“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

Sunday, December 6, 2015

"Flat Epistemology"

Do I think poetry is a better way of “knowing” than others?

Not at all. I don't even think “knowing” is a better way of knowing than others hahaha...

Like, sitting on... or crumpling... or smoking... or computing... all these are also modes of access to things.

This is a super flat epistemology, this OOO! It's exactly opposed to epistemism of all kinds. Graham Harman has been working on this for a little bit recently.

Epistemism is where you think knowing is the top level of access to things.

I think art is “in front” of philosophy. That doesn't mean poems tell you more about what things are than “science” (whatever that is), or licking things.

Is it because I write kinda poetically? Or maybe it's because I use poems as analogies for other things? Is that maybe why you might think I think poems are more realistic than patterns in cloud diffusion chambers?

In a way, “poem” just means “result of a certain praxis.” Poem is something that happens in the causal realm.


Anonymous said...

Eileen Joy has what I esteem to be a pretty good idea about why people think you hold poetry to be the best way of knowing things. Maybe this hasn't occurred to you: you say things like: "Here is the way to read any poem from this or that perspective, and I Tim Morton am now demonstrating how reading poetry in this way can get you to see lots of other things from that perspective as well." You can't really blame people for getting that impression, when I put it like that, can you? Mind you, I gave your method a shot, doubting it would work, and it DID work for me. So far so good. I wasn't interested in OOO or poetry before that, and now I'm way into both. I'm just saying, it could easily go the other way with somebody else. To me what's really valuable about your post-Derridean branch of OOO is that it doesn't rule out formulaic empiricism (like science or ways of getting everybody to read a poem a certain way). Formulae have a place in the design, just as free creative processes do...and the difference between those things is really not that much, actually, and isn't what I think Graham would call an "interesting" distinction. With all the studying of OOO that I've been doing for years now, it only just occurred to me last week that the only really "interesting" difference is between the thing and itself. You can't expect many people to get that! At Modalities, I talked to brilliant philosophy students (really top notch minds: I mean, these people are mental super-novae) who can't even quite understand what ontology is, let alone OOO. I'm living proof that it can be done by just about anybody, no matter how smart they are. Take that as a good sign. In the meantime, I know it's a cliche, but it doesn't matter what people think about what you think...or rather, thoughts don't have to "matter" in order to be good or to have dignity. Like lives: just because you might not "matter" to me in some preformatted value system doesn't mean I have an excuse to treat you like background noise, and the fact that you do matter to me is no excuse to require that you agree with what I think or to treat others who aren't you like background noise.

Anonymous said...

I have a question on 'essence', if I may be so bold as to pose it here?
Reading the work of yourself, Graham Harman, Ian Bogost, and others who subscribe to the 'fourfold' model of OOO, it seems to me that what essence is, or rather, that what the essence of essence is, is withdrawal - would I be mistaken in coming to this conclusion?
Given that essence (as-object) would only appear as essence-for, then it can only appear as withdrawal for other objects which cannot exhaust its essence. Yet then, if essence-in-itself is withdrawn, does this not makes its appearance-for identical to its essence? Does this pose a problem? If essence both appears as and is-in-itself withdrawal, is it (or is its essence) still inexhaustible? Is it like the Cantor sets mentioned in Realist Magic whose members paradoxically are also not members of the set?
If you do read this and take the time to answer, then thankyou for indulging my curiosity :)