On Levi Bryant’s ‘Axioms for a Dark Ontology’

Levi Bryant has drawn up a brief manifesto of a nihilist reflection on the world and life’s place in the one and only world as a mere accident. His materialism in the matters of human belief brings forth succinctly and strikingly a conception of the world as void that is reminiscent of Lucretius. World here functions as a pure void, an empty space on which the dance of matter takes place. This distinction of matter and world seems to recreate the full/empty binary which then is grafted on to existence as a whole, or, the universe. The manifesto is well worth a read and long contemplation, as well as a follow up from arranjames.
http://larvalsubjects.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/axioms-for-a-dark-ontology/
http://attemptsatliving.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/levi-bryants-axioms-for-a-dark-ontology/

But must we abide by these terms and this conceptual framework? The world conceived as it is here is doomed from the start to void and nothingness, which is clearly the only conclusion that could follow from this conceptual treatment. When imagining the world as a single unified place (and this must be an exercise in the imagination, or perhaps an intellectual excursus within a conceptual model), it could not possibly be full and perfectly meaningful to the point of which a perfectly understood significance could give cultural actors access to it. The world is at once occupying the figure and the ground, holding both the indisputable ’thereness’ of existence as object and also the setting, place, or environment upon which all objects dwell. Lying within this word is the collapsed distinction which at first allows for a meaningful object to become a thing under consideration with its own properties, tendencies, structures, and relations to other objects. An object must always ’be’ amidst a backdrop, a backdrop which tries to attain distinctly objective status as a cognizant thing when the unification meant for an object is “outsourced” to its own ground.

This linguistic movement of a binary opposition (figure/ground) is accompanied by the enormous successes of scientific institutions which have brought along with them a discourse rife with philosophical undertones of disinterested objectivism. However, these matters are largely ignored by today’s scientists and left to the “lofty intellectuals” so they can do their work of infinite knowledge production in their secure, unchallenged ’world’. Their experiments, results, and the method so fruitful in producing useful technologies for their nations do indeed prove themselves over and over again to be of great worth. Though the dis-coveries of these material things in their patterned movement can lay claim to truth in the minimally predictive sense, when science moves to theory and, either consciously or unconsciously, harkens back to the beginnings of science in the certainty, finality, and universality it must (if sincerity and honesty is given to the words and concepts with which they construct those theories) admit to itself that it is engaging in philosophy. Recourse is always given to a history of actors, experimenters, and observers that carry science from one new mode to the next, and the unifying thread of science does indeed have a history that goes as far back as when ’physics’ was called ’natural philosophy’.

Bringing up the paradoxes and entanglements of science with regards to the nihilistic refusal of meaningful belief in the world is can be of some utility here since it problematizes both subjective commitment and disinterested (supposedly non-subjective) knowledge. If the separation of subject and object would be held apart so firmly, the subject would be forced to have as its object of conscious adherence (ideology if you want) the forced choice between a foundational social/ego or bare objects/things. I believe things are more complicated and intertwined along with Merleu-Ponty. The reflective and inward-folding that a solitary writer is privy to can be also recognized as an object in the “mind-space” so as to balance the linguistic relationship. A sentence that makes sense, written down or spoken between those within a common discourse must be the result of an actor in a performance – and on a stage. Ideas are inextricable in thinking about the world and any of its particular objects and we must place them some*where* – as we must do with objects, placing them in the world. However, when the object tries to become its own ground, to take over the whole stage as it were, we get an idea that attempts to both produce its own existence and declare for itself nothing at all.

This is an extremely important topic, since I have both flirted with nihilism and remain very open to the Spinozist-Lucretian-Nietzsche Delueze thread that treats nothingness as nothing (as a mere linguistic nothing and not a source of creation or attachment). This all set within the problem of global warming and the threat of ecological collapse which I want to hold out as avoidable. There is so much still yet to be done.

