Friday, December 9, 2011

Quantum OOOrgasm

Once again our IPS OOO discussion returns to the quantum, since the thread kicked off with Morton's interpretations of it in "Here comes everything." Some excerpts:

From this post on nonlocality at Morton's blog, the commenter quoting Morton:

"For example, in relation to nonlocality you say, 'nonlocality. This is definitely metaphorical and not literal, at least as far as we know, since real nonlocality, which is a quantum phenomenon, only occurs (we think) at very small scales.'” 

Morton responded to this commenter in this post. But honestly it sounds like jibberish to me. This is where I prefer Bryant's clear writing style. Morton is so obtuse here under the guise of aesthetic rhetoric that his tropes have no traction, for me.

However the clear statement quoted in the opening of this post admits that quantum nonlocality isn't applicable on the macro scale, a point e made here. And said point discusses how we might use the quantum as metaphor for macro objects, like Morton is doing. But to mistake it for an ontological reality? L&J have something to say about that, as e notes.
In this post Bryant too is frustrated with Morton's diffuse rhetoric. "Tim frustrates the hell out of me.... It literally drives me up the wall." Therein Bryant also admits that his objects are spatio-temporal (local), and Morton's hyperobjects may be nonlocal. But like e notes, perhaps the realm of the mid-range object (classical physics) is not the realm of the very small or big, and perhaps they have their own enacted paradigms and rules, or the principle of nonexclusion in kennilingus. More of a plural polydoxy than a universal law of holism. Sort of like Balder's IMP. Or perhaps like L&J said in e's thread, different theories and empirical results might be "locally optimal but globally incommensurate?"

And another thing I wondering about, not being a scientist. Can we extrapolate the nonlocality of the very small quantum level (hypoobjects) to the very large cosmic level, like Morton's hyperobjects? Just because they are both not in the 'normal' range of human perception is not reason enough to confuse them, sort of a pre-trans fallacy? And/or category error?


  1. Balder:

    I don't recall if I actually said this yesterday (I was thinking it but may not have written it), but I agree that Morton's discussion of hyperobjects like global warming or styrofoam as "nonlocal" appears to be a metaphorical, or at least an alternative, use of the term "nonlocal" from the quantum meaning of the term. His hyperobjects do not appear to be "nonlocal" in the superluminal sense.

    However, there is evidence that nonlocal quantum properties may be observed, or at least replicated, at the mid-range level of objects (see this recent story about quantum-entangled diamonds,* which is nicely fitting for a discussion such as this, since Harman likes to include "diamonds" in his Latour litanies), so there may not be any absolute "boundary" between types of objects (hypo, mid-range, or hyper). But still, there appears to be (to my non-scientific self) a "preferred mode of being" common to different levels, where different qualities and features become predominant.

    In arguing that Bryant's model runs into problems if it doesn't adequately account for nonlocality, I do not mean to say that all objects at all scales are necessarily nonlocally entangled (though they may be), just that -- as long as nonlocality is observed at some level of objects, the model needs to account for that.

    Concerning the difference in language between Morton and Bryant, I agree that Bryant's writing is clearer and easier to follow. I think Morton's has a quality to it which may be better suited to more directly communicating or evoking a "strange strangeness," and thus it has its own merits. I can hang with both.


  2. Interesting article on the diamonds. The strict conditions under which they produced the effect though, and its duration, are not seen in the 'natural' world, so this doesn't support a quantum philosophy of all objects' properties. Also in the comments an apparent expert himself (Brezenski) noted:

    "The article likely describes quantum correlations (coherence) and not entanglement. The authors toward the end say only figure 3 really shows entanglement, but they did gymnastics to try to support this point. The editorial loved using the word entanglement on the other hand. In addition, correlations on this level have been shown before, such as between mirrors under ambient conditions and a conventional light source."

    Still, I agree that any theory of ontology should account for objects at various scales. It just seems we need to be careful about projecting the 'laws' of one scale on a universal scale, much like emergent properties of an object cannot be reduced to, or completely explained by, the elements of its structure, quantum or otherwise.

    As for Morton's aesthetic rhetoric, I too tend to the aesthetic in various artistic pursuits as well as in rhetoric. So it's not like I cannot appreciate this bent. But sometimes he gets so diffuse that it completely loses any discernible thread for me.


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