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

Friday, November 2, 2012

Underground Ecocriticism Liveblog 2

Jodey Castricano. Writes on the gothic and Derrida and animals. Oh yeah. “Vexing Ecocriticism: Notes from the Underground.”

Joshua invited her to talk about the gothic and ecocriticism. Specters of Marx. "There has never been a scholar who does not believe in the sharp distinction between the real and the unreal..." Alerts us to the role of dualisms in production of knowledge, and also to a worldview in which mind confronts the world in particular Nature as inanimate objects. Steady reification of the subject–object distinction. Berman, "the disenchantment of the world." "The development of non-participating consciousness...finds the notion of nature being alive a stumbling block to establishing modern scientific consciousness."

An erosion of the experience of reality as an engagement of the mental and material, promotion of detached observation. The dualisms established a new definition of reality. Bacon + Descartes. Marx points out that they anticipate the subjugation of nature by man. Mechanistic world view. The only real things are quantifiable. Technology raised to level of philosophy. Natura vexata.

Yet even in today's ecocriticism the distinction of real and unreal persists. Caught in the dualism of culture versus nature. Holism versus fragmentation. Absolutism versus relativism. Holistic attempts to resolve are compromised << convergence with the natural doesn't hold in the real world (unquote, Dogood).

Reliance on the exclusion of the unreal: queer, supernatural, gothic. Sustain the dualistic rhythms of a Cartesian dance.

Serpil Opperman: the two camps of ecocriticism (Nature camp, constructionist camp) remain dominated by the American tradition of nature writing. This mode is expected to convey accurate information. Realism as a literary mode.

What then of the unintelligible? What about how gothic was subordinated to realism? Reduced to melodrama and brooding atmospheres. Take seriously William James: in phenomena nature is everywhere gothic, not classic. Thus instead of seeing gothic as an outmoded genre, we see it as an epistemology? Unsettling because it posits the sentience of space and place?

In gothic, the thinker who tries to drive a wedge between matter and mind is in trouble?

Frederick Frank: gothic is opposed to Newtonian laws. Outrageous first law of motion: the deader an object is supposed to be, the more likely it is to move! The unnatural or supernatural sentience of space and place very nearly is the gothic.

A strange and compelling ecomodality that >> Romantics and >> idea that such a mind of the world may be more than human. More than spooky atmospherics. But the universe is conscious but in a more than nature writing way. Not just a projection.

Like Hegelian thought, gothic urges us beyond this idea of projection. Jungian Barbara Eckman: "a move away from the notion of ... psyche located in individual human brains..."

Threat to mechanism. Intrapsychic sentience: 1919 Freud claims this is surmounted. But it refuses to be buried. Ubiquitous trope of sentient house or landscape. Poe's Fall of the House of Usher. Usher believes in the sentience of all things.

But few would admit to this in the Western tradition. Such experiences are accepted only in fiction (Hartman). Thus the scholar treads softly around the issue of sentience. >> warnings that you can't even be interested in the gothic. 

James: "anyone with a healthy sense for evidence...ought now to tell that [supernatural phenomena] are natural kinds of phenomena ... that ought to be followed up with scientific curiosity."

James indicts medical materialism's reductionism that >> diagnosis of St Paul as an epileptic, St Teresa as a nutter etc.

Modern physics makes such claims less far fetched. Exceeding the expectations of mechanism. Robert Jann and Brenda Dunn. Matter has a subjective side, and so too mind has an objective side. >> inextricable association of physical world with the mind.

Study of gothic >> see what is at stake now is a reified model of subjectivity.

Gothic affirms nonhuman sentience. And nonliving sentience. Pavanelli: after industry we find it hard to believe that rocks and glaciers might listen. Julie Cruikshank on the sentience of glaciers. According to some indigenous traditions glaciers make judgments.

Not per Walder, "causative of mental disorder"

Cruikshank frames her work with Coleridge, Shelley and gothic writers. Stephen Dogood: Mary Shelley anticipates scientific hubris.

How might this combo speak to Soper's critique of the nature endorsing approach? Realist epistemology that emphasizes the ontology of nature outside human reflection?

[Me: gothic good; correlationism one more time but with feeling not so good; I'm going with gothic reality, as is she, about 60%]

Notes from the Underground's attack on rationalism. Unending search for freedom.

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