ON THE POVERTY OF OOO’S ONTOLOGY OF NETWORKS

Is there any relation between OOO’s simplistic metaphysics and their exclusionary online behaviour? I think that there is, and that OOO’s ontology of withdrawal leads to an ill-conceived and unproductive ontology of networks. Just as Harman’s real objects are obtained not at all by any form of veridical intellectual intuition (the method that implicitly he is committed to) but rather by simplification, abstraction, and rarefaction of empirical objects into a noumenal cloud cuckoo land, his followers are obtained by simplification of their mental and academic habitus. Only simple ideas, simple emotions (basically restricted to love/hate), simple interlocutions (talk with the “ins”, insult or ignore the “outs”) are allowed. Just as Harman’s real objects are an incoherent travesty of empirical objects, his intellectual network sustains only an incoherent parody of a philosophical conversation.

For OOO the real withdraws, the sensual emerges. There is no real abundance but only monadological impoverishment. The abundance and richness of the concrete world is all sensual illusion. Withdrawal as simplification, abstraction, and rarefaction entrains impoverishment and a mentality of scarcity. This may be appropriate for an academic network, where there are not enough jobs to go round. Or for a publishing network, where the market can only take a limited number of related products. It is not adapted to a network such as the blogosphere, where there is plenty of room for all.

In the middle term, OOO provides us with an ontology of finitude beneath the apparent infinitude of the concrete world.  But behind all the talk of how one object cannot “exhaust” another in an encounter, there is no inexhaustible real, but only an a-spatial, a-temporal, a-numeric domain, where even the term “object” is a misnomer. This Not-even-One that is devoid of all known, experienced, and even imagined predicates (all of these are sensual) voids in advance all scientific, artistic, political, and affective processes of their reality, and thus of their infinity, reduced to “utter sham” like all the other sensual predicates.

Thus the ontology of infinity and abundance is for the “naiveté” of the plebs, the ontology of scarcity and finitude is reserved for the initiates, and the ontology of the absolute or the not-even-one is for the adepts of this system which does not even converge into a coherent whole.

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