Sunday, January 7, 2018

Kim Stanley Robinson's been reading object oriented ontology

I've been reading Kin Stanley Robinson's New York 2140. Big book, 613 pages. I'm on 399. 

The title tells you what the book's about. There's been two major "pulses"–he calls them–between now and then, with the result that the sea level's been raised 50 feet. Lower Manhattan is now a network of canals threaded among tall buildings. Finances rule. National governments seem much pared away.

All well and good.

But it seems that Robinson's been reading OOO. Concerning the gray-world financial system (319): “It grew in the dark, it’s a stack, a hyperobject, an accidental megastructure.” Has he read Tim Morton, or just someone who's read Morton? And of course Morton is all about anthropogenic climate change which, obviously, is central to the book, though in the past.

A bit later (399): “Have you ever noticed that our building is a kind of actor network that can do things? We got the cloud star, the lawyer, the building expert, the building itself, the police detective, the money man...add the getaway driver and it’s a fucking heist movie!” “Actor network”, that’s Latour, and Robinson certainly does treat that particular building as a Latourian actor. 

It goes: Met Life tower in lower Manhattan, where all the central characters live; New York City; the world.

More later.

1 comment:

  1. "Has he read Tim Morton, or just someone who's read Morton?"

    I find Tim Morton, Graham Harman and Bruno Latour all very difficult to engage with. I find the ideas interesting, butsomething about the way they present arguments that makes me deeply uncomfortable and I find very distracting.

    It seems to be the moments when they situate themselves in the work and describe how they perceive others to have viewed the ideas. Tim and Graham seem to use this as a narrative device in presenting, presumable to relax the audience, its the point where I start to switch off.

    Like to see the personality removed someone else who has 'just read' seems rather appealing.

    Sounds harsh, faults with me rather than them but it exists and I know certainly with Latour and sociology I am not alone.

    Communication and descriptive problem getting in the way of engagement.

    I always get left with the impression of something static rigid and un-moving in these ideas. I know that's wrong but can't shake of the sense that a uniformity is trying to be imposed on thought here.

    Not sure what it is but it has something to do with the way academics identify themselves with the ideas they present. Whatever it is it makes me deeply uncomfortable.