Black Ecology

by on Nov.10, 2011

I don’t know if anybody clicked through one of the links that Feng put up in her last post, but I did, and I came upon this interesting discussion about ecology by Levi R. Bryant.


…As depicted in Avatar, especially in the theme of the sacred tree, nature is thus a sort of divine Wisdom. There is, we are told, this Wisdom to Nature that always balances things out, returning them to order. And, of course, it is not difficult to detect the neo-liberal ideology of Capitalism at work in this thought. Within neo-liberalism we are not to interfere with markets because markets will always right themselves, being the homeostatic or negative feedback mechanisms that they are. So too when we speak of self-organizing systems. There is a Wisdom to the crowd that necessarily rights itself if left alone. At this point, the narrative becomes predictable. If systems don’t right themselves, then this is because of the hubris of humans that intervene in the Natural ™ dynamics of systems, pushing them out of kilter. We attribute a divine Wisdom to these systems that is corrupted by human intervention, thereby speaking as if humans are something other or outside these systems, corrupting them from without. Just as the Nazi speaks of the Jews as a corrupting outside or alien invader of society that, were they eradicated, would allow society to achieve the organic community that is natural to it, we speak of Nature as this wisdom beset by a parasite that need only to be eradicated to harmoniously balance itself.

Yet, in a Derridean fashion, we must seek the conditions under which Nature is susceptible to such contamination. After all, must not Nature be susceptible to contamination in order to suffer these positive feedback loops? Must there already be something within Nature itself that allows it to run out of kilter in this way? Where has this homeostatic Nature ever existed? Need I cite gamma ray bursts that fry, no doubt, planets pervaded with life? Or what of plagues or periods of high volcanic activity that played such an important role in destroying pre-cambrian life? Or what again, of plagues of locusts or species that manage to get the upper hand, wiping out all sorts of other species? Where has there ever been this Wisdom of Nature that regulates things and that is only beset upon from without. No doubt, at this very moment, there are planets with rich ecosystems being devoured by black holes. And indeed, there are galaxies colliding, destroying the delicate balance of solar systems where life is dependent on being a certain distance from their stars. Their are even rogue planets that travel their aleatory journey throughout galaxies, destroying gravational balances of solar systems that harbor life.

1 comment for this entry:
  1. brasilas

    really interesting, environmental issues are very close to me, I hate how they do not care about the environment. land needs support