Blog Post

Hyperobjects are Gaussian

In my last post I argued that hyperobjects are nonlocal. Now I'm going to argue that they are temporally foreshortened, or to use a more vivid term, squishy.

 Like an octupus. Einstein describes Gaussian spacetime as a set of “reference-mollusks” in his book Relativity. Non-Euclidean and squishy, spacetime exists on the inside of objects, not outside them as an empty container. 

Black holes and planets and other extremely large objects do indeed squish spacetime. This can result in effects like gravitational lensing and the thousandfold reflection of stars around a black hole (for example).

In a more figurative sense, hyperobjects last so long that they are foreshortened in time, squished so that we can't see them as a flat, linear object. Seven percent of global warming effects will be around 100 000 years from now. It's almost impossible to imagine this. 

H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu is a horrifying octopus-like (that is, molluskan) god sleeping at the heart of the universe in a non-Euclidean city called R'lyeh. 

Cthulhu

Humans have summoned Cthulhu-like hyperobjects into social, psychic and ecological space. 

Timothy Morton's picture

Timothy Morton is Professor of English (Literature and Environment) at the University of California, Davis. Professor Morton's interests include literature and the environment, ecotheory, philosophy, biology, physical sciences, literary theory, food studies, sound and music, materialism, poetics, Romanticism, Buddhism, and the eighteenth century. He teaches literature and ecology, Romantic-period literature, and literary theory. He has published nine books and sixty essays, including The Ecological Thought (Harvard UP, 2010) and Ecology without Nature (Harvard UP, 2007).