Saturday, December 20, 2014

hyperobjects, hyperreal?

Google image results for "climate change"

The trouble with global warming is not just that it's real—the trouble with it is that it deals a deathblow to “common sense.” [...] Common sense tells you that things you can see and feel like snow are more real than things like global warming, which must be abstract and thus vague. But global warming turns this false immediacy inside out. Global warming is far more real, while things like weather—things that appear to be immediate in our experience—are actually the abstractions! Local weather is a kind of snapshot of larger processes, a snapshot that's pretty much out of date by the time you notice it.
-Timothy Mortin, from his blog, The Contemporary Condition

In this post Mortin is talking about "hyperobjects." In short these are things which are too large to be comprehended by people (such as nuclear bombs and climate change). The prefix is shared with hyperreal, and I wonder if he would make the argument that these two are related. He does say that hyperobjects are "real" and maybe the case could be made that they can be seen as "real" because we don't have a way of fully understanding them - we don't have a way to bring them into full semiotic view. (But, we do give it a name, so it is in our linguistic bag.) This is a big stretch, but it is interesting to think of "things that appear to be immediate in our experience" as abstractions, and these abstractions as simulation. (e.g., the polar bear stranded on an ice-berg or the parched earth.)

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