The Coldness of Forgetting: OOO in Philosophy, Archaeology, and History

Graham Harman 1
  • 1 Southern California Institute of Architecture, , Los Angeles, United States of America


This article begins by addressing a critique of my book Immaterialism by the archaeologists Þóra Pétursdóttirr and Bjørnar Olsen in their 2018 article “Theory Adrift.” As they see it, I restrict myself in Immaterialism to available historical documentation on the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and they wonder how my account might have changed if I had discussed more typical archaeological examples instead: wrecked and sunken ships, released ballast, deserted harbors, distributed goods, and derelict fortresses. In response, I argue that my account was not therefore non-archaeological, since ruins are the topic of archaeology only by accident: the real subject of the discipline is what Marshall McLuhan describes as “cold media,” in the sense that they are low in information. McLuhan’s distinction between hot and cold media is shown to be surprisingly analogous to Aristotle’s difference between continua and discrete substances, and some consequences are drawn from this analogy.

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Open Philosophy is an international Open Access, peer-reviewed academic journal covering all areas of philosophy. The objective of Open Philosophy is to foster free exchange of ideas and provide an appropriate platform for presenting, discussing and disseminating new concepts, current trends, theoretical developments and research findings related to the broadest philosophical spectrum.