A point worth emphasizing with respect to my last post is that regimes of attraction are not containers. As I said there, we have a tendency to think of the environment as being a container, not unlike a room. Objects, we like to say, are in their environment. We also have a tendency to treat environments as abiding and fixed, while we treat objects within these environments as unchanging. A regime of attraction is not a container. Put differently, a regime of attraction is not other than the objects that populate it. It is those objects in their perpetual interaction with one another. With each event that unfolds within a regime of attraction, effects are produced in other objects within that regime, leading, in turn, to transformations in yet other objects. This is why regimes of attraction are never sedentary. They might achieve some sort of “metastable equilibrium” for a time, but because each act of an object leads to other acts in other objects, regimes of attraction are perpetually changing.

Reviewing Ivakhiv’s post, I noticed the following. Ivakhiv writes:

Contrary to what Levi Bryant and Graham Harman have sometimes argued, however, there’s no inherent reason why a well articulated, materially and socially grounded relationalism*, one that focuses on processes of emergence and actualization, with their various conditions, effects, and so on, should result in an ontology that cannot account for action or change. An ontology that focused only on relations, or on change, or for that matter only on objects (and I’m not suggesting that Graham’s or Levi’s philosophies do that), would be one-sided. But the point is to bring objects — more or less stable and persistent entities (assemblages, actors/actants, or whatever else a given ontological account takes them to be) — and relational processes together in a way that accounts for both stability and change, persistence and transformation, structure and agency, stubborn fact and creative advance (to use Whitehead’s terms).

Notice the words and phrases that I have highlighted: “more or less stable and persistent entities”, “stability”. I think this gets right to the heart of the issue. There is a grammar in the minds of some that equates the signifier “object” with “stable” and “persistent”. It matters little how often I talk about local manifestations (which are, incidentally, events or activities, genuine occurrences), processes of actualization, objects as acts, or objects as allopoietic and autopoietic systems (which are ongoing activities), and interactive regimes of attraction, there’s still, lurking in the minds of some readers, an unconscious grammar of objects as brute clods that just sit there and do nothing. Drawing on ordinary language connotations rather than what’s actually said or written, charges are then made that don’t even resemble the ontology that’s being defended or asserted.

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