Besides a deep fondness for H.P. Lovecraft, perhaps the only non-trivial belief held in common by the original four speculative realists (Ray Brassier, Iain Hamilton Grant, Graham Harman, and Quentin Meillassoux) is the Hegelian conviction that metaphysics buries its own undertakers.I'm no Hegelian, but I do like Lovecraft. And Cogburn and Ohm go on to say other things to which I'm sympathetic, such as this:
Until very recently nearly every English major in the United States was subjected to a “theory” class where students worked through Terry Eagleton’s Literary Theory: An Introduction. Assignments invariably involved writing different interpretations of random texts according to whatever hermeneutic of suspicion was being covered at the time: Freudianism, Marxism, Structuralism, Deconstructionism, etc. Now that “theory’s empire” has begun a period of decline in literary study, the benefit of hindsight reveals what was lost during its ascent.Simply put, such approaches systematically robbed their practitioners of the ability to say anything illuminating about specific texts. This is because the central idea of theory was to mine the hermeneutics of suspicion so as to give critics general procedures to unmask “what is really going on” in any given text. But when applied to works of art the effect is too often that of wearing blue tinted glasses and then saying that everything is blue, or evidence of class struggle, the will to power, castration anxiety, the failure of the metaphysics of presence, phallo-logocentrism, etc., etc., etc. But what really happened is that one too often either cherry picked works that could easily be read in terms of one’s hermeneutics, or one ignored everything about a work that did not validate the story. The end result is that there are no longer any textual objects, but rather just an encompassing textuality equally present in Dr. Seuss and the Constitution of the United States.
you’ll never have time to read books, and when you talk about them, you’ll mostly be using made-up words like “deterritorialization” and “Othering”—because, as Ron Rosenbaum pointed out recently, the “dusty seminar rooms” of academia have the chief aim of theorizing every great book to deathI like the anti-theory elements of all this, anyway. Cogburn and Ohm offer a fictionalist reading of the Bible, which is interesting but leads to some odd claims (along the lines of "it's fiction but it's true"). Fictionalism in ethics and religion seems to me to be a step in the right direction (depending on where you're stepping from, obviously), but not the whole truth. Not that I can say what the whole truth is myself. Mostly I just want to encourage people to read Cogburn and Ohm's paper, and Rebecca Schuman argument against getting a PhD in literary studies. Or to say 'Like' to both of them, at least.