2 November 2014

Quote of the day, yay!

'At the heart of New Realism is the rejection of human existence as privileged over nonhuman objects. This model rejects human embodiment or body-based subjectivity - what Speculative Realist Quentin Meillassoux, for example, calls 'correlationism,' or the human-centric view of the world. Multiple identity discourse and its non-rational qualities are Over. Post-Cartesian conceptions of space are dismissed. Subjectivity, a male (post-internet) artist once told me, is for art students.

Objective/subjective is one of the central philosophical tensions throughout history. Their definitions have been constructed and deconstructed in all possible ways. Explicit shifts in philosophy are expected and fine: no moral judgment on progress. But the pendulum often swings too far in one direction, obscuring its own implicit aims, and obscuring the very attitude it is swinging away from. Before plunging waist-deep back into the Real, we should probably recall that certain kinds of realism are historically male.

New realism's rejection of subjectivity as such has the potential to be extremely... regressive. Its hypotheses lean on a lot of old realism - back to Heidegger, Kant, and Descartes - while largely skipping over theorists from a certain very recent yet inconvenient era. While debates about cyberculture were relatively explicit about the political effects of their philosophy on lived bodily experience, including issues of gender, New Realism is not. Has the human body become irrelevant, or is the topic generally avoided because it might expose New Realism's uncomfortable political side effects? Is it really incidental that mostly men are writing this stuff? If I were to believe that, I'd have to believe a priori in the premise that subjectivity is irrelevant. I'd also have to believe that cyberculture had succeeded in creating a post-gender world.'

-- Elvia Wilk, 'Where looks don't matter and only the best writers get laid: Subjectivity and other unfulfilled promises of the text-based internet', (networked) Every Whisper is a Crash on my Ears Anthology (ed. Arcadia Missa), Arcadia Missa Publications, London 2014, pp. 38-39

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