Having gone this far into the labyrinth of theory I should make something clear: these thoughts gave been germinating in my mind for quite some time now from various sources. But those consistent bloggers have made it seem like there was a community of participants willing to read what I wrote and I owe you all thanks for inspiring me to experiment with this mode of expression. It is very strange indeed having so many ideas floating around both the Internet and my face to face encounters and this reassures me that I am onto the right track with regard to the topics, even if the content is disputable. A great deal of my influence has come from reaching out into other spheres and keeping running debates with friends and fellow autodidacts, but blogs allow rough thought to just “get out there” and be seen. The books that I’m drawing from in this piece which I haven’t yet been able to make good enough essays about yet are Cornelius Castoriadis’s Crossroads in the Labyrinth (a staggering work of theoretical genius), Robert Pogue Harrison’s Forests, and Deleuze’s Spinoza: Practical Philosophy. I’ll get around to coming up with more substantial works on these books soon since they have been so educational and I want to share.

As a teaser: the social actor is inextricably bound up with yet opposed to Nature. Nature is less a world than it is a labyrinth. The place, region, or territory is neither neutral or empty. The place of nature (seeing as it is that the social must juxtapose with nature) is the forest.

Matter Meteors

A materialism of bare substance and objects interlocking and composing larger objects or decomposing into smaller ones seems irrefutable when contrasted with a spiritual substance which acts as a primary force ‘moving matter from within’, or guiding the matter formally to an end. But the spirit – matter opposition sets us off on a dialectical course that can only lead us to a dead end. In terms of movement and animation of matter and the various forms that it takes or disintegrates from, the transcendental idea/notion is the result of the inability to observe the variety of organizational forms that persist but also fall apart and organize again another way.

This other world of transcendence (God, Heaven, Forms) is an imaginary world like so many others dreamed up in human cultures in folklore and literature but is obviously unique in its ability to put up a stop to and satisfy a demanding questioner. A source, a final reason for why people ask the question; that a direction is better than another, that some methods lead to destruction, that a certain pattern has stabilized rather than another – these juxtapositions give one a sense that the flow it is caught up in is not the only or necessary way but preferable and valuable. The method has worked and gotten us this far (this far for sure but also *at least* this far) and it will continue to be used as a tradition. The question as a potential danger to that tradition, but it is also the most generalized form of an adaptability to surprising and alien conditions that arise unexpectedly: environmental change. It is the most general because it is language’s way of deviating off course. It is sometimes justified for tried (and true) methods to reject radical questions and regard them as dangers, but it is also a way to adapt to shifts in conditions that could not be predicted by previous methods of thought and practice. In a globe changing rapidly, and a culture of symbols, images, etc. that mirror this rapidly shifting globe in its ability to reorient itself to cater to our desires and even create new ones, this ability to question and remain in a state of doubt without an answer (or pre-paved path) is crucial if we are to get off of this catastrophic cycle moving way too fast.

Back to Spirit vs. Matter and Dualisms in general: It would seem (again) like an empirical world or an emphasis on material objects should be the obvious focus of attention to turn to from the stand point of a virtual assemblage of imaginary objects that are used to attract and distract the attention of the measured masses with a painful scientific precision. The number of worlds, fantasies, and symbols have skyrocketed in the past 100 years or so and trapped us not in a single world of make-believe but in a giant landscape of many worlds to chose from, intensifying the ambiguity of the one world thinkers put much of their efforts into achieving in various philosophical and scientific discourses. Yet the true world – illusory world distinction itself is one born of the languages bearing abstract symbols that for all their accuracy become more complex and esoteric the closer they approach the boundary. (Reality). A great sigh of relief can be found in knowing a gap between worlds exists (and that worlds are many) and that going from truth to illusion is an impossible task as a final destination. However the work is far from done, a simple rejection leads to a new set of problems while the opposition one vs. many (worlds, things, forces, perspectives) remains a metaphysical *one* which can separate the knowledge, patterns, regularities, and consistencies uncovered in repeatable experiments and other human practices (including art) with the *one* mater-energy stuff – just in many different worlds, discourses, spheres, etc…

