Nuts to that! Yay things!!!
A comment on Alien Phenomenology
June 20, 2012
I was recently shown this comment by Daniel Joseph from a discussion of chapter 1 of Alien Phenomenology.
The thing that Ian is doing here is positing that philosophy can be practiced for the pure joy of things, as a way into the thing for it the thing itself. It is the application of the theory of OOO to OOO. Bryant, Bennett, Morton, Latour etc, they all are interested in OOO at least in some instrumental way. The ontology is that things are for themselves, but beyond the ontology, practice and epistemology comes back to how this philosophy can add to human understanding of Important Issues like ecology, the environment, political economy etc. Bogost is basically like "nuts to that! Yay things!!!!" which is both admirable AND scary!
This account may short-change Levi and Jane and Tim and Bruno (can I call him Bruno?) a bit, but it's an interesting take on the matter. Of course, we can have both: we can concern ourselves with Important Issues and we can also say nuts to that, sometimes at the same time. This is a perspective that some OOO critics can't quite see, and I do understand why; it's a mind-bender. But there's no reason why we can't simultaneously be humans concerned with human matters, humans concerned with toasters, and (if we really take seriously the plurality of "we") toasters concerned with sourdough.
On a related note, I have to admit, I didn't realize that Alien Phenomenology would be seen as taking such a radical position (radical in the sense of extreme, not in the sense of ... well, you know). Perhaps its the specificity... for example, the discussion of The Wire in the last chapter really rankles some readers.