Timothy Morton is Rita Shea Guffey Chair in English at Rice University in Houston, Texas.
Morton is a member of the Object Oriented Ontology (OOO) movement. His work explores the intersection of object-oriented thought and ecological studies.
He is the author of Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality (Open Humanities, 2013), Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People (Verso, 2017), Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence (Columbia, 2016), Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Minnesota, 2013), and twelve other books and 200 essays on philosophy, ecology, literature, music, art, architecture, design and food.
Tim kindly spoke with me in Feb 2016 to discuss, in relation to the idea of data, Object Orientated Otology and his books Hyperobjects: ‘Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World’ (Minnesota, 2013) & ‘Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality’ (Open Humanities, 2013). Other bewildering subjects that we discuss include art in Houston, The Rothko Chapel, the apocalypse, the concept world, ecological awareness, the anthropocene, anthropocentrism, coexistence, cats, Cecil the lion, Hyperobjects and their five main properties, neoliberalism, Quantum Physics, the Higgs Field, individualism vs uniqueness, American lawns, causality & correlationism, Spooky Action at a Distance, weird quantum movement, indestructible data, black holes and parallel universes.
This is an abridged version of our full conversation, a number of other subjects were also discussed that feature in the film.
“Every object is a marvellous archaeological record of everything that ever happened to it.
This is not to say that the object is only everything ever happened to it an inscribable surface such as a hard drive or a piece of paper is precisely not the information it records, for the ooo reason that it withdraws. Precisely for this reason, we can have records, MP3s, hard drives, and tree rings. We can also have the Universe-the largest object we know.
Evidence of it shows up everywhere one percent of TV snow is the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation left over from the Big Bang.
The more widespread is the evidence of a thing in the form of other beings, the greater its power and the deeper its past.
Thus the more basic a character trait is, the further it has come from the past of a person.
Five proteins found in all lifeforms are evidence of LUCA, the Last Universal Common Ancestor, thought to be a gigantic ocean creature with very porous cells.
These proteins are now manufactured differently than they were in LUCA, but it is as if our bodies - and the bodies of geckos and bacteria - keep on reproducing them anyway, like lines from the Bible accidentally woven into the everyday speech of a twenty-first century atheist.
Likewise Heidegger thought that philosophy had forgotten being so deep in the past that evidence of its forgetting was as it were everywhere and nowhere.”
A quote from ‘Realist Magic: Objects, Ontology, Causality’ (Open Humanities, 2013) that sparked the genesis of the research behind film.
Timothy Morton’s blog: