Monday, September 16, 2013

The Innocence of OOP/OOO

On re-reading Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto," I was struck, more than when I first read it (or the second time) by her insistence that the cyborg body is "not innocent" and that the attitude of a cyborg politics/cyborg imaging/ cyborg ____ is irony:
"Irony is about contradictions that do not resolve into larger wholes, even dialectically, about the tension of holding incompatible things together because both or all are necessary and true. Irony is about humour and serious play" (Haraway 149).
But after all of our hipster malaise and detachment of who can be the most ironic,  "irony" has been challenged in the name of a new sincerity, a new wonder at that world that can even seem "naive." Now, naivete is not "innocence" (or a narrative of the Fall from innocence), but it seems that Harman and the OOOers have little patience for interminable irony that forces us to hold contradictions in our heads. Could not Harman, Bryant, and co. be accused of trying to turn the world into a "problem of code" in the sense that they seek an encompassing metaphysics (even though its not a thinking of totality. Harman and Bryant both don't talk about 'the world' in general, even in the more nuanced sense of Heidegger) to describe the world?
In a footnote to an essay on Laruelle, John Mullarky criticizes Harman for what he sees as unfair criticism of Laruelle in his review of the book Philosophies of Difference:
Harman remains insensitive to the force of such questions, seeing ‘method’ and ‘form’ as issues concerning effectiveness (in capturing reality) and communicative facility (in convincing others of one’s mastery). Another reason for Harman’s mostly ad hominem critique stems from his faith in only specific forms of rhetoric or ‘prose style’ – ones like his own for the most part – such that Laruelle’s writing is castigated as ‘generally abominable’: after quoting one passage, he remarks, ‘taken in context, its meaning is clear enough – eventually, after some minutes of labor. But to compile the chapter summaries above was never a pleasurable experience for this reviewer, and was often a downright painful one.’ The fact that Harman clearly prefers easy-to-read, quickly consumed forms of philosophical writing – i.e., ones that he can recognize effortlessly as ‘philosophy’ – over anything challenging and novel, could simply be put down to a parochial approach to philosophical writing (though this would be to respond with further ad hominem criticism). A more helpful conclusion, though, would be that it shows the more general tendency of allrepresentational philosophies (i.e., ones that ‘decide’, ones that think they must know best) to mediate everything through themselves, to be narcissistic without ever knowing it, and so to be blind to the mystery that they should be able to have complete insight into reality.
While I think that Laruelle's style is very difficult to read and might seem to be just mystical hogwash, we could say the same of many other thinkers. Instead, its more productive to see style/syntax as a necessary part of the thought. Anyway, the specifics of Laruelle's philosophy is hardly relevant here, but I think the footnote might give us a starting point to see a possible difference between Haraway's cyborg politics (which maintains a kind of privilege of Writing in an extended sense) and OOO/OOP: "Cyborg politics is the struggle for language and the struggle against perfect communication, against the one code that translates all meaning perfectly, the central dogma of phallogocentrism. That is why cyborg politics insist on noise and advocate pollution, rejoicing in the illegitimate fusions of animal and machine" (Haraway 176).
In contrast, we see that OOO/OOP strives for a perfect kind of communication to the reader. Bryant's reflections on style, different than Harman's, can be found here: 

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