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November 06, 2009


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"The same dream in a new setting is not the same dream." Doesn't the new dream require new language and metaphors? I don't think we've even begun to find sufficient terms.



First time poster, long time reader...

I'm wondering if you have any thoughts of the growing field named "speculative realism," with its various investigations, eg, object-oriented ontology? If you have a piece about this already on your blog, forgive me, I haven't seen or found it, but please direct me to it, if you would. (You reference to certain thinkings of animals and objects made me wonder, but I take it you had a difference context in mind.)


Amy--I'm suggesting that in a dream, what appears to be the same language/image/word can, because of a different setting, be something different. So, the language of secrecy and revelation meant one thing under absolutism but is inadequate under communicative capitalism; an ideal of society as an office and factory was one thing in a setting of peasants without electricity and something else entirely in a setting where over half the people are on computers every day.

Charles--the reference to objects and animals was a gesture in that direction; but, it's a kinda weak gesture on my part--more polemical than thoughtful--because I stopped following their discussion. I stopped following because I didn't see the political purchase of it. I've asked someone to write a general account of the arguments for Theory and Event; I'd like to read a nice overview before deciding whether to go into the details.


In the sense that SR is reacting against a trend or tendency within academic philosophy to subjugate non-human entities on the grounds of correlationism (and thus create a human-centricity that suggests solopsism) it's political isn't it, if only in the tiny realms of the academies? But aren't all realms tiny at the threshold? This movement away from the human echoes all those movements that attempt to protect other species from the onslaught of human excess.

The irony is of course that outside the academy the dominant unconscious M.O. is realist epistemology, with all its dangerous presumption and prejudices. We are not encouraged to doubt ourselves and our self-serving viewpoints nearly enough.

old - Doug Johnson

Very nicely put.


funnily enough i'm finding i need to sleep more, maybe i just need to dream more ?



I look forward to your thoughts on this, if and when you make them.


Good points. When reading much of SR I really can't say I disagree with it on ontological grounds -- surely there is an ontological heterogeneity that is certainly "real" (also including the Lacanian real), but I don't see how admitting this heterogeneity is a move "away" from human concerns and the realm of the political, as you say, but rather a resistance to linguistic or cultural reductionism (or a neurobiological reduction, say). If anything, it is a complexification of human existence, inasmuch as it is also inter-species existence, ecological existence, cosmological existence, technological existence, etc.

Your final point on the doxa of our time being one of immediate self-presence masking our "unknown knows," means to me that the dominate ideas of much of continental philosophy, while for SR are perhaps, at times, dogmatic and reductionist, are still extremely valuable -- philosophically and politically -- for the situation today. These are open questions, but is the problem of political activism one of the failure of the late twentieth century (subjective) thought, or a failure of its embodiment outside of the academy? Will SR and an object-oriented ontology bring about, in any causal way, better political thinking, framing of questions, tasks, etc? I wonder, in a Žižekian way, have we not taken the subjective approach far enough, for instance, in his example about the inconsistency between experience and knowledge with regard to the ecological crisis? That we need further subtraction and alienation from our object-ive ties and interdependences? I don't know, but it's fascinating. I am looking forward to the new book on the "speculative turn."


"I wonder, in a Žižekian way, have we not taken the subjective approach far enough, for instance, in his example about the inconsistency between experience and knowledge with regard to the ecological crisis?"

Charles, if you don't mind, could you explain this, I'm not sure what you mean exactly.

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