Objects at Dusk

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cropped image of the book's cover

Graham Harman is Associate Provost for Research Administration and a member of the Department of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. He is the author of nine books, most recently The Quadruple Object by zer0 books [English Edition, July 2011].

“Instead of beginning with radical doubt, we start from naiveté. What philosophy shares with the lives of scientists, bankers, and animals is that all are concerned with objects. The exact meaning of “object” will be developed in what follows, and must include those entities that are neither physical nor even real. Along with diamonds, rope, and neutrons, objects may include armies, monsters, square circles, and leagues of real and fictitious nations. All such objects must be accounted for by ontology, not merely denounced or reduced to despicable nullities. Yet despite repeated claims by both friends and critics of my work, I have never held that all objects are “equally real.” For it is false that dragons have autonomous reality in the same manner as a telephone pole. My point is not that all objects are equally real, but that they are equally objects...”

(The Quadruple Object, Introductionpage 5)

The Quadruple Object by Graham Harman is a succinct and ambitious new theory of objects that reexamines Heidegger’s fourfold theory (a vague and, until Harman, unexplored and poetic idea of the world in four parts: earth, sky, gods, and mortals) through the lens of Object-Oriented Ontography (a slightly different take on Object-Oriented Philosophy). Harman, constrained by complications with the publisher, grant access, and his own lecture schedule decided to take a unique approach and “live-blog” his writing process.

“Live-blogging” might seem like an unorthodox approach for a philosophical treatise, but also a wildly brilliant one. Harman devised the blog as a ...

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Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism (July)

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Collapse VII: Culinary Materialism "brings together work that explores, from many different perspectives, the multifaceted question of cookery. In this volume, a range of contributors - scientists, philosophers, chefs, anthropologists, artists - explore how philosophy and proto- scientific theory and experimental practice was linked at its outset to the culinary arts." From the introduction by Robin Mackay and Reza Negarestani (pdf):

Cookery has never been so high on the agenda of Western popular culture. And yet the endlessly-multiplying TV shows, the obsessive interest in the provenance of ingredients, and the celebration of ‘radical’ experiments in gastronomy, tell us little about the nature of the culinary. Is it possible to develop the philosophical pertinence of cookery without merely appending philosophy to this burgeoning gastroculture? How might the everyday, restricted sense of the culinary be expanded into a culinary materialism wherein synthesis, experimentation, and operations of mixing and blending take precedence over analysis, subtraction and axiomatisation? This volume, drawing on resources ranging from anthropology to chemistry, from hermetic alchemy to contemporary mathematics, undertakes a trans-modal experiment in culinary thinking, excavating the cultural, industrial, physiological, chemical and even cosmic grounds of cookery, and proposing new models of culinary thought for the future.

Proto-scientific thought and experimental practice, particularly in the form of alchemy, was linked to the culinary arts’ vital engagement with the transformation of matter. Indeed, how could empirical inquiry into nature, seeking to determine the capacities of matter on the basis of what lay to hand... be anything other than a culinary endeavour? Yet with the increasing specialisation of the sciences, philosophy has misplaced its will to extend such inquiry into a speculative philosophy whose power resides in its synthetic ambition as well as its analytical prowess.

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