This plastic bag wants to tell its maker, a New Yorker, something.
This plastic bag wants to tell its maker, a New Yorker, something. Anna May Dutton

A passage in Timothy Morton's Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World recently led to my discovery of Ramin Bahrani's masterpiece "Plastic Bag," a short film that features a narration by what has to be Germany's greatest contribution to the resources of the English language, Werner Herzog's distinct voice and style.

As a work of philosophy, I rate Hyperobjects as second in importance only to Spinoza's Ethics. In the way the former de-anthropomorphized God, the latter de-anthropomorphized nature. There is no longer an inside and outside. There is no nothingness into which we can dump waste. The atmosphere turns out not to be a very good sewer. Everything we do is connected into local systems and also into hyperobjects, like global warming. Hyperobjects are not infinite but temporarily and spatially massive.

The plastic bag in Bahrani's short film, a plastic bag that reminds me of the many floating and swirling plastic bags on the streets of New York City, realizes this, that it has the temporality of a hyperobject, and so longs for a smaller and more human scale. "If I could meet my maker," says the bag, thinking the woman who used it to carry her groceries made it, "I would tell her just one thing: I wish she had created me, so I could die."