There’s something about things: feeling around for object-disoriented politics

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay explores the centrality and ambiguity surrounding the thing in recent attempts to articulate an object-oriented politics. Attempting to reconnect seemingly divergent ways in which the thing has been theorized – as object, as assembly, as the Freudo-Lacanian Ding – the discussion analyzes the persistence of libidinally-charged scenes of “naked” human encounter within efforts to orient politics around objects. Subtending a Western conception of assembly as the ideal modern political form, this persistent political object is described as the meeting, a social genre that has received little sustained philosophical attention but which shapes the everyday experience of the political. The meeting as an emotionally ambivalent scene of collective sensual encounter is articulated as a space of anti-politics in which political work is both done and undone. The essay concludes by illustrating the political dynamics of meeting within the emergence of European capitalism through the brief analysis of a painting by Rembrandt.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAngelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities
Issue number5
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Feb 2021

Cite this