“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

Monday, August 8, 2016

Ecology without Nature in The New York Times

Excellent. It's an a really well reasoned piece about sustainability. As I often say, imitating Goebbels on culture, when I hear the word sustainability, I reach for my sunscreen.

Among many, the argument against sustainability elicits an emotional response. As the ecological theorist Timothy Morton writes in his book “Ecology Without Nature,” the environmental movement has become, and perhaps always was, infused with a sense of mourning and melancholia (not to mention nostalgia). This melancholia, I would argue, is connected to the death of God, or the ability to conceive God in a certain way, and stems from that Romantic transference of the divine into nature. In either case, as with any death, first comes denial — we can save nature! — but it eventually gives way to acceptance. Talk about “sustaining” nature, or “preserving” it, only exacerbates this mourning and indulges our melancholia. Like the bereaved who must learn to speak of the dead in the past tense, if we are to move forward in our habitation of the planet, to face the future and not the past, to say “yes” to the anthropocene, we should change our language.

1 comment:

D. E.M. said...

To say "yes" to the Anthropocene is an odd formulation of what you're doing. ... a Yes to staring it down, maybe, and a weirder sense of temporality than past v future.