Excerpts from the article “Attune” by Timothy Morton. In Veer Ecology.


Since a thing cannot be known directly or totally, one can only attune to it, with greater or lesser degrees of intimacy. This is not a “merely” aesthetic approach to a basically blank extensional substance. Since appearance can't be peeled decisively from the reality of a thing, attunement is a living, dynamic relation with another being. The ecological space of attunement is a space of veering, because rigid differences between active and passive, straight and curved, become impossible to maintain.

[…]

We have recently rediscovered attunement, which is unsurprising, as we have recently rediscovered non-human beings outside the flattening, reifying concept of nature, which almost seems to have been designed to dampen our awareness of attunement space, perhaps just as the “well-tempered” keyboard is designed to reduce the spectral harmonics that haunt a sound owing to its necessary physical embodiment: there is no sound as such, no pure tones, only the sound of a string, the sound of a sine wave generator.

[…]

When we study attunement, we study something that has always been there: ecological intimacy, which is to say intimacy between humans and nonhumans, violently repressed with violent results.

[…]

We spent all this time tuning the world to anthropocenic tones, then delimiting attunement space. We might have to teach birds to tune to wind turbines, and this will be a drag. We want to be comfy in our unwavering, thanatological world.

[…]

I am playing a tune called myself to which you are attuning, but which is itself attuned to you, so that we have an asymmetrical chiasmus between myself and me, between me and you.

[…]

Attunement is the feeling of an object's power over me —I am being dragged by its tractor beam into its orbit.

[…]

Hearing is a chiasmic crisscross between sounds emitted by my ear and pressure waves perturbing the ear's liquids from the outside. The not-me beckons, making me hesitate. Come.


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