Saturday, January 30, 2010

Update 2

Allright, everyone--here's a quick update. Evan's finished traveling, Mike's finished doing some stuff that needed to be done, and Paul is at the ready. We'll be a little slower, probably, than last year though: everyone's got a lot of work to do, and we'll be fitting in the reading more and more in our spare time. Thanks to everyone who has commented on the blog though so far, or even seen this and thought we were up to something good--I (Mike, though I know I speak for Evan too) can't tell you how great it feels to know at least something you're doing might be helpful, intriguing, or just comment- or even note-worthy.

The next couple weeks we'll be finishing up Latour, reflecting on Latour coming out as a philosopher and moving into Harman's cases for the relevance of Latour for philosophy.

Then it's Prince of Networks. We originally were going to do the whole of Harman, and I had the sweet idea of reading Harman backwards--something I always wanted to do with an interesting thinker, as it sort of is an easy way to destabilize the increasingly arrowlike (thinking of Husserl's diagram) shape that intellectual development is perceived as taking, and blast things into constellations and regions of uneven development (which is great with Harman anyway, since he is much more honest than others about the discontinuity, the jumpstarts and lightning strikes involved in philosophic thinking, as much as he also--as I've emphasized on my own little blog--attempts to historicize his own thought and provide narratives for it). But we don't have time--we want to get to Brassier someday, so we're just going to stick with PoN, and perhaps make some references to the Harman we've already read independently.

Then we'll be jumping headlong into SR (or whatever the people involved care at this point to call this general area of work) with Meillassoux and After Finitude. Some Badiou might pop up as well.

After that, we're revisiting ANT with John Law's After Method (so many afters! you can see the pressures to push things past [post?] the post- or postal [as Derrida might quip] generation preceding [post-ceding?]).

Then we're Nihil Unbound.


Kai said...

I love that Law book...but it's an interesting choice since it seems geared specifically towards those of us in the social sciences (then again, so was/is Latour). Can't wait for comments!

Jeremy Trombley said...

Hey, I'm sorry to interject here, but I have a question and I was hoping someone could help clarify for me. I wasn't sure where else to put it, so this seems as good a place as any.
I'm reading Latour's Reassembling the Social right now, and there's something that I'm not sure I'm understanding completely. When he talks about objects in the section on the "Third Source of Uncertainty" my interpretation is that social ties (face-to-face, person-to-person contacts) are not sufficient to explain durable phenomena such as "power" and "domination." As a result, objects are needed to act as mediators to make those relations more durable. Is that a correct interpretation? If so, I'm not sure I can agree with it. I can see that objects might have some agency, in his description, but that social phenomena are perpetuated solely through objects seems too limiting.
I'd appreciate any further explanation you can give - I love what I've read of Latour's so far, I just can't seem to accept that one part.

Evan Kindley said...

Hello Jeremy (and Kai),

Thanks for the comment.

I'm not sure that Latour is arguing that power and domination are perpetuated "solely" through objects, just that objects are underrecognized as powerful social actors in their own right, not just vehicles for the power exerted by humans. So it's not so much that "objects are needed to act as mediators" (though they are) but that, regardless of the intentions of the would-be dominators, the objects *themselves* wield power.

Does that help at all? Perhaps we can return to this in future posts.