At the moment I’m sitting at the Albuquerque airport so I can’t go into too much detail on this question, but I did want to get some thoughts down in zeros and ones while they’re still fresh in my mind. The flat ontology of OOO already implies a very different form of theory and practice because it argues for the ontological equality, the equal-being, of all types of entities. Two things follow from this experiment: First, we can no longer treat “artificial” entities like groups, for example, as being less real than natural entities like trees are stars. If OOO is promiscuous, then this is because it argues that all of these entities are equally entities. Second, it follows as a consequence that we can’t speak of one type of entity overdetermining all others. The extreme poles of atomistic reductive materialism (Lucretius) or full blown linguistic idealism are both rejected by OOO. The point here is subtle. As I’ve argued in my last couple posts, one thing OOO aims for is the thinking of heterogeneous compositions. In response to this particular hypothesis, the fantastic Matthew Rigliano, who is, like myself, of a Lacanian bent, worried that I am rejecting the important role played by language or the symbolic in the social world. However, this is not at all what object oriented critical theory is up to. The point is not to exclude language, but to recognize that language plays only a role. Language remains as an important actor, but as one actor among many. The point then is to expand analysis.
OOO thus walks a razor’s edge between reductive materialism and hardcore culturalism. Itnearns the ire of the reductive materialists by arguing that therenare entities that simply aren’t material, but which are no less real for all that, while arguing that the materialists are right about the reality of atoms.. It earns the hostility of culturalists by arguing that there are entities that aren’t cultural constructions, while arguing that cultural constructions are entirely real.. OOO will clearly get it from all sides.
OOO wouldnargue that Jarod Diamond and Hans Enzenberger are both absolutely right and absolutely wrong. Diamond is right to point out the role that geography played in giving various cultures the flavor they have. He is wrong to ignore roles that actors, laws, texts, human decisions, etc, play in these assemblages. Enzenberger is right to point out that certain political decisions played a profound role in the undemocratic media environment to emerge around radio (the laws against citizen journalism), but wrong to ignore the manner in which radio itself is an actor that transforms humans and human relationships as well. In other words, OOO inconstantly emphasizing the heterogeneity of actors in these compositions and the need to think their interplay without subordinating one type of object to another.
Wouldntyis entail that OOO is dialectical, thinking the unity of opposites? No, because dialectical thought is premised on the internal relation of these entities, whereas OOO argues that entities are always detachable. Time to run.