The ontological commitments of discourse analysis regulate the ‘material realm’ of social life to the status of an inert and apolitical backdrop, which only acquires significance via linguistic or visual representation.[*] Such a politics of representation constructs a distinction between meaning-making practices and an external-material world—a distinction predicated on the assumption that discourse is independent of materiality, which gives language the power to represent all strata, to translate all flows and codes into a sufficiently deterritorialised system of textual fundamentalism.[†] This total textualisation of all existence derives from a very deep anthropomorphic positioning of the concept of ‘the political’ as something that exclusively pertains to discursive, and thus hominoid relations.[‡]
Instead of reducing the political down to a politics of representation, metamaterialism stimulates a reconsideration of the status of the material as an active, affective, and politically significant set of forces in its own right. In speculating the ways matter has significance beyond that which humans ascribe, metamaterialism adheres to a distinctive yet entirely fluid set of ontological commitments.
- Classic dualisms such as mind/body, self/other, object/subject are displaced by a non-reductive monism that emphasises the immanence of existence. Dialectical notions of matter as secondary to the forms imposed upon it are thus rendered obsolete by a molecular model in which vitality and activity are assumed to exist, and to have always existed, within energy-matter complexes.
- Attempts to transcend metaphysics are overcome by a cosmological metaphysics of process that highlights the dynamic, temporal character of existence. Such metaphysics does not postulate a world where all being is in perpetual flux. Rather, it appreciates the differential nature of flows as a system moves through periods of relative equilibrium and periods of radical disequilibrium.
- As the cosmos are composed of interacting forces with differing speeds and degrees of agency, metamaterialism requires a problem-orientation with all dimensions, from the microscopic to the planetary, folded in. In this way, a metamaterialist engagement is able to pursue the contours of a problem through the interacting scales of all existences, as any specific analysis requires.
- Through experimentation, metamaterialism requires acting beyond all the dictates of established knowledge in order to advance speculations about processes exceeding comprehension. To do so requires supplementing all current conceptions of reason and knowledge with techno-artistic-psychedelic tactics that extend perceptual sensitivities through all supposed structural limitations.
The potentialities of metamaterialism extend far beyond displacing textual fetishism. Rather than an anthropocentric endeavour, existence is seen as the neo-emergent manifestation of the cosmos. The separation between human and nature, synthetic and natural, is rendered immanent. As morality is based in an anthropic sovereignty, all moral codification is thus invalidated by an immanent ethics grounded on local causal affects. The idea of extrinsic laws governing material actions ceases and is instead replaced by an immanent causality of self-signification and incomprehensible possibility.
[*] Manuel Delanda, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy, (New York: Continuum), 2002.
[†] Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, (London: University of Minnesota Press), 1987.
[‡] Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason, (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing House), 1996.