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In my book Alien Phenomenology, I coined the term “Latour Litany” for the lists of things in writing—whether in Bruno Latour’s or anyone else’s. The philosopher Graham Harman has also adopted this term, and in general it’s enjoyed some success as an appelation for “bestiaries of things,” as I’ve called them.

Alien Phenomenology is a book about “pragmatic” speculative realism, and in it I suggest three modes of such a pragmatism: ontography, metaphorism, and carpentry. The first and third are relevant for the present discussion. I use “ontography” in a different way than Harman does in his book The Quadruple Object: by ontography, I mean the techniques that reveal objects’ existence and relation. The third method, carpentry, refers primarily to the the construction of artifacts that illustrate the perspectives of objects. But in the book, I discuss the ways that theory and philosophy can take form in constructed artifacts in addition to (or instead of) written argument.

When writing Alien Phenomenology I found myself wondering, what would happen if we put ontography, Latour Litany, and carpentry together? Here’s one simple take, a “Latour Litanizer.” It uses Wikipedia’s random page API to generate lists of things:

loading litany…

Like all Latour Litanies, this little gadget underscores the rich diversity of things. It also reminds us that human beings are among them, since a large number of Wikipedia articles describe living and historical persons. And unlike the samples I was able to print in the book, this version generates a new one every time.

published December 16, 2009

Comments

  1. shane

    Hi, just recently discovered this site, your blog, and the RSS aggregator, all of which are great. This in the midst of discovering SR and OOO, which seem quite promising to me for my own approach to film as something other than a mere channel for human vision. Especially your notion of alien phenomenology as a sort of applied OOO is intriguing to me, so I wanted to ask if the paper you presented at SLSA is available anywhere. I’d greatly appreciate any help you can offer.

    Thanks!

    Shane

    Reply
  2. barakudos

    your litany latourizer mangles wikipedia urls – you should respect encoding

    on the other hand this saved me from another wikipedia junky trip

    Reply
  3. Ian Bogost

    @Shane

    Glad to have you here. I’ve been resisting posting the SLSA talk because it’s still work in progress, but the requests are increasing to a degree that suggests I should get over it. Stay tuned.

    @barakudos

    I’m aware of the text encoding bug and am working on it, although this isn’t really a high priority project for me right now :)

    Reply
  4. Ian Bogost

    Ok, the text encoding/mangling problem is now fixed.

    Reply
  5. shane

    @Ian

    Thanks for the reply. I’m looking forward to it. In the meantime, any idea if anyone out there is already applying SR or OOO to film? Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Robert Jackson

    @Shane

    Although he is still very much in the correlationist camp, you may find Bernard Stiegler’s “La technique et le temps” philosophical project helpful, especially the latest publication ‘Vol 3: Le temps du cinéma et la question du mal-être’ in which he asks if the structure of conciousness is akin to the cinematographic process. Not a simple fit OOO wise, but helpful anyway. It hasn’t been translated into English yet but theres a helpful review by Patrick Crogan here; http://www.film-philosophy.com/2006v10n2/crogan.pdf

    For those interested in contemporary/conceptual art/technology research, I’m currently writing a paper applying Harman’s ‘allure’ to art objects, arguing against the dominant mode of thinking in art theory, that of the unfixed ‘art-object-observer-partipicant’ systems theory, without relapsing into formalist ‘actual’ object art practice.

    Reply
  7. shane

    @Robert

    Thanks. Stiegler’s been on my reading list for a while now. Hopefully I’ll get to him soon. Also, your paper (which I also just saw mentioned on Harman’s blog) sounds intriguing. Looking forward to hearing more.

    Reply

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