Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sherryl Vint 1: The Mise-en-Scene of Things to Come (Underground Ecocriticism Keynote 2)

The videos Sherryl will talk about are to be found on

Science fiction disparaged as genre more interested in setting and world building than interiority.
But this may make it the perfect lit for thinking about the human–natural world relation.
...and its ongoing disasters...
But despite this, the environment hasn't been a very privileged theme.
Also characterized as a genre of prediction. Role of tech in shaping future.
Focus on the world as a human built environment. Planned communities. Dystopian nightmares.
Some 70s films on overpopulation. But not much that is green.
Silent Running (Trumbull 1972): the pods on the spaceship are what is left of nature.
Sense of opposition to ecology.
Capitalist technoscience as the enemy of environmentalism.
But also for demographic for sci fi enthusiasts: environmentalism as soft capitulation to limits.
Tools of sci often used to rethink the place of humans.
Morton's The Ecological Thought: Do we need high technology to imagine earth? Do we need Western science and power? Google Earth?
Why, no!
Yet we can think of affinities between ecocriticism and sci fi.
Short films on futurestates touch on environmentalism to think the future.
What is left out of trad ecocriticism is biotech. We should think about the legislative context that is remaking the category of life itself.
Engaging with rather than simply condemning biotech.
Reconsider the utility of nature/culture divide.
Morton, Ecology without Nature: false segregation of nature and the human.
William Cameron Menzies, Things to Come (1936) << Wells's book The Shape of Things to Come.
replacing the chaos of warfare. Aviation falsely enslaved to war. Only remaining gun is a spacegun that launches humans to the stars.
Remaining animals or becoming more as the language of the film itself. "All the universe, or nothing!"
Paradigm of hard sf. 1936 to 2036, two families. Approach of WWII as impetus. Continual overcoming of nature through tech. War a waste of sci achievement.
Thirty years of war followed by feudalism till mid 1970s. Wings over the World engineers spray humans with peace gas to institute a unity of common order. Huge, gleaming underground cities. Nature persists only as decorative.

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