Warren Ellis on SR/OOO

April 14, 2012

Graphic novelist Warren Ellis has a post on SR/OOO, HERE.

Just one critical comment about Ellis’s otherwise refreshing post. After quoting my phrase about “ferreting out the specific psychic reality of earthworms, dust, armies, chalk, and stone,” Ellis writes as follows:

“Finally, subjects for philosophy that can’t argue back. If you ignore armies. And the ethical considerations around terming an army an ‘object.’ Which I won’t ascribe to sophomoric political naivete because I don’t know the man.”

I can’t say that I see any “ethical considerations” at all as concerns calling an army an object. Whether or not an army counts as a unified object is a metaphysical question, not an ethical one.

“Object” is not a title passed out as a reward to beneficent things and withheld from adverse ones. To take one extreme case, Heinrich Himmler was also an object, and I don’t see the least ethical dilemma in saying so. Nor do I see how it can be “politically naive” to call an army an object. You might think it’s metaphysically naive to grant reality to such a bulk aggregate as an army, and we could have an argument about that. But I don’t see the point of injecting ethics and politics into the question of what counts as a genuine unit. Some of Leibniz’s monads were evil, too. And you can be the very incarnation of either capitalism or anti-capitalism and still think that Texaco is or is not an object in either case. To call something a unified entity is not the same thing as to demand that it receive political rights.


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