“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, October 18, 2011

Response 2.0

Rick Elmore, divine respondent, has written to me out of the blue with a question about interonnectedness and Graham Harman.

First of all, let me remind you how joyful it was to hear Rick's response to my talk, in which I felt so thoroughly known, it was very touching.

Okay, the essence of Rick's question is this: if I'm cleaving to Harman's withdrawn objects, what happens to the radical interconnectedness of The Ecological Thought?

Here is part of my response:

That's a very significant question. I hope I can answer it here though rather briefly. I'm working on two projects, one on causality and one on hyperobjects, which will address this question.

1) I might have made mistakes in the past! (Of course, one often says this, especially if prone to making mistakes... : ) )

2) I don't think when I wrote ET that I had figured out the question of whether the mesh or the strange stranger had ontological priority.

2)a) Strange strangers are unicities, even in ET, so the mesh didn't even there suggest that things are *only their relations. There was a more paradoxical thinking going on about how the relationality of things made them uncanny.

3) Now I believe that there is a mesh, that it's totally interconnected (as before)--even that it's nonlocal and nontemporal in some sense. Yet the mesh floats ontologically "in front" of the strange stranger(s), rather than subtending it/them/her. This works if we think of causation has happening in, even equivalent to, the aesthetic dimension, which is how it must work if we have withdrawn objects...


Bill Benzon said...

I don't see the question, Tim. It's not as though objects completely enter into the mesh. An object is only going to offer a single facet, if you will, to the mesh. All its other facets are, as Hamrman says, withdrawn. Some of them, of course, might well be 'offered' to other meshes. It's this uncounted number of facets that gives an object 'weight' and 'heft'. Without heft, without a capacity for withdrawal, an object brings little to the mesh.

It's those withdrawn facets that give the mesh itself 'weight' and 'heft'. That multiplicity of withdrawn facets distributed over many objects is what entwines the mesh in the world. What's interesting about the mesh is that, at any time, any object can 'expose' another fact to the mesh. Thus an object's 'inventory' of withdrawn facets is a measure of its capacity to enrich the mesh.

In short, if objects couldn't withdraw, their ability to enter into relationships would be meaningless.

Bill Benzon said...

A thought, Tim, what I'm calling facets appears to be what Harman calls sensual objects, which is, as you know, his relabeling of what Brentano called intentional objects. Harman futher distinguishes between sensual objects and their properties, e.g. "In all phenomenal experience there is a tension between sensual objects and their sensual qualities" (The Quadruple Object, p. 26).

And that, I think, is an important distinction. As you may know, I'm fond of thinking that objects have an unbounded number of properties (that is, qualities). A given sensual object, however, can itself have many properties. The sensual object, then, that is 'bound' into (is a facet of?) a mesh will have many properties that it presents to the mesh.