Chapter Four: Carpentry

by stronged


– ‘you always want to capture the cruel radiance of what is.’ – Walker Evans (86, Bogost)

I like the balance of this quote, similar to the phrase bitter sweet, it evokes the essence of reality. I am only now beginning to unravel Evans’ vast back catalogue having borrowed Let Us Now Praise Famous Men from the library. An incredible piece of documentary that seems to seep into various other categories of genre.


“I would say just get in there, and really get into it and do it, up to the hilt.

Thoroughly, Everything, Even people going to the bathroom.

The whole damn business … After all what we are interested in is people and how they really live.

I’m a realist and I’m interested in the deepest reality of life and social life.” – Walker Evans




– ‘Clichés also bear truth, after all.’ (87)

As a consequence of originality being championed the opinion of clichés has taken a nose-dive. Now popular opinion has marked the humble cliché as a negative tool in the art of semiotics. I believe this should be reversed as clichés are one of the strongest ways to communicate a message over to another person. We instantly identify what the message is by the tried and true history of it’s coding/assemblage. I think that if used in moderation, clichés are able to be an incredible useful device in conveying particular messages. So big up yourself cliché.

– ‘the major events and innovations of human progress are the likely outcomes of material conditions, not the product of acute, individual genius.’ – Jared Diamond (87)

– ‘they are printed and bound not to be read but merely to have been written.‘ (88)

I feel there is a separation here. On the one hand, it is a tremendous accomplishment to have completed the publication of your novel (or other such publication) and this should be congratulated However, the quality is where the real praise should lie. The narratives clarity and authors deftness in writing is what truly should be praised.

– ‘When it goes well, this process helps ensure that scholarship maintains its Enlightenment ideal of disinterest and progress, rather than fall prey to nepotism and commercialism.’ (89)

– ‘in order to create something successful one must learn about other people’s successful creations…[this is] mere impressionism.’ – James Wood, The Oxford English Literary History (89)

– ‘”academic mumblespeak…a sentiment of precision while, at best, delaying the moment when the writer actually has to be precise.”‘ – David Morris (90)

– ‘The long-standing assumption that we relate to the world only through language is a particularly fetid, if still bafflingly popular, opinion. But so long as we pay attention only to language, we under-write our ignorance of everything else. Levi Bryan puts it this way: “If it is the signifier that falls into the marked space of your distinction, you’ll only ever be able to talk about talk and indicate signs and signifiers.”‘ (90)

– ‘we ought also to approach the nonsemiotic world “on its own terms as best we can.”‘ – Levi Bryant (90)

I can now vaguely comprehend this notion of stripping back one’s anthropocentric tendencies and truly understanding objects through the use of metaphors and ontography, however, to then communicate this practice one must still rely on semiotics. This where I still need to make a connection to Bogost’s next step.

– ‘Among the consequences of semiotic obsession is an overabundant fixation on argumentation, such that pedantry replaces curiosity.’ (91)

I feel this is an epidemic in Australian society. The Tall Poppy Syndrome or habit of being critical of each other places us in a negative cycle that is quite hard to break out of. I believe this to be connected to many of the mental diseases prevalent in our society.

– ‘”Many of our colleagues think that one counts as doing philosophy if one finds a flaw in an argument put forward in a philosophical book or article, and that one is a good philosopher if one is quick to find such flaws and skilful at exhibiting them.”‘ – Marjorie Greene (91)

– ‘all ideas, interchanges, and actions are strained through the sieve of language.’ (91)

– ‘”Without entering into the doing, the basic thrust and import of phenomenology is likely to be misunderstood at the least or missed at the most.”‘ – Don Ihde (92)

– ‘”I have argued that real knowledge arises through confrontations with real things…philosophy [is] understood as a way of life.”‘ – Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft (92)

In my opinion, a philosophy is a way of life. Buddhism has it’s own term: Dharma. A way of conducting yourself through life that satisfies your own values and principals of being.

– ‘He invites us to see that philosophy is a practice as much as a theory.’ (92)

This ties well into the Research Strategies Lectures: 1 and 2.

– ‘making the object itself becomes the philosophy.’ (93)

– ‘Iain Thomson suggests, “we come to understand and experience entities as being richer in meaning than we are capable of doing justice to conceptually.”‘ (93)

– ‘to do carpentry is to make anything, but to make it in earnest, with one’s own hands.’ (93)

– ‘”Natures mingle with one another and with “us” so thoroughly that we cannot hope to separate them and discover clear, unique origins to their powers.”‘ – Bruno Latour (94)

– ‘By divorcing the author and reader from the selection process, the litanizer amplifies both the variety of types of units that exist and the variety of alliances between them.’ (96)

– ‘its value comes less from its ability to achieve Diderotian universal knowledge and more from its willingness to allow anything inside, no matter its apparent validity, relevance, or even truth value.’ (96)

– ‘being is unconcerned with issues of gender, performance, and its associated human politics…[it is simply] ontological status’ (99)

– ‘The experience of things can be characterised only by tracing the exhaust of their effects on the surrounding world and speculating about the coupling between that black noise and the experiences internal to an objet. Language is one tool we can use to describe this relationship, but it is only one tool, and we ought not feel limited by it.’ (100)

– ‘the alien phenomenologist’s carpentry seeks to capture and characterise an experience it can never fully understand’ (100)

– ‘a frame buffer, a space in memory to which the programmer can write graphics information for one entire screen.’ (102)

I like this concept of pausing time in order to fully design and implement a millisecond or fragment of time/space for the viewer. This attention to detail is incredible. At times I wish that I had access to this frame buffer when shooting a documentary or even fictional piece. All that I can do is prepare as well as I can in the hope of capturing the correct assembly of signifiers within each shot/take.

– ‘”Tableau Machine” [or] an “Aware Home” [uses an] “alien presence,” a computational agent that senses and interprets the state of an environment (in this case a home) and reports its experiences in the form of abstract art.’ (106)

– ‘The “carpentry of things,” one of Harman’s synonyms for object-oriented philosophy, might be a job description, not just a metaphor.’ (109)

– ‘”…crafts hold the key to knowledge.”‘ – Latour (110)

– ‘Real radicals, we might conclude, make things.’ (110)