At the End of the World, These Are Hyperobjects Every Way
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Morton’s reactions were severe and polarized. Hyperobjects (and hyperobjects) are called “pessimistic,” “provocative,” “dissempowering,” “groundbreaking,” “disturbing,” and simply “weird.” At the same time, Morton’s ideas found an enthusiastic — and growing — readership outside of traditional academia, attracting everyone from artists and musicians to science fiction writers, architects, and students. .
In the nearly decade since its publication, Hyperobjects referred to in a Buddhist blog post about the ecological crisis, a New York Times op-ed on digital privacy, and a BBC report on how concrete will soon surpass all living things on the planet. Technology writers use the term as a way to talk about the incomprehensibility of algorithms and the internet; Science fiction writer Jeff VanderMeer says it neatly describes the strange alien phenomenon he writes about in BREAKING, his surreal novel became a 2018 movie. Icelandic musician Björk reached out to Morton to talk about hyperobjects, and their email letters became part of a MoMA exhibit. In 2019, Adam McKay, the former Saturday Night Live head writer and cocreator of a pile of hit Hollywood comedies, was so inspired by Morton’s work that he named his production company Hyperobject Industries. “You feel like there’s very little change in your brain because you didn’t consider that possibility,” McKay told me. “He is Timothy. Every page of their writing has that feeling. ”
Then came Covid, with a rapid number of devastating natural disasters attributed to climate change, and Morton’s ideas became even more popular as possible to capture enigmatic philosophical concepts. They even appeared in a Canadian parliamentary debate about the pandemic. “We see something bigger than us, something bigger than we can imagine,” said Charlie Angus, a member of Parliament. “Timothy Morton calls it a hyperobject, something we don’t fully understand. That’s the power of this pandemic.” Desperate to understand — or accept that they don’t understand — these great, interconnected forces, are growing people find resonance in what Morton is saying. ”Here are the hyperobjects,” as Morton writes in their book, “and slowly but surely we understand what they are saying. They contacted us. ”
The message some readers have heard on the arrival of these events is a frightening one: Look at our works, you mighty ones, and despairing ones. But there is another message in Morton’s book, one that Morton especially admires as despair threatens to paralyze many: Our sense of the “world” may end, but people will not be destroyed. In fact, the end of this limited idea of the world is likely the same thing that will save us from ourselves.
“How are you tell someone in a dream that they’re a character in a dream? ”Morton asked the first time I met them. We were in the same small neighborhood in Houston where I spent a year in the pandemic. lock in my brother. It’s August, and it’s hot like Houston is always hot in the summer: so damp that coming out the front door is like stepping on a blistering, somewhat thicker dimension. Morton took me out. in their kicky Mazda3, and we’re on our way to the Menil Collection, a museum and art collection housed in five buildings, including a chapel, on 30 acres.
Born in London and educated in Oxford, Morton — who moved to Texas in 2012 for a job at Rice — is soft-spoken but serious. The day we met, they were wearing shirts covered in green leaves that fade and disappear. There’s no way to lure people into a waking dream, Morton told me as we traveled across wide highways, the stereo scattering a combination of ’70s prog rock, deep house, and shoegaze . “You don’t negotiate with them. You have to defeat their thoughts. ”
Talking to Morton, like reading their writing, is a little psychedelic experience filled with poetic leaps and circumlocutory spirals through a confusing array of topics: Star Wars, Buddhist meditation, Romantic poetry, David Lynch, quantum physics, The Muppet Show. One time they were talking about the death of the planet and Heidegger and Derrida’s better points, and the next time they were intrigued to explain to me why PM Dawn’s 1991 R&B hit “Set the Pag the Joy of Memory ”is one of the most accomplished art of all. time, and why Han Solo Millennium Falcon a radical democratic ecological creature that “announces the possibility of a new era.” None of this is non-sequitur, but the ideas can feel unattainable, like a magic-eye image that is at the top of the screen. Since Morton would always talk about things that weren’t directly discussed, the only way to see it was to go around it, gesturing with metaphors that were almost touching but not so much.