- Jul 2016
This principle is, I will show, a convenient fiction in this new work, enabling the philosopher to hear the call of things and to speak to and for them, despite the new rule that we cannot think of objects as being-for-us and must reject older philosophies smacking of "presence" and traditional ontology or ontotheology
So this is the leap. But what about work like this?
"Answers to this question are beginning to emerge from an area of work I see as connected to rhetorical ecologies, the study of object-oriented ontologies (OOO), led by Graham Harman, Levi Bryant, and Ian Bogost. Bogost’s self-described “elevator pitch” for this area of inquiry reads as the following:
Ontology is the philosophical study of existence. Object-oriented ontology (“OOO” for short) puts things at the center of this study. Its proponents contend that nothing has special status, but that everything exists equally–plumbers, cotton, bonobos, DVD players, and sandstone, for example. In contemporary thought, things are usually taken either as the aggregation of ever smaller bits (scientific naturalism) or as constructions of human behavior and society (social relativism). OOO steers a path between the two, drawing attention to things at all scales (from atoms to alpacas, bits to blinis), and pondering their nature and relations with one another as much with ourselves. (bogost.com)
There’s much more to this area, of course, no surprise given its relationship to Heidegger’s work, but this statement makes the case for a focus on things, just as theories of rhetoric as ecological inform my research methods. While OOO rejects the disproportionate historical focus of study on all things human, often referred to as correlationism, focusing on objects does not mean dismissing human-based studies so much as looking with equal rigor at all the innumerable phenomena that populate the world. This is a question of balance, as becomes clear with Bogost’s call in the last phrase of his blurb to consider objects in their “relations with one another as much with ourselves” (emphasis mine). As those concerned with activism—i.e., action mostly on behalf of people—our anthropocentrism will never recede so very much, but work like that of rhetorical ecologies and OOO opens space for us to consider the existence, movement, and effects of objects in new ways. Hence, my claim that adapted flags might do a kind of activist work on their own. From this angle, any flag objects than trigger thoughts or actions on behalf of D.C.’s disadvantaged would be doing the work of activism."