Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Many Sides to a Big Thing?

A cliché has it that there’s “two sides to every question.” If you’re lucky. Simple questions may have two sides. Otherwise ...

I’m playing in the discussion in and around Object Oriented Ontology as though it had many sides. For one thing, though the Central Four (Harman, Morton, Bogost, Bryant) tend to play is as though they were the three Musketeers—One for all and all for one!—I don’t believe it, nor, for that matter, do they, really. There’s more than one philosophy there. Just how many, who can say? It depends.

Terence Blake (Agent Swarm) has his perspective. And I have mine. Even if we take the Central Four at face value—One for all and all for one!—that’s three sides right there. Alexander Galloway (whoever he is) makes four. And then there’s Latour, five. Jane Bennett, that’s six. And it just gets more complicated when we throw more thinkers into the mix.

I mean, I agree with Harman on some things, but on other things, not. Same with Morton. And Blake. Heck, despite all the energy I’ve put into criticizing Bryant I agree with him on a thing or two as well.

Intellectual configurations are complex multi-faceted beasts. I’m reasonably sure this is a general characteristic of intellectual life. But if, as the OOOists believe, there’s a Big Thing on the horizon, it’s likely to be particularly true of intellectual configurations in search of that Big Thing.

Big Things are messy. They die hard and birthing them is long and painful.

Stay cool.

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