“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, June 27, 2011

That Dark Ecology Coda in Full

To Juliana Spahr's Gently Now, Don't Add to the Heartache:

And we realized that from the very beginning of our history, we had been androids. There never was a Nature from which we are now separated.
This subjective destitution is happening precisely at the moment at which we achieve ecological planetary awareness.
Oh fuck.

And we realized that not only were we to deinotaton, but all other lifeforms were also to deinotaton. Strange strangers.
The spruce was a spruce droid. The damselfly was a damselfly droid. The marsh wren was a marsh wren droid. The butterfly was a butterfly droid.
Oh double fuck.

...and then we came to realize that not only were lifeforms uncanny doubles of themselves,
But even nonsentient objects.
The stone was an uncanny double of a stone.
The neutron star was an uncanny double of a neutron star.
The wicker basket was an uncanny double of a wicker basket.
The computer virus was an uncanny double of a computer virus.
Oh bloody fuck damn and back again for an extra helping of double damn.

...then we reached an even worse conclusion:
Not only had we done it, caused the ecological catastrophe, the Anthropocene,
But we didn't even have the feeling of existential weirdness to rely on.
This was because our subjective destitution turned out to be a basic feature of reality
Not some special prize for being human, as Heidegger had argued.
Every blasted thing in the universe was an uncanny monster carving out its reality ruthlessly.
We couldn't even rely on our sense of importance,
AND we had gone and screwed up the biosphere,
And we knew these two things simultaneously,
For the same reasons. Finally the Darwin hit home.
The tragic intensity of this poem was part of the very problem it was so beautifully screaming, for Pete's sake!
It was then that we decided that we were total lame-os.
Oh fucking shitting bollocks with a huge slice of bollocks on toast for good measure.


Le vent fripon said...

your link to the poem by juliana spahr doesn't work. i found it here: http://www.tarpaulinsky.com/Summer05/Spahr/Juliana_Spahr.html.

i keep on wondering if your position that "there is no nature" isn't equivalent to the position that everything is nature, including pollution, nuclear waste, etc.

Timothy Morton said...

Thanks so much for the correction. The position isn't that, for two reasons. Since it's come up more than once in the last few months I shall post right now on this.