The manifesto of Speculative Realist/Object-Oriented Ontological blogging

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…the infernal piping of those blasphemous flutes…

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Prologue: Of manifestoes and manifestoism

To launch a manifesto you have to want: A.B. & C., and fulminate against 1, 2, & 3.

work yourself up and sharpen your wings to conquer and circulate lower and upper case As, Bs & Cs, sign, shout, swear, organise prose into a form that is absolutely and irrefutably obvious, prove its ne plus ultra and maintain that novelty resembles life in the same way as the latest apparition of a harlot proves the essence of God.

We alone are the face of our Time. Through us the horn of Time blows in the art of the world.

Throw Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc., etc. overboard from the Ship of Modernity.

  1. Up to now literature has exalted contemplative stillness, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt movement and aggression, feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the slap and the punch.
  2. We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath…a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than Тhe Victory of Samothrace.
  3. We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! What is the use of looking behind at the moment when we must open the mysterious shutters of the impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We are already living in the absolute, since we have already created eternal, omnipresent speed.
  4. We intend to glorify war — the only hygiene of the world — militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of anarchists, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and contempt for woman.

Morals have given rise to charity and pity, two dumplings that have grown like elephants, planets, which people call good. There is nothing good about them. Goodness is lucid, clear and resolute, and ruthless towards compromise and politics. Morality infuses chocolate into every man’s veins. This task is not ordained by a supernatural force, but by a trust of ideas-merchants and academic monopolists.

Sentimentality: seeing a group of bored and quarrelling men, they invented the calendar and wisdom as a remedy. By sticking labels on to things, the battle of the philosophers we let loose (money-grubbing, mean and meticulous weights and measures) and one understood once again that pity is a feeling, like diarrhoea in relation to disgust, that undermines health, the filthy carrion job of jeopardising the sun.

I proclaim the opposition of all the cosmic faculties to that blennorrhoea of a putrid sun that issues from the factories of philosophical thought, the fight to the death, with all the resources of…

We are circus ringmasters and we can be found whistling amongst the winds of fairgrounds, in convents, prostitutions, theatres, realities, feelings, restaurants, ohoho, bang bang.

“A shadow over the innternet”

A specter is haunting the theory blogosphere — the specter of Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Ontology. All the young bloggers and would-be theoreticians of the internet have entered into an unholy alliance to try and summon this specter, in order to comprehend its phantom philosophy: from both WordPress and Blogspot, Livejournal and Typepad, GoogleID and guest posters, all have come far and wide seeking to latch themselves onto the latest trend in blogosphical thought.

Nothing results from this fact:

  1. Identity: A = A
  2. Non-Contradiction: A ≠ ~A
  3. The Excluded Middle: A & ~A = ∞

Tautologies, Kantian analytic propositions, tell us nothing about anything.

Let us proceed from this nothing and tread fearlessly into new terrains of vacuity, into ever-blacker abysses, until we reach the very brink of utter meaninglessness — remembering always, always, that old Parmenidean dictum: ex nihilo nihil fit.

How to succeed in the SR/OOO blogosphere in 11 Steps

What few people seem to understand about the politics of blogosophy is that it’s secretly a war. The main objective of all its participants is not to arrive at philosophical Truth; rather, it is to rise through the ranks of the SR/OOO pecking-order until one reaches the zenith, the very pinnacle of the theory-internet pseudoverse. Crucial alliances must be forged along the way. Strategic collaborations with other members of the theory blogosphere are an absolute necessity. But if you follow closely these rules I shall give you, the prize is yours for the taking. Total victory must be achieved. Will you be the one to achieve it?

