The Democracy of Objects

The Life of Objects
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Everything becomes a broken hammer and the objects of the world and the networks to which they belong become visible everywhere. They become visible precisely because they are no longer operative in the world of the impoverished person. This is also how it is for excluded groups.

Suddenly the world becomes a menacing problematic place. To eat and to live you must go to your job. To go to your job your uniform needs to be clean. For your uniform to be clean you must go to the laundry mat.

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To go to the laundry mat you need transportation and money to buy soap and pay for the washers and dryers. But to have money you have to go to a job. This experience, I believe, cultivated in me a strong sensitivity to the nonhuman objects that sustain our existence and social relations. This leads to a systematic distortion of philosophical problems insofar as representation, signs, language, thought, ideas, and text come to be privileged.

What we miss is that not all problems are necessarily a matter of, for lack of a better word, the ideational or beliefs, but that the networks of objects that sustain us might very well account for much of the reason patterns of living continue in the way they do. Barbed wire was a revolutionary technology that fundamentally shifted settlement patterns across the North American midwest; pruners are the ideal general purpose tool for maintenance and propagation of vegetation.

Can you talk a little bit about the choice of those images? Seen from afar it looks like flowers intertwined along threads of ivy. However, as you look more closely you suddenly see a hint of menace the barb wire and fishing tackle , as well as a universe that somehow manages to beautifully interweave natural entities, computer memory storage devices, barb wire, fishing tackle and so on. It is a world of great beauty as well as lurking menace. The cover of The Speculative Turn is a bit more masculine and difficult for me to decipher.

No doubt pruning sheers were dimly chosen to convey the sense of something of the tradition—the Kantian correlationist legacy —being pruned away.

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This would be the aggressive, warlike dimension that seems especially popular among those speculative realists that fall in the nihilistic eliminativist camp and that seem to revel in death and destruction. Indeed, perhaps a major fault-line in speculative realism is between that camp that emphasizes construction and building though without a anthropocentric reference for these terms found among the object-oriented ontologists and the process-relationists, and that side that seems delighted by tearing down, destroying, and death found among the nihilistic eliminativists. A more generous reading of the pruning sheers, however, would be to comprehend them along the lines of the bonsai tree, as the collaborative process that takes place between humans and nonhumans in the cultivation of collectives.

In fields concerned with an idea of landscape- geography, ecology, archeology, landscape architecture, art history, forestry, etc. Does onticology offer a definition for landscape? I am suspicious of concepts like landscape and environment because, in the popular imagination, they seem to imply fixed containers that are already there and that entities must adapt to.

In my view, landscapes and environments are not something other than objects, but are rather networks or assemblages of objects.

The Democracy of Objects and ‘Teepotje’ | New Materialism

In other words, within the framework of onticology there is nothing but objects and relations between objects; though I insist that objects can be severed from their relations and that not every object is related to every other object. A regime of attraction is a set of relations among objects. This is a regime of attraction involving my home, the position of the planet, weather patterns, my body, etc. This regime of attraction leads my body to actualize itself in various ways.

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In The Democracy of Objects, Bryant proposes that we break with this tradition and once again initiate the project of ontology as first philosophy. Drawing on the . Levi R. Bryant. The Democracy of Objects. An imprint of MPublishing – University of Michigan Library, Ann Arbor, OPEN HUMANITIES PRESS.

For example, the skin about my fingers is tight and it is now hard to type as I write this. These relations between entities generate a particular actuality or local manifestation in my body. A key point here is that landscapes are not fixed and static, but, because the objects involved in the regime of attraction are acting and reacting to one another, are perpetually unfolding and changing. For example, my body nonetheless emits heat, vying with the coolness of the room. I would thus refer to a landscape as a regime of attraction defined by a field of relations among a variety of different objects that presides over the local manifestations of the objects within this regime of attraction.

In short, landscapes are networks or assemblages. Landscape activism, by contrast, is not merely a cartography of space-time assemblages of objects, but rather is the attempt to intervene in landscapes or regimes of attraction so as to form them in ways to produce particular desired local manifestations. This work of design can range from the trivial to the profound. It might consist of something as simple as interior design that strives to produce particular types of affects in people that occupy a room, to revolutionary transformations of social relations that through the artful arrangement of objects open vectors where humans and nonhumans become able to relate in entirely new ways, escaping claustrophobic and oppressive regimes of attraction that both quelled the possibility of these relations and generated misery for those occupying these regimes of attraction.

Onticology seeks to reconcile the critical, discursive aspects of Kantian critique with an insistence that objects of the world have their own irreducible alterity by providing an affirmative definition of difference. What do mechanisms of control- wire fences, cell membranes, code language- play in this process of differencing?

Every object necessarily has a membrane of some sort or another that regulates its relationship to other entities in the world. In The Democracy of Objects , Bryant proposes that we break with this tradition and once again initiate the project of ontology as first philosophy.

This ontology argues that being is composed entirely of objects, properties, and relations such that subjects themselves are a variant of objects. Drawing on the work of the systems theorists and cyberneticians, Bryant argues that objects are dynamic systems that relate to the world under conditions of operational closure. In this way, he is able to integrate the most vital discoveries of the anti-realists within a realist ontology that does justice to both the material and cultural.

Towards Speculative Realism: Essays and Lectures. Morton, Timothy. Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality.

The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way, trans. Jay L. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Putnam, Hilary.

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