Update 6/4/14: I published this post two years ago as part of my analysis of the failure of Alexander Galloway’s attempts to install a fruitful critical dialogue around recent realist ideas, including Harman’s OOO. I encouraged a commentator, Trevor Owen Jones, to continue his individuation despite the traps, obstacles, and social and intellectual boycotts put up by unscrupulous academic game players. He seems to have done just that. I have been reviewing his book THE NON-LIBRARY, and I only realised just now that I had published this comment.
Alexander Galloway published a very interesting response to a recent interview by Graham Harman here. Unfortunately the discussion went off in all directions and the central theme of Galloway’s paper was buried under a mass of comments, many of which were very interesting in their own right. As in my blog I have an ongoing series of posts analysing Harman’s OOO I chose to intervene in the discussion on what I thought to be an important point:
Philosophy is a way of life which includes amongst other things a passion for concepts and arguments. All the rest is just a Game of Thrones. A philosophy professor can be a philosopher in this sense, but needn’t be. It was free to go to Deleuze’s and Lyotard’s and Foucault’s and Michel Serres’ seminars, and if you had the nerve to ask a question you got an answer, usually a very good one. So the argument that a professor from a big bucks university should not be expected to respond to criticism or even questions, when he publishes a blog and gives his opinion on anything and everything is a little strange.
Philosophy is not about opinions, but is one of the ways of individuating ourselves in a world vaster and more creative than the world of opinion. If Trevor Owen Jones individuates by means of philosophy without being a card-carrying philosophy professor this all the more to his credit, as life is short and material and affective means are scarce. If a philosophy professor shows he is more interested in the academic Game of Thrones than in pursuing the argument wherever it can lead us, that is his shame. Money is no argument. Nor is “superior” scholarship. I have known many professors with superior scholarship that were dry as dust and dead as zombies, little pawns put in place while better people were discouraged, driven into fleeing into other fields. The sad thing is that on the internet you do not find a utopia, but the same castes and classes and cliques, the same social stratifications as in the rest of the world.
Many are glad to read and cite Bourdieu, or some other sociologist, without applying it to themselves and their milieu. The personal has lots of social in it, and “social” means power relations. So no Trevor you are not paranoid nor are you intellectually mediocre and insignificant if you are not a philosophy professor. As Leon (of AFTER NATURE) says, keep at it because individuation trumps the Game of Thrones any day, for lots of people. I hope you find them (or more of them)!