Wednesday, July 4, 2012


I am going to talk about a weird little conceptual pet peeve I have been having. There is a tendency to write and talk about something called, strangely now, OOO/SR, which obviously stands for Object-Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism. Which is odd, if you think about it, because those terms are not synonyms. Historically, Speculative Realism referred to a group of four thinkers, of which Graham Harman's Object-Oriented Philosophy was one strand. So, whenever someone talks about OOO/SR, it is the same as if they were writing deconstruction/poststructuralism. Poststructuralism is obviously something much larger than deconstruction (and it would include several people who rejected or had issues with the term poststructuralism, just as speculative realism includes people like Ray Brassier, who has rejected the term). So, the phrase OOO/SR is really odd. More importantly, it often gets used in strange, univocal ways. In other words, it is often used to talk about the field as a whole, like "OOO/SR doesn't..." or "What OOO/SR allows us to do...", which is all very strange. We are talking about a lot of thinkers, many of whom disagree with each other to various degrees. Again, it is somewhat analogous to people writing "what deconstruction/poststructuralism doesn't do...".  (Btw, I am tempted to always write, after I say object-oriented ontology, if such a thing exists! like Derrida always did with deconstruction)

There exists a conceptual murkiness here I don't really understand. If you want to talk about object-oriented ontology, talk about OOO. If you want to talk about speculative materialism, talk about speculative materialism. If you want to talk about correlationism, talk about correlationism. If you want to talk about speculative realism as a poorly suited grab bag term for a cluster of thinkers working on projects both very dissimilar but also very close, do that (in this sense, speculative realism is a lot like poststructuralism. An evocative term for grouping, heuristically useful, but not really conceptually specific). But please, spare me the weirdness of  the extended and confusing acronym that is "OOO/SR".