Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Space is the place

CRASSH sends notice of a talk on 12 May by Timothy Morton titled The Ecological Thought. The blurb (..."using literary and cultural theory to probe a dominant paradigm in environmental thinking--systems theory" etc etc) leaves me unsure, but a post by Morton on Tibetans in Space suggests the man has one or two interesting things to say.

But more space cadet than cosmonaut is Slavoj Žižek on Ecology Without Nature ( Morton says this draws on his argument without citation). Žižek's points about collapsing the distinction between 'Man' and 'Nature', and 'Unknown Knowns' (that is, ideological underpinnings for action that are invisible to the actor) are probably worth taking seriously, but are presented here along with assumptions that are overly simplistic or wrong (such as that there is *no* 'balance' in nature, *only* 'catastrophe' and that the process of laying down fossil fuels was necessarily catastrophic and violent [eh? Carboniferous as Curtis LeMay?]).

Žižek's way of public being (all that nose wiping, hair touching and hand chopping) suggests barely sublimated anger and violence, seeming to confirm Simon Critchley's judgement (Letter, Harper's, May 2008) that Žižek tends towards "dictatorship, political violence and ruthlessness". Environmentalism as currently constructed, I guess Žižek would say, is yet another mask for a bourgeoisie that is to be "definitively crushed" by the violent armed forces of the proletariat.

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