Monday, 6 December 2010

Firehoses, Colanders and Lava Lamps

I have very much appreciated the coverage of the UCLA and Claremont OOO Conference events, so particular thanks are due Tim Morton (for organising the streaming and recordings of the former) and Graham Harman (for his live blogging of the latter); plus obviously thanks to the speakers and organisers for the quality of what they delivered. What were the highlights? Apart from the general creativity and rigour of the papers overall, as with a number of other people's comments on these events, I particularly enjoyed Ian Bogost's elaboration of the idea of "firehose materialism".

Why? Personally, it made me remember a quote that I had been very proud of locating and utilising in my PhD thesis. It was part of Christine Battersby's account of how one could derive form and identity from the flow of becoming. I repeat it here, drawn from her The Phenomenal Woman: Feminist Metaphysics and the Patterns of Identity, p. 101.
Patterns of fluidity can have their own forms and stabilities. Becoming does not always have to be the underside of being. Thus, to give an example ... if the speed is great enough, water through a colander in the sink can remain a stable 'form' - as long as the speed of flow into the vessel exceeds the flow of water out of the vessel. Flow, flux , becoming, do not always have to be envisaged in terms of a movement that is alien to persisting identity or to metaphysics itself.
What can I say, in 1998 we had colander materialism. I will also take a cheap and easy shot about the gendered nature of metaphysics, or preferred metaphysical metaphors and models at least: Ian reaching for the firehose, Christine for the colander. One may of course read the lava lamp as one wishes, a gloriously and knowingly kitsch image from Tim.


ibogost said...

Ha! Thanks for sharing this.

Timothy Morton said...

Hey that's good! Glad you like the lamps...