January 20th, 2011

S.C. Hickman

Graham Harman's Quentin Meillassoux: Philosophy in the Making

Looks like Graham's new book on Meillassoux comes out on Amazon July 30, 2011 from Edinburgh University Press. It can be pre-ordered! I see Slavoj Zizek has a small review for it already:

Quentin Meillassoux's entry into the philosophical scene marks the beginning of a new epoch: the end of the transcendental approach and the return to realist ontology. Harman's beautifully written and argued book provides not just an introduction to Meillassoux, but much more: one authentic philosopher writing about another - a true rare encounter. It is not only for those who want to understand Meillassoux, but also for those who want to witness a radical shift in the entire field of philosophy. It is a book that will shake the very foundations of your world! 
-- Slavoj Zizek, philosopher and psychoanalyst

S.C. Hickman

Graham Harman: The Object Smasher; or, the rhetorics of rubble

"Literature is about turning the pre-verbal — if not pre-linguistic — objects into verbal objects with symbolic meanings attached to them. Literature constructs a world in which the objects gain new significance."
      - Cengiz Erdem on May 26, 2010

"For though in nature nothing really exists besides individual bodies, performing pure individual acts according to a fixed law, yet in philosophy this very law, and the investigation, discovery, and explanation of it, is the foundation as well of knowledge as of operation. And it is this law with its clauses that I mean when I speak of forms, a name which I the rather adopt because it has grown into use and become familiar."
     - Francis Bacon, Novum Organum: Book Two, II

At the beginning of Tool-Being Graham Harman, in a style reminiscent of some of the greatest antithetical contrarians of the past two hundred years, says: "A philosophy is not some sort of private introspective diary to which the philosopher would have unique access. It is more fruitful to regard it as an experiment, a careful process of smashing fragments of reality together so as to see what emerges from the rubble." Let's call this rubble philosophy The Object Smasher, and let us not forget to smash all those dead philosophers and their vainglorious diaries too, because all "of us will be truer to what was admirable"  in them "if we take responsibility for our own thoughts instead of trembling deferentially" before their statues (TB: iv). [1]

One can imagine Harman, the Philosopher Scientist, a sort of super-hero of objects with the hammer of Thor in his hands, crushing, smashing, pulverizing objects into rubble; and then, raising the protective goggles onto his forehead, the whisps of his greying hair falling down in his eyes, he begins to study the rubble of his latest experiment in object smashing, burrowing through the smashed excess of objects, watching, waiting patiently, for the emergence of something new - some indelible footprint in the sand of the real that might mark the foundation of objects in the universe and thereby shake the very foundations of philosophical thought itself. Like one of those scientists in Geneva in search of that mythical entity - the Higg's boson, which some have called the God particle that scientists theorize gives mass to other particles and thus to other objects and creatures in the universe, Harman excavates the rubble of philosophical thought seeking a description of the real that is based upon form rather than any search for foundational particles of any kind. What we discover in the rubble is not the reduction of part to whole, no synecdoche of the real, but the composite relational systems of objects themselves. And, do not say, "Oh, I've got you now! What of atoms?" Harman retorts that even if a time comes when we must discuss these, so to speak precious "atoms" that you hold so highly as a sign of your materialist foundation, I tell you that "these molecules are not inert specks of present-at-hand matter - they too are machines, grand totalities concocted out of sub-mechanisms perhaps still unknown" (TB: 285).

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S.C. Hickman

Nicola Masciandaro: Wormsign - for Melancology

"A writhing mass of words, spoken by many and none. A sermon in the sign of the worm. Bless the coming and going of Him. May His passage cleanse the world."
     - Frank Herbert, Dune

"I found, on examination under the microscope, seven large worms, all alive, bending and twisting in the water like so many small serpents."
      - Francis Bauer, Esq. on Vibrio Tritici - Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 1823

Alexander: I myself was educated in Italy. My doctorate in philosophy is from the University of Padua.
Renne: Really? Philosophy?
Alexander: My dissertation was on worms.
Renne: Worms the philosopher?
Alexander: No, just worms.
Renne: Ah, the philosophy of worms.
Alexander: Not at all. Worms have no philosophy, as far as is known.
    - from The Coast of Utopia: Voyage (2002)
           by Tom Stoppard

"Into the void within the planetary body, a place infinitely vaster than that the space surrounding it. Enter the black. This thing cannot be taught . . . I have passed forth out of myself . . . I am no longer an object coloured and tangible, a thing of spatial dimensions; I am now alien to all this, and to all that you perceive when you gaze with bodily eyesight."
     - Nicola Masciandaro

                                                              *   *   *

Nicola Masciandaro in his new essay, Wormsign, for Melancology tells us the "worm stands, for not standing, for anything". [1] The worm is that "self-movement of the essential seizure of embodiment, the spontaneous body of primordial needing." He asks: "Must the sleeper awaken? Will something be born from this restless slumber? The question affirms its answer. The terrible fact of worm says yes." Like the dark prophet of some alien religion of the worm Masciandaro crawls among the black holes of time and space seeking out the anterior traces of the Great Worm, that strange beast of imagination and fantasy that gnaws its way into existence through the embodied duplication of an infernal thought. The repetition of a deadly desire, the drive toward an endless abyss or void from which light and darkness seem but the shadow players in a tomb of dead philosophers. If Walt Whitman gathered leaves of grass from a divine earth, Masciandaro collects the bones and ashes from a desert planet where nothing exists but that vibrant force emerging from the depths of waste and corruption and catastrophe, a force that can marshal the power of a dark and terrible, specular jouissance.


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