Two physical objects are passing each other in outer space — never mind for now what set them in motion. One object is much more massive than the other. As they approach each other, both objects change their speed and trajectory relative to each other. Eventually the smaller object enters into a stable orbit around the larger object. What happened?
Here, as I understand it, is how Graham Harman’s object-oriented philosophy would explain it: The two objects were passing one another in the mutual indifference of their vacuum-sealed separateness. One of them exerted a sort of allure on the other, whereby the other began to experience the alluring object’s features or notes as though these notes were separate from the object itself. An inter-object plasmic field established itself between the two objects, in which the notes of both objects interacted with each other. In particular, the note called “mass” came to dominate the plasm. The two objects merged into a single composite object, with the interrelationships between the components being defined in terms of mass, disregarding other features like shape, texture, odor, sentience, and molecular composition. Through the vicarious influence of the components’ mass on each other the features of the composite object emerged, including the stable rotational arrangement of the two components objects relative to each other.
This proposed relational dynamic, while idiosyncratic to be sure, accounts for the events that occurred. What I can’t understand, though, is why the vicarious influence of the two objects on each other manifests itself in a specific way. The mass-note of one object encounters the mass-note of the other object, and so the two objects move toward each other. Why don’t they fly apart from one another instead? Why don’t the two objects disintegrate without ever touching each other, or change colors, or start vibrating in harmonic resonance with each other? The influence of the objects’ mass on each other is distinct, characteristic, and different from other kinds of influence. It’s as if this particular influence, extending itself across the plasm linking the two physical objects, is itself an object in its own right.
This influence-object — call it “gravity” — isn’t a note of either of the material objects approaching each other across empty space. Rather, gravity is an object that manifests itself only in the plasm between material objects. It is the plasm-object that links the mass-notes of these two material objects together in a particular way. Perhaps the plasm is a medium traversed by all manner of distinct influence-objects: gravity, magnetism, stong and weak forces, fear, hunger, sexual attraction, curiosity, etc. Each force exerts its influence on particular kinds of features or notes in the objects that have been brought into vicarious relationship with each other in the plasm. If one or more of these plasmic influence-objects encounters the right notes in the material objects that have joined together in the plasm, then the vicarious mutual influence takes on that particular flavor generated by the influence-object. So, when the influence-object Gravity encounters the material object note called Mass in the two material object, the result is a merged object that brings these two separate objects into closer proximity to each other. The influence-object called Love also traverses the plasm, but since in this particular local manifestation it encountered no notes in the two material objects on which it could operate, the Love influence remained latent and had no effect on the emergent relationship established between the two objects.
Or something like that.
Or perhaps the plasm is an entirely undifferentiated medium, exerting specific relational influences depending on the properties of the particular objects that show up within the plasmic field of influence. So, if two objects have mass, then the plasmic allure manifests itself as gravitational pull. If the two objects also have speed and momentum, then this plasmic force also manifests itself as something like deflection. And if the two objects are humans, then perhaps the plasm manifests itself as mutual curiosity or revulsion, or perhaps one human-object’s sadism connects with the other’s masochism. The properties or notes of the object differentiate the generic plasmic allure into the specific kinds of influences it exerts on the vicariously connected objects. If so, then gravity too is a property of the individual object, a property that manifests itself only in the presence of other objects with which it’s entered into a vicarious relationship, linking object to object via the closely-related property of mass. But if a property of an object reveals itself only in relationship with another object, does that property actually reside in the object itself?