Perhaps the recent surge towards objects and materiality is connected to a deep restructuring of our collective unconsciousness tied to a sense of ‘waking up inside an object’, as philosopher and blogger Timothy Morton writes about here?
Humans no longer live in a “world” or in an “environment,” and certainly not in “nature.” Global warming spells the end of the world, not in an apocalypse but in an abject living-on in the absence of a meaningful lifeworld bounded by a distant horizon. We have realized that the “world” is actually a gigantic object in which we exist like Russian dolls inside a larger Russian doll.
Anyone interested in Morton’s thought on ecophilosophy can read more in the essay Here Comes Everything – The Promise of Object-Oriented Ontology. I was struck by the similarity to a quote by Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht from an essay entitled Shall We Continue to Write Histories of Literature?, which strikes a similar chord in diagnosing our times:
It is as if, all of a sudden, we found ourselves in the middle of time and in the middle of objects, with a desire to become part of this material world (and perhaps even of its temporality) which experience, for a sheer lack of familiarity, is confusing for us. In other words, we have to learn what it is to be an observer who stands, with his body, in the middle of a material world to be observed.
The ‘we’ in the quote is literary theoreticians and philosophers, but there seems to me to be a deeper resonance at work, evoking something like an early 21st century zeitgeist or some such nebulous notion.
Those interested in the ecological ramifications of new materialisms should attend the Eco-tone workshop in june. Beautiful event poster too: