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:
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.