“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, December 2, 2015

I Can't Stand It No More, I Have to Say Something

I was shocked by how Simon Critchley chose to enter ecological discursive space on the back of my new friend Roy Scranton's Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: “We're fucked. We know it. Kind of.”

Do we? Do we know that? Or is that one of those lies in the form of the truth, the kind that show up in Blake's Songs of Experience?

And since when did being fucked count as the worst thing that could happen to “us”? And since when did being fucked equal the triumphantly horrified rubbernecking of one's own catastrophe, which incidentally implies the horrifying extinction of actually existing nonhumans? And furthermore, since when did a deconstructor feel like resorting to an explosive monosyllabic slap upside the head (seven of them, actually, in two “punchy” sentences), as if we needed any more slapping from any direction whatsoever, given the current state of neoliberal play?

And that Kind of. The seven words think they can achieve escape velocity from the poor saps down below who only slightly know, or don't know at all. Those fools.

Male environmentalist writers have tended to want to distribute such head slappings in a spirit explicitly aimed with great hostility at what they mockingly call theory. It's pretty shocking to find an otherwise great deconstructor doing it, as if that's how one needed to announce one's eco-entrance.

The horror-aggression of We're fucked is destructive agricultural logistics in full-throated tragedy mode (Oedipally “knowing it”), tragedy being how agricultural society computes (but doesn't at all transcend) its operating software: OMG, I killed my dad! 

We need to find the laughter. Then perhaps we can cry for real. Out with the corn fields, bring on the mushrooms on the forest floor.


D. E.M. said...

pascal's wager for dark ecological joy; I'm in

Unknown said...

Is the "we're fucked" verbatim from Scranton in his book? http://www.publicseminar.org/2015/11/anthropocene-denial-bingo/