The best I’ve got for now is inhabiting the diverse worlds that abound and coming to grips with their logic and structure bearing in mind that they are not real nor ever can they be. Even those that lay claim to the logic of the UNIverse or the structure of existence like physics and maybe mathematics contain the strangest of symbols and variables, infinities and paradoxes, chaos’s and dissymmetries. Science Fiction and its worlds are perhaps more real than scientific ones by self-reflecting their fantastic quality and using this negative understanding to inspire wonder instead of arriving at the one. Going farther and farther into the imagination leaving the real world behind mimicks material reality in its fractal expansion, doing a better job than competing theories of reality because they don’t insist on their one-way bridge from their mirroring language to Nature. This all the while with the self-understanding that the bridge is uncrossable: Science Fiction is a paradoxical title to begin with if one takes the quest of science to be that one true world “over their”.

Fantasy worlds and their own logic bypass this tendency (which I am tempted to call a “natural tendency”) by respecting other worlds for their creativity but using a different standard for judging their merit: the problems, issues, blockages, in the well-worn path (questions) they provoke. Can this be said to be reflected in the material world? After all, Sci Fi internalized its falseness, so does this imply that what is real is affirmed yet untouched, unsensed? Surely the separation cannot be complete, and the fingers-typing, brain-firing of the author-body moves along with the imaginary worlds conjured.

The assertion of one’s fictional activity is then an inward folding condensation rather than a two-way speeding back-and-forth trap of dualisms. The movement in one direction then has a reverse direction that stretches it out and abolishes the point that was supposedly started from. A trajectory loses its origin because the line goes the opposite way as well. Imagine its bafflement when it tries to reach the point of the other (real world) and finds that the other point has vanished as well! The line needs not a point to reach, a place to settle, but can continue along indefinitely in both directions: Aion (for you Deleuzians out there). The distinction has then shifted fundamentally from two points and the movement inbetween (cathode – anode) to a stretching expansion of the line in both directions (past/future) vs. a condensing, intensifying gathering (present).

How can one still say that a pluralistic, fantastic assemblage of worlds is relfected or resonant with the “real” world of material existence? Must this put the one world at the center or on the thither side of the many worlded engagement? The single – plural opposition does in fact have value for it sets the “one” on an open path rather than a fixed choice between ‘there’ and back again, but a duality it remains. Within language we remain, within discourse we make sense. But we should not have to choose between the mirroring activity of Natural Philosophy (aka Physics) and the wondering activity of fiction/literature. Philosophy intensifies along with fiction (condensing) as well as fiction extends behind itself as it pushes forward into the false (expansion), the requirement is only that one choose the proper words to invoke the opportune movement: Selection.

We are stuck with Dualities to make sense, but multiplying the possibilities can be an effect of Philosophy and Natural Philosophy with Pluralsim (vs. the One). Fiction, Literature, and Myth fit into a dual scheme as well but not without breaking the points into a constellation and extending in at least two ways at once.

Object-Oriented Ontology and Occupy

I came across an exchange between Levi Bryant (at Larval Subjects) and David Banks (at Cyborgology) recently that riled up my interest in occupy and its ability to confront systemic Capitalism. With a focus on place and territory, people of all stripes were drawn together to build a movement utilizing non-capitalist means while simultaneously hurling impossible demands at the plutocrats controlling our political process. How effective this tactic is: how far such a movement can grow and to what ends has been debated since it first caught fire – to an almost absurd extent. But measuring these things requires acknowledging the conceptual tools with which one is working and the limitations of those tools. This tracing out the limits of the theoretical framework within which one is working allows for a pushing of those limits further beyond and hopefully into radically new strategies.

