content I linked to. Thank you for enduring my rants, my atrocious spelling mistakes, and the often militant choice of topics and information shared. I take full responsibility for all ridiculousness and lack of tact that has inevitably ensued. As of today there are 120+ subscribers, and I adore each and every one of you tasty little gremlins immensely.

In fact, it is quite astonishing, really, that there are so many of you out there since it has only been 12 months since I first made this blog available to the public. It was exactly this time last year I decided to change the access settings and open my private little brain-tickle trunk up for the world to see. Up until January 2010 this blog had been a mere aggregate site for storing the numerous links, articles, multi-media and commentaries gleaned from my obsessive explorations of the world wide web. No search engines were able to access this site, and I had yet to let any living person outside my immediate family know that I was even blogging. And that is exactly the way I wanted it.

So what changed? Well, me.

As I began to write and post more of my own thoughts, and less and less links and absconded information, I started to remember just how much I love to write. After grad school I took up several “applied” employment positions that, although enormously stimulating and ultimately rewarding, left me little time to explore and write on topics I wanted to pursue. Over the years I have written countless technical reports, assessments, and policy statements – but relatively little on the topics that interested me most: politics, theory and science. So after a year of experimentation, unpolished attempts at expression and ranting on every topic imaginable I realized just how much I enjoyed writing again. Yet I still needed to make more time to write. And, I thought, I would also need to expose myself to readers so that I would feel compelled to begin writing better. If people are gonna read this stuff then I damn well ought to take the time to try and make what I am putting out there coherent. (At least that is what I thought in December 2009 – and if I am failing or succeeding in that endeavor my readers, of course, will remain the judges.) Thus, in January 2010 Archive Fire went public.

So now here we are, 12 months later, and I’m still trying to become a better writer and blogger with every post. One limitation I continually seem to be bumping head first into is time. At best, I can only spend about 10 hours a week working on things blog related - as family, job, reading, eating, traveling and Muay Thai occupy most of my waking life. Yet, believe me when I tell you that those 10 hours are well worth the squeeze. I have met more fascinating people, had more interesting conversations, and learned more about my own perspectives and assumptions through reading blogs and blogging than I had in the previous 5 years combined. Simply amazing.

So what’s next? I want to continue becoming a better, more accessible writer/blogger; I want to continue playing with the design and layout of the site; I want to continue engaging other bloggers and online communities; I want to branch out and explore different topics; I want to write more short essay-type posts in order to develop my own strain of thinking further; and, finally, I want to get more of YOU readers involved in discussion.

Beyond that, what you can expect in 2011 is more of the fun stuff (“enough with the doom and gloom already Michael!”) and more precision and development in terms of the philosophy-oriented (theory) posts. In addition, I have a few ideas about ‘metalinking’ (round-up type posts) I want to explore with a new feature I’m calling Riffs & Frags starting in January 2011. I also want to try my luck with interviews. Yup, the ole’ Q and A! I have always found dialogue more interesting and fruitful than monologue, so why not dabble a bit in the conversational arts myself? I guess we’ll see how that goes.

So, again, thank you for reading and commenting. Without you mysterious hairless primates lurking out there in the darkness of the Web I wouldn’t have as much fun as I do doing whatever it is that I do here. Have a happy new year and we’ll see (read) you on the flip side!


John Protevi on Ontology, Biology and Affect

From The Speculative Turn (p.393-405):
Ontology, Biology, and History of Affect

By John Protevi

For Deleuze and Guattari (hereafter ‘DG’) ‘affect’ comprises the active capacities of a body to act and the passive capacities of a body to be affected or to be acted upon. In other words, affect is what a body can do and what it can undergo. The use of this term derives from Deleuze’s reading of Spinoza, in which Deleuze carefully distinguishes ‘affect’, (affectus) as the experience of an increase or decrease in the body’s power to act, from ‘affection’ (affectio) as the composition or mixture of bodies, or more precisely the change produced in the affected body by the action of the affecting body in an encounter. Affectus or what we could call ‘experiential affect’ is not representational, Deleuze remarks, ‘since it is experienced in a living duration that involves the difference between two states’. As such, an experience of difference, affectus is ‘purely transitive’. In the main discussion of affect in A Thousand Plateaus, DG do not maintain the Spinozist term ‘affection’, but they do distinguish the relations of the extensive parts of a body (including the ‘modification’ of those relations resulting from an encounter), which they call ‘longitude’, from the intensities or bodily states that augment or diminish the body’s ‘power to act [puissance d’agir]’, which they call ‘latitude’. In other words, the ‘latitude’ of a body comprises the affects, or the capacities to act and to be acted upon, of which a body is capable at any one time in an assemblage. What are these ‘acts’ of which a body is capable? Using one of the key terms of ATP, DG define affects as ‘becomings’ or capacities to produce emergent effects in entering assemblages. These emergent effects will either mesh productively with the affects of the body, or clash with them. Meshing emergent effects will augment the power of that body to form other connections within or across assemblages, resulting in joyous affects, while clashing emergent effects will diminish the power of the body to act producing sad affects.
Read More (PDF) @ re.press


Human, All Too Human

Human, All Too Human is a three-part documentary television series produced by the BBC and aired in 1999. The series follows the lives of three prominent philosophers; Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Jean-Paul Sartre. The theme of this documentary revolves heavily around the school of philosophical thought known as existentialism - although the term had not been coined at the time of Nietzsche’s writings and Heidegger always declaimed the label.

The first episode is titled Beyond Good and Evil, and is about Friedrich Nietzsche's thoughts and work - and follows his radual shift from religion, to nihilism, and finally to insanity. Design for Living is the next episode and it centers around the life and work of Martin Heidegger. Before and after the reign of the Nazis in Germany, Heidegger spent much of his time living in solitude in a hut on a hill near Todtnauberg to allow himself to clear his mind and better focus on his own philosophy. As a result of Heidegger's involvement with the Nazis during World War II, his works are routinely dismissed by his critics as Nazi propaganda. The final episode in this series, The Road to Freedom, describes the life of the French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. The episode shows that Sartre believed it is up to each individual human being to give his or her own life a meaning and a purpose.

Each episode runs about 60 minutes, and all three episodes are featured below:

Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil

Heidegger: Design for Living
Sartre: The Road to Freedom



Meillassoux Extractions

Fabio at Hypertilling has posted an interview with the French philosopher Quentin Meillassoux by what seem to be two musicians. I didn’t look too much into the backstory because I wasn't intending to read the whole article (PDF).

