“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, December 21, 2010

Blood Moon

I saw the glow, behind clouds, at 11.41 when the lunar eclipse happened last night. As a triple O-ist (it sounds almost pagan) I thought it fit to see a gigantic object, the planet we stand on, blocking the sun's light from the moon. Dance of the hyperobjects.

The color was the sort of thing that Medievals would freak about. A blood red moon. And it hasn't happened since 1544 (thanks Starhawk).


ai said...

Beautiful picture, Tim. Yes, 456 years.

Do you have a concise definition of "hyperobject"? (I'm tempted to add, one that makes it clear why it's not a hypersubject... But I should stop myself before I get into that discussion again.)


Timothy Morton said...

Cheers--there are several posts here about hyperobjects (search in the search bar). But basically they are objects that are massively distributed in time and space such that humans (in particular) only perceive highly localized aspects. They are also subject to relativistic effects (if they are large enough), and various other things. I'm talking about them quite a lot so there are some mp3s here that might be of service. Global warming and nuclear radiation are two examples that spring to mind.

ai said...

Thanks - yes, I've seen your short references to them, but haven't yet caught up on the more developed articulations, so this is useful.

I'm guessing you don't mean that humans are particularly bad at grasping them as whole hyperobjects, but rather that humans, like all things, are located within contexts in which grasping that whole is not easy (though our tools and abstract conceptual skills may help us to do that).

I'll catch up, but just a quick question, if you don't mind, Tim: Is the distinction between an object and a hyperobject a matter of its objective distribution (e.g. climate change versus a single hurricane, or capitalism versus a single market exchange, or the whole universe versus a single star), or is it a matter of its appearance to specifically human observers (climate change, or capitalism, are difficult to see - they require a complex apparatus to become visible for us because, like the water heating up for the proverbial frog, we haven't learned to notice temperature change on that scale yet)?

If the former, then your hyperobjects will be (in my language) a particular kind of relational process (a complex, distributed, nonlinear kind). If the latter, then the definition would seem to be "correlationist" - which isn't at all a problem for me, but I imagine it would be for Meillassouxians.

Timothy Morton said...

I shall think about this--I'm pretty sure I address this in places but in any case I was asked to write a book on it for Posthumanities so this conversation is very helpful

Timothy Morton said...

Adrian I have a little time to respond now.

Meillassoux's beef is not with correlationism tout court. He always aligns himself with it. He simply presents a supercharged version of it. That said, it doesn't affect a triple O-ist, because we are not Meillassouxians.

Timothy Morton said...

To continue. Climate exists whether humans observe it or not. We humans have recently developed the instruments with which to observe it. Sure "massively" etc is in relation to humans. But also to ice chips and icebergs and penguins. OOO has no problem with relations.