Critical Environments is a series of lectures and events, which engages with the apprehension that we are living in end times through a wide variety of thematic and disciplinary perspectives.
Critical Environments Visual Cultures Public Programme Spring 2015
This talk deals with four lures proffered by the Anthropocene. The first three: hyper-modernisation, or the colonisation of deep time by the anthropos; apocalypse therapy, or melancholic revelry in the end times; the significance sky hook, or “cfp: X in the Anthropocene”. These three are lures to be avoided. I then note a latent underspecified tendency shared by many – from progressive policy folk to biophilosophers – to invoke gardening as metaphor for planetary ethics. Drawing on my research into real and imaginary gardens, I outline something of what such an ethic might partake: anticipating life with vegetal philosophy; domesticating decomposition and death; flourishing awkwardly while fighting wars against the enemy. These take us to a final, more attractive lure. Beginning from nomadic points of difference, we might glimpse beyond the Anthropocene the utopian lure of new collectives and new kinds of humans, composed for more sanity and for feeling more deeply the earth and all its knotty difficulties.
Franklin Ginn is a Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Edinburgh, where his work focuses on geographies of nature, the more-than-human and environmental politics. His forthcoming book, Domestic Wild: Nature, memory and gardening in suburbia explores how memory and time are implicated in ecological consciousness. His current research explores cultures of everyday apocalypse and the Anthropocene, and as part of an AHRC-funded project, spiritual responses to climate change.
‘Critical environments’ names several senses. If the (Greek) krinein is to sift and kritikos is the ability to discern, then we are faced with the work of interpretation. Yet if we turn to the Latin criticare, then those environments are diagnosed as gravely ill. We know that what we call the ‘environment’ is indeed in a state of crisis – acidification renders the oceans increasingly inhospitable to life; deforestation threatens both local ecologies and global climate maintenance; the appetite for meat eats up land as well as nonhuman life. Many of us choose not to know this, or perhaps maintain the fetishistic logic of knowing that comes with simultaneous disavowal. Corporate interests ranging across agriculture, pharmaceuticals, fossil fuels, and the super-saturation of all forms of media hamper the work of interpretation and the possibility of agency and intervention.
The event is free, no booking is required and all are welcome.
Series chairs: Lynn Turner & Wood Roberdeau
Dates & times
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