Contemplative Ecologies 5

Happy Friday everyone! Here are this week’s top 5 posts curated from my daily feed:

1. Mary Woodbury published a three-part series on New Weird fiction. She argues, “[The Weird] is as much ‘a sensation as it is a mode of writing’… ‘because the Weird exists in the interstices, because it can occupy different territories simultaneously… Weird stories can take any subject and bend it around into non-Euclidean geometry… Weird fiction has permission to go outside our usual perceptions.”

The third post in the series focuses on contemporary (or “New New Weird”) fiction which Woodbury claims constitutes the emergence of the Ecological Weird.

“…the Area X books make manifest our creeping awareness that the distinctions we have traditionally maintained between the natural world and ourselves no longer make sense, and that ‘in the Southern Reach trilogy, it is no longer just one’s psychological depths that are being repressed, but one’s knowledge of oneself as nonhuman, as much an alien part of a natural world as a plant or a whale.’ Rebecca Giggs has likewise described the Ecological Uncanny in terms of the dissolution of the boundaries between the inner world of the self and the outer world engendered by climate change, suggesting that ‘the Ecological Uncanny is perhaps best encapsulated as the experience of ourselves as foreign bodies.”

If you’re new to the genre and want to start exploring, I’d recommend perusing this compendium of 110 weird short stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer.

2. This Aeon article explores the devastating impacts of noise pollution on ocean life. “[M]odern North Atlantic right whales have shifted their calls up an entire octave over the past half century or so, in an attempt to be heard over the unending, and steadily growing, low-frequency drone of commercial shipping. Where right-whale song once carried 20 to 100 miles, today those calls travel only five miles before dissolving into the din… Hydrophones anchored to the continental slope off California, for instance, have recorded a doubling of background noise in the ocean every two decades since the 1960s… IQOE [the International Quiet Ocean Experiment] puts forward a bold and evocative proposal: at some point in the near future, turn off all the sound in the ocean and see what happens… if you could stop things for eight hours you really would have a pretty major global effect… Perhaps fish would begin schooling differently. Perhaps whales would start talking in bygone frequencies now hogged by the tens of thousands of container ships on the open seas.”

3. This interview with Pinar Yoldas discusses what inspires her eco-artivism and introduces some of her work on speculative biology. “As an artist,” she says, “you need to know about textures and emotions. It’s sensory training, or even affective engineering. Artists are researchers of the affective spectrum.” She says “The first piece I made was a device that shocked people when they swiped their credit card. It was just a literal and linear connection between excessive consumption and ecological disaster.” More recently, her mixed-media work An Ecosystem of Excess is “half–freak show, half–museum of natural history.” It “depicts the literal afterlife of humanity’s waste, including a host of plastivores and other plastosensitive creatures better equipped than we are for the world we’re in the process of leaving behind.” Another work, called Distilling the Sky, she explains, “is a structure that sucks huge amounts of air from the atmosphere, a kind of filtering mechanism or tower [that] condense[s] a whole neighborhood into a couple drops of fluid. The goal is to make ink out of air pollution and present this ink to poets and writers.”

4. The short film, called Geotrauma, is another good example of contemplative ecocinema, which I’ve written can be a good stimulus for engaged mindfulness practice. “Geotrauma… is a physical and material reality onto which all of life on Earth is inscribed, with its traces accumulated and entangled within us… In the course of events, during which Greece and Turkey have been turned into Western Europe’s humanitarian dumping ground, and Fortress Europe has been spilling over to neighboring continents, geotrauma is a reminder that we are responsible for seeking out and creating—through both current and endless (geo)traumas—new possibilities of (co)existence and open-border societies that will accept otherness, collectivity, and solidarity, in the here and now.”

5. Lastly, I’m excited to announce yesterday’s publication of The Arrow’s special issue on Dharma, Degrowth, and Climate Change, which includes my feature essay, “Contemplating the More-than-Human Commons,” and several essays in response.

Here’s an excerpt from my essay:

“Extending commoning beyond peer-to-peer economics, so that we extend care to every being, becomes possible if it is enacted by commoners who follow an ethics of what I call intra-subjectivity… An ethics of intra-subjectivity distinguishes itself from the notion of inter-dependence, in so far as it highlights how relationships are not only externally dependent, but internally dependent and always present to one’s inner awareness. Intra-subjectivity thus explains how all beings are related vis-à-vis our experience of one another. Thus, the deeper we connect with our own suffering, the more we realize our suffering’s constituent relation to the suffering of others and the more we act to serve others as extensions of ourselves… Developing an ethics of care that extends to the many differently abled, human and non-human, beings in the Anthropocene entails queering our notions of subjectivity and agency. This will help to answer complex questions about what it means to be human, whose lives matter, how we gift and protect human dignity, and how we envision the collective conditions of transformation toward a more convivial and hospitable world.”

The Arrow welcomes comments in response to its articles and essays, so if you or anyone you know are interested in making comments in response (less than 500 words), please submit them for review to editor[at]arrow-journal.org.

Questions, comments, or recommendations for future content? Please email <walsh_zack@yahoo.com>. Like what you see? Check out my personal Facebook page or scholarly publications. See you next Friday!

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