  1. Create a platform from which you can blogosophize — a beer-hall podium or the steps of Nuremburg will do, but make sure in either case that it has an unexpected and intriguing title. Pseudo-clever wit and wordplay have been highly prized in philosophy ever since Derrida brought the plague of Heideggerianized French into the realm of public discourse in 1967. A pithily-placed parenthesis or carefully calculated double-entendre can mean the difference between fame and recognition on the one hand, and lowliness and invisibility on the other. Thus, a title like Que(e)rying Object-Oriented Ontology will probably win you an instant audience. Other titles, titles with surprising claims or adjectival combinations, are also good: Larval Subjects, Ecology without Nature, Naught Thought, Fractal Ontology, etc.
  2. Vigorously participate in the neverending cosmic circle jerk that is the SR/OOO blogosphere. This point can scarcely be stressed enough. For it is only through the continuation of this perpetual cosmic circle jerk that the SR/OOO blogosphere is maintained; without it, the universe might lose all its consistency, objects stripped of their integrity. Any sense of orientation would likewise be lost — up would be down, left would be right, the sky would fall in, etc. This means that you must never neglect to comment on one another’s posts, raising questions, voicing agreement, lavishing praise. And in your posts you must refer to posts and discussions that are going on over at other SR/OOO blogs. If you are a relatively new poster, you must seek out the major hubs of theoretical conversation and make a name for yourself, remembering always to pay homage to the elders of SR/OOO: Graham Harman, Bruno Latour, Timothy Morton, Levi Bryant, Adrian Ivakhiv, Ben Woodard, and Nick Srnicek By this show of generosity and interest (whether sincere or not), you gain crucial notoriety. You must treat brief, largely improvised and unwieldy posts by other authors as groundbreaking philosophical discoveries, major conceptual innovations, and so on, so that your own work may in turn receive similar praise.And always remember this age-old maxim: “Forget not to jerk the one who has, in his graciousness, jerked you.”
  3. Learn the jargon of SR/OOO. In fact, don’t just learn it. Immerse yourself in it — live it, breathe it. Avail yourself of handy lexica like this one over at Larval Subjects, but always be aware that the brave Speculative Realists and Object-Oriented Ontologists of the internet are seeking to carve out a space of difference to make a name for themselves, and so introduce new conceptual distinctions that partially (or even wholly) undermine the set of established definitions represented therein. Odd new terms and phrases such as “actants,” “difference engines,” “endo-relations” vs. “exo-relations,” and other philosophical shorthand that supposedly clarifies the subjects under discussion. The more of these in-phrases and jargonnetic memes you learn, and the more skillfully you practice with them, the more proficient you become. Once you have achieved total mastery, you can string whole sentences together of this nonsense and find (to your dismay) that others nod their heads as if it is all meaningful. For all this theoretical bubble-blowing shines with such hypnotizing effervescence so long as it remains suspended in the airy heavens of theory; the only pity is that the bubble bursts as soon as it touches the solid ground of reality.
  4. Liberally partake in the Deleuzean frenzy of proliferating ever-more-ridiculous and unwieldy neologisms. Learning the jargon of SR/OOO is not enough. You must actively add on to the existing set of definitions and meanings by introducing new kinds of objects, and new word-combinations to describe their uniqueness. The more bizarre and scientistic you can make these new bits of jargon, the more apt they are to gain currency amongst the general readership of the SR/OOO online community. If one of the Elder Gods (Levi Bryant, Tim Morton, Nyarlathotep) invokes with approval your new conceptual innovation or wonder of theoretical wordsmithery, you’re as good as gold. It’s as good as having been officially endorsed. Your reputation rises, and in so doing you have helped contribute to the shapeless mass of neologisms that is still now piling skywards so as to block out the sun.
  5. Be as intellectually promiscuous as possible. You must seek to combine, in the most haphazard and syncretistic fashion imaginable, concepts and subject-matters from the most polarized and incompatible doctrines. You must fuse together high-order, specialized philosophical categories like “compossibility” or “totality” with the immediate data of the natural sciences, with sci-fi concepts like cyborgism and digital interfacing, McCluhanite media theory of prosthetic devices or instruments we use as extensions of our own beings, Lovecraftian paranoia about the incomprehensibility and terror of the real, and then filter it all through some of the more convoluted and outrageous neologisms you and others have been able to come up with, like “diffraction patterns” or “phase space.” Also, it’s almost required that you have some sort of affinity for Spinoza and Marx, however superficially.
  6. Take Lovecraft seriously.Forget that he was a poor-man’s Poe. Forget that he was a self-fashioned member of the New England elite and a virulent racist. Forget that this man delighted upon hearing of the discovery of Pluto, writing to Robert Bloch that “IT MAY BE NYARLATHOTEP!!” This man must be taken seriously. Lovecraftian science, Lovecraftian concepts, even, must be deployed at every possible turn. There must be no attempt made at justifying the fact that you are taking this madman seriously.  It must simply be stated with as much confidence as possible, as if you are totally sure of the validity of using this man’s ideas. Lovecraft must been seen as just as legitimate a literary source for philosophical reflection as Kafka, Borges, or Beckett.
  7. Write with reckless confidence. There is a certain tone one must adopt in SR/OOO blogosophizing in order to maximize one’s rhetorical effect. It is difficult to spell out exactly what this tone is, but a few remarks can nevertheless be made. You must speak as if you are dealing with matters of the utmost profundity, but then throw in something banal from popular culture to instantiate the point you are making. Every word you write must be seen as carrying the greatest possible philosophical weight, and yet you must also be capable of making bemused reflections along the way (for good measure). Write as if every insight you provide is groundbreaking, as if every speculative tangent you go on shatters entire paradigms, as if the slightest rhetorical gesture you make changes everything. Every sentence must drip with discovery. Only in this way can you achieve success.
  8. Rinse.
  9. Repeat.
  10. Write a manifesto. See Levi Bryant’s Onticology, a Manifesto for Object-Oriented Ontology: Part 1 & Part 2, or parts I, II, and III of Ben Woodard’s series on Dark Vitalism.
  11. Nyarlathotep…the crawling chaos…I am the last…I will tell the audient voidScreamingly sentient, dumbly delirious, only the gods that were can tell. A sickened, sensitive shadow writhing in hands that are not hands, and whirled blindly past ghastly midnights of rotting creation, corpses of dead worlds with sores that were cities, charnel winds that brush the pallid stars and make them flicker low. Beyond the worlds vague ghosts of monstrous things; half-seen columns of unsanctified temples that rest on nameless rocks beneath space and reach up to dizzy vacua above the spheres of light and darkness. And through this revolting graveyard of the universe the muffled, maddening beating of drums, and thin, monotonous whine of blasphemous flutes from inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond Time; the detestable pounding and piping whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic, tenebrous ultimate gods — the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is Nyarlathotep.

