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

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Formal–Causal Look at Old Things

I have a hypothesis: the more widespread a form is, the more ancient. The proteins in our bodies that predate even the DNA mechanisms that synthesized them most recently, are archaeological evidence of LUCA, the last universal common ancestor. The snow on your TV is a trace of the widespread CMB, the cosmic microwave background.

Poems have frequently been written on paper, and have frequently had regular stanza forms. These forms are widespread and come before other formal phenomena.

I'm trying to think objects through formal causes at present, since OOO is a weird Aristotelianism, and Aristotle is all about morphē, form.


John Muse said...

Probably obvious: would the so-called agency of the letter amount to formal agency, i.e., a formal cause? Syntax, deep structure, generative grammar, the digital of structuralist linguistics—these too are long lasting forms, compelling forms. Am I using the concept of form in the right way though?

Bill Benzon said...

It would be too strong to say that literary studies is utterly lacking in curiousity about literary form, but that's an assertion the points in the right direction. Literary studies has been obsessed with meaning and, within literary studies, so-called formalism has mainly been a strategy for getting at meaning by insisting that the work is made autonomous by its form. But actual analysis and description of forms, that's pretty much been neglected, except for endless catalogs of verse forms that no critic ever attends to. It's the poets who actually pay attention to form, not the critics.

Luke Jaaniste said...

So this is pretty much the conclusion of "diffusion theory" from innovation studies, right? (Some) stuff spreads out across existence, and this takes time.

Seth Forrest said...

This post makes me anxious to read Harman on HP Lovecraft.