Thursday, November 27, 2014
Ecopsych, part II
Hi Lee. Thanks! Um...let's see...
-Precisely. The Web of Life IS Nature. A web is a whole (the web's structure) with parts (the strands) that it is more than the sum of. Or that's how we think it, and that image is really dependent on a lot of Hollywood mood music and lighting. There seems to be some likelihood that actually living things aren't these mechanically nested fitting into fitting into fitting into... , but actually are just sort of mashed together whether they happened to fit or not, and they're all (or mostly) making the best of it. Artificially. Intentionally. Spontaneously. Deliberately. Both out of choice, and because they have no choice. A lot of it isn't beautiful, and it doesn't "just happen", which is what Nature and industrial capitalism both mean: "just existence", or "merely existing", or "environmental".
- Yes. Everything nurtures, just like everything gardens. It was actually Permaculture that helped me to understand this point about Dark Ecology (if this IS Dark Ecology that I'm talking about and not just my own totally weird spinoff on Tim Morton's idea). But the fact that nurture is not just an anthro phenomenon is the easy part to get. The hard part is that animals and plants and Ebola and termites actually all exist on THIS side of reality, with us, in human social space. We're starting to get it, with this incredible extinction we've got happening, but they didn't all just come over here when we started recognizing their presence among us; they've ALWAYS been in our space with us, we just thought we were in a different space (nurture or culture or non-nature or techno-world or humans only or whatever), while they were all over there in Nature. See, they were safe when they were over there. We didn't have to worry about being responsible for them, because Nature is like a modernized factory or "the market": it just takes care of itself, automatically.
2) A conscience is a good thing to hear evidence of. Unfortunately I also hear evidence of future "zoning". Precisely who will be at the centers (or apexes) of these self-sustaining "zones"? This is why I wish everybody would read Naomi Klein. Look, just because you've got a good heart and want to see the best thing done doesn't mean the structure of your politics isn't steeped in the same ideology that gave us agriculture. Seeing everything in terms of concentric circles (something my PC teachers actually encouraged me NOT to do) with us at Zone 0 and "the rest" in ever widening distances is the same mistake that leads to a belief in "self-sustaining" systems. There is no such thing! Not even among objects we think of as non-living. For any object X, X is only X because it is not not-X, and the only reason not-X is not-X is because it is not X. This means that X is made of not-X. Everything is dependent on everything else, and nothing comes from nothing. Of course you're meant to think that people will "have to" use sensible methods (sensible meaning you like them) or else resort to cannibalism. That's the kind of thing people who are invested in an idea have to believe. In fact, people tend not to eat each other in a crisis (PLEASE read Naomi Klein), so I don't think we really have to worry about people not adopting "self-sustaining" systems. People will build systems that sustain each other...basically just like they already do; it'll just look different from our dead old perspective that won't matter anymore. I just think it's weird to look forward (even with horror) to a future where "Omigosh, it's so sad and everybody's suffering," but also enjoying that a little bit, because it leads to more people using more sensible methods of living. We actually have no concept of how bad it can get, and we're not the ones who get to decide how to deal with it in most cases. I think it's actually quite likely that we might just keep doubling down on resource extraction and preserving (human) life at all costs, including quality of life. You ask with what funding? With what funding do you imagine we're doing it now? You realize we haven't been on the gold standard in over a hundred years, right? The Market is as made up a thing as Nature. The funding will be decided by those who define what's valuable. Who will make those decisions? That's up to people to decide collectively. So far our decisions have been pretty crap. I'm not blazingly optimistic.
3) They ARE actualizing the theory correctly; I just don't agree with the theory! Utilitarianism always ends up being about utility to humans, or at least utility to nonhumans in a way that's useful or pleasing to humans in some way. Things aren't "for" anything except being things and playing around and with other things.
4) Well, that's the trouble: how do you KNOW you're adhering to a non-anthropocentric philosophy? Isn't that kind of like saying "I am now speaking to you from a position outside the universe?" One of the things I actually loved about permaculture was it's open anthropocentrism! At least it's not deep ecology, where the anthropocentrism is all in the closet and the best thing humans are supposed to be able to do for the planet is go extinct. I approved of people having an active and deliberate role in ecology! That is openly anthropocentric, with no attempt to hide the ugly fact that we're a species, and that species act like species. Do you think walruses aren't walruspocentric? I don't even know why you're interested in permaculture if you're not interested in humans participating in intentional ecological relationships with other beings; it's just important to understand that the quality of those relationships will always be judged according to what people want, not something from outside human social space. There is no outside. Not even for walrus-space. Don't worry, I'm not interested in influencing permaculture as such. I'm more interested in influencing individuals to build different collective systems that may more or less resemble something like and also unlike permaculture. People who would get so offended by what I say that they couldn't learn from it really aren't in my audience, you know? The development of established permaculture isn't what I care about. I don't care about being excluded from a group which takes itself that seriously, and I actually am glad to hear criticism, particularly the intelligent variety, so thanks, Lee.