Harman on Latour’s Politics

This article made me think, how the material reality of the house where I live (I’m remembering the Ox, the communal warehouse where I lived) shapes our lives in ways that are beyond what we intend or choose. The material reality we make or choose, makes us. This made me think of our kitchen. My increasing dissatisfaction with how we use it. Our shared and progressively less shared and more individually fragmented kitchen–how the physical kitchen, by it’s small size, its limited storage, shapes this fragmentation into a less and less communal space. In the Ox, a dozen people could work, sit around and schmooze, clean up and cook, all in the same room. The huge work table and ample space not only made this possible, but it invited it, and the space of the Ox itself–a space with its many rooms and open areas, good for music and hanging out, needed to be filled–and that in turn, required a degree of cooperative action for cleaning and care–which when resisted, made us (FORCED us!) to be aware (to different degrees) of our mutual dependence (and how unready we were for this, having come from the dominant culture) in ways that living in an apartment, didn’t. Living in a house divided like this–like most middle and working class housing– people can comfortably settle into their habitual, individuated lives; can see in this how a shared house, arranged for isolated non-extended ‘family’ units–needs a high degree awareness–and experience with more communal living–to resist being re-formed into something closer to the cultural norm–the divided and alienated consciousness suitable for capitalist exploitation.

Larval Subjects .

My way to Speculative Realism was through Harman’s was through Harman’s Prince of Networks:  Bruno Latour and Metaphysics.  It’s difficult, after all these years, to convey the sense of excitement I felt when reading this book.  I had felt it before, my first year of graduate school when reading Zizek’s Sublime Object of Ideology (I actually dreamed about that book).  There I felt as if an entire opaque world of theory opened up to me that both allowed me to understand the thought of figures such as Lacan but, more importantly, that allowed me to put that theory to work and comprehend the world around me.  Harman, of course, is a consummate stylist.  There is a certain charm and style to his writing that is difficult to put your finger on.  Often it occurs in the margins, when the reader comes across offhand asides that he makes such as…

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