“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

Friday, September 12, 2014

This Will Happen at Northwestern

...on Tuesday November 4:

Tim Morton

The point of ecological criticism, whether it's in the media and in scholarship, often seems to be about rooting out hypocrisy. You are a vegetarian but you wear leather shoes. You drive a Prius but you won't save Earth that way. You argue about global warming by flying thousands of miles.

To be in an age of ecological crisis is, in a sense, to be under it, and in that sense, we are all hypocrites.

But in a much more basic sense, ecological awareness “reduces” us to ethical hypocrisy. This is precisely because of the interdependence of lifeforms and non-life, as I'll argue.

In turn, this shows us something deep about the structure of reality. To be a thing at all is to be a hypocrite, in the sense that things are never what they seem, but could not appear otherwise.

Moreover, the age of cynicism, in which sniffing out hypocrisy is lauded as cleverness, in philosophy, art, culture and the media, is not only dead in the ecological age. It is impossible.

1 comment:

Nick Guetti said...

Does being a thing also entail knowing that one is a hypocrite? Not just being one, but knowing it? I'm capable of knowing it; I'm not sure that every thing is.