45 thoughts on “The manifesto of Speculative Realist/Object-Oriented Ontological blogging

    • Well, I’m not really sure what kind of a reaction this is. I’d probably guess “neutral.” All my post seems to have done so far is pissed off Levi Bryant for some reason. He’s stopped approving my comments on Larval Subjects, even if they’re fully relevant to the posts in question. Michael- from Archive Fire said he’d check it out. Hopefully he finds it’s funny.

  1. I found your exuberant rants wildly entertaining. Embedding the “jerk circle” caricature within these tour-de-force literary stylings might not soften the blow for those who have been implicated, but for me it positions your piece — and perhaps OOO more generally — where it can do the most good: as a weird-fictional subgenre. May it swell pendulously like a hemorrhoidal dumpling in the “inconceivable unlighted chambers beyond Time.”

    • Well, I’m really glad someone liked it. I don’t know how you identify when it comes to OOO and Speculative Realism and Onticology, etc. But it seems like Levi Bryant was not amused. He e-mailed me saying he was no longer alllowing my discussion on Larval Subjects. No idea if anyone else will have a better sense of humor about it.

    • Don’t get me wrong; I’ve read practically every piece of fiction that HPL ever wrote. It’s entertaining and often hilarious stuff. But it’s so often baroque and overly verbose that it often just comes off as funny. Overwrought prose like his can be either really bad or pretty fun to read. And I genuinely enjoy some of it. “Shadow over Innsmouth,” “The Haunter in the Dark,” and “Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” are excellent.

    • Yeah, I guess I’ve been put onto his shit list along with you and all the others he refuses to talk to. In my opinion, he just can’t handle criticism, let alone satire.

  2. I’ve followed the OOO project fairly closely on the blogs. I have no grounding in philosophy by which to evaluate the metaphysics; rather, my skepticism is mostly empirical and piecemeal, in keeping with my academic training. However, as someone who writes fiction I admire the imagination and creativity of the OOO theorists. That the universe is comprised entirely of objects, that the essence of any object withdraws from interaction with all other objects and even from interaction with itself, that the stars had the potential for being the subject-matter of poems and paintings billions of years before poets and painters existed in the universe, that the puppet exerts allure and agency over the puppeteer — such a reality affords at least as much fictional potential as Lovecraft’s.

    I just read Skholiast’s fascinating recent post about Mormonism at Speculum Criticum. God is a male-female couple who organized the universe for their children to occupy; humans who pass a series of spiritual tests are themselves gradually transformed into couple-gods; the couple-god who organized this universe are the offspring of some prior couple-God of some prior universe — there’s another potentially fruitful fictional reality.

    I envy the mutual support the OOO bloggers provide one another. They explicitly value emergence of the unprecedented far more than critique of the extant, so the jazz-like riffing off one another makes sense as an intellectual and affective praxis.

