“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hyperobjects Excerpt

I'm mostly talking about plutonium and drone music (good combo!) but here's an excerpt from what I'm going to say. It involves what Derek Parfit calls the “no-self view”—which he discovers by examining inconsistencies in self-interest theories. Parfit realizes this is very close to Buddhism. OOO would call it the “zero-person view.” Buddhism and OOO agree totally on this point: it's perfectly possible to achieve this view.

Intimacy and the no-self view come together in ecological awareness. The proximity of an alien presence that is also our innermost essence is very much the structure of feeling evoked by ecological awareness. Consider symbiosis, as explored by Lynn Margulis and others. One feature of symbiosis is endosymbiosis, the fact that life forms do not simply live alongside us: they are within us, so much so that on many levels the host–parasite distinction collapses. Our mitochondria, for instance, are symbionts hiding from their own catastrophe, the environmental disaster called oxygen. Many cell walls are double, hinting at some ancient symbiotic coupling. To a great extent others are us: or as the poet Rimbaud put it, “Je est un autre.” On a non-phenomenological level (not dependent on experience), a level an extraterrestrial with a microscope could validate, we are strangers to ourselves. That is how close the other is. Ecology is about intimacy.

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