“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

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

More Peeks at Dark Ecology

“There are some substitutes for the term Anthropocene. For instance, I have been advised to call it Homogenocene. But this is just a euphemism. Homogenocene is true: humans have stamped their impression on things they consider as ductile as wax, even if those things cry. Yet, in a more urgent sense, the concept is false and anthropocentric. The iron deposits in Earth’s crust made by bacteria are also homogeneous. Oxygen, caused by an unintended consequence of bacterial respiration, is a homogeneous part of the air. Humans are not the only homogenizers. Likewise, Latour’s suggestion that we call it the Capitalocene misses the mark. Capital and capitalism are symptoms of the problem, not its direct causes. If the cause were capitalism, then Soviet and Chinese carbon emissions would have added nothing to global warming. Even the champion of distributed agency balks at calling a distributed spade a distributed spade.”


D. E.M. said...

The fuckedupocene
The we'refuckedocene
The wetookeverythingdownwithusocene

all work, but Anthropocene works better. Classier. And we should keep it classy :)

Karl said...

the only way i would refine it is focusing on agriculture.

Derek Woods said...

I think it's a distributed cause. If there are more and more nonhumans in social space throughout the Anthropocene, they must also participate causally, so that all kinds of domesticated animals and crops are agential when it comes to mutating biogeochemical cycles. Not to mention the contributions of machines. If the human species is at the center of all of that as an agent, which is how the earth system science literature tends to describe the situation, that species is addicted to other species and to machines, oil etc. So the anthropos of anthropocene would have to be paradoxical or be a name that refers not to the human species but to a (still finite) collective of entities. That's how I see the ANT version of it.

Timothy Morton said...

That's the trouble Derek. Latour forgets (even) this aspect of his view and reverts to unmasking ideological forces, pinning it on something he names "capital."

Derek Woods said...

Capitalocene seems too limited. There could be a capitalist adaptation to climate change that would have the same class problems or a way of overcoming capitalism without changing the ecological relations that have created the anthropocene .