 An Object-Oriented Ontology (like Bryant’s) would focus on and prioritize the material things, flows, and functions as opposed to identity based critique and the ’who’ of subjectivity. This new kind of materialism starts with the actual movement of objects and treats ideological constructs like capitalism, society, and so forth as “hyperobjects” without a fixed location. Hyperobjects are dispersed throughout the field and are a kind of ecological/environmental composition of material entities that organize those entities and invade their interaction with each other. A hyperobject, it could be said, operates in the interactional relations binding the web of a system together. Capitalism would be one such hyperobject guiding actual things into tightly bonded relationships, in distinction from just calling it an ideology perpetuating dehumanizing class-based divisions (which it indeed does). The OOO materialist’s concentration when dealing with Capitalism is in the effect it has on how and where things can assemble. The geographically ordered distributions of things takes priority over the ’who’ question of what is distinctly formative of a culture or community. This doesn’t negate who one is, their identity or affiliation, but it does ask that we look deeper into one’s ecological entanglement.
 The problem is about location and identification: how can a hyperobject be combated and challenged when it is nowhere to be found? The global connectivity of capitalism means that it manifests as a broad-based ’system’ instead of an object or fixed territory like a factory building or the walls of a city. Crucial though for the OOO materialist is that the system should not be critiqued as a transcendent object that crumbles upon unraveling its contradictions in a text but inhabits the world of objects in their pattern formation and transferring real entities to and fro. Without the distance preserving safety zone of textual analysis, the system gets under our skin – the hyperobject does the ordering and structuring of the material processes in our body and environment regardless of which belief inducing symbols I favor or don’t favor.

 

The argument Bryant makes is that to alter the functioning of something like the capitalist hyper object requires intervening in its material flows of goods: grinding the machine to a halt by disrupting its normal processes. His critique of protesting outside Wall Street and the meme community building is realistic (politically and ontologically) in that he contends that it only becomes effective in a struggle against capitalism in reaching a revolutionary critical point:

“a systems theoretical perspective suggest that these forms of practice are about forming revolutionary collectives or solidarities. While these collectives do not do much themselves to change governments and corporations, they could reach a critical mass capable of doing so.”

Bryant is claiming that identity-community based solutions alone can be more-or-less easily swallowed up or neglected by a highly efficient, co-opting hyperobject like Capitalism unless those communities take on an aggressive, uncompromising quality separating them from the normally functioning system. This is a demand for a tangible and clearly distinguishable disruption of that system. The OOO materialist it seems only sees positive gains from a redistribution and a regrouping of both human and non-human things – not just changes in consciousness or the “national discourse”.

