- Alphonso Lingis, The Dreadful Mystic Banquet from Janus Head
I was finally able to listen to Tim Morton from Ecology without Nature fame tonight give his Hyper Objects 4.0 Rutgers Eco Conference mp3 recording: it was an eye-opening experience to say the least. His talk took on that warmth and humor we've all learned to appreciate from Tim, as he moved easily through a passionate discourse with an acumen and aplomb that few in this age can reach. His ability to not only explain but to illustrate his thoughts with example after example from high and low culture is both interesting and helps guide the listener toward a difficult understanding of a conceptual framework which is as he stated "being rethought even as he speaks it." I like it that a philosopher can admit that his knowledge is always in the stage of happening, performative and always moving through those reflective loops of revisioning that make all literature and philosophy alive and an ongoing process in development; one that is contingent upon both time and accident, letting new ideas invade it as it continually grows and organizes itself around an essential set of objects, rather than concepts, that are themselves open to change.
Climate for Tim is seen within the "totality of derivatives of weather events" and yet, "climate as such is a beast newly recognized by the collaboration of weather, scientists, satellites, and government agencies... this beast includes the sun since its infrared heat from the sun that is trapped by the greenhouse effect of gases such as CO2. So global warming is a colossal entity that includes entities that exist beyond earth's atmosphere, and yet it affects us here intimately right here and now. Global Warming covers the entire earth, and most of its effects extend forward 500 years into the future."
The idea is that global warming is a transdimensional entity or Hyper Object that is "massively distributed in time and space. You can't see it or touch it directly, you can't even think about it, supercomputers using terabytes of ram and processing speed can just about model it in real time." Yet, more than that is is here. The rain and sun; or, as he says, the "wet stuff" and the "burning stuff" that touches our bodies with its physical materiality "turns out to have been a false immediacy, an ontic prejudice smuggled into the realm of ontology and into a pseudo-reality that cannot stand up to the presence of an invisible but far more real global climate."
Global warming is seen as not only a big problem, but along with "melting glaciers it has melted our ideas" of world and worldding. He goes on to lambast the humanist philosophers who have had the tools at their disposal to explore global warming, but have now been exposed to be of little use in helping us understanding either the weather or our climate problems and are now as useless to us as the "proverbial chocolate tea-pot."
At this point in the lecture Tim reminds us of his turn to Object-Oriented Ontology, a school of thought promoted by Graham Harman, Ian Bogost, Levi Bryant, and himself among others. What's unique is not that the title of the lecture comes out of this confrontation with OOO and SR, but that for him like many of us it's about the community or network of philosophical blogging itself that has brought a greater awareness to the local and global community and is helping define the ongoing debates both within and outside the Academy. Each of these academic and non-academic artists, philosophers, writers, etc. have helped open a path for a return to a form of thought that exposes the real of the great outdoors. And, even if many of the original philosophers of the SR mode have disputes about the basis of that philosophy, they each still work toward opening us to the great outdoors that has been closed off since Kant. One can see how the academy feels threatened by the SR community as well from this lecture. At the end of it a respondent was allowed a few minutes time to reflect on Tim's ideas. What I listened to from this respondent was a person that was out of his depth in his knowledge of SR or OOO. He seemed to fumble through his lecture trying to undermine Tim's discourse with outmoded philosophical premises that I feel were of dubious value. But what it did show me is that the mainstream academics are finally realizing that there are some new kids in town and they are not going away ever. So they are beginning to realize that... hmm... they better understand just what it is that SR and, especially, OOO as one of its key variants is about, and just what it is up too. That's why Tim's lecture took the bull by the proverbial horns and went deep into the enemy camp and exposed their dubious hold on their precious philosophical human(isms)istic pretensions.
For me it's the energy and intellectual courage Tim offers us in his dynamic approach to these difficult concepts, metaphors, hyperboles, and objects: the sheer poetry of his eco-phenomenological or dark ecological approach, which is also based on an equally stringent understanding of just what the real means and what an object realism entails that makes his contribution both unique and different. For environmental concerns are one of those objects that we should all take more time to understand and get involved with both locally and globally, and Tim Morton gives us the tools necessary for both understanding and as a guide through the maze of daunting infinity of information in an enlightened and equitable manner that does not belittle one's intelligence but awakens it to the transcendent real. One might say Tim is our Socratic Buddahman, a philosopher with an West/East face that looks both ways at once, much like that fabled Janus. Like a Shelleyian Prophet or Poet of the Object Revolution he wanders the terrasphere of our terrestrial ecoworlds exposing the hidden stories of objects strewn across the timewaves of our planetary history.
The rest of his speech explores in depth the full gamut of his philosophical concept of Hyper Objects, but I will leave that to the reader to experience first hand his views of everything from H.P. Lovecraft's Chthulu to the power of OOO to inform and guide our ongoing philosophical adventures and debates.
Go to Tim's site and listen to his excellent lecture...