Monday, February 20, 2017

                         LICHENS   OF  THE  WORLD  UNITE! 
                    AND  MAYBE  A  FEW  TENTACLES

Donna J. Haraway
“We are all lichens.”
Think we must. We must think.”

"What happens when human exceptionalism and methodological individualism, those old saws of Western philosophy and political economics, become unthinkable... Surely, such a transformative time on Earth must not be named the Anthropocene!

In this essay, with all the unfaithful offspring of the sky gods, with my littermates who find a rich wallow in multispecies muddles... I want to stay with the trouble, and the only way I know to do that is in generative joy, terror, and collective thinking.

My first demon familiar in this task will be a spider, Pimoa cthulu, who lives under stumps... gets her generic name from the language of the Goshute people of Utah and her specific name from denizens of the depths, from the abyssal and elemental entities, called chthonic. 

The chthonic powers of Terra infuse its tissues everywhere, in spite of the civilizing efforts of the agents of sky gods to astralize them and set up chief Singletons and their tame committees of multiples or subgods, the One and the Many. 
With Pimoa cthulu, I propose a name for an elsewhere and elsewhen that was, still is, and might yet be: the Chthulucene (sic). Myriad tentacles will be needed to tell the story of the Chthulucene."

Donna Haraway...distinguished professor emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California...was awarded the JD Bernal Prize...for distinguished lifetime contributions to the webs of biological sciences, cultures, and politics, Haraway explores string figures composed by science fact, science fiction, speculative feminism, speculative fabulation, science and technology studies, and multispecies worlding. 

I'm  chuffed to report  I got to the 'Chutulucene' three months before  the LRB, where Jenny Turner  ran this in the 1 June issue

  • BUYManifestly Haraway: ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’, ‘The Companion Species Manifesto’, Companions in Conversation (with Cary Wolfe) by Donna Haraway
    Minnesota, 300 pp, £15.95, April 2016, ISBN 978 0 8166 5048 4
  • BUYStaying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene by Donna Haraway
    Duke, 312 pp, £22.99, August 2016, ISBN 978 0 8223 6224 1

The word ‘Anthropocene’, defined as ‘the era of geological time during which human activity is considered to be the dominant influence on the environment, climate and ecology of the earth’, only made it into the OED in 2014. But doesn’t it feel like it was a billion years ago already? Benjamin Kunkel, writing in the LRB of 5 March, found the term all over recent books of natural history, art and poetry, and on a death-metal album, and concluded his study of what the word might mean for Marxist political economists with an attempt to project it into the eagerly awaited post-capitalist future: ‘In the political sense of the term, then, the question about the Anthropocene isn’t when it began but whether it ever will, and if so, where first. Godspeed!’

Accumulating  Extinction

Planetary Catastrophism  in  the  Necrocene
Justin McBrien

Capital was born from extinction, and from capital, extinction has owed.  Capital does not just rob the soil and worker, as Marx observes, it necrotizes the entire planet. 

Here is a “metabolic rift” - between earth and labor- driven by the contradictions of endless accumulation. That accumulation is not only productive; it is necrotic, unfolding a slow violence, occupying and producing overlapping historical, biological, and geological temporalities. 

Capital is the Sixth Extinction personified: it feasts on the dead, and in doing so, devours all life. The deep time of past cataclysm becomes the deep time of future catastrophe; the residue of life in hydrocarbons becomes the residue of capital in petrochemical plastics. Capitalism leaves in its wake the disappearance of species, languages, cultures, and peoples. It seeks the planned obsolescence of all life. Extinction lies at the heart of capitalist accumulation.

Today’s debate about planetary crisis has yielded the concepts of the Anthropocene and the Capitalocene. Both recognize extinction but have yet to grasp its ontological significance—for humanity or for capitalism. 

What I wish to propose is that we recognize the Necrocene-or “New Death”- as a fundamental biogeological moment of our era the Capitalocene. 

The Necrocene reframes the history of capitalism’s expansion through the process of becoming extinction

Justin McBrien is PhD candidate in environmental history at the University of Virginia. His work examines the historical relationship between the military-industrial complex, climate science, environmentalism, and theories of planetary catastrophe. He is currently completing his dissertation,

Making the World Safe for Disaster: 
The Rise of the Biosecurity State and the Globalization of Catastrophe in Cold War America.”