Graham Harman’s book on Dante (pt 3/3)

Following Part 1 and Part 2.

Let’s get into my questions about Dante’s Broken Hammer in more depth. I am going to do some inference and speculation, so here’s where I warn that I don’t mean to speak for the book. This part is the most fun, though.


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Graham Harman’s book on Dante (Pt 2/3)

Following Part 1.

In the past, Harman has straightforwardly associated his model of causation with aesthetics. He shakes up that position a bit in Dante’s Broken Hammer. Though he continues to criticize anthropocentric metaphysics, he is skeptical of an art without humans and an ethics without things. To reconcile these views with OOO, he whittles down ethics and aesthetics to more specific (if still indefinite) regions of the world. As he teases in chapter 3, “the surprise of a broken hammer is not quite an aesthetic experience, [and yet] the broken hammer’s rift between the withdrawn hammer-object and the obtrusively visible hammer-qualities does stand at the gateway of aesthetics.” Here is an overview of the subject matter of the book.

The main philosophical topics in Dante’s Broken Hammer are: (1) attachment; (2) anti-formalist ethics (Kant’s two senses of autonomy); (3) charges of panpsychism and correlationism; and (4) aesthetic mimesis.

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Graham Harman’s book on Dante (Pt 1/3)

I recently finished the e-book version of Dante’s Broken Hammer by Graham Harman. I’ve read a lot of his work before, and it often hits the spot for fresh and rigorous ways of thinking through philosophical problems in the humanities. This one is no exception, even (or especially) as it dips into the shark-infested waters of hybrids between human thought and other objects. But it also raises a lot of questions for me that I haven’t quite dug into yet, so I’m going to post on it a few times. This is not a review: go buy it if you’re  familiar with some of Harman’s other writings. I’m going to save most background summary and expansion of my questions for the next post. In this one I will just mention some of my general reactions. I also jotted down sidetracks and quibbles, but I stuck them in their own little section at the end of the post since they don’t belong with a discussion of the meat of the book.

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Object-Oriented Feminism at CUNY

On Wednesday (Dec. 7) there was a panel at the Graduate Center in NYC celebrating a thought-provoking new book of essays called Object-Oriented Feminism. The short event was framed by comments about the book by a guest responder, none other than Rebekah Sheldon who I mentioned (total coincidence, really!) in my last post. The panelists and the editor, Katherine Behar, gave themselves five or so minutes each to say something. It was one of those interdisciplinary panels where some of the technical details from each person’s specialization went over my head, and a couple perspectives came across as striking and novel.

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A Picture Postcard…plus Graham Harman and Bill Brown

A recent dissertation by Louise J. Boscacci caught my attention: an “object encounter” with an old postcard! It’s a cool idea. Boscacci smartly divides the encounter into three elements: the postcard, her experience, and the postcard’s changing environment over time. Her extensive research of the postcard’s history is just plain interesting. But some other stuff bothers me. Continue reading “A Picture Postcard…plus Graham Harman and Bill Brown”