Tuesday, December 18, 2012

dead-air of the network and the Object Oriented thought of Graham Harman.

Hi, no body! I know you’re reading this, and before I get into anything to heavy tonight I just want to thank you so much for listening to a lonely sole, it means more to me then you would ever know.

Man, there's got to be trillions of me out there, sorry bitches typing out there souls into an vast empty plain, vacuum clean nothing, internet! Who the hell is ever going to hear any of this atomic diy batting, the masters of nobodies and any bodies’ free willing expiration! Is this you’re information revaluation!?! Nobody listens
to anybody; no one knows anything everyone just dancing with their selves!! McLuhan was right, we set out for a social network but got egoistic islands , everyone is painfully alone, can't stop talking about the community, can't get enough shallow interaction, social anemia , it's a sickness, an orgy of weeping sad hippies!!! That’s the age we live in!! Not the utopian one world of love they promised us, a no-world of lust and contempt, and that’s it.

If you don't believe me now talk to me in 6 months, you'll see.

Sorry folks, that the way it is.

Now, how was my day? Fine, it was fine. On this new schedule I stay up all night working then I go home and go along my day with all the early birds until about 3 when I collapse out of sheer extortion, if you've never done this then you wouldn’t know that day light is actaly far more offensive then you could ever imagine, it burns like hell. Well I guess it's all a matter of perspective isn't it.

After I arrived home in the morning I read the first a portion of the 2ed chapter of Graham Harman's "prince of networks" about the actor-network theorist Bruno Latour, his work and thought. Actor-network theory is a school of philosophy that claims that all things act on all other things in other words it all doesn't hinge on us humans."No object is inherently reducible or irreducible to any other."* in other words it is a radical claim that each thing makes the universe through acting on other things and is at the same time unnecessary in the making of the universe, because other things would continue to act without it, that is that the universe would go on without it. Latour is actually the founder of the discipline and really does have some good ideas about the networks and the objects and identity and every thing, the book of course is written by Graham Harman so it's his take.

Latour and Harman use the term actant to describe their basic unit of identity, as opposed to terms like subject, desien, signified, EST. To Latour and Harman representational thought is limited in understanding the universe because it makes one thing stained in for another thing which can never be entirely identical, and that at its best representations is only redundancy. They purpose instead that we think of each thing as an actent that acts on other things in order to exists, but their theory is deliberately anti-correlationist, which is to say they believe that each thing has a significant existence even without contact with human consciousness. At first this claim could be kind of offence and I admit that I too was offended when I heard this: "yeah, but you wouldn’t even know it exists without contact with it!!", "Phenomenologist (one of their assumed villains) don't deny that reality can be independent of human perception!!" "But humans do exist and they do correlate with other things!!" But after reading a little bit of this Object Oriented Ontology stuff I'm starting to understand what their getting at.

An object is inexorable and has an identity independent of the other things it interacts with. For one thing there is a sense in which we understand our selves in the light of the objects that surround us, this is part of Heideggers claim, but for Latour and Harman we know our selves because the objects that we interact with don't entirely give into our will, which is they resist us. This resistance is part of the way they act on us, and is the meaning of their "relative" independent from us. The radical part comes in when they show how objects act on each other, one such example is two atoms hitting each other:

“Every actant is fully deployed in the networks of the world, with nothing hidden beneath all the surface-plays of alliance. It is fair enough to call the world a site of immanence, as long as we reject any notion that immanence means ‘inside of human awareness’. For Latour, two atoms in collision are immanent even if no human ever sees them, since both expend themselves fully in the labor of creating networks with other actants. ‘Since whatever resists is real, there can be no “symbolic” to add to the “real”[…]. I am prepared to accept that fish may be gods, stars, or food, that fish may make me ill and play different roles in origin myths […]. Those who wish to separate the “symbolic” fish from its “real” counterpart should themselves be separated and confined’ (PF,p188). What is shared in common by marine biologists, the fishing industry, and tribal elders telling myths about icthyian deities is this: none of them really know what a fish is. All must negotiate with the fish’s reality, remaining alert to its hideonts, migrational patterns, and sacral or nutritional properties.”(38)

There’s lots pact into this little quote it is a heavy hitter: immanence is not thoughts being inside a subject, but the general ability for one thing to effect or act on another, this is true of Delueze's notion of immanence as well, immanence-in-itself, as well as N.O. Lossky's 'immanence of everything in everything,' albeit for Delueze in a vitalistic way, and for N.O. Lossky's in the form of Russian idealism. The whole point is though that these systems are independent form human interpretation. Delueze and N.O. Lossky's would both agree that the symbolic is real but in different ways. For N.O. Lossky's the symbolic is a priory and for Delueze it emerges from, and has a reciprocal relationship with the material world, but Latour and Harman don't really want to draw the battle lines there they seem to want to draw the battle lines in terms of epistemology, they simply wont to preserve the being of the fish to its self, and allow knowledge to be the ways fish act on us humans. They want us to admit that this knowledge is limited, but not entirely accessible. At one point they use the assessable of a window washer that tilts his head to see if the smug is on the inside or the outside of the glass, for Latour & Harman objects always determine the nature of action in this way. Another thing I like about this last passage is how it shows that a characteristic like divinity or deliciousness are only descriptions of the way an actants acts on other actants, but are non the less really happening.

