Posted by: Johan Normark | June 18, 2013

Water as a process or as an object?

I have just finished an abstract for the session “Towards an Archaeology of Becoming” at this year’s Theoretical Archaeology Group’s (TAG) conference in Bournemouth

Water as a process or as an object? Continuity of becoming vs. becoming without continuity

Bergsonian and Deleuzian becoming is one of continuity, of fluidity. Water is a popular example in this case. That is not the only way to view becoming. Whitehead’s and Latour’s view of becoming are without continuity. Object-oriented philosopher Graham Harman sees the first group as “underminers” of objects. They seek a deeper unity (monism), a virtuality, a creative force that creates creatures. Objects are secondary to the process that precedes it (objects relate to a more profound process). People of the second group are “overminers” of objects. They see objects as dependent on their actual relations (eternal objects or networks). Hence, what both groups of “becoming” do have in coming is that they are all based on relationism. An object is either reduced to deeper (immanent) relations or to external (transcendent) relations. To Harman both perspectives are wrong as the object never is exhausted by its relations. The real object has its own essence but that is always withdrawn from access. The object is always split between the real and the sensual.

Sensual objects of water emerge when water forms relations with other objects. Water extinguishing fire, setting of avalanches, empowering steam engines, making clay plastic, eroding caves, etc. are all the result of water creating temporary relations with other objects. Only within the sensual object is there becoming. The real object is unaffected by these relations. Water as an archaeological object needs no continuity or fluidity. This is a becoming that always is in the present.


  1. […] at this year’s TAG conference in Bournemouth. The abstract to the first paper can found here. My second abstract is for the session The material dimension of cognition: a coalescence of the […]


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