There are a few things in Meillassoux’s work that I have enjoyed. For instance I have a growing interest in his notions of “ancestral” statements and the “arche-fossil”. For me, the presence of the ancestral in human experience reminds us is that we are intricately enmeshed in the activities of life on this planet. That is, Meillassoux prompts me to pay more attention to the ontological intimacy of the world.

At the same time Meillassoux’s notion of “hyperchaos” generally bores and confuses me (and in that order) - as he seems to be almost saying that because there seems to be no good reason why the universe could be otherwise, everything otherwise is therefore possible. I hope I’m reading him wrong, but I don’t want to read more and find out how either. At the end of the day I don’t think I have the intellectual stamina for his brand of theorization.

Here are some interesting extractions from the interview I was not going to read: 
“The capacity of thought cannot be richer than the capacity of reality. If we can imagine so many things, this must be just the shadow of reality: imagination cannot exceed reality.” (p.3)

“I propse that philosophy must again grasp the possibility of fighting religion, the new forms of religion, through this redefinition of rationality. I would say that rationality is really the possibility of being intelligently crazy. And what I try to do is to deduce the strange constraints of the absolutely rational world – there are constraints, but only rational constraints.” (p.5)

“You know, can philosophy have a special object, or is it just a reflection of other discourses? All the positive sciences, one after another domain of reality: physics, medicine, linguistics, metaphysics, have escaped from philosophy, and philosophers have retreated: we cannot make physics but we can reflect philosophically upon it ... When I try to explain to myself what ‘the thing itself’, the object of philosophy, really means. The thing itself – I think it means the following: every positive science is a science about a fact, a primordial fact. So philosophy would just be a reflection about facticity in itself. And facticity in itself is not a possibility of a science, it is the possibility of science in general, because all sciences – except for mathematics, all natural sciences – are about facts.” (p.6)
rational limitations, intelligent craziness and facticity? sounds about right...


An Economic History of the World in 4 Minutes

In this BBC video Hans Rosling tells the story of the economic history of 200 countries over the last 200 years in four minutes! Plotting life expectancy against income for every country since 1810, Rosling uses cutting edge visuals to show how the world could be radically different from what many of us imagine. Hyperobjects indeed.

Without such tools our species will remain naïve and haphazard in our responses to an increasingly precarious planetary situation.



Learn More @ EZLN website:

The Zapatista Army of National Liberation (Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional, EZLN) is a revolutionary group based in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico. Chiapas is one of the poorest states in Mexico and suffers from massive inequality and poverty. Since 1994, they have been in a declared war "against the Mexican state," though this war has been primarily nonviolent and defensive against military, paramilitary, and corporate incursions on their territory.

The group takes its name from Emiliano Zapata, the agrarian reformer and commander of the Liberation Army of the South during the Mexican Revolution, and sees itself as his ideological heir. In reference to inspirational figures, in nearly all EZLN villages exist murals accompanying images of Zapata, Che Guevara, and Subcomandante Marcos.

Their social base is mostly rural indigenous people but they have some supporters in urban areas as well as an international web of support. Their main spokesperson is Subcomandante Marcos (currently a.k.a. Delegate Zero in relation to the "Other Campaign"). Unlike other Zapatista spokespeople, Marcos is not an indigenous Mayan.

Although the ideology of the EZLN is reflective of libertarian socialist politics, paralleling both Anarchist and Libertarian Marxist thought in many respects, the EZLN has rejected and defied political classification; retaining its distinctiveness due in part to the importance indigenous Mayan beliefs in Zapatismo thought. The EZLN aligns itself with the wider anti-globalization, anti-neoliberal social movement, seeking indigenous control over their local resources, especially land.

[ note: this is only a bud and will be expanded upon and revised often ]


The Tree of Life - Terrence Malick

From Terrence Malick, the acclaimed director of such films as Badlands, Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line, comes The Tree of Life - an impressionistic story of Jack and his Midwestern family in the 1950s while exploring the nature of human experience in an unfolding cosmos .

The film follows the life journey of the eldest son, Jack, through the innocence of childhood to his disillusioned adult years as he tries to reconcile a complicated relationship with his father (Brad Pitt). Jack (played as an adult by Sean Penn) finds himself a lost soul in the modern world, seeking answers to the origins and meaning of life while questioning the existence of faith. Through Malick's signature imagery, we see how both brute nature and spiritual grace shape not only our lives as individuals and families, but all life.

Below is the trailer for perhaps my next favorite film:


WikiRebels: The Documentary

If you don't know what WikiLeaks is or who Julian Assange is you just might not be from this world. But even on your planet there will be a few people who are probably talking about the recent deluge of U.S military and diplomatic documents released into the infosphere.

WikiLeaks is an international 'new media' non-profit organization that publishes classified documents, insider data, and otherwise unavailable information from anonymous news sources and leaks. Assange is one of WikiLeaks' founders and a prominent hacker who is currently under investigation for sexual misconduct as well as under person attack by U.S and European governments and their elite managers.

WikiLeaks has also released statements indicating its next info-disclosure will include "sensitive" documents from the internal communications of the world's leading banks and financial corporations. Rumor has it that these leaked documents will have a significant impact on the blatantly corrupt global banking system.

Below is a new documentary (released just one week ago and brought to my attention by professor Max Forte at Zero Anthropology) assessing the impact and history of WikiLeaks and the recent wave of info-activism

Assange was released from jail on bail today in England and has vowed to continue his work until  jackals murder him or he is extradited to the United States to face legal action and brutal imprisonment. Power-brokers are no doubt scrambling to see who gets to him first. Long may he run.
"The west has fiscalised its basic power relationships through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings and so on. In such an environment it is easy for speech to be "free" because a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect on power, is, like badgers and birds, free. In states like China, there is pervasive censorship, because speech still has power and power is scared of it. We should always look at censorship as an economic signal that reveals the potential power of speech in that jurisdiction. The attacks against us by the US point to a great hope, speech powerful enough to break the fiscal blockade." - Julian Assange (2010)  [source]


Jay-Z in Conversation with Cornel West

Below hip-hop artist Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter talks about his new memoir Decoded with professor and reknown philosopher Cornel West at The New York Public Library. It is a great conversation with two very interesting personailities:


Anthropology, Science and Relativism

Over at Neuroanthropology Daniel Lende contiues to weigh-in on the controversy swirling around the American Anthropology Association's decision to drop the word "science" from its long-range plan:
Anthropology, Science, and Relativism
By Daniel Lende

Anthropology violates the common assumption that science and humanities are two different beasts, best kept in separate cages. Bring them together, and you’re going to get a cage fight, the 800 pound accumulated knowledge gorilla against the artistic dancing butterfly/stinging bee metaphor.

