Object Oriented Ontology & New Materialism / Week 17 / 2-3-2021


Critique of ‘Correlationalism’, abandoning epistology for Ontology.
Ontology = the existence of things in themselves.

It is a case against the very Western notion of ‘subject’ (I, you, he, we…) and our relationship with the real. The point is that reality is unaccessible. Reality is already ‘packed and ready’ for our senses.

See Jane Bennett, ‘The Force of Things’ in Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, 2009

『 . . . human body was disciplined, normalised, sped up and slowed down, gendered, sexed, nationalised, globalised, rendered disposable, or otherwise composed . . . cultural practices produce what is experienced as the “natural” 』

See Ian Bogost, ‘Tiny Ontology’ in Alien Phenomenology, 2012

『 An Ontology is flat if it makes no distinction between the types of things that exist but treats all equally . . . 』

Being is simple, not small. Simple enough that it could be rendered via screen print on a trucker’s cap.

See Ian Bogost, Unit Operations (Object-Oriented programming)

On the one side of being, we find unfathomable density, the black hole outside which all distinction.
In this logic, objects are independent and not related to others’ existences. The term ‘thing’ becomes too much unreal, and abstract.
Units have the interested aspect of having processed data and property of it. Everything is a sort of unit. An object contains data and everything is class-based. “Thing” offers itself as an alternative to object. Unlike objects, things can be concrete or abstract.
Being and existence are condensed in a chain of classification, which gives dimensionality to our world.

See Bennett, ‘The Force of Things’

『 The fear is that in failing to affirm human uniqueness, such views authorise the treatment of people as more things . . . that a strong distinction between subjects and objects is needed to prevent the instrumentalization of humans . . . Some subject-on-subject objectifications are permissible . . . but the ontological divide between persons and things must remain lest one have no moral grounds for privileging man over germ or for condemning pernicious forms of human-on-human instrumentalization (as when powerful humans exploit illegal, poor, young, or otherwise weaker humans). 』

The danger of this logic would be to lower the importance of the subject and view everything as objects with equal distribution of importance. Thinkers and historians trace back the origins of the holocaust to the inverted logic of this model: The nazis created an identity which is exceptional, in a. Way in which the Jews, communists and gypsies had no room for existence. This is one example of destructive reduction.

『 . . . to raise the status of the materiality of which we are composed. Each human is a heterogenous compound of wonderfully vibrant, dangerously vibrant, matter. If matter itself is lively, then not only is the difference between subjects and objects minimized, but the status of the shared materiality of all things is elevated. 』