Friday, May 30, 2014


You haters call us sinners but we’re synthesisters 
Raveling all your dogmas into syncretisms 
You’re dead cynicism, we’re living criticism: 
Lyrical schism in your system's pessimism 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Breaking Out of The Music Box - Time As An Affect of Objects

According to dialectical philosophy, objects have contradictions, and unfold themselves through time. For example, the class struggle within the object known as capitalism has driven history forward the past few centuries.  Capitalism exploits workers, workers revolt, capitalism coopts these revolts by developing new technologies and methods of social organization, and the cycle continues. 

 Timothy Morton flips this on it's head.  Or, perhaps, he expands it outward in all directions.  He says that time itself is actually an aesthetic effect, the surface appearance of objects as they unfold themselves through contradictions. This is similar to a point that I've heard friends make about how we need to decolonize the illusion of time that we inherit from Western philosophy.

What Morton means by effect is not some mechanical process of cause and effect.  It is more like "affect" - the emotional responses our bodyminds make to each other.  Time, like colors, sounds, and tastes, is a function of relations among objects/beings. We perceive time as happening only because we perceive changes in objects/beings. Everything - past, present, future, the ripples and paces of time itself - is an inter objective mesh, a sensuous, dynamic interplay of objects with each other, what Thich Naht Hanh calls inter-being.

This includes our consciousness, because we ourselves are conscious objects / subjectified bodies, so we are part of that mesh. 

This challenges the Marxist tradition and its Hegelian roots.   Hegel's dialectical philosophy was idealist not only because he said ideas are the driving force of history, but ALSO because he conceived of time and space as a blank stage inside which human history unfolds itself. The dialectic is like a dance happening inside a music box, but no one questions the existence of the box itself, and the dialectic never destabilizes or changes the box. Marx was materialist because he flipped Hegel on his head, saying that it is human labor that unfolds itself dialectically through time, not ideas. But he still assumed that there was a world, time, space, etc. that were the box, the container, or the stage for this unfolding. He never thought that anti-capitalism might require the dissolution of the box itself.

Marx didn't understand what ecology, relativity, and quantum physics are now showing us - that time and space themselves are relations among objects. So even Marx needs to be flipped on his head. Even he doesn't' go far enough; his materialism is simply the inversion of Hegelian idealism, and it doesn't escape its flawed, human-centered understanding of time and space.