    • My background is mostly in philosophy, Marxism, and history (modern European and Soviet history). I became involved with some of the SR/OOO people about two or three years ago, when it was really just coming into its own. At that point, Taylor Adkins’ work translating Francois Laruelle and his “Non-Philosophy” made non-philosophy a third part of the SR/OOO/N-P trinity, but it seems that people eventually lost interest in that Adkins virtually disappeared from the blogosphere.

      I have no problem with their thoroughgoing “objectivism,” and attention to the constitution (and classification) of objects. I find that a lot of the debates that they have with one another are just unconscious repetitions of debates had long ago by figures like Spinoza and Leibniz, etc. I haven’t really read Harman or Latour all that much, and would probably expect them to be a bit more consistent and carefully thought-out than the random postings by SR/OOO bloggers. But a lot of the stuff I’ve read from even some of the more serious and respected SR/OOO representatives has seemed to me patchwork and impressionistic, very shoddily supported and much less profound than they would like it to be.

      Their wish to overcome the distinction between thought and being (or more properly, thought and the objects that comprise being) leads them to tend to lose the concept of the “subject” almost completely. Problems of consciousness and freedom seem to be under-theorized. I don’t know, that’s just my impression. It works well as fiction, I agree with you.

      • most of your blog posts just seem like you half-read things and then make generalized, cynical commentary (masked as “critique”) about it because it doesnt match up with your training. you havent read Latour or Harman but got it all figured out.

      • Most of my blog posts? I’m curious as to what other blog posts of mine you’ve read. Perhaps my posts on nature, since your e-mail would seem to indicate that you identify as an “anarcho-savagist” — whatever nonsense that entails. Also, I’ve read some Latour, though I admit no expertise in his works as a whole. Harman I’m less familiar with, though I am heartened to see that he seems to be a Chicago Bulls fan, a team about which I have almost encyclopedic knowledge.

      • Thank you for this, it was well-received on my end. I found myself laughing along as it continued. I think you are spot on in your last paragraph there. A theory of agency is needed, and I’m not sure SR/OOO can deliver on that. Insofar as Bryant, for instance, is not worried about “intentionality” and is instead quick to classify everything as “machinic”… you can see where the problems arise!

      • Hi! i am not very familiar with this sr/ooo thing, i only found out about them because of latour, whom i am wildly using in my anthropology (i am just a student though). i do think that latour can be sometimes too abstract and have a problem of having a particular dictionary, but i really believe that it is because he tries to be meticulous in redefining concepts, and yes through that probably age old debates as well. which makes him either hard to understand either easily misunderstood if one is not familiar with his use of concepts. i do not think that he makes groundshaking statements if you only scan his work, but i found that if i keep him in mind most of the scientific articles and even the way people talk seems somewhat wrong. and yes, i think loosing concepts, like that of the subject, and maybe even consciousness and freedom is the point. i believe they might not make sense anymore.

