📙 Humankind

Author: Timothy Morton

Full Title: Humankind

Highlights from March 4th, 2021.

We should see things such as humankind as wholes that are less than the sum of their parts.
What if some things could be physically huge, yet onto-logically tiny? What if neoliberalism, which envelopes Earth in misery, were actually quite small in another way, and thus strangely easy to subvert?
This means that the correct left concept of the human is of a partial object in a set of partial objects, such that it comprises an implosive whole that is less than the sum of its parts.
To be a thing is to be a perforated bag full of water, in which are swimming countless little perforated bags full of water, in which are floating … When you cut open a bag, so many more bags spill out than you probably bargained for.
Adherents of OOO hold that an entity contains a potentially infinite regress of other entities. The entity is literally out-scaled by its parts. It is bigger on the inside, like Pandora’s jar. Which means, logically, that it’s smaller on the outside, so that, however absurd and amazing it sounds, we need to say “the whole is always smaller than the sum of its parts.”
Ontologically, a married couple is smaller than two unmarried people.
Subscendence is not the same as individualism. Individualism means that individuals are more real than groups or wholes. Individualism in the political sphere is well expressed by neoliberal politicians: “There is no such thing as society” (Margaret Thatcher). According to subscendence, wholes and parts are just as real as one another.
Cynical reason has been lamenting neoliberalism as the inescapable psychopath Cthulhu—it loves this kind of doom-speak. But ontologically, neoliberalism is quite small compared to a polar bear. Maybe this kind of thinking is what distinguishes an anarchist from a Marxist, or at any rate a certain kind of successful academic Marxist. That kind of ideology theorist is really just a believer in Ra, someone mindlessly retweeting an agrilogistic meme that has been wildly successful in transforming Earth into a narrow temporality-diameter extinction pipe.
Subscendence affects things like nation-states, as huge and powerful as they appear. Subscendence is why you need a passport. It’s not to guarantee your identity, but to guarantee and prop up the identity of the state.
A Google employee is capable of having critical, anti-Google thoughts. A bureaucrat in Soviet Lithuania is capable of having more-than-mixed feelings about what she’s doing.
We don’t have to agree that the Buddhist idea of no-self means that you’re just a bunch of atoms. What it means instead is that you are open. You are a haunted house.
Talk of efficiency and sustainability are simply artifacts of the relentless use of fossil fuels. In a solar economy, you could have a disco in every single room of your house and way fewer lifeforms would suffer, perhaps vanishingly few, compared to the act of simply turning on the lights in an oil economy. You could have strobes and decks and lasers all day and night to your heart’s content.
Economics is about how we organize enjoyment.
An ecological society that doesn’t put pleasure enhancement and diversification at its center is ecological in name only.

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