- Globing the Earth:The New Eco-logics of Nature
Concerted clamors ring in the corridors of our planet: "Nature is dying, and with it, life on earth. Humans! Your end is approaching." Are we then battling the postendist phase of nature? Is living with/in nature all about encountering the spectre of the "unborn"—those who will come after us and who in some sense now must command the unfolding of present politics and society? How are we, in the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, "responsible for our rose"? (Anderson 1987: vii) Are we entering a new eco-logics of nature? And how is a Green politics formed that may, in the process, globe the earth?
Loren Eiseley observes:
It is with the coming of man that a vast hole seems to open in nature, a vast black whirlpool spinning faster and faster, consuming flesh, stones, soils, minerals, sucking down the lightning, wrenching power from the atom, until the ancient sounds of nature are drowned in the cacophony of something which is no longer nature, something instead which is loose and knocking at the world's heart, something demonic and no longer planned—escaped, it may be—spewed out of nature, contending in a final giant's game against its master.(Eiseley 1960: 123-24)
What happens to nature now? Is nature now what it is not? I agree with Michael Bess that nature is
no longer a static, rigid taxonomy; it becomes protean, upwelling, a vital force erupting forth, proliferating, unpredictable, and metastasizing. We may actually be facing the most extraordinary frontier—the frontier of nature as an ultimately creative, responsive, and transformative power, which regards human beings simply as a trace that is overcome and left behind.(Bess 1999: 2)
So what Bernard Charbonneau sees as human "freedom" (a version of natural dialecticism) is born out of seeing nature's otherness as a self: a deconstructed self emerging from thoughts about the "death of nature," a death that is a promise of a fresh lease on life—a postendism that transcends imponderable thresholds. Understanding nature is challenging the disciplinization of thought; the environmental crisis is a crisis of thought leading to reflexive and transversal thinking. Nature is more than what takes place without the voluntary and intentional agency of man; nature [End Page 3] is beyond the human will; it is also functionally multivalent, historically complex, and an ideological and paradoxical concept. We must appeal to the "pathologies of epistemology"—the disruption of the loops of communicative feedback between mind and matter, nature and culture. Nature has the opportunity to function within the argument that does not see "ideas of nature" as simply the "projected ideas of men," as Raymond Williams would say.
New Nature, Deconstructed Nature, and Poetic Creativity
So nature has become its own "other" and keeps looking at both incarnations (nature's other gazing on nature, and nature viewing its other growing out of her) with shock, nostalgia, acceptance and redemption. Bill McKibben in his book, The End of Nature writes:
How can there be a mystique of the rain now that every [acidic] drop—even the drops that fall as snow on the Arctic—bears the permanent stamp of man? Having lost its separateness, it loses its special power. Instead of being a category like God—something beyond our control—it is now a category like the defense budget or the minimum wage, a problem we must work out. ... What will it mean to come across a rabbit in the woods once genetically engineered "rabbits" are widespread? Why would we have any more reverence or affection for such a rabbit than we would for a Coke bottle?. ... Someday, man may figure out a method of conquering the stars, but at least for now when we look into the night sky, it is as Burroughs said: "We do not see ourselves reflected there—we are swept away from ourselves, and impressed with our own insignificance. ..." The ancients, surrounded by wild and even hostile nature, took comfort in seeing the familiar above them—spoons and swords and nets. But we will train ourselves to see those patterns. The comfort we need...