        let me use an example one of my anthropology teachers presented. in reite (a village in papua new guinea) a person does not necessarily have to be human. a person is someone who is made through other persons labour. a yam for instance can be a person as well. and human persons are made as well through other peoples work, if no one labours for someone they stop being persons. latours’ theory, in anthropology at least, i guess would fall into the concept of relationism, that is things (entities, whatever) are made through relations with other things. like persons in reite are made through a particular kind of relationship with other persons, that is labour. this makes reite persons not being their own property, but other persons property. like i do not own myself, but the persons who made me, even the landscape that i am part of owns me, and nothing that i do is my own property alone. like me writing this post. for us is normal that i am the author of it and i am responsibly for its content. but from a relational point of view this post is created through relations between a bunch of entities. me, you, your blogpost, my computer, all the network that created my computer, latour, a bunch of other anhropologists, my teacher, the people of reiti etc. entities that are not just humans but technological or from ‘nature’ or whatever. it doesn’t matter, because through relations everything is made, and i would guess, what is made in depends of the network that makes it, and on the type of relation the entities in this network are connected. so i would guess that this kinda makes one just have to forget about freedom and subjectivity. consciousness i think it could be a harder job.
        but i would say that relationism leads to another point as well. and that is, the multiple worlds. and for hat it think this is an awesome article: http://www.heterogeneities.net/publications/Law2011WhatsWrongWithAOneWorldWorld.pdf
        it basically would say, that things are multiplied because in different sites they are constructed, enacted (annemarie mol and john law would say) differently, but somehow hey come, hang together. like in annemarie mols’ ethnography (the body multiple) the sickness atherosclerosis, even the human body for that is enacted in a bunch of different ways. but they come together. through the same use of name, on patient files etc. the novel thing in it, is that everything is made in practice. and i guess that would be a kind of “bizarre realism” (i think levy briant uses that term), because it is realism and relativism (in anthropological term) in the same time. because it multiplies the world, a lots of things are real. but real depends on its relations, so it depends on time and space as well. i think that is why latour could say that, i don’t remember which, pharaoh didn’t die of tuberculosis, because tuberculosis was not reality back then, but then he did die of tuberculosis, but he died of tuberculosis now, because scientists made this real.
        now i would speculate that with this in mind, it is really hard to make a manifesto or a “theory” that complies with your romantic definition of these in this post. it is hard to overthrow people and it is bloody hard to criticize. it is easier to take what other people say and change it, play with it. i would say, that could be a reason of why sr/ooo blogosphere is the way you described it.
        because people try to “think with” each other instead of thinking against each other. and i think that is nice. they create each other through the relation they have with each other. which i think it is a relational insight.
        of course i am not really familiar with their work, and i do find complicated use of concepts a bit disturbing, though i can understand why they would do it, and i also think it is not a new thing in philosophy. and as i said, i am still a student, so please don’t take my word for what i wrote, but if you are interested in it look more into it.
        but it think it is unfair to criticise them for under-theorizing concepts that would loose their meaning through their theories.

  3. Thanks for linking me to this. Definitely got a strong kick. While tongue in cheek you’ve definitely isolated some of the glaring weaknesses of a new generation trying to “do” philosophy in a super-insulated theory sphere all too intimately interlinked with itself. Brilliant and brimming work, Mr. Wolfe ;)

    • Thank you for both your healthy sense of humor and your positive feedback. Without criticism, of the humorous variety or not, all that issues forth from a theory is endless, unreflective positivism.

  4. Pingback: On Hurt Feelings: The Case of Levi Bryant’s Missing Sense of Humor « The Charnel-House

  5. Your description of SR/OOO is exactly right on. I do believe, however, that this wild state of affairs is the inevitable outcome of all the philosophizing that came before it. Over on the analytic side there is an analogous mess. I love philosophy, but I recognize that philosophy has always had this sordid, sad side to it. Is that a necessary part of it? What is that necessity? Is the intellectual saint always also the intellectual buffoon? So superficial. Socrates was the most divine and the most base of thinkers. I think there is no escape and all of us who would try our hand at philosophy must live the extremes. Still, the questions remain, are these guys just charlatans? Has philosophy always been merely a way to corral (and numb-up) the young? Between the extremes of the exalted and the profound there is the extreme of the bitterly ordinary. Hang tight.

    • Philosophy, which I consider myself in- of- within- as a ‘category’ as it were, seems rooted, at least in the Greco-Continental tradition to a type of elite-based edification of the edifice. Here lies the danger of the ‘erudite’ and ‘critically radical’ thinkers such as the really strange (fascist) Zizek to Judith Butler who recently ‘moved on up’ from Berkeley University to Columbia! From the Socratic Slave State to the Gas Chambers (ahem, Heidegger) and beyond…

  6. Hi Ross,

    I’m all for criticism, satire, and not taking ourselves too seriously when writing our little philosophy blogs. However, one thing I don’t like about this, and other conversations that center around conducting philosophy on the internet, is that there is an assumption that those of us who are grad students, and are using the internet as a medium are something like “sheep” who are being “unduly misled.” A similar sentiment was expressed by Brassier a few months back, implying that somehow we are all being duped by older philosophy professors. I take it for granted that the people who are writing on the internet are actually interested in what they are pursuing (why else do it?) and are trying to connect with others who are also of similar mind (or perhaps can offer useful criticism).

    My second point of contention would be that, while you seem thorough in your assessment of those positions you affirm, your lack of knowledge of Latour and Harman would seem to put you at a great disadvantage in launching real criticism. In fact, if that’s the case I’m not sure why you bother. This would seem to be an obvious place to start, since you have clearly already put much energy into your off-hand commentaries. I would be much more interested in that kind of rigorous critique, Guerrilla Metaphysics and The Politics of Nature would probably be great places for you start.