With a strategic focus on altering and challenging the material flows and standardized connection of things in the system, the object-oriented ontologist intentionally leaves open the subjective, class-oriented issues. It would seem that who subjectively takes the hit from all of this systemic disruption can be settled when the system-network is transformed, but David Banks has a rebuff. The vast inequality necessitated by a Capitalist economy, exacerbated by its latest crisis, leaves a great many vulnerable to its exploitation yet simultaneously more reliant upon its smooth functioning. When the arteries of a system are targeted, when highways are blocked, strikes are executed, and/or supply chains disrupted, those poor and underprivileged are hit the hardest. As more effective tactics are deployed in real, tangible ways the system is indeed weakened, but those most attached to the system under attack are those that are also alienated by it. Therefore, precise attacks aimed at the wealthy elite (or “the 1%” – just to give them a name) must go through the buffer of their expendable wage slaves unless they all rise up together. All classes are dependent on the current system’s continuance for their sustenance, but smaller guerrilla-style attacks seem to only agitate an already over-tapped people in the workers, unemployed, and marginalized. Does an object-oriented ontology miss this class disparity, the inequality of subjects built into the system in its insistence on objective practice and analysis?
Banks would say that it does: “[i]t is the poor that will suffer first and foremost. So when an Occupation decides to block a highway or stop a cell phone tower from working, they are disrupting the lives of the poor disproportionally more than the rich.” This is a check on radicals blocking the flows of the system for the sake of a real material consequence: the subjective analysis (so far bracketed) finds the oppressed even more damaged. Of course, no self-respecting anti-capitalist on the left or wherever would advocate letting things be as they are. The prevalent organizations of power and repeated exploitation of people’s labor and environmental resources are intolerable and we only have a short time before the damage is irreparable. The difference here is of which conceptual language and analysis will prove to create lasting and sustainable change. Banks takes the materialist flow-disruption another step by forcing one to acknowledge the harm done to the oppressed (if one is not already feeling those repercussions) and what to do about it. I can easily understand his protestation: “[i]f you block a highway, be prepared to offer (at least) a temporary alternative.”
The great thing about the occupy movement during its heyday was that it *did* offer an alternative in the inner-city camps experimenting with radically egalitarian social relationships. The anger-channeling mobilizations against banks, ports, summits, etc. did indeed attempt to disrupt business as usual and succeeded on some level. But these actions felt all the more righteous when there was a site, a *location* one could go back to and count on seeing some friends. The camps were like a beacon of hope that justified attacks against “the Capitalist system” because we had a non-capitalist commune to refer back to and provide assistance to anyone being eaten up by that system. The alternative Banks seeks in an inclusive “leftist politic that helps build coalitions and makes these struggles linked and meaningful for all concerned” seemed within reach and it charged up individuals into acting out against systemic violence – even in the face of immanent police brutality nobody else would hear about. The subjective ’who problem’ of the well-oiled capitalist machine and deemphasized by object-oriented ontology was less of a problem with a lifeline bringing those privileged and unprivileged together in a geographic location. Though the movement was largely fueled by middle-class youngsters only just recently feeling the pangs of precariousness, it still brought much needed vitality to the anti-capitalist struggle. They (we) were able to link up and, at least for the duration of the occupations, feel connected thanks to a common territory.
I sincerely wish more people had come out and physically occupied those camps when the evictions were all but certain. They were a crucial tactical component of the anti-capitalist struggle as seen through the eyes of the occupy movement, in spite of the problems a homeless encampment generates. More bodies in a tighter space (from the materialist eye) would have at least shown that this government action (coordinated nationwide) was against the will of its subjects (idealist eye).

So does the specific, local, territorial character of occupy camping and its empowering qualities derived therefrom negate OOO’s insights on hyperobjects? Can we gain from this insight when so much material support came about by starting from a very local, confined space? I think we can, but this means working through conceptually what object-oriented ontology and the occupy movement have in common, but has been slightly overlooked by Levi Bryant and Tim Morton (from whom the term ’hyperobject’ is borrowed). A local-territorial site with defendable borders (be it a park or building or one’s foreclosed house) mixed with solidarity actions connecting them together didn’t by themselves disrupt the systemic flows of Capital, but the did give a very real and solid glimmer of hope that things could and were being done otherwise than by Capitalist means. This provided the moral weight that energized collaboration on those confrontational projects: there was an alternative.

We’ve all gotten to that all too familiar yet irksome wall in heated political conversations where someone always remarks: “But you’re a part of the system you reject! Your actions depend upon this system’s workings too!”. For many I take it, the system is a whole instead of a process and the injunction spanning across our culture to “Work!” and maintain it is a duty. Without a collective imagination for how it could be otherwise that didn’t rely on a Communist, Anarchist, Syndicalist (or whatever imaginary society found in texts) theory the rebellious and creative of us were left high and dry. The Occupy Movement provided a ground (literally) with which one could bombard a corrupted system with impossible demands. The amount of concentrated political energy such a tactic infused into the populace hadn’t been seen in nearly 50 years, and it spawned the emergence of a new popular, mobilized community with its very own name. This all occurred because some dedicated people decided to camp out in front of the site where the major culprits of unregulated and exploitative Capitalist speculators; it couldn’t have happened without a specific location. These camps were (some, I think, remain) more than their locations though, they could be compared to singularities drawing large quantities of mass towards them. There allure was not to rest those concerned bodies in an arrangement forced by the singularity as a center, but charge them up with rational debate, radical speculation, and angry heckling. The open access of these assemblies and their tendency to attract radical dreamers led to some of the most breathtaking, jaw-dropping political theatre we as a country have seen in a long time and I have ever participated in. This was especially acute in Oakland, when there was a time that hundreds of people could be counted on to engage in a democratically dedicated public debate.

