When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant. But when it's dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death's companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being...what has hardened will never win.
| Andrei Tarkovsky
For Harman, defining an object from scratch, with language, is pointless as a means of distilling its 'it-ness' (as any other attempt at that, really).
He argues, that to do so is to fall into an endless rabbit hole of definitions that are needed to explain the words used in each definition used; endless reliance on a lived example and a pre-existing rhizome of knowledge, derived from ultrabasic notions associated empirically with what is directly perceivable in the world.
It's as if the first thing that your child manages to remember and associate with a sound becomes the true mother of all knowledge to come, the first building block to construct the entire universe. Funny enough, that word is, usually, 'mom'.
I think that Harman's observation regarding objects extends beyond the linguistic realm towards the whole of their material existence.
There are tools needed to make machines needed to make pulp needed to make paper needed to make a sheet needed to make a print on a Gutenberg's press in mid XV century; each smallest sub-atom of the project called 'guttenberg's bible' enormously entangled.
Making anything relies on infinitely complex metabolism that already is in place, and, most of the time, is self-poisoning. Just lying still and breathing relies on a no-less entangled system that connects to muscular miofibrills, photosynthesizing cyanobacteria, amonia-nitrate fertiliser factories and submarine algae.
Now, let's think on the complexity behind putting a block on are.na, and quietly gasp 'oh fuck'