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

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

More on Disability and OOO

Jason replies to my latest:

You actually went in a direction I hadn't expected. I tried to answer my own question. I went down what is probably a rocky road trying to perceive how objects could be disabled. I came up with ideas of functional/dysfunctional. How if an object seems to have no function, it gets cast out, discarded like an empty pop-can. The reality is that no object is completely dysfunctional. Another function is always hidden, waiting to emerge, like a broken laptop becomes a doorstop, or blue plastic spoons become bower bird art. Even if we can imagine a completely dysfunctional object, then dysfunction becomes its next function. So we can never really dismiss anything as dysfunctional. I like what you have to say here because you seem to be saying that dysfunction seems to lie in wait also, that every functioning object has the capability of becoming, or encountering dysfunction. I wonder if we were on the same wavelength.

Yes, excellent. The futurality of a thing (its irreducible withdrawnness) means that “disability” in another sense than intrinisc fragility is a sensual object, produced by an interaction with something else. I perceive myself as disabled when I stop breathing at night, and have to use a machine to breathe. The existence of a broken tool hints at the existence of a withdrawn tool.

So now we have two senses of disability: an intrinsic fragility of all things; an appearance-for some (other) being, a social label.


Ruth Solomon said...


Atomic Geography said...

Also even if an obect becomes dyfunctional in relation to another, it reamains/becomes functional for another.

I've just started exploring similar themes at

Schizostroller said...

Sorry, you are mistaking disability with impairment.

Disability is about the ability to navigate (not function) in the environment both physical and social due to an impairment.

People are disabled in various ways. I personally find the inability to empathise with another without putting oneself subjectively in someone else's shoes (as in not see the other person as an autonomous being) as an emotional impairment that has roots in both certain religious beliefs (alienating the self) and capitalism (alienated labour), but many people seem to function perfectly well with such an impairment and it can be a positive boon if one wants to be a politician, corporate businessman etc and such people wouldn't be considered disabled. But they're definitely broken...

(check out the debate in disability studies - its called the 'impairment/disability' debate, duh, and is quite mainstream in that discourse - but a good heads up is on Astra Taylor's DVD Examined Life in the conversation between Judith Butler and Astra's sister Serena)