Tag Archives: Modes of Existence

Chapter 9: Situating the Beings of Fiction

Author: Andre Ling

Chapter 9 is a challenging and remarkable exploration of what Latour terms the beings of fiction. It is challenging, quite simply, because it demands that the reader accord reality to something so readily opposed to what is generally considered ‘real’ – and this entails a certain amount of conceptual acrobatics. It is remarkable because it purports to do for language, meaning and the symbolic what has just been done for nature; that is to reveal an amalgam and use Latour’s razor to separate out the different modes of existence that it conceals. In my view, it is, in a sense, one of the most important chapters of AIME. If you can go with it, your playing field just got very large indeed. Continue reading

Without Mediation, No Access: Comments on Chapter 3

Author: Adam Robbert

Had Bruno Latour his own academy the inscription above the door might read “Without Mediation, No Access.” To new students of the academy the statement would appear paradoxical, even obscure. If to “mediate” is to come between, to intervene from the middle, isn’t mediation, then, that which must be in the way of access rather than its condition? Isn’t the goal of knowledge to remove all mediation so as to gain a form of direct access to the things themselves? The students would shake their heads, disappointed with the ambiguous nature of the engraving. The initiates, however, would offer a different, more complex, reading: Mediation separates, yes, but it also joins; mediation is the medium of exchange and communication, the linking element that builds a new bridge; it provides the conditions by which access becomes possible. To “access” itself means to come in close; to not just approach something, but to approach it in a particular way, to create an entrance by means of the bridge. What’s more, the initiates would be aware that bridges do not appear ready-made; they must be constructed though meticulous labor and with precise materials so as to connect each new entity that seeks to gain access to the others in the circuit. Worse still, the initiates would also know that bridges do not last forever; they must be continually maintained and reproduced; the access they provide is not granted for all time and for all places, but only to those places and those times connected by the right bridges. The cosmos, the initiates would understand, is a vast archipelago of different beings that can only access one another when the right mediators are in place, and then only insofar as the mediations can be stabilized over time.

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Summary of Introduction + Chapter 1

Author: Philip Conway

Greetings, tout le monde!

We’ve yet to establish a format for these posts.  What I’ve done here needn’t set a precedent for everyone else; I just hope that the following will be useful.  At the very least it’ll get us started.  I’ve written up a bullet point summary of the introduction and the first chapter – a melange of paraphrases and choice quotes.  Hopefully that’ll be enough to refresh people’s memories, provide an overview of the text and give us some jumping off points for conversation.  If I’ve missed something major or if you disagree with my interpretations then do let me know!

As these are the early, introductory pages and because we’ve not yet gotten our discussions going I don’t have much to add vis-à-vis commentary but I do have one critical remark to make about Latour’s definition of ‘The Moderns.’  That’ll come in a second post.

First, the summary.  Continue reading