“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, February 15, 2011

New Planet Tyche as Hyperobject

We can't see it directly but we can detect evidence of its possible existence. Planets are hyperobjects in most senses. They for real have Gaussian geometry and measurable spacetime distortion because they are so massive. They affect everything that exists on and in them. They're “everywhere and nowhere” up close (viscosity). (Point to Earth right now—you have a number of options, right?) They are really old and really huge compared with humans. And there's something disturbing about the existence of a planet that far away, perhaps not even of “our“ Solar System originally, yet close enough to be uncanny (my very large finitude). And it's unseen except for its hypothetical influence on objects such as comets, “The awful shadow of some unseen power” (Shelley).

Tyche (the new planet that might be far, far out there)—what a good name. It means contingency in Greek, pretty much, so it's the speculative realism planet par excellence. (“Luck” and “chance” are rather tame alternatives. Tyche is what happens to you in a tragedy if your name is Oedipus.) And for now, what could be more obviously withdrawn? No wonder Graham just posted on it.

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