Yesterday, in a comment on the Lee Drummond forever thread, I posted the following quote from proctontologist.weebly.com:
“Ontologicality is a proctology, but only if you allow for the proctological to speak its ontologicality. Ontology is just a set of assumptions postulated by the anthropologist for analytical purposes. Indeed, it is well worth pointing out that such an exercise in conceptual creativity needn’t be territorialized with reference to any geographical coordinates whatsoever; it need not refer to anything... Geographical or, dare I say it, cultural distance is not a necessary condition for alterity. Formally, all you need to set the game of alterity up is a set of initial assumptions and some body of material that appears to contradict it.”
Most of this is a direct quote. But where ontologicality and the proctological meet is not at the sphincter – that would mean depth, darkness, stench – but at the level of buttocks – sameness separated by difference of the line, of the butt-crack. Of course, ontologicality circles around the sphincter but is never able to properly penetrate it.
On Savage Minds, this same quote has led to debate on whether the proctontologist should be considered a troll. I share with you my response:
Personally, I wouldn’t call the proctontologist a troll. He’s a much rarer beast, a satirist. Vulgar? Sure. But have you ever read Jonathan Swift? Or seen any number of currently popular standup comics who appear to draw inspiration from Lenny Bruce?
The imagery is inspired in its precision. The contrast between the deep dark stench of the sphincter, the orifice through which knowledge of what is going on beneath the surface is found (Freud), and the pale buttocks separated by a line (Deleuze), with the ontologists rimming the surface (arguing in circles) is, while nasty, filled with contrasts ripe for Lévi-Straussian analysis. Nothing could be further from the trolls’ dull repetition of angry claims without the least shred of wit.
That said, allow me to surprise you. I find this whole ontology business fascinating. A chance encounter on OAC brought me to Graham Harman’s Prince of Networks, which is a clear and readable explication of Latour’s work up to 1999. Then someone pointed me to the book I am reading now, Isabelle Stenger’s Thinking with Whitehead. When you realize that where all this is coming from is a search for alternatives to scientific materialism and the bifurcation of the world into physical Reality and mental Other Epiphenomenal Stuff and create a worldview that sees both photons and the beauty of the sunset, both demography and mythology, as equally real, with neither reducible to the other, it all gets very interesting, indeed.