Tim Morton has the audio HERE. I’m hoping a video gets posted for this soon.
Listening to it now. So. Good.
“what we used to call the humanities now composes our sanity”
I also found this:
But its only 5 minutes worth… you have to be a resident of the UK to access the entire length of the lecture. If anyone from wiki-leaks is reading this, you know what to do…
I’ll paste some of my reflections on Latour’s lecture here:
We should be absolutely floored by what Latour has to say here, in the sense of being knocked to our philosophical grounds, forced to think anew the metaphysical foundations we may have been presupposing. His call for political art in the anthropocene, for the composing of post-natural/post-cultural cosmograms by way of the triple representation of science, politics, and art, sounds to my ears a great deal like Panikkar’s cosmotheandric vision. Only for Latour, as for the postmodern psyche in general, human creativity (art) replaces the creativity of God. Or perhaps there has been no replacement; rather, creator and creature are no longer separated, but have been hybridized.
A whole geological age has been given to the human. We’ve measured up to and even surpassed the power of plate tectonics. What was once merely symbolic anthropomorphism has taken industrial strength steroids and become quite real. Global climate change is upon us. None of us, in isolation, is responsible. And so how are we to feel, Latour asks, about a crisis as large as the earth? How can I be rightly accused of a crime of such magnitude without feeling the least bit guilty? Without a moral body or planetary consciousness to take responsibility, climate change simply cannot be felt. It can only be denied–either outright as many conservatives have, or once removed, as those who have adopted an attitude of despondency, having no patience for the romanticization of nature.
Nature, it seems, is no more. Nor is culture. Gone are the Kantian days when we could stand in awe of the sublimity of the natural world while simultaneously raising ourselves morally above it. As Kant commanded, we have now all but manufactured the earth itself in an attempt to know it as ourselves. We have woven facts and fictions so tightly together into the dysenchanted tapestry of techno-capitalist civilization that it has become impossible to tell where culture ends and nature begins. The sublime has reappeared in cosmopolitical dress as the infinitely receding threads of actors tied to actors tied to actors composing our best theories of reality. It is doubtless a durable fabric, but we do not know where it began nor whether we can ever tie up all its loose ends.
Techno-science, by itself, is crazed, even demonic. It pretends ethics can be separated from knowledge, and research from politics. “What we used to call the humanities now composes our sanity,” says Latour. But the humanities, like the sciences, have gone the way of the Dodo. Nature and culture are at best endangered species. Latour prophecies their complete extinction, and indeed prays for their demise. We are a species gone mad, whether we like it or not. Whether caused by dementia or demonic possession, we are a species gone wrong and in need of angelic wisdom, of a message from the divine. But Gaia will not nurture us. As Latour suggests, it is now we who must nurture her. She is no more unified and loving, no more conscious of herself as an agent than human society is of itself.
I’ll no doubt have more to say later if I have the time (I had to re-write a section of an essay I’m writing because of this…) but I was very curious to hear your interpretation of Latour’s thoughts on Gaia i.e., “Gaia” is not a unity, and it is precisely for this reason that Gaia can be brought into the social. This is an extension of what he argued in Politics of Nature and I agree with it hugely. Gaia, in the popular imagination, is often short hand for all kinds of bad unities, holisms, and retro-sentimental chicanery. Gaia ≠ Unity. And thats a good thing. Thoughts?
I am very much inclined to accept Whitehead’s understanding of “organism” as a kind of precariously organized society, more or less tied together as a system, at least for a time. I’m totally on board with Latour’s statement about Gaia… new agers tend to have a rather anthropomorphic picture of “her.” The analogy to human society is apt.
I’m reminded now of a term I first read in Thompson’s “Mind in Life”, “ecopoiesis.” It was coined by the geneticist Robert Haynes. Instead of trying to squeeze a Gaian square into the triangular hole of autopoiesis, a new term to emphasize the important difference between a planetary organism and an intraplanetary organism seems called for.
Then there is this cutting edge research about Gaia’s birth billions of years ago: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21228404.300-life-began-with-a-planetary-megaorganism.html?full=true
Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:
You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. ( Log Out / Change )
You are commenting using your Twitter account. ( Log Out / Change )
You are commenting using your Facebook account. ( Log Out / Change )
Connecting to %s
Notify me of follow-up comments via email.
Notify me of new posts via email.
Blog at WordPress.com.
Theme: Customized Manifest by Jim Barraud.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 712 other followers