This article was prompted by Andrew J. Chung’s “Vibration, Difference, and Solidarity in the Anthropocene,” which was published in Resonance in 2021. Chung critiques the New Materialist movement for a dangerous proximity to the intellectual route that anti-Blackness, colonial desire, and the universalization of Whiteness” have historically followed. After a brief introductory discussion of how certain aspects of Object-Oriented Ontology (OOO) might be of use to sound studies, and a lengthier definition of the “flat ontology” that seems to bother Chung, I mount a defense of the somewhat related New Materialist movement against his critique. There are three possible political critiques that one might make of flat ontology, and they are addressed one by one. First, there is Zoe Todd’s claim that the practice of ontology per se is already a form of colonialism. Second, someone might argue that in a moment of unusual political tension like the present, it would be immoral to change the subject and speak of the abstract sorts of intellectual problems usually associated with ontology. Third and finally, it is sometimes argued that modern transcendental or idealist ontologies are a force for political good, and that to flatten humans and nonhumans onto the same plane is to ratify existing hierarchies and hegemonies with no comparable gain in return. The conclusion is that none of these arguments works, and that while race remains a crucial moral and political theme, it cannot claim transcendental supremacy over the benefits of flat ontology.

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