November 19th, 2010

S.C. Hickman

Speculative Realism and the Posthuman Dilemma - Part II

"Real objects hide; intentional objects are merely weighed down with trains of sycophantic qualities, covering them like cosmetics and jewels."

                     - Graham Harman

"In Lovecraft as in Poe, the horror of things comes not from some transcendent force lying outside the bounds of human finitude, but in a twisting or torsion of that finitude itself. The immediate fusion between a thing and its tangible signals gives way to the detachment of a tortured underlying unit from its outward qualities."[1] This statement by Graham Harman focuses the central motif within Speculative Realism's reading of  the 'Object' and of finitude itself.

Do we ever really come to know what an object is? As we begin to describe something so mundane as a mailbox can we ever truly record its finitude, its essence? Graham tells us that "what is present is never objects or qualities, but only a fission between one object and the satellite objects bent by its gravitational field, even if everyday perception deadens us to this fact."[2] It is this weirdness of 'intentional' objects rather than the truth of real objects that always eludes definition according to Graham. Can we ever be sure just what an object is, he asks: "Whether we define it as nothing more than electrons, or as just a shape present in consciousness, we replace the fathomless reality of things with an intellectual model of what their underlying reality ought to be."[3]

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