Moving Forward

“The end of the world’s already happened. We sprayed the DDT. We exploded the nuclear bombs. We changed the climate. This is what it looks like after the end of the world.” (98)

Of course Morton’s right, the ecological thought bears the “end of the world as we know it.” Perhaps others too (I don’t know where to start locating Trump Tower in the mess, er mesh) But then there’s something bracing, out in the open, radically free and clear with the ongoing catastrophe of oxygen. No lies, only carbons–the root meaning of “organic,” our beloved mother, is carbon-based. The end of the world might be simply a CO2 thriving planet.

Yet whatever terminus Morton brings us to, there is no teleology; earth doesn’t go some where. Rather the end is the end of World. As appealing as Heidegger’s concept of the Lebensweldt is, it’s precisely this foreground/background insistence from which Being “walks out” that induces a dimensional lie. We don’t walk out of the mesh, nor do we fall into it. We are it. I want to believe in Heidegger’s Four Fold Oneness: Earth and Sky, Divinity and Mortals. But great harm has been made of making one race’s Lebensweldt. Small w world turns out to be more democratic, and that might be a place to start. “No Being, only beings” (119)


And those beings are everywhere, everything. One of the most interesting aspects of The Ecological Thought is its Forward Philosophy, or Object Oriented Ontology. If everything around us is ontic–that is physical, experiential, from the Greek, “of that which is”– then being is necessarily mingled, entangled. And if said objects exist in a necessarily plural state, “a sprawling system of tiny, incremental differences in phenotypes, brought about through random DNA mutation,”–then we’re related to everything. The ethical implications are rather stunning, and open up presence to both Abram’s “more than human world,” and everything else’s less than. As bewildering as the obligation is, it’s perversely pleasurable to be porous. Or, “subjectivity is a waterbed, push it down in one place and it comes up in another.” (120)

I like this rather fantastic theory of the universe –

because it suggests I’m the author of it

Let’s get started with what we’ve always been. If you look familiar it’s because I’m you too! That means we need to work now, even as Now stretches into millennia. That’s the good Marxism of Morton’s Forward Economics. “Capitalism ultimately can’t sort things out. It’s reactive.” Indeed, I think it too is a hyperobject we’re just barely beginning to see. Or, “Along with radiation and pollution, population is one of the transpersonal, long-term, big picture things that we must now consider.” We gotta get bigger heads.

That’s going to mean Forward Politics, or as he inspiringly lays out, radical new forms of collectivity. I’m afraid we seem farther from that than closer, of a sudden, as Capitalism finds a new Dark Prince to mint Empire’s oily pockets. But that presses the button on our new delivery system: more ecological thought, please, more, more! For as much sobering evidence Morton musters, he also offers some refreshingly practical thinking. In that this book should put a lie to the theory/praxis binary, which resembles that foreground/ background illusionism of Heideggerian metaphysics. “Ecological collectivity must think profoundly about choice. ‘History does nothing’ (Marx)” (125)

• Honor Depression, Psychosis. There’s a wealth of understanding in our dis-ease, and we shouldn’t airbrush it out of the picture painting GAIA. Seems our antennae might be working.

• Materialize the Mesh. If everything is in it, including the blankness, make the dysmorphic contours of the world come alive in packets.

• Kill Nature. Another foreground/background problem, same as Culture. The distantiation of nature is a fundamentally aesthetic act that simultaneously distantiates ethics. And so then, move from aesthetics to ethics, because, you know, you have a choice.

• Love Your Strange Strangers. Mine too, and theirs, and there’s. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s in the Mesh we go, trying to get rid of the “lyrical interference of the ego” and onto Object Oriented Ontology

                                       The small nouns
                                       Crying faith
                                       In this in which the wild deer
                                       Startle, and stare out.
• Ambient Poetics, or do the doing do. If Robert Kocik helped us consider that “poetics is all making” then our hard thinking and making is a genuine world building. That’s small ‘w’ collective making, but it goes on forever. In that, we return to the first mystery of art,” an object made, even a soul, whatever that is, that preserves the strangeness of the world.
We return to Percy Bysshe Shelley, himself Morton’s beginning, a radical visionary thinking the ecological thought some two hundred years ago: “We want the creative faculty to imagine that which we know.” Or is it something like T. S. Eliot’s  “Little Gidding” calling uncannily from a previous century.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
We die with the dying:
See, they depart, and we go with them.
We are born with the dead:
See, they return, and bring us with them.
The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree
Are of equal duration. A people without history
Is not redeemed from time, for history is a pattern
Of timeless moments. So, while the light fails
On a winter’s afternoon, in a secluded chapel
History is now and England.

With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time. –



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