Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing by Bogost, Ian (review)


Images of a microprocessor, a chicken wing, a panda, and a carton of cigarettes adorn the cover of Ian Bogost’s Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing, disrupting and almost asserting themselves as components of the title. The effect is a fitting first impression for an eminently readable book that throws philosophy off balance and then tries to teach it to walk in this newly unsettled state. Although the work Bogost does here is philosophical, it contributes to an interdisciplinary conversation interested in the relationship between human and nonhuman actors that includes Bill Brown’s thing theory, Cary Wolfe’s and N. Katherine Hayles’s posthumanism, Bruno Latour’s brand of Actor-Network-Theory, and Graham Harman’s version of Speculative Realism. In light of Bogost’s previous three monographs, all of which focus on videogames, Alien Phenomenology is both a clear departure and a logical next step.

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