4 thoughts on “Cohen’s simplified explanations

  1. In reading all of Cohen’s summarizations, I feel that the explanation of Bruno Latour’s Actor Network Theory is most prominent and essential to understanding objects as having thing power. His example of the pebble and how it “can destory an empire if the emperor chokes at dinner” stand out. That speaks to how objects/items can, and very much do, cause ripples and have agency in much larger happenings. Although, every object/thing/actor/etc. must be supported by the relationships it holds, which brings in the root of the Actor Network Theory. Too many times we attribute one event on single things when in reality it is many different actants working together. For instance Robert Keele in the previous reading on Actor Network Theory brought up how, “the network consists not only of people and social gorups, but also artifacts, devices, and entities” all of which contribute to the final product.

  2. This is definitely a hard thing to sort through, trying to figure out all the subtleties of each theory, but Actor Network Theory, to me, is very romantic and nice to hear about and imagine. Every object having a rich tapestry of history interconnecting with all the other objects it’s interacted with gives off a huge sense of community, which I think is important for the ecology. Cohen says “a smooth rock discovered on the beach bears a history of inestimable subterranean forces, primordial volcanoes, the ceaseless rhythm of waves, fleeting use as a gull’s hammer, trigger to the human impulse to grasp objects of iridescent durability and remarkable symmetry,” which really speaks towards what I take from the ‘ecology’ portion of the course. It’s big, expansive, and older, beyond, and otherwise separate from humans, giving the objects their own agency as actants.

    OOO makes objects look dark and brooding, never able to give themselves fully to their relationships, because no one understands them.

  3. I think that I have harnessed the third phenomenon that Cohen summarizes the most effectively. I feel that I understand the concept of “thing power” after reading and discussing Vibrant Materialism. I am most interested in the concept that objects do not exist ONLY through human terminology which is a concept that is difficult for us. I think that Cohen puts it best when he says “. This omnipresent vitality…invites us to a non-anthropocentric ecology, one in which the activity of stone not only matters, but shimmers.” I think that Cohen’s use of the word shimmers is the most effective because it an adjective of movement and this movement occurs with or without human interference. It illustrates the life-life vitality of non-human objects that I believe Vibrant Material is trying to show. I also really enjoyed the final sentence: “A dance of bodies and objects.” It is not a dance BETWEEN bodies and objects. We coexist on the same level as nonhuman entities.

  4. I found the Actor Network Theory to be the easiest to identify with. The little narrative he gives of the stone’s interactions relates to the way I have thought about some things many times before. His description of the stone is very earth-oriented and shows a lack of human interaction that is a little different from the way i have thought about objects before. The description by Harman of the “miniature trickster objects” turning the tide of human events I found intriguing because I have a difficult time not thinking about how objects relate to and influence humans. Just thinking about a stone on the beach as a thing which has been through many geological processes is less interesting to me than thinking about how it has been used by a bird or used by a human as a skipping stone. Once I think of the human element, then it is interesting to think back to where this stone might have been and how it might have interacted with things more distant from my immediate consciousness. Perhaps it will get easier to think about objects without immediately relating them to humans.

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