Heidegger meets Harman

by stronged

Harman argues that Heideggers “tool-being” (Ready-To-Hand and Present-To-Hand) is a truth of all objects (Bogost, 6). They do not have to be in “action” as per Latour’s ANT or Whiteheads process philosophy or constant state of flux in order to exist and relate to one another. They can be at rest, in a perpetual quiescence yet still enact a functional relationship with their surroundings.

I find this idea perplexing. For me, Ready-to-hand teeters on the border of phenomenology as an innate skill and connection is actualised between two things (not necessarily human and tool). However, phenomenological essence aside, the object’s functional properties must be engaged in order to establish it’s definition. Using Heideggers example of a hammer as a case in point, he believes that the hammer is not truly being a hammer until it is used (Ready-to-hand). If you let the hammer become idle it becomes a theoretical instrument (Present-at-hand). Therefore, is Harman suggesting that all objects are theoretically linked with one another? That no interaction or function is necessary to obtain a definition?

Bordwell speaks of understanding objects and mechanisms by how they function. Similar to Propp, who took his cue from how fairytales function to establish his fabula and sjuzhet terminology. I feel this is going up the right alley. The best way to define an object is to understand what it does. How it functions. Not the specific elements that it is made up of or speculating upon what it does (Present-at-hand). Instead, actually engaging the object in what it does. I feel as though the Vine app is a perfect example of Ready-at-hand in action. The Vine app cannot be properly defined until it is used. By touching the iPhone’s screen the app fulfils its function: capturing digital video. Immediately disengaging from the iPhone screen the app stops functioning. Therefore, only by using the app it is the app. Quite an interesting device.

If I am to re-work my Media Objects essay I’ll need to cut flat ontology, focus more on ontography, the exploded set and how carpentry relates to Vining and the K-Film. Right now I am feeling pretty rusty about the New Materialism.

Still keen to jump into Ernst’s Time Criticality more thoroughly, as I feel it relates to how we impose meaning/substance upon our environment (placemaking). The more time spent in a space the stronger the relationship and patterned communication becomes between us and the space. It becomes a place.

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