Anthropology has had its share of cage fights in recent decades. The latest is the controversy over the American Anthropological Association removing the word “science” from its long-range plan. As Peter Peregrine wrote, this “issue has touched a raw nerve” in the discipline. Given the amount of media coverage, blog posts, comments, and email the controversy has generated, I’d say he’s right.

But I believe anthropologists should take heart. The controversy has not been the replaying of the biological determinism/post-modernism debates that started in the 1970s and lasted through the 1990s. It has not been a repeat of the disputes over Napoleon Chagnon, The Darkness in El Dorado book, and the subsequent AAA investigations and retractions.

Two things stand out from the debate online: (1) continued reaffirmation of science as part of anthropology, coupled with other forms of scholarship, and (2) the sense of moving forward, of not repeating the mistakes of the past while building on our unique strengths. Anthropology has shown itself to be a different discipline than the one characterized in the popular media. A better discipline.

So, why the disparaging remarks about anthropology that have appeared online? One answer is that the controversy has played into deep tensions in American society over science, political advocacy, and truth. Another answer is how the media spins things today, creating oppositions and inflammatory headlines, in conjunction with that part of online culture that delights in flame wars and divisive opinions.

But I also believe it is hard for others to grasp why it is so important for anthropologists to bring together science and humanities, to couple systematic evidence and relativism as we study the human condition. Cage fights might make good spectator sport. But they don’t make good research.
Read More @ Neuroanthropology

I love the analogy of cage-fighting here! As a former cage-fighter (mixed-martial artist) myself the comparison resonates strongly. I also think Daniel has been doing a fantastic job staying on top of the various arguments and positions circulating, while also providing some fairly balanced commentary on the wider issues himself. If interested please do go  check it out.

Four Stone Hearth #108 - 2010 Monkey Day!

Ashlee at This Is Serious Monkey Business has posted the 108th edition of the Four Stone Hearth anthropology blog carnival. This edition is all about monkeys! Our primate cousins certainly are odd little creatures (no less than us to be sure) with facinating habits and cultural activity that provide researchers with good insights into our own more primal evolutionary capacities.

Included in the linkage over at Aslee's place are posts about Tarsiers, Lemurs, nut-cracker capuchins, chimps, and one truly wild species: anthropologists. Quick, go get your monkey on...

The next edition of Four Stone Hearth (#109) will be hosted by Magnus over at Testimony of the Spade on December 22, 2010. It's true.

also check out:



Andy Clark on Cognitive Prosthetics

Out of Our Brains

The question — memorably posed by rock band the Pixies in their 1988 song — is one that, perhaps surprisingly, divides many of us working in the areas of philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Look at the science columns of your daily newspapers and you could be forgiven for thinking that there is no case to answer. We are all familiar with the colorful “brain blob” pictures that show just where activity (indirectly measured by blood oxygenation level) is concentrated as we attempt to solve different kinds of puzzles: blobs here for thinking of nouns, there for thinking of verbs, over there for solving ethical puzzles of a certain class, and so on, ad blobum. (In fact, the brain blob picture has seemingly been raised to the status of visual art form of late with the publication of a book of high-octane brain images. )

There is no limit, it seems, to the different tasks that elicit subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, different patterns of neural activation. Surely then, all the thinking must be going on in the brain? That, after all, is where the lights are.

But then again, maybe not. We’ve all heard the story of the drunk searching for his dropped keys under the lone streetlamp at night. When asked why he is looking there, when they could surely be anywhere on the street, he replies, “Because that’s where the light is.” Could it be the same with the blobs?

Is it possible that, sometimes at least, some of the activity that enables us to be the thinking, knowing, agents that we are occurs outside the brain?

Read More @ New York Times


Connolly on Pluralism, Capitalism and Resonance Machines

From Para_Doxa:
Agonism, Pluralism, and Contemporary Capitalism: An Interview with William E. Connolly

William E. Connolly is a political theorist known for his work on democracy and pluralism and Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University. His book The Terms of Political Discourse won various awards in 1999, and is widely held to be a major work in political theory. Connolly is also a contributing writer to The Huffington Post and a founding member of the journal Theory & Event. Connolly’s recent turn towards philosophies of ‘immanence’ and creative process will be on full display is his forthcoming A World of Becoming (2010).

Read the Entire Interview: Here
Para_Doxa is a weblog project that seeks to collect and present the most thought-provoking and critical interviews available on the internet – regardless of copyright. I have always been fascinated by interviews, and with several magazines and journals ending publication many of the most stimulating and important interviews by leading theorists, artists and public figures seem to be vanishing from public view. As a result, Para_Doxa is intended to become a place where those important dialogues remain accessible to anyone interested. If you want to contribute, have suggestions for interviews to feature, or resources to share please email me here.

Ben Woodard on Process/Object/Ground

Ben Woodard of Naught Thought infamy has commented on the recent developments on the Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) and Whitehead front (which includes the ongoing debate between Ivakhiv and Bryant) here.

I found the following remark very poignant:
Ground is the important term in relating processes and procedures as it is places processes in localities (temporal and spatial) and suggests the importance of stratifications as replacing individuation – with Reza’s twist as a means of bypassing the stupidity of individuation as just a happening from process instead of the failure of multiple processes shifting back and forth between each other. The very interrelation between space and time is becoming-things where derivative forces carve particularities into event-things misdirecting/redirecting other processes.
For me, flowing materialities, colliding events, interlocking processes, gathered contingencies and the particular stratifications (procedural 'machines') these produce stretch the boundaries of schematization in ways that seems to require a ‘going beyond’ any sort of dwelling on “objects”. I believe the world is much weirder and darker than objectological thinking seems to suggest.


Machines of Procedure

Adrian Ivakhiv and Ian Bogost have added some tremendously useful questions and comments to the recent debate between object-orientations and process-relational thinking here.

