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Meta4ism

by on March 14, 2013

This week, I was particularly interested in Bogost’s discussion of metaphorism, especially as it relates to the other texts we’ve read this semester. Bogost poses the problem of object relations: how do objects relate? Further, how are we to conceive of other objects relating. In his attempt to offer a framework for understanding these object relations, Bogost seems to propose an onto-epistemology: we’re interested in what exists and how we know anything about it.

The framework he offers takes the form of “metaphorism.” Bogost writes, “If we take seriously Harman’s suggestion that relation takes place not just like metaphor but as metaphor, then an opportunity suggests itself: what if we deployed metaphor itself as a way to grasp alien objects’ perceptions of one another” (67). A key component in this metaphorism is caricature, which Bogost defines as “a rendering that captures some aspects of something else at the cost of other aspects” (66).

Bogost’s concept of metaphorism seems strikingly similar to Karen Barad’s concept of agential realism. Barad appeared briefly in Bryant’s work as an interlocutor for the concept of entanglement. As a physicist, Barad might take exception to Bogost’s apparent dismissal of science at the beginning of the metaphorism chapter, but the similarities between Barad’s concept of object relations and Bogost’s metaphorism warrant a comparison. Taking the “observer effect” of physics as her point of departure, Barad proposes the concept of “phenomena” as the object for her new onto-epistemology. Barad defines “phenomena” not as objective observations, but rather the subjective interplay between the object and the agent of observation. Unlike the OOO philosophers, Barad suggests that these phenomena are the only objects in this realist philosophy. Bogost (and Bryant) recuperate the structures of Barad’s thought to afford equal ontological status to observer, object, and relation.

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One Comment
  1. I’m a little unclear on this: isn’t Barad placing the utmost importance on object relations and not the objects themselves? Doesn’t metaphor work on the same level, attempting to define based on relations? Or have I missed the mark a bit here and is that basically your point: they are arguing for the same approach, just according to the discourses of their respective disciplines, which are not as separated as what Bogost would care to acknowledge?

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