“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, April 30, 2012

Future Talk in Sydney

In late August of this year, at NIEA:

Of Planet-Sense

My talk plays on the possibility that the phrase "sense of planet" is in fact a subjective genitive.

Even if humans are the only people on Earth, which now seems astonishingly unlikely, they act as the planet's sense organs insofar as they are its direct outgrowths, and insofar as sentience just is an "interobjective" system's emergence as information-for some "perceiver."

But Earth senses us in a far deeper and more disturbing way, since environmental awareness is predicated on an always-already. We are fearful that global warming has started only to the extent that we are no longer sure what the weather is telling us, because global warming has already started.

Unable to see it directly, we assess global warming insofar as it takes the measure of us. A tsunami assesses the fragility of a Japanese town. An earthquake probes the ability of humans and their equipment to resist the liquefaction of crust. A heatwave scans us with ultraviolet rays.

These largely harmful measurements direct our attention to human coexistence with other lifeforms inside a gigantic object that just is, yet is not reducible to, these lifeforms and ourselves.

The Anthropocene, the term for direct human intervention in geological time, is the ironic name for a moment at which the nonhuman is discerned to be inextricable from the human, a variation of the noir plot of the Oedipus story in which the measurer turns out to be the measured.

To understand the contemporary age then is to understand the form of the Oedipus story, namely, how we still remain within the confines of agricultural ritual, a plot that plots the world as graspable, technical object and horizon, a plot that eventually leads nowhere but to what I shall define precisely as a specific kind of doom.

What underlies sense of planet then is "planet-sense," experienced by humans as physical enmeshment in a trap that is by no means free, pleasant or utopian, precisely to the extent that it is a "global" awareness--but cognitively liberating nonetheless.

1 comment:

Luke Jaaniste said...

Coming to Australia. Awesome!
Now I can take you up on the offer of meeting you directly at your talks to chat further... anywhere else you are talking besides the NIEA?