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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Is anthropea taking off?

I was thinking a bit about the image I used last week in my talk on political ecology against modernity. There I compare Latour's modes of existence - thought sometimes in terms of tools for designing new forms of common life - Christopher Alexander's patterns for architecture - oriented towards enhancing life and beauty - and sumak kawsay, the buen vivir as a political project. And I come up with this image of the moderns have been slowly preparing to leave the planet, to create a controlled environment of their own - as if they were prepared to board another planet, I called it Anthropea, which would take off the Earth and free us from all natural constraints (and all need to negotiate with anything non-human). Latour's proposal is that we stop getting ready to board Anthropea and take off and start making ourselves comfortable here in Gaia. I thought the anthropocene could itself be a rehearsal for the moderns to take off in a planet of their own: we can now match the geological forces, we can now have a geology of our own. We're getting independent of the alien nature, has the message that the moderns draw about the anthropocene. Indeed, in the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies debate about the anthropocene, that brought together Latour and Descola in Vancouver (see here), Latour mentions the dangers of the notion of anthropocene. It can be read, he says, as a confirmation that the Earth is a machine that needs proper maintenance, a machine that could be more and more human. The image is maybe that Gaia is being replaced by Anthropea and we won't even need to depart as we'll colonize all the non-human population to our benefit. I'm not sure which way we're going, but it does look increasingly to me as if the moderns were preparing themselves for a future life of pure spirits, where bodies don't matter, where matter is just information.

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