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This paper examines Shellenberger and Nordhaus’ “Evolve: The Case for Modernization as the Road to Salvation” from the perspective of psychopathology. ”Evolve” articulates an all too common denial about the severe implications of the Anthropocene. This denial, I suggest, derives from modern humanity’s wish to save itself from the threats of ecocide and apocalypse without having to change its modernist ways. Upon considering this understandable inclination towards denial, the paper unveils the resultant manic-depressive opposition between ecomodernism and deep ecology. Modern humanity’s respective manic and depressive reactions to these two poles fosters a manic, escapist denial that promotes modernist expansion and limits our capacity to reform Anthropocene discourse and avoid environmental crisis. The analogy between bipolar disorder and the ecomodernism / deep ecology opposition draws from Darian Leader’s Lacanian psychoanalytic account, as well as his phenomenological-psychiatric influences.
This paper presents an ethnographic account of a grassroots network of mostly white-identified nomads who travel in the northwest United States’ Great Basin and Columbia Plateau regions. Living mostly on National Forest land, this movement of “rewilders” appropriates local Indigenous peoples’ traditional ecological knowledge in order to gather and replant wild foods in a seasonal round that they refer to as the “Sacred Hoop.” I discuss the Hoop network in order to explore the environmental ethics of a group that is at once strikingly unique and also an embodiment of the problems of settler colonialism within the broader environmentalist movement. I begin by introducing the group's ecologies and ethics, and subsequently move into an examination of the multiple and sometimes-contradictory lines of apocalyptic narrative logic at work in Hoopster discourse. I assert that the Hoopsters’ conflicting accounts of the Anthropocene, and the temporality of its disasters, are a manifestation of their ongoing work grappling with their own racial positionality. Despite the Hoopsters’ uncompromising critiques of colonialism, capitalism, and environmental exploitation, they struggle to come to terms with their role in ongoing colonialism and the marginalization of Indigenous peoples. In this way, the Hoopsters echo the troubled narratives at work in broader North American environmental thought, which consistently reveres the idea of Indigenous cultures while failing to enter into solidarity relationships with contemporary Indigenous communities and their efforts toward decolonization.
Rewilding in Europe currently presents a threat to long established forms of agriculture like upland sheep farming. Some rewilders, recognizing the heritage value of these farming practices, have proposed policy solutions to satisfy both the needs of farmers and the plans of rewilders. Such approaches, though striving for peaceful resolution of landscape conflicts, nevertheless overlook one crucial possibility: that both farmers and rewilders have something to learn from each other. By exploring philosophical ideas on dialogue, we propose that by engaging in real dialogue with traditional farming practices, conservation approaches like rewilding can learn a lot about some of the most fundamental concerns motivating conservation. This however demands laying oneself open to possible criticism and being open to the possibility of transformation.
The concept ‘human’ has to be more-than-humanized, a project Abram initiated but left incomplete in his study of language. Doing so is a powerful antidote to some of the more anthropocentric consequences of Anthropocenic thinking. Crucial to this project is uncovering the ways in which human agency is permeated by and circulates within vast causal relationships. Shifting from ecologically destructive patterns suggests completing this phenomenological project by uncovering the sense that the ‘human’ is in no simple sense, ‘steering this vessel.’ Not even the pervasive and perpetual arrogance about our own powers is incontrovertibly ‘our own.’ Humility and awe before these wild and undomesticatable processes cycling through us and carrying us in their currents can correct hubristic assumptions about our power for good or evil, and thereby also perhaps these destructive patterns.
For decades scholars of the humanities have been going back and forth between nature/culture and civilized/wild dichotomies trying to answer questions about nature and the wild. Do we, as a humanity, need to go back to the wild? Does wilderness exist or is it a social construct? Is the concept of wilderness essentialist? Do we need to conserve the wild? After years of vacillation, discourse becomes stuck in the confines of language and logic. Poetry, art, and other forms of creative expression free concepts from their structural limits. This piece of poetry titled "Grandmother Toe" offers a creative exploration of the concepts of wilderness, ancestry, evolution, expressing a possible way forward through an uncertain future.