If you missed Eileen's excellent Swedish Twitter University lecture on object oriented ontology as a trigger to a reconceived practice of literary criticism, check out the archive here. Her key question -- which under the pressure of twitter's 140 character limit becomes gnomic -- is:
What happens when we see literary texts as having propulsions of their own, as actants on the same ontological footing as everything else?I think she's exactly right, and would not limit such activity to texts: architectures work in just the same way, as propulsive and emissive objects rather than passive conveyors of humanly inscribed content.
And, as a follow up, Levi Bryant ruminates over the lecture and intensifies some of its suggestions. In the face of the humanist proclivity to reduce texts to a war of human-given meanings (patent, latent and polysemous), here's how Bryant expresses the liveliness of a text-object:
Object-oriented criticism for its part– and it is here where I am unsure as to whether or not Joy will agree with me –begins from the premise not of the meaningfulness of the text, but of the materiality of the text. The text is something. A text is an entity that circulates throughout the world. And like all bodies or objects that circulate throughout the world, texts have the capacity to affect other bodies. Here then we get the first sense of what it might mean to say that criticism comes after the text. This thesis is not the bland truism that the text must first exist for us to “criticize” it, but rather is the thesis that criticism is a production based on the affectivity of the text. In other words, the question is no longer the question of what the text means with the aim of closing the text, but rather is the question of what the text builds.Eileen and Levi's pieces are both worth your time. For me, reading through them has elicited an uncanny frisson since so much of what both compose resonates so deeply with the book chapter on Stonehenge and lithic radiance I've just completed.