Realist magic and disappearance
by Arran James
Timothy Morton’s new book Realist Magic is now available to read online, and print and pdf copies will be available soon. Here, a quick point of possible connection between Morton and Baudrillard, who I have written about previously in relation to realism.
An object is not an illusion. But it is not a non-illusion. Much more threatening than either is what is the case, namely an object that is utterly real, essentially itself, whose very reality is formally ungraspable. No hidden trapdoors, just a mask with some feathers whose mystery is out in front of itself, in your face. A miracle. Realist magic. This all means that the skills of the literary critic and the architect, the painter and the actor, the furniture maker and the composer, the musician and the software designer can be brought to bear on the workings of causality.
Objects are such that, in themselves, their disappearance changes them. It is in this sense that they deceive us, that they generate illusion. But it is in this sense too that they are faithful to themselves, and we must be faithful to them: in their minute detail, in their exact figuration, in the sensuous illusion of their appearance and connectedness. For illusion is not the opposite of reality, but another more subtle reality which enwraps the former kind in the sign of its disappearance.
Of course, Baudrillard can’t easily be mapped onto an object-oriented framework, but I wonder if there isn’t something in here, especially given Morton’s buddhism.