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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Beauty Minus Essentialism Is a Pathway to OOO

From the same essay:

What happens when you take the boron rods out of the nuclear reac- tor of beauty, the rods that restrict beauty mode (German Stimmung) to the human subject? Recall that there is no good reason not to, since Kan- tian beauty just is an object-like entity insofar as it is not-me. I discover in my experiential space evidence for the wrongness of solipsism, and this evidence is called beauty. The beauty of the thing is ungraspable, yet it is somehow “there,” yet not metaphysically there, since I can’t cut a piece out of the thing and say that this is its beauty. Beauty is a quantum, a thing that I can’t slice up, yet it isn’t an atom (a-tomos, “uncuttable”) since it refuses to be a little metaphysically present ball of something. Instead, beauty is a weird coherence between me and a thing that isn’t me, avail- able in me as an object-like entity that again isn’t me, and I can taste it and feel it, but I can’t totally grasp it. This is the same thing as saying that the beauty mode is sad: beauty has a melancholy flavor to it, because of the ungraspability, and this flavor just is an object-like entity, the foot- print of something in me. The necessarily horrible or disgusting proxim- ity of a thing is a condition of possibility for beauty, then, but beauty is a kind of allergy medicine, a sort of vaccine that consists of this disgusting thing in a loop: “Oh happy living things! No tongue / Their beauty might declare,” which is to say, the water snakes in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner are unspeakably horrible, or unspeakably beautiful, at the same time (Coleridge, part 4, lines 283–284).


D. E.M. said...

Oh that is just fucking dope, Tim! Just dope.

skholiast said...

The water snakes passage has long seemed to me one of the real purloined letters of the philosophy/poetry juncture. Paglia thinks it is the place where the poem goes wrong (except for the albatross itself, which she sees as a red herring) -- something must have frightened STC, she thinks. Gregory Bateson read it in terms of some sort of irreducible asymmetry between consciousness and practice. I'm not sure how to read this moment or the poem as a whole, and I don't know anyone who is, but I am sure that this is one of the places in literature where one feels the pulse of something absolutely essential.