Ivakhiv on Vitale on OOO

December 6, 2010

Adrian Ivakhiv’s latest thoughts are HERE.

Looks like he also has a new site design. I liked his site a lot before (always a visual pleasure for readers) but this new one has certain advantages even over the earlier one.

Also, let me comment on one of Ivakhiv’s more complimentary passages, because it can lead straight into a mini-advice post of sorts:

“Harman — whose UCLA video I haven’t watched yet, nor have I kept up with his prolific writing, so I’m relying on Chris’s account and Graham’s own assenting nod here — seems to be quite masterful at the work of philosophy, the continual chipping away and developing of one’s arguments in the face of adversity and resistance, while sticking to one’s guns in public about it (remaining true to the overall package, the brand name one has chosen for it, etc.). This is very smart and is serving him and the whole project very well. He may be incorporating language and/or insights from Badiou now, among others (the talk of sets, etc., though again I’m not sure about this, and he can clarify that if he wishes), all the while as he develops an increasingly sophisticated account of what it is that his objects do.”

I like this phrase especially: “the continual chipping away and developing of one’s arguments in the face of adversity and resistance, while sticking to one’s guns in public about it.”

Yes, that basically is what I do. While I happen to think that philosophical work ultimately has to be done alone, over the course of many solitary hours, there’s no question that one must also be in a sort of contact with as many other different philosophical projects as possible.

To that end, reading isn’t quite enough on its own. You also need to subject yourself to constant micro-shocks from the related but different intellectual agendas of others. It gives me the greatest possible pleasure to do things like go to Claremont for three days and listen to 15 or however many papers it was. My brain is now a lot more connected to the latest trends in process thought than it was, and I now have a better idea of where OOO already makes a good case and where it should improve. The same holds for the UCLA workshop of December 1.

As for Badiou, I’ve simply decided over the past six months or so that he’s not going away, and more importantly that he’s occupying some of the same ontological terrain that OOO tries to occupy as well. Plenty of people find Badiou’s theory of objects pretty convincing; I don’t, and I ought to say why in published form. That’s the reason I’m moving slightly in the direction of Badiou’s terminology, as Ivakhiv notes.

Brief preview: Badiou is basically just another bundle theorist when it comes to objects. He has a slightly different way of doing it, but it’s a pretty familiar strategy for letting objects play no serious role in the world at all. If there are two important thinkers missing from Badiou’s landscape, they are Aristotle and Husserl, and what these two have in common is that both are great theorists of units (to shift to Bogost’s preferred terminology for a moment, the Latin version of “monads”).

Put Aristotle and Husserl together in a flask, mix them, and drink rapidly. It’s the OOO cocktail, and not one that Badiou can drink safely.


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