In particular I appreciate the following comments by Bogost:
"Is it possible to see process and procedure flipsides of the same coin? Not dichotomies, but complements? If so, isn’t it possible that the machines of procedure would simply be of greater philosophical interest to some (e.g., me) than the flows of process?

For me, the becoming remains a consequence of becoming, not its nature (I called it an epiphenomenon in the paper, which furrowed at least one eyebrow). In which case, any particular flow is an accident, a singular burst. That’s why I see Whitehead the way I do. And thus my curiosity about why life implies the emergent openness that you describe."
to which Adrian responds:
"What I meant by “taking the life out of the Whiteheadian real” and putting it “somewhere else” was that the firehose analogy seems to suggest that the real stuff that makes up the world – the feeling and responding and affectivity and decision-making (all of which, for Whitehead, constitutes the actual occasions) – takes place not in the water (those actual occasions) but outside it (in the procedures that control its flow). If you take all of that out of the ‘flow’ of process, then it’s no wonder that it requires supplementation by something else (procedures). Your firehose metaphor works as a caricature and as a cautionary tale about what Whiteheadians should avoid, but it’s not what Whitehead intended.

Seeing process and procedure as flipsides or complements requires that we redefine “process” so that it doesn’t include what you’re calling “procedure.” Whitehead was more interested in developing a general metaphysic, not in analyzing specific cultural or socio-technical phenomena. Your notion of procedure is more useful for the latter. I see the challenge as figuring out how a Whiteheadian notion of process can be made to include a sensitive enough understanding of real phenomena – of different kinds of processes interconnected in complex and emergent assemblages and networks – to be helpful for making sense of real-life “matters of concern” (as Latour calls them). That’s why I find the work of Delanda, Protevi, and others like them very useful. And I find your intervention useful here as well, but I resist the idea that process needs to be supplemented by procedure. Procedure, in my view, is also processual – it develops over time, gets arranged into patterns, habits, algorithms, etc., no?"
Regarding Ian's question of "isn’t it possible that the machines of procedure would simply be of greater philosophical interest to some (e.g., me) than the flows of process?", my answer is: yes, and that's absolutely fair. To each their own. In fact, all the object-oriented folk have fascinating and thought-provoking things to say (which is why we pay attention to them in the first place), so please do keep up the good work.

But I would also ask Ian: why must we choose between them? Isn't it more pragmatic to include both process-relational insights and a respect for 'machines of procedure' in our descriptions of the world? Why would we prioritize either within our philosophical orientations?

UPDATE: Ian Bogost has responded to Adrian with the following comment:
"We have a lovely mirror-image agreement going on here. You think procedure is also processual, and I think process is also procedural!"
As usual, Ian demonstrates not only that he is a first rate interlocutor, but also that accomodating seemingly opposed views is actually fairly easy and effective. Process and Procedure - at the same time. In my experience what side of the 'same coin' we choose to orient ourselves toward is often more a matter of preference and disposition - of how we roll - rather than necessitated by the facts of the world itself.

Of Mice and Substance

The debate between Ivakhiv and Bryant continues with Adrian standing firm on his claim that entities are inherently processual (here) and Levi affirming his position (here) that there is a split between an object's manifest qualities (what he calls "local manifestations") and its substantiality (or "virtual proper being").

With regard to Levi's example of a mouse shot out into space Adrian makes the following comments:
"I don’t think it would be possible to say that a mouse shot out into space is still a mouse, because the definition of a mouse would include the kinds of processes (or “procedures”, to use Bogost’s term) that make up mouseness, and that mouse would no longer have any of them. It’s mouse-like form would start decaying quickly, and any internality that was characteristic of the mouse as a whole would no longer be there. To put it in OOO terms, once that internality has withdrawn from the mouse, it has withdrawn for good. (Of course, we can argue about whether the mouse’s fur, its teeth, its spleen, etc., have their own internalities, their own withdrawability. Whitehead would probably say that the “society,” the mouse assemblage, is no longer there, but that other actual occasions may continue. Those don’t constitute a mouse — except for someone looking at it from the outside who thinks it’s a mouse because it still has fur, teeth, and other mouse-like features, for a while.)"
To which Levi has now replied:
"My thesis, of course, is such a claim confuses a quality of a mouse with the substantiality of a mouse... life doesn’t constitute the substantiality of a mouse, but is only a quality or local manifestation of objects. As I argued in my previous post, local manifestations are relational through and through. Ivakhiv will find no argument from me against the thesis that the local manifestation of life as a quality is dependent on all sorts of relations with other objects. However, it doesn’t follow from this that life constitutes the substantiality of our poor mouse. Life is just a quality– a local manifestation –that those substances known as meeces might happen to actualize."
My position is that the sum total of an entity's "qualities" - as embodied in its extensive and intensive properties - is that entity's substantiality. There is no-thing in excess of an entity's assembled immanent actuality - or, what Levi calls 'local manifestation'. Every-thing is 'local manifestation' because every-thing is located within reality. In this case, 'life' is not just a "quality", or "singularity", it is an emergent property embodied in the mouse's extensive and intensive constitution - a constitution, or composition, or assemblage that is intrinsically processual, temporal and always existing in relation. Whatever withdrawnness an entity has it has by virtue of its structural depth - its embodied 'local' (which is actually co-local) complexity.
mouse recoiling in fear from philosopher's creepy space plans

So, ultimately, if you shoot a mouse into space it becomes less of a mouse than it was while it was alive and well on earth. It's substantiality, its capacities, its expressivity, its 'endo-consistency' has thus been compromised, degraded, or diminished as a result of its new (space vacuum) relational existence. And should the astro-inclined Mus musculus remain in such a state/context its immanent-assembly (substantiality) would eventually disintegrate and it would cease to be at all.

A Post-Metaphysical Morton?

Something occurred to me today about Tim Morton’s project that triggered a cascade of thoughts about the difference between ontography and ontology. In a post calling attention to the availability of Steven Shaviro’s Whitehead conference paper, Morton remarks, “reports of the death of metaphysics have been greatly exaggerated”.

Now I’ve never been shy about my opinion that much of what counts as metaphysics is the “learned poetics of an elite educated class”. And one of the reasons I think this way directly flows from my belief that phenomenology (broadly speaking and in an unconventional sense) is the starting point of any serious philosophical endeavor. This is to say, ‘knowledge’ of the world outside our skin encapsulated egos begins with experience. Everything we know, or have come to know, is based on our embodied encounters with reality.

Of course, humans have the added endowment of symbolic thought and semantic reasoning, which does indeed influence our every experience, but humans are capable of reflexive awareness, and as such can train ourselves to “bracket out” much of our pre-methodological semantic baggage in order to take up a radically empiricist (although not necessarily in the Jamesian sense) position within the world.

My point is, based upon my investigations into the nature of reality, I have come to privilege embodied inquiry while subordinating (as opposed to denying) ideation in the quest for understanding. And this is precisely why I argue that “ontology” (as the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such) actually derives from “ontography”, and is thus secondary to the more primal methodological imperatives flowing from embodied empirical encounters. That is to say, Ontography as embodied inquiry precedes Ontology as speculative ideation.

So what about Tim Morton? In response to Tim’s claim that metaphysics is alive and well (and perhaps sporting a slick new SR fedora), I responded by writing that even though metaphysics might still be discussed, taught and bandied about - thereby remaining technically “alive” - its credibility as a stand-alone thought procedure has been and will remain utterly destroyed.

I can summarize my reasons for why I think metaphysics is an obsolete project with three relatively straightforward assertions: i) experience, as discussed above, is primary/primal, ii) speculation, ideation and logic are derivative from our embodied experiential encounters, and iii) reality exceeds all languaging (cf. post-formalism). [And I won’t rehearse the various arguments against metaphysics arising from within the academy (mostly because I’m not of the academy) but instead briefly mention James’s pragmatism, Wittgenstein’s language-use critiques, Rorty’s combination of both those fellas, and Derrida’s deconstruction as a few bodies or work that have also claimed metaphysics as a dead end.]

The knowledge of the primacy of experience (what I call our 'primal methodology') can also generate an awareness of the limits of speculation (symbolic reasoning) - or what some have called “Post-metaphysical thinking”. Someone who thinks post-metaphysically is someone who allows their ‘realism’ to remain ‘speculative’, but also refuses to extend their speculations beyond the accumulated data of embodied and extended human experience. [‘Extended experience’ here referring to how our inherent sensual apparatus has come to be extended viz. the use of a variety of supplementary methodologies, instruments and technology.]

But again, what of Tim Morton? Well, in a nutshell, I argue that Tim Morton, despite his valorization of metaphysics, is in fact a post-metaphysical thinker. I haven’t said a lot about Tim’s work to date because I have yet to read The Ecological Thought (although it sits about 5 feet away from me as I type this), but I have watched all of his youtube videos and listened to most of the talks posted on his weblog, and quite enjoy his strain of thinking overall (especially the pre-OOO stuff). What struck me today, however, was how one of Morton’s key motifs demonstrates, to me at least, his post-metaphysical leanings: that is, the notion of “ecology without nature”.

I don’t have space to review what Morton means when he suggests that authentic ecological thinking privileges ecology (as praxis and method) over our conceptions of ‘Nature’, but I argue that by parsing out the distinction between those two notions he also points out the distinction between ontography (as praxis and multi-methodology) and ontology. And further, Morton’s prioritizing ecological-thinking over nature-thinking is identical to my claim that ‘ontography precedes ontology’. In fact, I would crudely represent the equivalences this way:
ecology = ontographic methodology (praxis)
nature = ontologic speculation (abstraction)
I may be bastardizing Tim's thoughts a little here, but I think the point needs to be made that our engagements within the world are more important, and more significant, than our talking about them. Am I wrong here? What do you think?

Ivakhiv and Bryant on Objects, Process and Orientations

I have a feeling I will be posting a lot of these, “hey go look at this” type of posts in the next few days, as it seems the ‘Objects vs. Relations’ debate is flaring up again among the speculative realist crowd. Adrian Ivakhiv has catalyzed discussion with comments he posted yesterday (here) about the recent Whitehead conference, and on the “the attractions of process”. Levi Bryant then responds (here) with comments about Adrian’s position, setting in motion much talk about objects and their relations, or, alternatively, about relations and the objects they form.

This is great news for a geek like me because the more these guys debate the more I understand where my views hang in the great hall of abstractions. On some level, I support most of what both Levi and Adrian have to say on these issues (which might seem odd, but actually isn’t), and would argue for a mediating position that respects both ‘individuation’ and ‘process’ as fundamental principles of the Real. 

Below are some interesting excerpts from each of these fellas. I’ll start with Adrian:
When an object-oriented philosopher makes the case for a description of the universe that is made up of objects, things that are never fully related and that are always somewhat withdrawn from other things, he (or, in theory, she) is making the case for describing the universe as a universe of things that do certain things, that act in certain ways, and that maintain themselves over time, like Tim’s mouse, unless something happens to change them from the outside. While this may not be equivalent to a Newtonian world-picture — of objects in space moving around and bumping into each other, setting off or redistributing lawful causal effects as they do that — it is, in its overall contours, highly consonant with such a world-picture (minus perhaps the space, and plus a kind of space-time curvature at each node for indicating where the objects might be withdrawing to). [source]
To which Levi responds:
Why should we bow to Newton’s concept of objects as purely passive points that are only acted upon without acting? Certainly we get a very different picture of substances in Aristotle’s De Anima and Generation of Animals. However, that aside, nothing in either my account of objects or Graham’s remotely resembles the Newtonian universe. Graham objects are both capable of acting (rather than merely being acted upon) and are infinite multiplicities of objects wrapped in objects wrapped in objects wrapped in objects. My objects are actors that perpetually face the problem of entropy or disintegration, thereby having to produce themselves from moment to moment to endure in time. [source]
Adrian goes on to make the following comments with re: to Ian Bogost’s notion of “firehose metaphysics”:
So if life (or existence, or any piece of the universe) is like water flowing through a firehose, it’s because life is movement. It is inherently temporal; it doesn’t stand still. But there is no hose containing it, and no faucet at the end of it controlling the flow. There is no programmer, no ventriloquist behind the world because everything that’s real is creative in its own becoming. And this is only “magic” (as Levi seems to suggest would be necessary) if one thinks that the things are not inherently creative and active in themselves. Since process philosophy defines them as such — that it’s first principle — there is no need for magic here. (Or it is all magic, which I happen to believe is a better way of thinking about it; but that’s another story.) [...]

Process-relational philosophies insist that if there are things running the show, these too would have to be the kinds of processual entities that are possible in a world that’s always in the process of its own becoming.

