Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ontically speaking

Continuing in the OOO thread:

theurj: On 114 Harman proves another of my points when he said:

"Once a thing is created, it's there. And it doesn't really matter how it was created; it's a unit."

This completely avoids the cause of the unit/thing which arises within an environment. Yes, once created it has it own autonomy and draws/maintains its own distinctions/boundaries. But what is this plasma (khora) from which it sprang? What are its ascendents and descendents, as Latour would frame it?

Balder: I think this is something Bryant needs to address better, as well:  how does an object come to be?  Regarding the "plasma" or background from which an object emerges, I expect Harman would avoid thinking of this in terms of a formless plasma or field -- which he might consider to be an undermining strategy -- and would say that that background is a jam-packed world of other objects.  (I don't know how, or if, he addresses concepts such as quantum superpositioning.)

theurj: Somewhere earlier in the debate* Harman did say something to that effect, that it's all objects in the broader field or plasma. Don't have time to look it up at present. Still, if the field or plasma is always more complex than any given suobject (at least for Bryant), it would seem it is always more complex than the sum of all objects as well. And this plasma field doesn't have to be a metaphysical (ontotheological) formless stuff but could still be itself created and immanent. I'm thinking of both differance and hyperobjects here, neither of which requires quantum superpositioning. More later.

As for causes, Latour talks about vectors and trajectories, which a student clarified as something akin to what I'm saying. How an entire field of events is required to trace out the various vectors in the creation of a singular actant.

* Harman: "Yeah, it's just objects, and nothing but objects, and all the objects are contained inside other objects" (116).

I'm once again reminded of Bryant's article "Time of the object." However it ends with Bryant leaving the question of a substance's creation as a "mystery... for another day."

Bryant made an excellent case about the withdrawal of suobjects via Derrida's differance, and with which I've enthusiastically agreed time and again. However in the last paragraph of the essay above he said that the autonomy of a suobject does not precede the synthesis necessary to produce and maintain itself, but rather is in the act of synthesis itself where the autonomy is generated. And this mystery is what I'm exploring, since it arises in the environment or field of differance, which is something more than just the inside of formatted suobjects.

Balder: Yes, Harman would say that other objects precede the synthesis of given objects at any scale -- objects all the way down, in an infinite lineage.  (One logical, Zeno-like problem that I'm not sure if he's addressed or not is that, if there is an infinite lineage of objects "underneath" any given object, then that object could not exist, because its causal line of progenitors would extend infinitely into the past and therefore one would never arrive at this object here, as you'd have to exhaust an infinite chain of object syntheses to do so...)

On your side, are you positing the unformatted environment as more basic than objects?

Not exactly. Was there ever a time before objects, even in the broad terms of OOO? I don't think so. I'm just questioning whether everything is a formatted object. For me even the environment (and differance) are immanent and created in time, just unformatted. It seems that the definition of object, at least for Bryant, is that it is formatted, i.e., has its own autonomy and boundary. Whereas 'unbounded wholeness' is by definition unformatted. Can they exist without each other? I say no. Harman says yes, Bryant says at least theoretically.

Balder: In Bryant, there is a "driving into one" of being and becoming, and in both Bryant and Harman, there is a similar "driving into one" of substance and relation (where every relation is a substance, in OOO's preferred framing; but where this is reversible, also, and every substance is a relation).  I'm not sure exactly how I might relate my emphases on (en)closure and disenclosure here, but thinking aloud, disenclosure is a kind of "unformatting."  I'm imagining -- perhaps too concretely -- an unbounded (never-finally-bound) flux of object/relational (en)closures and disenclosures at multiple (and evolving) scales.  (The Big Bang would be a kind of primal disenclosure event, though not conceived as a one-time occurrence).

theurj: More on this notion of inside/outside:

From TOO: “There is that side of the object pointed towards presence or what I call ‘local manifestation,’ and that side of the object that is radically withdrawn which I call ‘virtual proper being’” (4-5).

Harman in the debate: “I think the thing has to be free from its outer relations but it can’t be free of its inner relations…’domestic relations’” (115).

I can see making this distinction but it seems too rigid. Substance only resides on the inside due to a suobject’s drawing of a distinction or boundary, i.e., in its endo-structural relations. And I’m suggesting that difference per se is not just inside but in true metaphysical fashion is indeed an ontic* given that flows across all boundaries and everywhere in between boundaries.

Recall in TOO Bryant notes that differance demonstrates how succession occurs in time and how things change. As I was noting above, this environmental field of differance is itself the progenitor of change. And it should be no surprise that differance, being both in and outside of a suobject, is its cause.

* Unfortunately the definition of ontic distinguishes the real from the phenomenon, and it is exactly this too strict bifurcation (dualism) that I wish to avoid. Same with real and actual, withdrawn and local manifestation. Differance is not just withdrawn but within every local manifestation, every actual event. This is a tough one to communicate.

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