Latour litanies

According to Graham Harman, “The term ‘Latour Litany’ … was coined by Ian Bogost of Georgia Tech in reference to the long lists of entities found in many works of object-oriented philosophy.” Latour Litanies are Whitmanesque in that they contain multitudes. But they are distinctly and purposefully and politically non- (not anti-, simply non-) anthropomorphic. They propose and exemplify what’s been called “the democracy of objects” – humans, of course, constituting an object among others, none of which are in any way privileged. Perhaps the Latour Litany is a very appropriate type of vision for our time, which has been called the time of the “hyperobject”. Timothy Morton, who coined the term, writes, “Hyperobjects are phenomena such as radioactive materials and global warming. Hyperobjects stretch our ideas of time and space, since they far outlast most human time scales, or they’re massively distributed in terrestrial space and so are unavailable to immediate experience. …” Perhaps the Latour Litany is an appropriate poetic form for us living through this precarious era in which everything we don’t notice, everything we thing we’re above or below, could lead to unutterable destruction.

Perhaps (Harman again) “This is why Richard Rhodes finishes his description of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima with the following colossal Latour Litany:

Destroyed, that is, were not only men, women and thousands of children but also restaurants and inns, laundries, theater groups, sports clubs, sewing clubs, boys’ clubs, girls’ clubs, love affairs, trees and gardens, grass, gates, gravestones, temples and shrines, family heirlooms, radios, classmates, books, courts of law, clothes, pets, groceries and markets, telephones, personal letters, automobiles, bicycles, horses—120 war-horses—musical instruments, medicines and medical equipment, life savings, eyeglasses, city records, sidewalks, family scrapbooks, monuments, engagements, marriages, employees, clocks and watches, public transportation, street signs, parents, works of art.”