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Prismatic EcologyEcotheory beyond Green$
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Jeffrey Jerome Cohen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816679973

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816679973.001.0001

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(p.106) Gold
Prismatic Ecology

Graham Harman

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter follows the fortunes of one specific object that is both widely prized and universally known: gold. It examines the long history of gold from cosmic eons predating humans and considers various structural features of gold that arise from its chemical properties without being reducible to them. After considering examples of the effect of gold on humans, who are dazzled by its splendor, corrupted by its value, and made cruel through their ravenous hunt for the metal, the chapter observes gold in its interactions with bacteria, governments, collapsing stars, geothermal currents, and mountain streams. Since the great value of gold entails that it is rarely discarded, the total human storehouse of gold continues to expand while losing very little, making gold the great unifier of all the generations in human history. But while gold represents a vast sum of “congealed human labor,” it also has countless properties that humans had no role in producing, but which force human labor into definite channels. For this reason, today’s Hegelian Marxists miss the point whenever they claim that object-oriented philosophy is a form of “commodity fetishism.”

Keywords:   gold, humans, bacteria, governments, collapsing stars, geothermal currents, mountain streams, Hegel, Marx, object-oriented philosophy

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