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= Hyper-Objects are distributed, non-local assemblages of human and nonhuman objects


Zack Walsh:

"In contrast to the separation and management of nature by humans, an alternative relational understanding of nature-cultures has emerged from discourses on the Anthropocene. Enlightenment views of Man and Nature are clearly breaking down and new lenses have appeared that view the Earth as a product of civilizational history, as much as natural history, and that view humanity as inhabited by other species and technologies. Posthumanists like Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti as well as new materialists and process thinkers like Jane Bennett, Karen Barad, and Bruno Latour have become particularly interested in understanding the co-production of nature-cultures.

For instance, Timothy Morton uses “mesh” as an apt metaphor for the entanglement of human and nonhuman objects, whether at the micro-level of gut bacteria or the macro-level of climate change. The defining environmental objects of our time, he argues, are hyper-objects which are distributed, non-local assemblages of human and nonhuman objects."



1. Adam Arvidsson:

"Climate change is what Timothy Morton has famously called a ‘hyper-object’, an object that is ‘too large’ for human experience. Hyper-objects have always been with us. As Morton writes: ‘ Humans have been aware of enormous entities, some real some imagined, for as long as they have existed .’ Often, the encounter with such hyper-objects has inspired awe and reflection, ‘these entities cause us to reflect on our very place on earth and in the cosmos, hyper-objects seem to force something on us, something that affects core ideas of what it means to exist, what earth is, what society is’ (Morton, 2013:15). Direct confrontation with hyper-objects is perplexing. Usually, such perplexity has been resolved through some form of mediation.

Human cultures have developed myths, religious systems or modern beliefs in abstract concepts like history, progress or science, in order to domesticate the experience of such hyper-objects within a coherent and comprehensible worldview (Lyotard, 1979). Climate change challenges such meta-narrations, it destabilizes our world views. Morton’s preoccupation with hyper-objects and their perplexing consequences is elaborated in recent developments in Future Studies, in particular Riel Miller’s notion of the Discipline of Anticipation and Sohail Inayatullah’s notion of narrative foresight. Here the basic presupposition is that we live in what Ziauddin Sardar has called ‘post-normal times’, where ‘complexity, chaos and contradictions will become the dominant themes; and uncertainty and ignorance will increase drastically’ (Sardar, 2015:26, Sardar, 2010):where the experience of the world routinely exceeds our interpretative frames. In this situation the problem becomes the articulation of what Milojevic & Inayatullah (2015) call ‘narrative foresight’: the ability to come up with new narratives that are able to link the concrete needs and desires of the present to imaginations of a ‘novel future’, which also allows for a different understanding of the present (Miller,2013). Such narratives are part of what sociologists call the lifeworld."


2. Otto Paans:

"An entity like a building is irreducibly entangled in different assemblages resulting in a singular engagement with its context.

This line of thinking has also been taken up in Timothy Morton’s notion of hyperobjects:

- objects are no longer simple, well-defined entities, but there is a class of objects that is so massively distributed in time and space that we experience only local manifestations of them (Morton, 2013).

A radioactive cloud may linger and exert its effects for decades, and only here and there we might observe some of its effects. These effects seem local, but they are parts of a larger hyperobject that as a whole is not perceivable in one glance. If we apply this thought to familiar objects like headphones, post boxes, park benches, teacups and paintings, we end up with a worldview that is decidedly different than the mechanistic worldview, if only because relationality has taken pride of place over atomism, demarcation, and segregation definition. All of a sudden, the Sellarsian “scientific image” of humankind and the world is no longer the basic explanatory level that one can reach, let alone an ultimate conceptual tool for thinking about reality."