Blood in the Water: Ideology, Realism and Blundering Around
Earlier today, Graham Harman did a rather bad job at PR and advertising for his newest book Weird Realism. Undoubtably alerted to its existence via that tool of narcissists everywhere (Google Alerts), he happily announced the existence of a good review (I would like to pause here simply to point out that the above mention of narcissism and Harman’s membership is not meant as a criticism. The existence of any blog and/or twitter account is proof enough for the existence of narcissistic tendencies and wanting to keep track of mentions of yourself makes perfect sense. I, myself, being a nobody who averages two posts a year and only slightly more visitors am largely protected from such tendencies, but not completely). Things began to fall apart for Harman shortly there after when a reader of his blog notified him that the review was housed within a site that was “explicitly racist and anti-Semitic”. Of course, this would be blood in the water for those in the interwebs that hate Harman personally and OOO with a level of viciousness often reserved for opposing sports teams, had he not removed the post. No doubt Mikhail over at Perverse Egalitarianism would have had a clever post up mocking Harman’s mistake, referring to him as OOO the Father, and proceeded it with an attack on Levi Bryant in the process. It would have been funny and I would have laughed. full stop. Eilif Verney-Elliott over at his eponymous blog would have freaked out, and sight the review as proof of Harman’s fascism (a view so logically unsound to hardly warrant a response). As luck would have it Eilif’s latest post is again on Harman and what he is now calling “fashionable fascism”. It would seem that Eilif has again run up against someone talking sense and has collapse into a rant. The most that can be said about this latest post is that Eilif is no longer hiding behind the “just asking questions” cowardice and is actually willing to stake a claim (ridiculous as it is).
The point of this post is not to further the attack on Harman and OOO/OOP and the fact that he/it has not confused the ontological with the political. I have already put my position forward on this in relation to Alexander Galloway’s article of SR (“The Paucity (and Conservatism) of the ‘Poverty of Philosophy‘”). There are many problems with OOO (see Terrence Blake for some of the possible criticisms) and I have already stated some of my own criticisms. Instead I wanted to use Harman’s mistake to again return to this criticism found in Galloway’s critique of SR and its relation to the political. But before I get into that I would like to go further into the review that got us started.
Looking into the Comedy of a Mistake
What is really funny about the whole enterprise really began when Harman did not read the whole thing. How do I know this? Two reasons: (1) It is not really a positive review and (2) it is not a positive review because Harman is not racist and certainly not racist enough for James J. O’Meara. After the initial positive statements, O’Meara shows his true hand when he cites Harman’s “run of the mill liberalism” as a point of concern. You see Lovecraft has real moments of racism and anti-Semetism and Harman goes out of his way to read a path out of these aspects of Lovecraft’s work. Such attempts are not appreciated by O’Meara and upset his Aryan sensibilities. From his perspective, Harman is robbing Lovecraft of his true power. Such is the non-sense.
What is really funny, in a conspiracy theory sort of way, is what happens to this mistake if one begins to delve deeper into James J. O’Meara and the website Counter-Currents Publishings. As stated above, O’Meara is not only a racist but a particularly weird (to use the word of the day) racist. As he mentions in the footnotes of the review, O’Meara has published a book entitled Homo and the Negro: Masculinist Meditations on Politics & Popular Culture. It would seem that the main thrust of the book is that the homophobia of Judeo-Christian culture opens the possibility of a “queer” traditionalism that would uphold Western Culture (supported by the existence of homosexual’s within the tradition itself). So, not only racialism but queer racialism. O’Meara has even entitled his blog with a William S. Burroughs reference (Where the Wild Boys Are). To make matters worse for Harman, the latest post here is entitled “Finally, a Movie Guide for Us”, and is a review for a book entitled Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies. Yes, depressing.
I must admit that I really enjoy the abyss that is extreme right web presence. As much as I find their political positions abhorrent, I still enjoy the adventure of looking into their logic. Because of this I delved deeper into James J. O’Meara than was strictly necessary but interesting none the less. What was really funny about this was how every step made Harman’s initial mistake even worse. O’Meara is not the sort of barely literate redneck racist that I am accustomed to here in the Southern US. Instead, he seems to be part of a marginal intellectual racialism tied to neo-pagan revivalism. (I have only a cursory knowledge of this movement from reading Michael Moynihan’s Lords of Chaos. The book itself is on Norwegian Black Metal, but Moynihan is himself part of neo-paganism and those sympathies come through in the work.) But if one continues to push through one will find reference to an author named Collin Cleary who has written on the same website as the initial review on Heidegger (explaining him for the racist scared of metaphysics) and is, himself, an editor for a neo-pagan journal. A further step into the abyss will find “Zizek” listed as category on the website. By selecting that you find a different racist thanking Zizek for pointing out the film Opfergang, a film that finally met the level of propaganda that he wanted in his “National Socialist Film”. Of course, the recommendation can be found in the film Zizek! where Zizek, with tongue fully planted in cheek, states his three favorite films are, “Fountainhead is the best American movie of all time, then the best German movie would be Opferhang…and then…Ivan the Terrible…” To anyone actually watching the film, it is obvious the Zizek has selected as his favorite movies that most sucessful propaganda films of the war years. This was not really an endorsement but part of irony of Zizek.
Put these all together and the evidence is damning. Or it least it would be if one simply ignored logic. But if one ignored such things, one could easily dismiss all of those under the sign of SR. After all, it is a shared love of Lovecraft that united the original members from Goldsmiths. And as O’Meara has pointed out, Lovecraft is a racist, Anti-Semite. Compounding this is the presence of Heidegger in Harman especially, but he is in the background for the other three as well, although to a lesser degree. Compound this with Zizek suggesting racist movies to racists, and, as everyone, Zizek said nice things about Badiou and Badiou said not nice things about Sarkozy and Badiou said nice things about Meillassoux and Harman wrote a book on Meillassoux. How much more evidence do you need?
Confusing the Ontological and Political