Stopping the flow of that world, actually, is the kind of thing that we can do if we attain a certain societal/assemblage/ecological complexity — a certain formal and structural (relational) consistency that would allow us to monitor things over time (the changing seasons, the growth of our children), to take pause and put (a part of) the universe on hold while we do other things, and then call back at a later date. This is where continuity occurs in Whitehead: it’s in the things that hold together as they move forward, arranged in larger, coordinated, but similarly active, creative, feelingful unities (Whitehead’s “societies,” or as Steve argues, “assemblages,” though the definitions of these terms vary). [source]
Cool. Especially interesting is Adrian's follow-up statement made in the comments section of his initial post:
My point is about a certain overt style of ‘languaging’ that makes it easier to think of a mouse as a mouse even when it’s no longer a mouse. Process philosophy, I would argue, makes it much more difficult to do that. [source]
But don’t take my word for it go read for yourself how things develop.

UPDATE: Adrian has two follow-up posts replying to Bryant (and Harman) and commenting on his intentions with his initial remarks: here and here. Apparently some of the OOO peeps didn't take kindly to the mention of Sir Issac, but hopefully people will calm down a bit and keep the debate going, because it would be shameful for people to gloss over substantial arguments in favor of dwelling on rhetorical statements.

Shaviro on Panpsychism and Object-Orientations

Steven Shaviro has posted his thoughts on the recent “Metaphysics and Things” conference at Claremont Graduate University on his weblog (here). Thankfully he also included a link to a PDF version of his conference paper, titled "Consequences of Panpsychism", addressing the objectological positions of Graham Harman and company.

I’m usually not comfortable with panpsychism in general (for several reasons), favoring instead to focus on the specific qualities of particular entities, but Steve’s thoughts are stimulating none the less.

One of the aspects of I really appreciated about Steven's paper is his summary of the four main challenges to contemporary philosophy presented by Object-Oriented Ontologies (OOO). Steven suggests the OOO position is guided by 1) a rejection of the human-world correlate ("correlationism"), 2) a rejection of 'philosophies of access', 3) a rejection of "relationism" ("the idea that every entity is entirely determined by, and can be completely described in terms of, its relations to other entities."), and 4) a rejection of "smallism" (the view that all facts are determined by the facts about the smallest things, those existing at the lowest ‘level’ of ontology).

Steven then goes on to relate and contrast Whitehead's process philosophy to those 4 key rejections with powerful effect. Below are a few of passages that brilliantly display the subtlety of Shaviro's critiques of several OOO positions:
Whitehead entirely agrees with OOO that terms can never be fully determined by their relations. A given term can always disentangle itself from some relations, and enter into other relations instead. But at the same time – and this is where Whitehead differs from Harman – no term can ever disentangle itself from all relations, and subsist entirely by itself. I can disentangle myself from the atmosphere, by isolating myself in a pressure-resistant bubble, and breathing oxygen from a canister instead. But deprive me altogether of my relation to oxygen, and I die. This means that I cease to exist as a thing, or as a term for any relations whatsoever. But after my death, my body persists as a thing; it interacts, or enters into relations, with the bacteria that dissolve and eat it. Of course, this can be avoided by cremating my remains, and sending the ashes into the depths of interstellar space. But even there, the dust that is derived by “a historic route of actual occasions” (PR 80) from the living flesh that I once was will still be affected by cosmic radiation, and will be subject to the fluctuations of the quantum fields that pervade empty space.” (p.9 ) […]

“On the one had, contra OOO, every change in relations transforms the term into something different from what it was before. This is inevitable, because every change in relations is an event, involving an encounter that has never before taken place in quite the same way. But on the other hand, contra radical relationism, this change in relations only influences the nature of the term, and can never determine it altogether. There is always some scope for the term’s own decision as to how it responds to the change in relations that supervenes upon it.” (p.8-9)

“We might in this way oppose a Whiteheadian doctrine of underdetermination to Althusser’s notion of overdetermination. A thing is underdetermined by its relations. It is never free of them, but it also retains a certain capacity to resist them, to alter and combine them in various ways, and to select among them. And this is always a matter of degree.” (p.9) […]

"[F]or Whitehead 'it is the definition of contemporary events that they happen in causal independence of each other' (AI 195). I suggest that this is the source, and also the extent, of what OOO sees as the “withdrawal” of objects from one another. For Whitehead, 'the vast causal independence of contemporary occasions is the preservative of the elbow-room within the Universe. It provides each actuality with a welcome environment for irresponsibility' (AI 195). Things are “withdrawn,” therefore, to the extent that they are able to be irresponsible…” (p.10)

In addition, Steven's willingness to engage the OOO brood in serious philosophical debate continues to stimulate much thought, and I find his argument to be a counter-balance to the strange rhetoric of objectological thinking. Do read the entire paper (PDF) @ The Pinocchio Theory.


Four Stone Hearth #107


So here we are: another addition of Four Stone Hearth. The Four Stone Hearth is a blog carnival that specializes in anthropology in the widest (American) sense of that word. Here, anthropology is the study of humankind, throughout all times and places, focusing primarily on four lines of research: archaeology, socio-cultural anthropology, bio-physical anthropology, linguistic anthropology. Each one of these subfields is a stone in our hearth.

My format for this edition will not follow any formal headings or sub-specialties if only because I like to dream of an anthropological project sufficiently complex and united that it truly embodies the mixed-methodological and theoretically rich discipline we (sometimes) aspire to make it. People have to have dreams. But let’s get to it shall we?

First up, the buzz of the North American anthropology scene these past few weeks is without a doubt the American Anthropological Association’s (AAA) decision to make significant changes to its official statement of purpose. The AAA big whigs decided to change the statement from “The purposes of the Association shall be to advance anthropology as the science that studies humankind in all its aspects…”, to “The purposes of the Association shall be to advance public understanding of humankind in all its aspects. AAA’s decision to drop “science” in its statement in favor of “to advance public understanding” is a controversial move that seems to be dividing professionals from all subfields.

Daniel Lende’s post titled ‘Anthropology, Science, and Public Understanding’ over at Neuroanthropology (one of my all time favorite blogs) breaks the situation down quite nicely while providing several links to important sites discussing the still heated controversy.

