HARMAN’S SYNONYMS OF WITHDRAWAL (1): real objects are a-temporal and a-spatial

Graham Harman propounds no real philosophy, but articulates a tautologous network of conceptual equivalencies based on his two postulates of objectal reduction and strong withdrawal. Time is unreal, a rather amazing thesis coming from someone invoking the return to concrete experience after the sterile abstractions of school philosophy, because objects are withdrawn. Space does not qualify real objects, as they are withdrawn, and so must find a place in the ontology as “tension”. The demarcation real/sensual repeats itself endlessly and tautologically, requiring stop-gap concepts of  “allusions”, “tensions”, and “duals” to bridge the unbridgeable gulfs opened up by Harman’s unworkable dualisms.

“Time” for Graham Harman is the name for the “tension between sensual objects and their sensory qualities” (THE QUADRUPLE OBJECT, 100). Time belongs exclusively to the sensual realm, and real objects are a-temporal. Thus time is a secondary formation within what is itself a secondary formation, the realm of sensual objects.

It is sometimes overlooked that space too is unreal (or one could say “a-real”):

Space is the tension between concealed real objects and the sensual qualities associated with them (100).

Harman’s real objects are themselves a-spatial. They only acquire spatiality as a by-product. Spatiality is constituted by the “tension” between withdrawn real objects and manifest sensual objects. Strictly speaking “space” is forbidden as a category-mistake by Harman’s system. Space as a “tension” is a relation between that which is unrelated and unrelatable, the real realm and the sensual realm. A tension is a relation, yet here the relation is neither real nor sensual, but a proscribed bridging between the two realms.

Yet even here appearances are saved by the Pickwickian nature of Harman’s ontological vocabulary. “Space” does not designate common sense space nor even physical space, as both common sense and science are of the sensual realm, and refer to pure illusions. Any space that we perceive or recognize is illusory space, and so has nothing to do with the tension between withdrawn and manifest objects.

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