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

Friday, August 31, 2012

Adeline Johns-Putra, ASLEC-ANZ (Liveblog)

What do we mean by ecological vision? The ecological thought. Using Tim Morton to think about that.

What is the difference between ecological thought and ecological vision. There is an implied opposition of seer and seen, seemingly inimical to connectedness.

But vision also implies a looking beyond. Imagining beyond, beyond the possible. This aspect is what I want to address today. Challenging comfortable notions of being.

Copy of ET in the ANU library: someone has underlined it and said “impossible” in the margin...hadn't read to the end of the para where I say “can we even imagine it?”

Karen Barad: problem of representationalism. “The belief in the ontological distinction between representations and that which they purport to represent.” The word–world binary (as it is called in ecocritical circles). This >> preoccupation with the ties that bind the word and the world.

Barad: we tend to complicate it into,knowledge, known and the existence of knower joins them. Obsession of ecocriticism with mimesis.

Representationalism also informs social constructivism. Assumes we need only study the representations and not the entities to be represented.

All these things have agency, according to ecological vision. The idea of strangeness. The moment of encounter. Crucial to thinking with the many discursive and material units that make up our reality. Intra-action acknowledges that subject and object only exist in the encounter with each other (hot potato-ism baby...)

Latour: false division of world into subjects/objects/language/history; instead need to think of quasi objects.

Brave New World (with word crossed out) section. How does this vision work in fiction? Morton has a lot to say about dark ecology. But he doesn't mention fictional texts very much. All these destabilize our sense of identity.

Focus on fiction. Much less is done in fiction than in ecopoetics. Fiction is a little more stubborn.

Word and world as actants that have identity in coming together. Such novels are in danger of falling into a social constructivist trap of overprivileging representation. Shared materiality of books. Nabokov, Lolita, disgust at pedophilia all agents.

Holding agents together and recognizing the intra-active pull they exert on one another. All have meaning in a local condition of coming together (Barad likes to use this phrase). (Funny local realism...) Form of novel stretches to accommodate climate change. Very often it's genre fiction not the literary novel that lays bare its thingies.

Are we subaltern studies like feminism and Marxism. But are we like that? There can be a politics of opposing anti-intellectualism. Tim Clark: simply adapting habitual ideas of the human and culture, or questioning the seeming self evidence of those categories.

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