Are there no alternatives to the dominant consumer-capitalist-finance economic systems? Well over the past few years numerous anthropologists, sociologists, philosophers, economists and activists from 15 countries got together to ask the ‘tough questions’ and come up a collection of ideas and suggestions for moving us all towards a more sane and humane world economy. The result was the recently published book, The Human Economy (2010). Anthropologist Keith Hart launched the book Friday last week in Oslo together with two contributors: anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen and Desmond McNeill. Lorenz at antropologi.info reports on this important event here.

Meanwhile, at CulturePotion Franco has a post up titled, ‘Indigenous People of the Americas: Racism and Struggle discussing poverty among indigenous peoples of the Americas, and the persistence of racism and discrimination leveled at them. Franco surveys several countries and provides interesting stats along with a couple of compelling videos that bring home his main points.

Kambiz at Anthropology.net weighs in on the Dikika research group’s claim to have found bones with hominid cut marks that date to 3 million years ago. In a follow-up post Kambiz admits he had made some mistakes in his previous commentary, but maintains the initial research on the bones is deeply flawed.

Afarensis considers questions surrounding the relationship between lungfish, trout and humans with a post titled, ‘The Return of Darwinius masillae’. Afarensis also recently announced the upcoming Monkey Day version of Four Stone Hearth on December 14, 2010, hosted by This is Serious Monkey Business. Who doesn’t like monkeys? I mean really.

Ethnography.com has a stimulating post (essay) on ‘the continuing confrontation between subsistence farmers and development bureaucrats’ up that points out the clash of priorities between cultures, institutions and social practice. The author makes a solid point that policy-makers need do more to understand the local life-conditions of different peoples, as subsistence farmers have little incentive to allow themselves to be captured by the global machinations of techno-capitalism.

And the latest issue of Anthropology Matters can be found here. This special issue in devoted to asking how anthropological theory might be better put into practice in the context of community development, while raising the issue of how development policy and practice in turn transforms anthropology.

Krystal from Anthropology in Practice put forth a fantastic post discussing ‘the evolutionary roots of talking with our hands’ (watch for a guest appearance by Kanzi, the most famous non-human primate on the ‘party’ circuit) and mentions recent literature on the topic of evolved animal communication. Here is Krystal riffing on proto-speech and gestural communication:
Gestures are an integral part of language. Arbib, Liebal, and Pika (2008) believe that gestures, via pantomime and protosigns, may have played a large role in the emergence of vocalization (protospeech) leading to the development of protolanguage (1054). Their hypothesis is based on the structure of the brain, specifically a mirroring of structures in the brain: near Broca's area, a region of the brain said to be involved in language production, is a region "activated for both grasping and observation of grasping" (1053). The proximity of a grasping region to a language region is intriguing. Individuals who have suffered damage to Broca's area have difficulties with language production. They can often understand others perfectly, but they have difficulty responding in all but the simplest of ways. Arbib and colleagues suggest that because damage to Broca's area also impedes the emergence of signed languages as well, the region should be understood in relation to multimodal language processes and not just vocalization. They believe this creates a strong case for understanding the place of gestures in the evolution of language.
Material World has a post up covering Larissa Hjorth’s research on gendered customizing of mobile communication, gaming and virtual communities in the Asia-Pacific.

Science Daily reports that researchers have uncovered an early Greek settlement in the Egyptian Nile Delta region believed to be one of the sites where Greek trade into Africa actually began. The settlement dates to the 7th and 6th century B.C.E.

Stephen Chrisomalis reviews Guy Deutscher’s new book, Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages over at his blog Glossographia – where he concludes the book has “some serious flaws” but that it is a fairly decent presentation on the relevant literature.

And Johan Normark of the wonderfully named Archaeological Haecceities blog has a post titled, 'Creativity in Anthropology', where he talks about a recent workshop on the future of gender studies in archaeology at Stockholm University, and the notion of creativity as it applies to human imagination and anthropological research.

Rachel Chaikof reviews Tom Boellstorff’s cyber-ethnography The Coming of Age in Second Life, and concludes, along with Boellstorff, that virtual worlds open new possibilities and social interactions for people at the margins and those seeking alternative relationships and new forms of expression.

Finally, Jeremy at Eidetic Illuminations brings up some fascinating questions about methodology after reading John Law's book After Method. Jeremy asks, “what would happen if we reconceptualized methods not simply as techniques for collecting data, but as tools for constructing realities?” A poignant question considering AAA’s revisioning of American anthropology as a post-scientific endeavor (see above).

Submissions were sparse this time around, and I was hoping to dig up a few more posts for this edition, but  was unable to expand the scope muchg iven some unexpected time constraints. However I really appreciate those who did take the time to contribute. I think anthro-blogging could be done on a much more extensive basis and events like these are important. I also want to thank Afarensis for the invite to host this carnival, and would willing do it again for under a dollar.

Four Stone Hearth will be back on December 14, 2010 with the special Monkey Day version of the carnival, hosted by This is Serious Monkey Business - so please post, submit and continue to spread the word. Thanks.



Bryant Waxing Processual

More and more I'm starting to get a sense of where Levi Bryant is going with his version of Object-Oriented theory. There is much too much in Bryant's work for me to cover in a single post, but I have to say that given several caveats over the past few months regarding process and relations I am increasingly on board with what Bryant is offering.

Below are some significant remarks Bryant has made in relation to recent posts by Vitale and Ivakhiv:
Here are two declarations: 1) I have always been, am, and will always be a process philosopher (this is probably a significant difference between Graham and I). 2) The following two statements are true in my ontology: “Substances are processes” and “processes are substances”. For me the processuality of a substance is its substantiality. Nor do I think I’m far off the mark here for those who know Aristotle’s writings on animals.

Perhaps I haven’t been entirely clear on this here– I have to save something new for the book! –but my substances are constantly struggling with entropy (another long running theme on this blog). For me this entails that substances must reproduce themselves from moment to moment to endure. They are constantly disintegrating and fighting entropy or dissolution into other objects. This process of endurance is creative and evolving. Indeed, substances require information, in the sense I’ve discussed it on this blog, to reproduce themselves and that information has to be new (information repeated twice is no longer information). Like Whitehead’s “societies”, substances produce themselves through their preceding phases and do so in a way that always has an aleatory or creative dimension to it. Why, then, refer to them as substances? Because there is pattern and, as Whitehead puts it, “subjective aim”. Okay, there’s also something a little polemical in the term “substance” or “object” as well, but isn’t a potent signifier occasionally a good thing? Anyway, I have no objections to you guys using terms like “event” or “process” if you think those terms have strategic rhetorical import. All I ask is that you recognize that certain event-process-substances detach themselves from other relations and take on a life of their own. That’s not too much, is it?