    Personally, I am a bit estranged from the general world of the humanities as my work has much more to do with political ecology, cultural anthropology, and environmental psychology. I first got into Harman because of his connection with ANT (which is an incredibly useful framework for dealing with the issues I am working on). Right now I have a stack of about 50 journal papers I am working through for a report I am preparing for my boss, and I have to say that many of Harman’s insights are proving to be absolutely essential in pushing the research in new and helpful directions. These are papers ranging from psycho-social disciplines (quantitative and qualitative), environmental sciences, and research on place attachment. The tenor and language of these papers is obviously different than your average philosophy paper, but that’s why the intersection is so helpful and interesting.

    All of this is to say that I am, unabashedly, a OOO enthusiast, but this has simply to do with the fact that it is extremely helpful in the work I am doing. I just thought it might be worth mentioning a little bit about what people are doing with the work, rather than just assuming anyone interested in the subject matter is simply being misled and has lost the ability to think for themselves.

    Cheers,
    Adam

    • Adam, I am fairly knowledgeable, being a philosopher, of Harman and Latour’s work (which differ greatly) however, Ross’s overall points about their work are – perhaps intuitively – correct. Harman’s object-oriented philosophy, as I have noted elsewhere, is rooted in Heideggerian mish-mash and leads to dramatic sociological consequences. I assume you know about Harman’s work, so I will ask you, as I do all people who know Harman’s work (regarding his democratisation of objects; or Objects are Objects and equal) when he says the ‘cotton burns stupidly’ through a ‘sensual vicar’ given that all objects are in their Sein equal, we can move a proposition: does the Monk who sets himself aflame in protest of China’s occupation of Tibet ‘burn stupidly’ – the Monk (an object) interacts with the fire (an object) the interaction is JUST another object – ontologically equal (now take this seriously because ontologists take being seriously) – under the object (equal to the aforementioned) of Chinese ideology of occupation… etc. You can see the sociological consequences are… well… and his hooking to Heidegger reinforces a (latent- manifest- ?) proto-fascism

  7. Ross,

    This was funny at times, and I think Levi Bryant’s reaction proves it hit a nerve somewhere. I don’t think you should be surprised it hit a nerve, though. You clearly intended to provoke him. It may have been a parody of a general trend, but by mentioning or referencing Bryant several times in several places, the post’s vitriol was undeniably channeled in his direction.

    As for your criticisms of OOO/SR more generally, they seem to me to be too widely applicable to have done much damage to this school of thought in particular. They could be directed at any new intellectual trend or philosophical movement (especially the points about confidence, terminology and jargon). Perhaps there are posts or comments of yours elsewhere which contain critiques of the ideas of the authors you mentioned. I didn’t see any such critiques here, other than that you think they are just rehashing ancient philosophical territory. On this point, I might be in agreement with you; but I think ancient and medieval thought SHOULD be brought back into the philosophical conversation, so I take this as one of the most positive aspects of OOO/SR. What draws me to the movement is that it is allowing cosmology and metaphysics (and perhaps even non-phenomenological theology) to be brought back into the center of the philosophical discussion. As a (neo?)Marxist, you would probably want to keep these modes on the periphery, since they are ideological hotbeds. I, on the other hand, believe that thinkers like Whitehead and Latour offer metaphysical insights and invite us to gestalt shifts in perception that are crucial if we hope to transition into more a viable cosmopolitical, or ecosocial, adventure of civilization.

    I’ve not read much of Morton’s or Bryant’s published work, though I do visit their blogs frequently. I have read several of Harman’s. I’m very familiar with Whitehead’s work, and a bit less familiar with Latour. You didn’t mention Meillassoux and Brassier, I suppose because you were more interested in the blogospheric incarnation of this movement; but for what it’s worth, I find their published work immensely stimulating. Meillassoux is stirring up Kantian sediment that seemed settled in a very provocative way, and I find myself antagonized by him in a much more exciting way than, say, Daniel Dennett or Richard Dawkins (whose positivism I used to enjoy disagreeing with).

    You mentioned being somewhat familiar with Latour. Have you read any Whitehead? I’d be curious to know what sort of reaction you have to his approach.

    thanks for the link.
    -Matt

    • Thanks. I’m glad you appreciated it. I’m very well versed in the ancients, have read some Aquinas and Maimonides, and then from Descartes onward I’ve read pretty much all of the “major” philosophers.. I’ve read some of Whitehead’s process philosophy, which you’re right might be somewhat compatible with Schelling’s writings on nature, at least in the abstract. I’ve not gone through Brassier or Meillassoux at any length, though from the interviews I’ve read of theirs, I must say they seem to be charting a much darker, more interesting path than the rest of the lot.

