Saturday, 24 May 2014

More on Fuller and ANT

Steve Fuller replies to my comments that were reposted on the ANTHEM blog. There's a long comment and then a shorter one. Here's the latter:
Take home lesson: While I realize that there may be some value in trying to keep the ANT doctrine philosophically pure from interlopers like Land by the scholastic means you have, you would be smarter to deal with him on the political level at which he’s pitching his claims because he is one of the few people who makes the idea of ‘ontological levelling’ interesting beyond the sort of surprising intellectual party trick that guys like Timothy Morton are still dining out on.
I think his comments are quite fair, actually. This is the problem with talking so curtly, at such levels of abstraction—i.e. blogging. Language: tricky. Doubtless the early ANT accounts were lacking in reflexivity (and deliberately so). Their authors eventually acknowledged the faults of this approach. I suppose we are quibbling over the 'canon.' When I think 'ANT' I'm thinking of Annemarie Mol's 'Body Multiple' as much as I am of Callon's scallops—no one can say that the former wants for reflexivity.

R.E. Land, my understanding is that he is very much more a Deleuze-Guattarian rather than a Latourian. I honestly don't know if he's drawing on Latour at all but I've never seen any mention of it. Morton et al. certainly are, shall we say, post-Latourian and I've been very critical of them in the past. This was my take on Morton's 'Hyperobjects':
It's a writing style [...] where a single vocabulary, a single style of speech, a single mode of assembly suffices to address any kind of thing wheresoever, whensoever, howsoever, whatsoever. [...] The world becomes a frozen lake across which the bricoleur glides, slides or tumbles, depending on his skill. The relational labour required to forge any particular connection seems minimal, almost inconsequential – it is enough that the words are on the same page, conjoined by puns.
This seems to be something that Fuller finds objectionable in ANT and it's there, for sure. It'll be interesting to see how Harman, Morton, etc. respond to Latour's modes of existence project since it is explicitly intended to overcome this kind of all-too-easy ice-skating effect.

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