Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Friday, June 18, 2010

Tree planting online—give the gift of the uncanny

I like having trees planted for people. I like telling them about it. Does this have something, a little, to do with OOO, object oriented ontology?

In some sense the internet has not made everything totally visible. For instance, I can order this tree online—who knows which tree, where it is—nevertheless, it's a real tree. It's as if the internet has enabled me to refute Berkeley, with a click. (Is that more gentle than Doctor's Johnson's boot?)

Then I can tell someone, “Hey, somewhere in some forest on Earth, a tree is being planted in your name.” Give the gift of the uncanny.

Did Freud write an essay called “A Tree is Being Planted”? (Hmmm.)

To some extent this is a better tree—more like a real tree!—than a tree I buy at Ace Hardware and plant myself. Part of its essential tree-ness, its opacity, is made far more obvious to me when I just click on a screen.

It's like the line in the song “Rubyliquid” (below)—“There's a tree full of crows, and nobody knows.” At the time of course I was reading Levinas and was haunted by his idea of the “there is” (which elsewhere he calls the element). Graham Harman writes about this.

Levinas asks the disturbing question, what is the “it” in the phrase “It is raining”?

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