The incoherence problem: Bryant contra Harman

One of my favorite moments in the classroom as an undergraduate was getting to the end of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus—the part about how you should shut up already if you can’t talk about something. Even when quietly intoned with Cambridgey words like “whereof” and “thereof,” the teenage mind easily identifies (and identifies with) the underlying sentiment of rage at self-contradictory types who want things both ways, at tragic stories with unprepared happy twist endings, at authorities who would legislate how you spend your free time, at hubristic cosmologists who claim to know what aliens are like

(they seem friendly to me)

That desire to draw strict world-defining boundaries comes to mind when I think of the evolving dispute between Levi Bryant and Graham Harman. Continue reading “The incoherence problem: Bryant contra Harman”


(Back to finitude for a second)

I was about the write the second post about Levi Bryant, but prepping for Adorno has led me briefly back to Kant. In December I mentioned that Graham Harman sometimes portrays his realism as a kind of response to Kantian finitude, which he simply calls “autonomy” in Dante’s Broken Hammer. I already gave the simplest possible version:

He observes that [Kantian finitude] conflates two distinct meanings: a human/world dichotomy (bad) and generic finitude (good).

This can be rephrased and expanded a bit. Continue reading “(Back to finitude for a second)”

Levi Bryant via…Adorno?

Well, not really.

But it’s funny how a single idea, book, or meeting can bend you back to things you haven’t thought about for some time. Case in point is the work of Levi Bryant, and now in two contexts. Let me marvel at just one of those wobbly routes here and save the other one for next time. It starts with Theodor W. Adorno. Continue reading “Levi Bryant via…Adorno?”

Fear of the Dark; X’ed Out

If you haven’t seen it, here’s a shout-out to a wonderful short film by the comics maker Charles Burns (probably most famous for Black Hole). It’s part of the anthology movie Fears of the Dark.

A sentient mantis-like insect has been secretly living with a socially awkward guy since childhood (puberty?). After the guy goes out on a rare date and hooks up with a woman, the critter joins itself to her by burrowing into her arm. Things go downhill from there in the couple’s incipient relationship. Continue reading “Fear of the Dark; X’ed Out”

Drinkin’ drinkin’ drinkin’

It might be a bad idea to admit that you imbibe any alcohol if intellectual sobriety is supposed to be your game. That said, I do love sipping on something tasty from time to time and the temptation only grows around holiday parties, family time, and the delights spending dwindling reserves of cash. Partly because my sense memory is imperfect, I prefer comparing drinks to just working on one by itself. (It can be beer, wine, whiskey, whatever.) Part of the fun, I think, comes from figuring out how curation leads to totally different experiences. This post will be about three questions, then: Will you learn something? Do you want to maximize the range of pleasures? Or do you want a more complicated experience? Continue reading “Drinkin’ drinkin’ drinkin’”