Third, networks and relations. C’mon guys, you know in your heart of hearts that I love relations and endlessly direct analysis to relations. My key thesis is not that relations don’t exist or that they are unimportant, but that, following Deleuze-Hume, relations are always external to their terms (substances). The important caveat here is that substances are themselves bundles of relations. So what’s my thesis? My thesis is that entities can never be reduced to their relations. Every entity exceeds its relations and can enter into new relations. If I’m shot into outer space I die, but life is a quality. It doesn’t mean I’ve ceased to be a substance. Why am I so insistent on this? Because what we’re so interested in is not relations, but the possibility of shifting relations and creating new possibilities as a result.[source]
What more is there to say? Really? I would dispute the convention that all relations are "always external to their terms", if only because I would prefer to emphasize a much greater 'mingling' between the "external" and "internal" aspects of real entities (e.g., hybrids, symbionts, parasites, and a wide range of other complex non-linear assemblages), but that is a minor point overall. Given a sufficiently relational sensitivity to actual entities, I can certainly support much of the onticological project.

Update: adapted and revised from comments I posted over at Larval Subjects:

The notion that “'substances are processes' and 'processes are substances'" is very important for understanding Bryant's framework. If Bryant is sincere about such statements then I have two follow-up questions:

1. As I’ve said in the past, I strongly support much of Bryant's ontology, with the major exception of his position that there is a metaphysical fissure in the cosmos internal to "split" entities, suggesting a complete withdrawal of essences from actualities. And I understand Bryant's argument about the difference of "virtual proper being" and "local manifestations", where local manifestations are the locus of change and virtual proper being remains withdrawn and irreducible. But if all substantiality is processual then how does a completely 'withdrawn' entity enter into the flow of things? How can substance as essence become involved in that which is in process if not directly? Where/how is the ‘door’ from splitness to actual evolution achieved? (Or are substances as essences eternal? Or, alternatively, can we say that the actual (manifest) is primary and the potential (virtual) the shadow cast by local events?)

2. Isn’t the idea that substantial things enter into the flow of change an indication that they can and do remain in constant (direct but partial) contact with the world on a plane of immanence?


Vitale and Ivakhiv on Objectological and Relational Approaches

It seems Chris Vitale now gets it. What ‘it’ is precisely I am still not entirely sure, but Chris now believes that a little dash of Latour and a heaping cup of semiotics renders Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) a compatible set of positions with Chris’ own relational “networkological” approach.

In a series of recent posts (here, here, here and here) Vitale explains his recent acceptance of many OOO positions and how he thinks its core elements could fit in with his own framework. The posts are quite dense, with many collateral insights that seem to sneak up from related crevasses. I don’t fully agree with much of what Chris is now saying about OOO in these posts - as I still have some difficulty with the unnecessary emphasis on objects as 'essences' - but his posts are well worth the read if you are interested these kinds of issues. 

Here are a few extracts from one of the most recent posts, which I quite enjoyed:
"[O]ur conscious networks only ‘know’ what the sub-conscious levels of the brain pass on to them. But we cannot know all that these sub-conscious levels know, because otherwise we would have to be these levels. But we see this even with physical phenomenon. Water boils because of changes at the level of its molecules, but there are changes on the sub-molecular level that may impact the way it boils, and in a manner that a scientific observer would not know unless they switched the level of their analysis from that of molecules-water to that which includes sub-units. And while water cannot ‘know’ why it boils the way it does, we can say that its experience of boiling works in this leveled manner as well. Much of this is described by the notion of complexity (complex systems, etc.), which describes whenever wholes cannot be deduced from the aggregate sum of their parts.

All these types of withdrawal are avatars, so to speak, which ultimately derive from the ’fundamental obstacle’ to knowledge described by the ‘network paradox’ – namely, that if all knowledge happens via networks, then the fact that networks necessarily foreground some things (nodes) which are linked to others (links), there are always grounds which are excluded. Nodes, links, grounds, and levels are the fundamental terms of the networkological project. The withdrawal via grounds and levels is built into the system at the get go, and particular obstacles to knowledge (withdrawal in OOO) are the results thereof…

Beyond this, the networkological perspective also has a series of concepts with many similarities to HYPEROBJECTS. Combinatories, or organized networks of networks, have many aspects in common with hyperobjects, particularly that they can be dispersed. There are also plexes, or quasi-living ‘wideware’ combinatories, entities like languages that evolve in relation to human beings.”[source]
Go check out the originals.

Adrian Ivakhiv has responded to Vitale’s posts with a succinct and intelligent post of his own here. Adrian finds reason to pause and outlines his own thoughts on the matter via a tour through Whitehead, Peirce and others. In the following passages Adrian cuts right to the quick of what I think continually needs to be reiterated about the remainders between OOO and more relational approaches:
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.)…
One of the most basic commonalities between OOO-ists and process-relational theorists, all along, has been a deeply felt concern to go well beyond anthropocentric assumptions about who or what qualifies as a “subject”…
There is, then, at the finest level of reality, an ongoing circulation, a vibration, by which subjectivity and objectivity continue to arise wherever reality arises. You could say that, in its horizontal dimension, the universe appears as a vibratory oscillation, a sinuous wave, continually generating its own oscillation, in many directions all at once. In its vertical dimension (which is where I follow Peirce), each of these oscillations, if sliced into, contains a firstness, which is something irreducible; a secondness, which is the responsiveness and interactivity, the one-thing-arising-in-the-presence-of-and-after-another-ness; and a thirdness, which is the proliferation into, or consummation as, meaning, habit, and regularity, that builds worlds and makes the universe a genuine universe. In the midst of this movement forward and outward, entities take shape and acquire consistency, and these are the things (loosely speaking) that OOO-ists call objects…
The whole debate between the objectological and the relational approaches, like all such good debates, has that back-and-forth vibratory quality that I’ve described as being at the center of things, the motor of the universe. [source]
I find Adrian’s approach to these issues is always quite lucid and compassionately articulated.

And for good measure check out the comments related to these posts by Graham Harman (here) and Levi Bryant (here). Fun, fun, fun.
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