Terrifying and tedious depths
“You are doubtless like myself, you all have the same terrifying and tedious depths,” ads without products quotes Flaubert, reminding me of something in Graham Harman’s Guerilla Metaphysics:
In addition to being charmed by objects, we ourselves want to emulate them, and wish to charm the world. It is simply not the case that our fundamental wish is to be viewed as dignified free subjects with a chance to speak at the microphone of the universal assembly…. The kind of recognition we would prefer is always far more specific, since we often feel ourselves to be so painfully mutable that any specific role will do…. The one book that all of us would approach with greatest interest, that no human in history would be able to resist opening, would be a book of anecdotes about ourselves as told by other people. The appeal of such a book would not lie in some sort of grotesque human vanity, but in our wish to be something definite, a desire at least as great as our desire to be free. There is a profound need to escape the apparently infinite flexible subjectivity within, which feels far more amorphous to us than to anyone else.
Contrary to the usual view, what we really want is to be objects.
I do like Harman’s description of the “painful mutability” of subjectivity. This pain is compounded by the illusion that we are the only people to experience this mutability: so often everyone else seems to be exactly themselves, with the terrifying and tedious depths confined to ourselves alone. Would it be wrong to see this as one of the ways in which we experience the existence of inaccessible depths in objects? Read more↴