      As for their resurrection of metaphysics, as a Marxist I’m more or less indifferent. Metaphysics (in its idealist form, at least) I regard as having been completed by Hegel, but at least the SR/OOO blogosophers are realists. Their “realism” begins to tread some fairly murky waters, however, whenever it dabbles in theology and cosmology. I find some of their proclaimed materialism in these matters to be rather rhapsodic, often just poetic flights of fancy.

      I don’t intend to dismiss the whole movement. This piece was simply a satire of some of the more prevalent tendencies I’ve noticed in the theory blogosphere.

      Best,
      Ross

  8. Oh, I forgot to mention that by far my favorite SR writer is Iain Hamilton Grant. I find Schelling’s naturephilosophy to be highly compatible with Whitehead’s cosmology. Are you familiar with his work? I wish he had a blog!

  9. Pingback: Ray Brassier on the Speculative Realist “Movement,” Including his Reaction to my Satyric Manifesto of Speculative Realist/Object-Oriented Ontological Blogging « The Charnel-House

  10. Pingback: A Clarification on Why Levi Bryant has Really “Given up Talking to Me” « The Charnel-House

  11. So I decided to read this based on your other posts and I agree with some of the other posters that is is lame and follows the tired trope that all the other bloggers are all hapless children seduced by Harman & co. Have you considered that they might find merit in the work (and I also wonder, chiming in with the earlier poster, whether you have read their published work as opposed to blogs – the books are better). I’ve not been treated so well by these guys but never did they do anything to deserve the barely concealed hate you guys throw at them. As I mentioned in the other post, and I’m glad there are people defending them here, these posts are often creepy: a circle jerk of abuse that follows the so called circle jerk of sr blogging.

    And you are publishing in one of their journals and you write this? I’d say that just makes you a bad person. Look at your own blog and seriously consider what makes you so special and different from them?

    • To reiterate a point I made above: I am fairly knowledgeable, being a philosopher, of Harman and Latour’s work (which differ greatly) however, Ross’s overall points about their work are – perhaps intuitively – correct. Harman’s object-oriented philosophy, as I have noted elsewhere, is rooted in Heideggerian mish-mash and leads to dramatic sociological consequences. I assume you know about Harman’s work, so I will ask you, as I do all people who know Harman’s work (regarding his democratisation of objects; or Objects are Objects and equal) when he says the ‘cotton burns stupidly’ through a ‘sensual vicar’ given that all objects are in their Sein equal, we can move a proposition: does the Monk who sets himself aflame in protest of China’s occupation of Tibet ‘burn stupidly’ – the Monk (an object) interacts with the fire (an object) the interaction is JUST another object – ontologically equal (now take this seriously because ontologists take being seriously) – under the object (equal to the aforementioned) of Chinese ideology of occupation… etc. You can see the sociological consequences are… well… and his hooking to Heidegger reinforces a (latent- manifest- ?) proto-fascism

  12. Hello! Not really part of this group, but it did inspire me to start writing a blog with a pretentious name. Thought I’d be boring and respond to the teasing with earnestness:

    1 – A cute name is a great way to stand up for something you can’t quite express; that names going to be up there for a bit, do you just want it to be your name? Why not make it mean something; aspire to something more than “this is what I think, aren’t I interesting”. But seen as you may not have a really elegant synopsis of your ideas around for a bit, why not start with something that has a little lightness to it.

    2 – Link your ideas to those of other people, why just push off in your own corner? Why not see when people are exploring similar avenues to you and encourage them when they seem to be making progress. Don’t just praise them though; help them to see their work from other perspectives, whether it’s consequences when extended, inconsistencies, dangers in application etc. But don’t criticise too much, you’ll discourage them from posting ideas in a raw enough form, and interfere with your ability to publicly sharpen your ideas.

    3 – Even if you’re working with unfinished ideas, don’t use that as an excuse to be communicatively sloppy; using more consistent vocabulary allows new people to get a way in, and compare and contrast elements of your ideas even if they don’t follow all the details of your examples. But don’t require yourself to stick to existing words, if you keep using a concept that seems coherent to you and others but doesn’t have a small English word, add one. That’s how they are created!

