The Five Tensions Follow-Up

I probably should have titled the last post “The Four Tensions Plus Banality” or something like it to clarify what I was getting at. In any case, to imply that the normal state of SO-SQ is a “tension” is misleading. But more importantly, the end of my last post left some things unexplained. It was holding two ideas together that some might read as mutually incompatible. The first one was my conclusion that Graham Harman’s description of time should apply to “fission,” which I understand to be the production of tension from the normal object-quality bond (SO-SQ). The other idea was that fission occurs simultaneously with the “fusion” that Harman calls space or allure (RO-SQ).

The apparent mismatch between these two ideas comes from the fact that for Harman, time is synonymous with normal perception and seemingly opposed to fission. Time is smooth and continuous, whereas space is jerky and discrete.

To really appreciate this problem, I will elaborate on it a bit more before addressing it.
Continue reading “The Five Tensions Follow-Up”


The Five Tensions of Graham Harman’s Ontology

Although it’s a short book, The Quadruple Object by Graham Harman probably has more terminology than anything else he’s written. In it, he includes condensed summaries of all his major arguments about Heidegger, occasionalism, causation, correlationism, and levels of scale. Then he introduces new key details about his title theme, the “quadruple object” of real and sensual objects and qualities. As he argues, the main interest of this model is not to be found in the four individual poles but in their possible pairings. That’s ten named permutations.

Four of them are special: the engine of change in Harman’s cosmos. They are the object-quality pairs. He ends up distinguishing between their everyday states and special events that produce tension. That’s eight possibilities!

Or is it? I will argue there can only be five according to the picture of the quadruple object that Harman himself lays out. This will then lead me to make one major-ish claim about his concept of “time” that differs from other critiques of his time/space distinction. (A teaser: I think what he calls “simulation” in some places and “confrontation” in others is exactly what his model means by time.) Keep in mind that I am just trying to come to terms with someone else’s ideas here, and I think of my arguments in Part 2 here as the conceptual version of line editing or fan theory rather than substantive philosophical disagreement. Continue reading “The Five Tensions of Graham Harman’s Ontology”