Another term used in the book is 'black box', which is the name for the mystery that surrounds an actent and is often necessary for its functioning. A 'black box' is a skipping of steps in order to ovoid fussing with endless speculation, and just get right to the expected resolution. Now that I'm thinking about it, this blog is like a 'black box' because no one reads it, it just gets skipped over. This is how Harman describes the concept:

“Black boxes face two primary and opposite dangers: too much attention from other actants, or too little. When a black box receives too little attention, it is simply ignored. And this is the fate of most of the objects in the world. We are surrounded by trillions of actants at any given moment, and overlook the vast majority of useless flies, beetles, and electrons that swarm amidst our more treasured objects. Most patents are for inventions that never catch on in the market, or are never built at all. Most novels and scholarly articles go entirely unread: not criticized, but simply overlooked. Black boxes go nowhere if they fail to become obligatory points of passage for other entities. The second danger for black boxes is the opposite one—that of gaining too much interest in the form of skepticism and scrutiny. The work of the fraudulent South Korean clone doctor was not over looked, and neither was that of Utah’s failed cold fusion researchers. Instead, their black boxes were torn open and laid waste by sophisticated doubters. We do not want our love letters to arrive unnoticed, but neither do we wish them to be challenged or critiqued, their grammar marked with red ink.”(50)

So there you have it, this dame blog and many many like it are 'black boxes' are just skipped over, in such a way that they become powerless in their inability to act on any other objects. Trillions of blogs out there have there our independent being apart from any readership or many time even any attention from there writers, but none the less have they being in themselves and have their own innate action that could have an effect on the world, but that’s not quite right because in another place Harman explains that each object is negotiating with other objects in order to gain more prevalence, and that apart from this negotiation the object has no other power. So this pathetic little blog is pretty much dead in the water. As Herman states:

"Actants are always completely deployed in their relations with the world, and the more they are cut off from these relations, the less real they become."(19)

So I am actually becoming more and more unreal as I type this with every new word even the pretty much none existent readers of this blog are leaving, and literally taking this blogs existence with them. But wait isn't the whole point of Object Oriented philosophy to safe guard objects from those that would like to think that they can control them meanly by their intentions and attention! Hm?!

"Actors become more real by making larger portions of the cosmos vibrate in harmony with their goals, or by taking detours in their goals to capitalize on the force of nearby actants. For Latour, the words ‘winner’ and ‘loser’ are not inscribed in inscribed in the essence of a thing, since there is no essence in the first place. Any actant has a chance to win or lose, though some have more weaponry at their disposal. Winners and losers are inherently equal and must be treated symmetrically. The loser is the one who failed to assemble enough human, natural, artificial, logical, and inanimate allies to stake a claim to victory. The more connected an actant is, the more real; the less connected, the less real. "(19)

What a wonders statement, reality is not constituted by human attention necessarily, but just the tension of the some of its parts, those parts intern only have share in reality insofar as they influence other such parts. I sense a mite bit of Nietzsche in this highly competitive view of the world. It's like Friedrich Nietzsche's will to power mines am a fotie. I also see someone you wouldn’t expect allied with Nietzsche, the Russian Christian idealist philosopher N.O. Lossky. For Lossky absolute value of any what he calls an agent is entirely derived from its ability to join the eternal through influence on other such agents, for Lossky this is part of the way this world is joined to the Divine Trinity, but on the converse just like Latour N.O. Lossky considers an agents inability to connect with other such entities as resulting in its eventual annihilation.

"Returning periodically to his former activities, an
individual does not simply repeat them, but sometimes he perfects them in accordance with his creative inventive ability in the sense of attaining a somewhat greater fullness of content. Usually, however, these changes are insignificant, so that the type of action remains the same.
Any considerable step forward in the achieving of the
fullness of content usually requires the removal of certain
Forms of egoistic exclusiveness and the transition to a
new type of life, to a higher level of it. "(90)

Inspite of Lossky's perfound differences from Latour in terms of their views on things like transcendence and humanity they both manage to share the idea that an actent actually becomes more real through its influence on other actents. Something else I'm noticing is that while Lossky shares a view that an increase in influence makes something more real. Latour dramatically contrasts Nietzsche in that where as for Nietzsche the repeatability of an event, in the form of an eternal return, lends value to that event, for Lossky repeatability amounts to mechanization and the loss of individual value.

Oh well, all this hope for meaning is grand and all, but really it's clear that this blog is doomed for annihilation, and really I think Latour is right, it's because it will never make the "cosmos vibrate" in "harmony with their goals," and this isn't do to some essence of the blog, each one is different, it's simply the "weaponry at their disposal," it just has absolutely no "allies," and that’s all there is to it.

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