“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, October 4, 2023

Lovely Brazilian Interview (with English translation)

 I really enjoyed this. I'm pasting the English below. It's on the occasion of the Portuguese translation of Being Ecological

1. Your book opens our mind to see another perception of reality and how symbiotic life is, which helps us to understand and deal with climate and environmental changes. But how can we dialogue and convince people who profess scientific denial and refute global warming and the respect for the "others"?

That’s what this book is trying to do. I’m trying to talk nicely to people who think they don’t care. I really wrote this for Americans but it hasn’t done very well yet, because I don’t talk about Jesus. I’m trying to fix that in a new book called Hell: Towards a Christian Ecology. 

I wrote that book in a faux naïve David Byrne voice, which is a kind of ironic American everyman voice. It’s the best I could do. We will be releasing it again on the back of Hell, because interest in the book is already making my blog get two hundred thousand hits a day. 

I think people like me have it all wrong. We spew scientific facts but they sound like the Book of Revelation. We make people feel stupid and evil. I wrote this book to help people feel smart and good. We’ve hoovered up all the people who liked to be called stupid and evil. That’s a tiny number of people. No one cares yet. We know what to do, but if we were advertising Coca Cola, people like me would all be fired for getting it wrong. We need a reason to want to do this, to stop burning fossil fuels. To love it. To wake up in the morning and think wow, I’m so glad to be working on the most exciting, sexiest, caring thing in the world! Mostly we just sound like we want people to come down to a feeling of hungover misery. We should be fired. 

The basic answer is, people like me should talk very very nicely. Yelling has obviously not worked. I’m sorry to sound so seemingly anti-revolutionary. But revenge is not a good look. 


2. Many authors are proposing that human sciences should encompass even more the study of (and the respect for) other species, especially animals and plants, in a post-humanistic perspective. How do you evaluate this movement considering so many human particularities?

I obviously think it’s really, really significant and great. But there’s a very important thing to consider here. How we humans treat one another is how we treat other lifeforms. These days I am working really hard on writing about white supremacy and patriarchy for this reason. These are areas that people like me MUST pay attention to, all the time. 

I don’t think we should care about labels like “post-humanist.” Becoming fully human would be better: becoming fully human by acknowledging and respecting our indigenousness to the biosphere, the fact that we grow out of the biosphere like apples growing off a tree. We are made out of it. We are made out of other lifeforms and we depend on them just to breathe. 


3. In your last book you mention and explain some ideas from great philosophers such as Heidegger, Derrida and Graham Harman (an author not yet translated into Portuguese!!). From your point of view, which author or philosophic idea is the best key for facing the environmental challenges nowadays?

I don’t really recommend anyone, except for myself LOLOL. Truly, I’m afraid there really isn’t very much. I would read my book The Ecological Thought if you want to read about the deep reasons why I think the way I do. 

It’s genuinely hard to answer this question. Most of my work is a deep critical analysis of environmentalist thought, including philosophy. 

People always get philosophy wrong. They think philosophy is about obeying or respecting big ideas. This is not correct. Philosophy means the love of wisdom. Wisdom means trying NOT to have ideas. There are two emotions in the word “philosophy”: love and wisdom. If you had to choose between “wisdom means a set of instructions or hints” and “wisdom is a feeling” then wisdom is definitely a feeling. The feeling of “wise.” Loving that feeling: that’s philosophy. 

Above Plato’s Academy was a sign that said, “If you’re not into geometry, leave now.” Geometry at the time meant solving problems without numbers, just feeling the Earth (geo-metry), with a straight edge and a compass. Pacing the Earth, like Jesus doodling in the sand. 

1 comment:

Pedro Pereira de Almeida said...

You should imperatively read the work of Joaquim Cerqueira Gonçalves. OFM. I can translate it provided i am funded. I am serious. Please continue writing about this topic through my email rotasdeluz at gmail dot com

Best regards.

Pedro Pereira de Almeida
I am writing through my wife Ana de Almeida Costa email because thats how i coped with cell phone technology. Again i am serious.