On Dark Realism: Part Two

On Speculative Realism and Materialism

…speculative realists …are committed to the view that there is a reality that exceeds the bounds of perception and phenomenological intuition; that human thought is capable of transgressing the limits of phenomenological evidence; and that being is not identical to knowing. In short: speculation, they maintain, is theoretically capable of disengaging objects from subjects in nonarbitrary ways, some of which approximate science fiction but none of which are, in the last analysis, fictitious.

—Tom Sparrow,  The End of Phenomenology: Metaphysics and the New Realism 

Ray Brassier who coined the term Speculative Realism as part of a weekend seminar at Goldsmith’s back in 2007 recently addressed this strange beast quoting Graham Harman from his essay ‘The Current State of Speculative Realism’ in Speculations: A Journal of Speculative Realism IV (2013), 22:

Though there are still tough tests ahead concerning the breadth and durability of Speculative Realism, it has long since passed the ‘existence’ test to a far greater degree than most of its critics.2

To this Brassier asks: “Has Speculative Realism passed the existence test?” For Brassier the answer was an unqualifiable “no”. For him the originality of SR began with Quentin Meillassoux’s questioning of the Kantian tradition of Continental Philosophy and its Anti-Realist tendencies; otherwise known in Meillassoux’s parlance as “correlationism” (which we discussed in the previous post).  So that Brassier will ask: “The question then arising is whether anti-correlationism is indeed a sufficient condition for Speculative Realism. I do not think it can be.” Ultimately Brassier’s dissatisfaction with SR comes from his disagreement with Graham Harman and his brand of speculative realism or Object-Oriented Ontology.

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On Dark Realism: Part One

On Dark Realism

The question for speculative realism then becomes: of what does speculation consist? The answers to this are as diverse as the field of speculative realism itself. What they have in common, however, is a desire to break with the recollective model of knowledge as well as the authority of phenomena, and to engage problems that are, roughly speaking, metaphysical in nature.

 —Tom Sparrow, The End of Phenomenology: Metaphysics and the New Realism 

For me there is no natural or supernatural, we’ve been imposing human categories on the Real for so long that the these categories of thought have become reality rather than Real. Now that the actual Real is resisting our categories of thought we are left pondering all our idiotic axioms. The Real is what resists our explanatory explanandum; that is the only viable realism. It’s so dark and unknown that we must start from the beginning, erase the human categories of thought and begin negotiating and communicating with the resisting forces of the Real. This is not a War but an admission of absolute alterity in all relations. The non-human other is speaking to us, but we are not listening. Time to enter the dark…

Reading a recent essay by Eugene Thacker on Mark Fisher’s last book before his untimely death The Weird and the Eerie, he reminds us of a statement by H.P. Lovecraft from that horror writer’s short story “The Call of Cthulhu”:

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

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