Archive for the ‘Levi Bryant’ Category

Alien Phenomenology

November 16, 2009

This diagram demonstrates the weaving of differences any robust theory needs to act on simultaneously, if it wants to harness some real explanatory power and not fall victim to the ‘hegemonic fallacy’ of one difference that makes all the difference. A recent post by Levi Bryant has emphasized the need for theory not to abandon philosophies and theories because they under perform their explanatory function, but to combine and translate these theories into an ‘alien phenomenology’, a term coined by Ian Bogost’, which looks to open theory to all types of different actors whilst not “reducing any one of these domains to the other”. To have an ‘alien phenomenology’ is to abandon human centered perspectives and open theory up to nom-human actors which will give greater yield to the claims made into the working of actors and networks (or objectiles and assemblages, as Bryant’s OOP would phrase it).

The question marked ovals in the diagram represent the unknown strengths of relations between each distinction and other non-identified actors which may also be generating differences in the network which remain withdrawn or barred from access. This approach to philosophy, as bricolage, is one reason I am so drawn to OOO and OOP, as it opens up dialogue with the sciences and any discipline whatsoever that may have some explanatory power.

[20th November 2009: ADDENDUM]

Certainly not everyone agrees with my enthusiasm for Bryant’s bricolage of theory, as this one comment by Bryank, from ‘The Velvet Howler’ blog, testifies:

from what I can tell, Levi’s work amounts largely to a kind of pick-and-choose, Frankenstein patch-work of limbs and organs robbed from the graveyard of philosophers’s corpses. “Flat ontology” and “all difference makes a difference” are basically just haphazard modes of legitimating his a priori right to incorporate every idea under the sun that he fancies—even if they make no sense when placed together. This makes his theory, to some extent, critique-proof, since it includes the entire pedagogically-narrativized history of philosophy immanently in it already (no wonder it’s a realism, since ‘realism’ amounts to having the least amount of commitments possible—it’s like a cheap buffet at the Harmanian Circus Philosophicus booth in Coney Island, step right up, step right up!). Yet that’s its critical downfall: it can’t really ever say anything since it tries to say everything at once.