“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

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Another Juicy Slice of Dark Ecology

Consider the accident of an epidemic, which ancient Greek culture called miasma. Miasma is the second human-made hyperobject—the first was agrilogistic space as such, but miasma was the first hyperobject we noticed. You consider yourself settled and stable, although it would be better to describe your world as metastable: the components (humans, cows, cats, wheat) keep changing, but the city and the walls and the fields persist. You can observe miasmic phenomena haunting the edges of your temporal tunnel vision. You see them as accidental and you try to get rid of them. For instance, you move to America and start washing your hands to eliminate germs. Then you suffer from an epidemic of polio from which you had been protected until you started to police the temporal tunnel boundaries even tighter. This is the sub- ject of Philip Roth’s novel Nemesis and a good example of a strange loop. The global reach of agrilogistics is such that antibiotic-resistant bacteria may now be found throughout the biosphere: “in environmen- tal isolates, soil DNA . . . secluded caves . . . and permafrost,” in “arc- tic snow” and the open ocean. When you think it at an appropriate ecological and geological timescale, agrilogistics actually works against itself, defying the Law of Noncontradiction in spite of axiom (1).

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