“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

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New School Seminar April 8

Looks like I'll be at the New School in early April for an event with Elizabeth Grosz, Allen Stoekl, Karen Pinkus and Damian White. It's called Designing (Sustainability) After the Gift. It's being organized by Cameron Tonkinwise.

Current unsustainability comes in large part from the perception that the cosmos and its earthly ecosystems are perpetual gifts. Collapsing ecosystems belie this sense of the cosmos being inexhaustibly available for human projects.

However, at the same time, conceiving of nature as something deserving recompense, even sacrifice, re-places nature in a set of economic relations.

By contrast, the domain of artifice, of design, is rarely conceived as a gift, allowing the concentration of resources into long lasting materials and products to be treated as disposable.

These situations are being complicated as it is acknowledged that design's capacity to facilitate human existence involves a kind of thingly agency. By extension, speculative realism begins to grant this kind of power also to materials themselves.

How then best to understand the fourfold of nature, design, gift and sustainability?

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