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The Delivery is the Message

by on March 25, 2013

 

 

I continue to be confronted with the idea that the withdrawal of objects; their relations with other objects through prehension, perturbations, entanglements; and the metaphorism by which we are to understand said relations speak directly to media theory as it emanates from Marshall McLuhan. A brief sketch of McLuhan’s concepts:

-“the medium is the message”

-“the content of one medium is always another medium”

-“the message is the psychic and social consequences of the medium”

 

The rhetoric passage in Morton’s “Sublime Objects” speaks most clearly to the above idea.

In order to apply the issue of rhetoric as it relates to objects, Morton insists on inverting the five elements of rhetoric, putting delivery first. For those less familiar with classical rhetoric, myself included, delivery seems to be “how” something is said, especially in the context of public oration. Morton defines it as follows: “Delivery is precisely the physicality of your rhema, your speech” (211). More simply, and in terms we learned from Harman, delivery is “the availability of a sensual object” (214).

 

Revealingly, at least for me, given my interest in sound poetry and media theory, Morton’s first delivery object-lesson (in a literal sense) is onomatopoeia. From onomatopoeia, Morton insists that language is neither totally arbitrary nor entirely human. This leads directly into his discussion on media: “language always occurs in a medium.” And, though Morton does not say it explicitly, language is itself a medium, as is rhetoric. As we’ve seen with others of the OOO-set, especially Bryant, Morton appropriates and expands another scholar’s structure of thought to account for the world of objects. In this case, he takes McLuhan’s insistence that media are not merely transparent containers of “information,” but rather simulate or even constitute what they “contain,” and applies it to object relations. As I suspected earlier in the class, object relations (insert Latour Litany of synonyms here) are synonymous with media. Morton’s discussion of delivery is probably the closest we’ve come to a speculative media theory yet.

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