    4 – Production of concepts can be an end in itself, even if you don’t find use for them, it can spark helpful ideas in other people’s heads, jog them out of obvious patterns of behaviour into doing new things. They provide an easy way for people to expand the space of their ideas; find a new word/definition, seek to understand it and it’s applications.

    5 – Intellectual promiscuity is a great way to form new ideas; intentionally misunderstand someone when their work jumps out at you. Why did it do so? Does the impressive element really suit their argument? Does it remind you of something else? Look into those similarities and see if you can build a case, drawing on the power of their examples and your own experience in different areas to make an alternative idea.

    6 – Ridiculous people can speak to you, and more broadly have profound success expressing people’s feelings. Linking different pieces of work by emotional punch by relating them to a common fictional aesthetic (in this case overwrought giddy intoxicated horror) is made pretty legit when you do it on the basis of common philosophical points!

    7 – Be passionate and fully involved in your work. Don’t hide behind fake detachment when you actually care, and if you don’t care, go off to something you actually care about. A compelling universe is vital (pun intended), because we don’t need to see ourselves in the universe, we just need (for life) to see a universe we are compelled into engaging with. We don’t need to be “at home” with the world, if we live in “the rich west”, we need to be provoked into passionate motion. That is the missing element of many of our lives, because it is the missing element of our worlds.

    So while your doing whatever else your doing, get some more of that in there. Plus it will make your work way more fun.

    8 – Practice: Just like anything, you can get better at it, so long as you have the right feedback (and trial and falsification is not a bad substitute), and seeking to be creative with your ideas can have benefits across your life.

    9 – Don’t give up, because a mood to stop today might be replaced by a mood to resurrect it tomorrow. So make it easier on your possible-future self and just pause instead.

    10 – Don’t shy away from being political, if you believe your stuff has broader connotations and can be used to produce productive change in society or thinking, go for it. Suggest alternatives. Sometimes people will correct you with even better alternatives.

    11 –

  13. Pingback: The Manifesto of Speculative Realist/Object-Oriented Ontological Blogging | AGENT SWARM

  14. Bryant also banned me from his Larval Subjects for not obeying the obscene order of object-oriented occultism which is a fascism for Bryant, Harman, Meillassoux and Latour are all fascist-fearists fermenting the fascist-fetishism for-of object-obsession occultism: For Harman the cotton burning stupidly is equal to the Jew burning stipidly as all are objects and all objects are equal: this is fascism. And remember the anti-Semite Badiou and the racist Stalinist Zizek both endorsed Meillassoux’s awful After Finitude!

  15. The Object-oriented ontology of Graham Harman, Levi Bryant and Bruno Latour is fascist to its innermost-core of coreless-beinglessness where we live in a world in which all levels are on the same playing field and all objects are equal and all actors are equally actors and their dormant objects and dark objects are the otherism and the racism within object-oriented ontology that has now become an object-oriented occultism which is not an ontology but an obology and obology is the objectifying of everything which is an object-oriented fascism pure and simple but the tragic fact that Harman and Bryant and Latour simply cannot acknowledge that object-oriented occultism is fascist ideology in thought within philosophy is a deeply disturbing thing.

  16. To understand the meaning of being of time we have to redefine being and time and try to decide once and for all what we mean by being and what we mean by time which leads us to ask being what it thinks it is and to ask time what it thinks it is by trying to entice being to tell the being by trying to entice the time to tell the time but before we do this that there then we need to try to tantalise and persuade they and them to stop using that obscene ode of object that objectifies so thus then negates being and time and in turn objectifies so thus then negates nothing and the nothing and everything and anything and so to try and know what being and time is we now need for the first time to excise and eradicate the oblique obsolete obstriction object: the object is dead.

  17. Interesting post, Mr. Wolfe – yet your critique often seems no less philosophically dense as anything I’ve attempted to read in the self-inflicted seriousness of the SR/OOO sphere. (That might not be a criticism..)

    Yet rather than just regard SR/OOO as another dry / academic circle jerk, do you think it might also be more polite andor artistically fruitful to see such a movement as, eg. a throughly delicious postmodern offshoot of post-Ballardian (outer) science fiction literature? Not that much appears to be moving, exactly.

    Have you also read “Cyclonopedia” by Reza Negarestani? It seems legit.

    That is: would we forgive such jargon fetishists, if they outed themselves as the darkly speculative fantasy fan-fictioners they seem to be? This would be my approach.

    Sincerely, Robert H. Dylan

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