“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Hyperobjects are Nonlocal

In a previous post I argued that hyperobjects are viscous—they adhere to you no matter how hard to try to pull away, rendering ironic distance obsolete. Now I'll argue that they are also nonlocal. That is, hyperobjects are massively distributed in time and space such that any particular (local) manifestation never reveals the totality of the hyperobject.

When you feel raindrops falling on your head, you are experiencing climate, in some sense. In particular you are experiencing the climate change known as global warming. But you are never directly experiencing global warming as such. Nowhere in the long list of catastrophic weather events—which will increase as global warming takes off—will you find global warming.

But global warming is as real as this sentence. Not only that, it's viscous. It never stops sticking to you, no matter where you move on planet Earth.

How can we account for this? By arguing that global warming, like all hyperobjects, is nonlocal: it's massively distributed in time and space.

What does this mean? It means that my experience of the weather in the hic et nunc is a false immediacy. It's never the case that those raindrops only fall on my head! They are always a manifestation of global warming!

In an age of ecological emergency—in an age in which hyperobjects start to oppress us with their terrifying strangeness—we will have to get used to the fact that locality is always a false immediacy.


Alex Reid said...

Very interested in this and curious how you see hyperobjects in relation to DeLanda's assemblages. Also I was curious about that last bit, our age of ecological emergency when hyperobjects start to oppress us. Are hyperobjects relatively new? If global warming is a hyperobject, would ice ages also be hyperobjects? Is winter a hyperobject? Perhaps the operative point here is that only now do we begin to be oppressed by hyperobjects like global warming.

daz hastings said...

hi tim.... excellent to see you are hyper productive as slick as ever. Fuck, you are a good brain! Love it. Soz it's been an epoch since i last said hello..... let me see if i can connect the dots and say a proper hello....

Timothy Morton said...

Hi Alex. We humans only just started to notice them...But clearly they've been around for ever. They are not only "hyper" in relation to us, I claim.

Hi Daz!

daz hastings said...

...dots connected. well. that was fun!