One of the most relieving moments in my short engagement with philosophy is when Manuel Delanda asserts that artists don’t have to wait for philosophy to change in order to produce their art work. Kafka did not have to wait for Deleuze. This is perhaps the most important advice from any philosopher for any discipline. As Graham himself acknowledges that ‘Aesthetics is first philosophy’. As an aesthetic practice, it is important that architects don’t necessarily wait for philosophy, yet at the same time should not hesitate to take swim in it, collide with it, rub it, bask in its light, feel its winds, dribble it, mix it in their poison of preference, take a puff and go on a trip with it.
Speaking of tripping on philosophy, I thought, I must note the experience of reading Manuel Delanda and reading Graham Harman.
Reading Delanda is like witnessing the universe spin and tremble at a turbulent and sublime acceleration. While reading Graham is like witnessing the giant Buddha asleep -in fact every object asleep, breathing heavily, snoring, oozing and contracting. It’s like as if someone turned the speed regulator of the universe to slow -or even to zero speed. Or, reduced the speed of an ultra HD film such that the objects, that appeared as material in flux in full speed, were suddenly visible and brought to presence. Graham can be considered as the philosopher who put objects to rest : dormant objects.
In fact, after I had written the above paragraph, I had taken a pause for a couple of weeks, before continuing this note. In that time, I tried to revisit Graham’s first book Tool Being and I noticed that the very first chapter of the book starts with a quote by Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition : “ Commentaries in the history of philosophy should represent a kind of slow motion…”. Ironically, Graham has confessed his dislike for Deleuze’s writings at many occasions.
I must also confess that Graham is perhaps the first philosopher I have spent so much time reading and listening to over the last year and more so after the lockdown since March 2020. I was just listing all the books that I have read by Graham and I here’s the list (besides his interviews and other essays):
1. OOO, A new Theory of everything: Summary / introduction to key ideas of OOO – including Metaphor.
2. Immaterialism: Introduction to concepts of endosymbiosis, weak and strong ties, objects without boundaries.
3. Quadruple Object – enjoyable, vivid and left me thinking about the difference between and essence and eidos.
4. Dante’s Broken Hammer. -Introduction to ideas of Formalism and attachment. And yes, an introduction to Dante’s bizarrely populated universe.
5. Circus Philosophicus – Quirky, melancholic, bizarre and surreal. The chapter on Chennai was like Muarakami meets Woody Allen.
6. Art + Object : Argues for a renewed idea of formalism, beauty and aesthetic. Focused around post-war American art critics -sometimes hyperlinking to Europe (Kant, Heidegger, Surrealism, Cubism, Dadaism, Ranciere) . Perhaps three very important arguments in the book are :1) there’s no art without the enchanted experiencer and 2) art objects and the experiencer are both autonomous. 3) hence, the art object and the experiencer form a new entity -provided the experiencer is able to “immerse” or as Graham puts it “replace the missing real object”.
7. Tool-Being ( incomplete) :