One of the things I like about OOO is its ludic or whimsical dimension. This comes out in the infamous lists that populate the pages of many object-oriented writings, but also in the bestiary that OOO has created consisting of trolls, gray vampires, minotaurs, and Jon Cogburn’s (the analytic object-oriented ontologist?) moles and moaning myrtles.
An important point to keep in mind about these conceptual personaes is that, as the brilliant Joseph Goodson has pointed out, they do not refer to motives but to subjective forms. Like the agent slot in Lacan’s theory of discourse, figures in this bestiary are positions that an agent can occupy. In other words, the bestiary refers to ways of relating to others or to an interlocutor. They are, in a way, formal structures within academia. The other consequence that follows from this is that no one is intrinsically one or the other of these conceptual personae. One can pass in and out of these structures. As nearly everyone will agree, there are plenty of occasions where I’ve behaved like a troll, a gray vampire, a minotaur, a mole, and a moaning myrtle. There will be occasions that I behave in these ways in the future as well. These are things people pass in and out of, that vary with the interpersonal relations in question, and that depend a good deal on the context of interaction. They aren’t absolutes or essences characterizing people. They are forms of participation in particular contexts. Of course, some happen to embody these subjective forms or structures more often than others, but that’s beside the point.
Having outlined the concept of conceptual personae in relation to the bestiary, I’m thus led to ask what we ought to name that conceptual persona that is perpetually correcting others. This figure is the person who is always correcting readings of other philosophers. The sole contribution of this figure in any discussion is to say either a) that philosopher x has been misinterpreted, or b) that philosopher x already did all this so no new contribution is being made. For example, a friend of mine once discounted Descartes on the grounds that Augustine had already said everything Descartes said about the cogito.
As I was growing up one of my favorite shows was Connections. Connections showed how technologies were displaced from their original function, creating new technologies. For example, according to Connections spray perfume bottles played a key role in the creation of fuel injection engines in cars. My friend’s dismissal of Descartes on the grounds of Augustine having already given a similar argument is somewhat equivalent to saying that fuel injected engines had already been invented by the fuel injected engine or that perfume bottles are fuel injected engines.
So here’s the game: What are we to call that conceptual persona that perpetually corrects how others read a philosopher and whose sole contribution to discussion is to claim that another philosopher had already said this? Here is the rule: We cannot call this figure a name like “the corrector”. The figure has to be named after some beast from the animal world, mythology, fantasy, science fiction, and so on. In this connection, I think Cogburn needs to rename the “moaning myrtle”. The concept is there, but we need an animal name to denote it.