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

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Jittery

It's almost like this:

"Anything but grasping the conch. Any moment other than the obvious one at which humans started burning loads of fossil fuels!"

There's some kind of weird Oedipal logic to this. Like no one wants to say the big bad obvious thing.

Like we quite happily say "capitalism" and we quite happily say when it started. Despite the very accurate Braudelian shading of that concept and that start date. Like we admit there's loads of capitalisms, then there's big bad official capitalism, "since 1784" as they say below certain store names. (Marx says the steam engine, etc. Word.)

And there are terms for saying it started earlier or never started. Such as Whiggish history.

Just for a mo I thought we were all about to get seriously into working with science and scientists. But somehow the old school managed to get its correlationist paws on stuff and it's back to endlessly fuzzing and namechecking concepts and people (and not lifeforms) before we say anything at all, which we'd rather not. Heaven forbid we do our job. Better to talk amongst ourselves. Safer. My mistake...

2 comments:

D. E.M. said...

I was teaching Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao this week & I talked about the multiple beginnings & deferred endings of that book. And I said that I think Diaz is saying: At some point, you have to say , This is the Beginning, These are the facts I'm setting out with.

Otherwise you get nowhere or double back or both and then what?

nickguetti said...

I happen to think you're right about when the "Anthropocene" started...as a humanist! As a soil scientist with some work in anthropology, sorry, I can't even necessarily say with certainty that there ever was a Holocene, and that we didn't go straight from the ice age to the Anthropocene 12,500 YA. I'm just saying the "Anthropocene" you're talking about (the human-political-sensual body "Anthropocene") is not the same body-object as the agricultural-soils-in-the-middle-of-the-Amazon-sensual body "Anthropocene" that I brought up as an example of another face of it. That's all. They occupy different places, take on different qualities and do different things. Our politics of the Anthropocene is not necessarily commensurable with someone's geology of the Anthropocene, so I have to hope there is no need for it to be. Otherwise we might be in a pickle as far as ecopolitics is concerned.