To understand Timothy Morton, I tried to listen to some of the music of My Bloody Valentine. I am not encyclopedically a fan of music art, but I found these dissonant, violent, nervous music are the sorts that I listened when I was a college student. I am not sure at that time I was really loving these music or I was just following the fashion. Time flies and all of sudden, I realize that I listen to Louis Armstrong and Leonard Cohen much more often than those bands. The only boisterous band survives my capricious music penchant is the Lake of Tears. And the reason that I love this band is not for its wildness or enthusiasm, but its occasional effusion of a glimmer of tranquility and introspection. Could I understand Timothy Morton and his hyperobjects by not taking My Bloody Valentine inside me? And there are much more than just My Bloody Valentine. Popular culture, literature, visual art, science, philosophy, and personal narration, are the very specific elements incorporated into one single form, a book about hyperobjects, or a viscous product out of viscous ideas.
For him, the birth of the modern is the begetting of the death or the end. Modern sets the trajectory to the end. I use the trajectory in a Newtonian sense, meaning that the starting position, time, and the velocity determines the ultimate motion in a sense of determinism. However, there is an odd coincidence happening in the modern time. On the one hand, Copernican revolution moves men out of the center of the universe, or use his terms, displacement. On the other hand, contrary to this displacement, human behaviors and activities collectively demonstrate a very strong anthropocentrism. How could this consciousness of human beings as no more the center produce this tremendous planet damages?
Theory of Hyperobjects is thus becoming an ontological effort to reconstruct a lucid explanation of our current weird situation living in a stage after the conventional ontological entities have collapsed due to discoveries from the theory of relativity or quantum physics and our own activities on the earth, or “quake in being”. By developing or defining hyperobjects, we discover the “truth”. The hyperobjects are not conventional entities that could be sensed through our sensory perceptions. Neither are they some sort of abstraction in our minds of earth data or information. They are ontologically and phenomenally real entities. Welcome to the world we created through our modern uncanny sprawl, ideologically, technologically, and materially. Hyperobjects like global warming are real things we are going to live to the end. Even though the attributes of the hyperobjects are beyond our capacity, we have to stay with them. Does it matter we change from intersubjectivity to interobjectivity since things are already out of control? Overall, I respect his grand work of integrating things together, but the ontological explanation is somehow causing my worrying.
The one is the all. The all is the one. Everything is everything else. Existence is coexistence, from the tiniest microparticles, cells, individuals, to ecosystems, biosphere, planet, solar system, and the entire universe. This discourse somewhat sounds like Buddhism. I quickly search in my mind for my limited knowledge about Buddhism and try to build some connection between hyperobjects and Buddhist worldview. The most typical observation of the world from the Buddhism is like this, “all conditional dharmas are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, and shadows; like drops of dew or flashes of lightning, thusly should they be contemplated” (Elder Subhuti, Trepitaka Kumarajiva, The Diamond Sutra: and The Heart Sutra, p. 23-24.). From this point, everything in the world and their ensemble is conditional dharma. They possess such attributes like the qualities that the dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows, drops of dew, flashes of lightning have. Those things are unreal, ephemeral, intangible, and nihsvabhâva (无自性). They are products out of karma and circle of birth and death. If we take the standpoint of Buddhism, then hyperobjects eventually are just phenomena, not real entities. For Buddhism, there is no essence for everything. For Morton, the essence is permeating and nothing is out of it. This is the difference between Buddhist and Morton’s vision.
Take the difference into account, no matter a person is a Buddhist or a Mortonist, the bestand of the person becomes an ethical issue. Narration prescribes some normative behavior or living pattern. In a Buddhist narration, after contemplating the attributes of hyperobjects as just ephemeral (imaging in a different time scale) phenomena, it is not appropriate to live with a strong purpose to destroy or sustain any objects or hyperobjects. What would Morton suggest us to do? Dissolution of the world and nature, applying OOO to incorporate relativity, quantum theory, and ecology, rejecting both undermining and overmining and recognizing the authenticity of living in hypocrisy, weakness, and lameness, accepting the coexistence, embracing speculative realism, opposing the correlationist, aren’t these mere cognitive adjustments? Please forgive my obtuseness. I wonder where the ethical parts are, which are supposed to tell us how to live with/in hyperobjects, or what is the thing we should do. My gratitude to Morton would be a thank, for letting me realize that hope is gone. After hyperobjects, to exist becomes the most difficult thing in spite of the bestand. Now I need a walk in the woods to refresh, and to make my future walking in the woods probable, I would plant as many trees as possible.