Monday, April 8, 2013

Concerns about Eco: A Response to Ecologies of the Inhuman

Fluid, Trees, Human, Matter, Apocalypse, Shipwreck, Hewn, Recreation, Green, Inhuman…Access

Like the presenters at MEMSI’s “Ecology of the Inhuman” symposium, I want to keep my thoughts short and sweet, picking up where their brief analyses left off to expand upon the ecologies, world views, and tiny ontologies presented there.

Any one paper could spawn its own blog (not just a single post), making it incredibly difficult to write a single response to all that was opened up, posed, posited. But to me, if there is a common, unspoken thread interwoven through each of these unlike ecologies, it is one of access. More specifically, accessibility and privilege within an ecology, exploring those who have access to such a world (and those implicitly left out). As each presenter only had eight minutes to reveal the lifeworld of their word, it is perhaps understandable that there was not enough time to carefully elucidate those included and excluded from their ecology’s parameters.

However, I think it essential to not lose this kernel of thought when discussing ecology, as one of my biggest concerns with such a theoretical framework is that in trying to illuminate the experience of the non or inhuman, we inevitably oversimplify human experience to include a dangerous article: “the.” From here, a erasure of life distinct from the perceived “universal” human experiences is enabled, reenacting the violence of history that has been taking place for centuries. This, of course, is not to say that ecomaterialist objects have not suffered the same fate as subjugated and unprivileged peoples, but I also do not think that it is necessary to forego one scholarly ethics of responsibility for another.
So, as I was myself generatively left with more questions than answers after this symposium, I use this space to supplement the all-too-short Q&A to ask questions like: “how is the human embrace of fluidity a position of privilege (both within human experience but also outside of it as well)?,” “Does the message behind the song and the religious affiliation of the human (and those who slew him) matter within the ecology of The Prioress’s Tale?,” “Are apocalypse and shipwreck cohesive worlds to inhabit, and where do we place (as one audience member put it) perspective into these frames of mind?,” and “What are we to do or are we able to do anything with the woman of the Norwich cloister?” By teasing out these lifeworlds, I hope to work towards a prevention of the discursive violence mentioned above. Perhaps I thus am creating and occupying my own ecology of access, “hinging” (to use Ian Bogost’s term) my own scholarly lifeworld on the ecologies posited by these wonderful presenters.    

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