This all couldn’t have been done without an extremely bare-bones name (which ought to be granted to anyone “filling a space”… that is, everyone) and an easily located destination to provoke mass interest. So Banks has a point when he urges us to consider people bearing the brunt of the blockage of the system and “offer an alternative” for those most dominated by Capital (which Occupy did – there was free food, camping, ’interesting’ people (to say the least), and generally free everything). However, one can still understand Occupy thoroughly from an object-oriented ontologist’s perspective by viewing the bodies it put on the streets, the collective energy parading around the cities, its confrontational rejection of negotiating with cities (it was like a new city within the city), etc. The self-reproducing (autopoetic) system that occupy rejects is fought materially through a utopian-style separation and targeting the highways, shipping routes, city meetings, etc. (though less effectively now). We and I *did* this in the California Bay Area. But in order to get to that critical point where enough people are ready and willing to put themselves on the line, certain non-material factors needed to appear and galvanize those people into a collective force.

The ethical commitment, the righteous duty can be interpreted materialistically as a generator of energy and a solidifier of coalitions. This must be major concern if what is being built is to have an impact against a hyperobject that is “purely virtual or withdrawn” and “can’t be directly touched”, since a critique or action can so easily fall into co-option and sterility – a point Levi Bryant makes very well. But *getting to that point* that critical point of putting up a challenge and offering an alternative system – a new and competitive hyperobject as it were – requires utilizing abstractions that are believable; they compel subjects to become subjects of another kind.

For reference I would bring up Simon Critchley’s work in Infinitely Demanding and The Faith of the Faithless for an example of a concerned academic putting up convincing arguments and synthesizing a great deal of research in building that critical movement. I’ve written about it in this blog. He’s since spoken favorably about the Occupy Movement in interviews and articles here, here, and here but without giving speeches at Zuccotti Park like Zizek did, sidestepping the iconic vanguard possibility. That being said (err, written), we need all the academic intellectual input we can get if another system besides Capitalism is to rise.

Speaking of speech acts (in a written essay… Derrida!), the gesture of getting one’s message out to the general public and convincing them to come out in a mass assembly and risk police assault requires such a media campaign without immediate effects. Right-wingers understand this and shape the national discussion by saturating all available mediums with opinions I have no problem with calling retarded. My fellow Occupiers and I soon realized how supremely frustrating it is to get the mainstream media to report accurately and without an anti-occupy, pro-police bias.

But new technologies of vocal expression (the human microphone, the stack, and standardized stage-time) let voices be amplified to a greater audience and pushed occupy’s influence farther than was thought possible. The speech act has more material effects than a simple cathartic release in this context, it lets those arguments and those ideas passed over by the media behemoth be discussed by many individuals. It makes public debate at once attractive, effective, inclusive, and alternative compared to the mostly sensationalist garbage that gets passed off as news these days. This type of structured discourse allowed important but neglected ideas to be heard (the prison-industrial complex, financial fraud, the list goes on) and, most importantly, draw people into a common struggle against the forces of Capitalism. Though the sound waves disperse into thin air, a mouthpiece that shouts loud and with a communicable message is crucial to forming that struggle.

