Objects, Landscapes and Realities of Speculation

faslanyc has a great interview with object-oriented philosopher Levi Bryant.  The interview directs Bryant’s speculative realism into the particularities of engagement with, and definitions of landscape.  Two highlights we would like to quote here:

On landscape analytics vs. activism:

“I’m inclined to suggest that landscape thought can be divided into two domains:  landscape analytics and landscape activism.  Landscape analytics might be thought as the cartography of the space-time of these relations between entities or objects, investigating both how they interact to produce various local manifestations, but also to compose a “virtual map” of the potentialities or tendencies that reside within these regimes of attraction; the paths along which change in these landscapes is unfolding and possible.

Landscape activism, by contrast, is not merely a cartography of space-time assemblages of objects, but rather is the attempt to intervene in landscapes or regimes of attraction so as to form them in ways to produce particular desired local manifestations.  This work of design can range from the trivial to the profound.  It might consist of something as simple as interior design that strives to produce particular types of effects in people that occupy a room, to revolutionary transformations of social relations that through the artful arrangement of objects open vectors where humans and nonhumans become able to relate in entirely new ways, escaping claustrophobic and oppressive regimes of attraction that both quelled the possibility of these relations and generated misery for those occupying these regimes of attraction.”

And following on the heels of a discussion we had in response to Jane Bennett’s Vibrant Matter (see the comments), Levi Bryant elaborates on the paradoxically generative capacity of words, fiction and design speculation as real or affective things within a flat, inclusive ontology of objects:

“Within the framework of onticology fictions are themselves real entities.  In my own work I am always trying to emphasize the materiality of texts and identities, the fact that they are entities in their own right that circulate throughout the world and that affect other entities and objects.  Now clearly Josoph K. in Kafka’s work is not a real person that breaths, eats, is murdered, and so on, but nonetheless The Trial and The Castle are real entities that circulate throughout the world and that affect people in a variety of ways…I lean in the direction that fabricators of fictions invent affects rather than finding them ready made, and that in doing so they invent the possibility of new collectives and forms of living and feeling.  This is why the domain of fiction is a site of both micro- and macro-politics, for it is both a site where both the imagining of alternative forms of collectivity are rendered available and the site where oppressive collectivities are maintained through the construction of dark affects.”

Read the full interview here.

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