I know some will say I’m shaving with a dull blade and the energy from Occupy has fallen down. Was it all merely just a righteous wave that finally broke and fell back to the sea? (to invoke Hunter Thompson). Or did the mainstream media kill it by raising the question of its death ad nauseum when we stopped getting beaten up by cops? I think it has a lot to do with the locality of the camps and having an aberration in the system that we could feel proud of. It should be obvious to anyone and *is* obvious to those that experienced it that the crucial impediment to its thriving was and is the extreme military-police response coupled with reporting that favored the police regardless of what really happened. But anyways…

The materialist framework is a strong one in making positive headway against a Capitalism mangling the planet with an excessive production of commodities. The restrictions and demands it makes on people’s labour doesn’t simply “dehumanize” them but channels material flows (including bodies) in such a way as to close off the possibility of acting otherwise. Community building should not be an end in-itself when the existential threat of annihilation of life on the planet is looming predictably around the corner, and object-oriented ontologists are good at emphasizing this. However, without the illusory name or meme attachment connecting bodies to a place the materialist is left without the at least quasi-spiritual element that acts like the glue holding a force in shape. The occupy name itself is a kind of materialist-worthy logo: it really only means putting bodies in space with an emphasis on action.

Capitalism can no longer be confronted from without: its influence has spread all the way around the globe. A strategically effective resistance must be cultivated from within. I actually do think Tim Morton is onto something with The Ecological Thought but I’ll take to his work in later posts.

Real World Beings

How can one lay claim to a world of real beings that exist apart from illusory beings of a subjective world of perception? It isn’t such a big leap to admit that there exist things beyond or regardless of our experiencing them. Yet I would contend this is a leap nonetheless: only because when writing and talking, making claims and arguments, and residing in the mode of language so familiar to us we are trying to retrieve these things knowing full well we cannot possess them. One can have knowledge of objects’ powers and movements by way of various models, formulas, statements, etc. most successfully via scientific experiment but the gap persists.
To ask a Kantian critical-philosophical question: are the conditions for the possibility of this gap due to centrality of the words ’being’ and maybe even ’world’ which are supposed to evoke something transcental – that is, more than objects referred to by a symbols? And to follow it up with a Deleuzian question: is it enough to emphasize becoming, process, and motion (even in a *given* locale and time) to get rid of the reduction toward a central being or a totalizing, metaphysical *presence*?
Reversing the transcendental character resulting from the meditation of being into an immanent becoming a la Gilles Deleuze allows the focus to be on relation, motion, and energy (his work is very energizing indeed) in a way that brings a physical insight into the symbols and images without ever exhausting it through them. We must pay attention to ontology; beings can be categorized this way or that, distinguished from one another in type, position, etc. so that a wide variety of beliefs end up competing against each other. Such is the power of being: it can come to *stand for*, *represent*, *signify*, (one could go on) any number of diverse objects that exist apart from each other. Corporeal objects existing independently in a certain kind of beyond that our language cannot touch in the way that a handshake can: our language all the more intensified in our frustration.
To write of becoming, the processes and flows of matter/energy well and with a provocative style helps diminish the domineering aspect of continually referring to a singularized being. It is not enough to write or speak of a plurality of beings for they could all still be organized around a central being or, even worse, a single being could become equal with a world. It is here that *uni*verse becomes problematic. To pass over the gap of world and thing, to posit a word like ’universe’ or ’nature’ that needs explaining – an explaining that does something more basic and fundamental than “ordinary”, non-scientific coping with surrounding things – ignores the difference necessitated by having and using language. We are caught up in creating an ever more complex web of relations and divergences from the concepts inherited in trying to go from symbols – all of which we know to be illusory – to real ones (which is no less an act than any other).
But we still go along with realism and naturalism debates and take positions for and against with that pool of concepts growing wider. Sometimes foregoing such a positioning opens up other avenues. Sometimes the game is fixed.
There is something beyond the wordplay, the fictions we employ and tell each other. But as soon as I write or say the word “something” it explodes into a war of critique with icons, alliances, and beliefs. I often wonder how Heidegger could generate all those words.