In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet: Ghosts And Monsters of the Anthropocene ed. by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing et al.
  • Edith Doove
edited by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Heather Anne Swanson, Elaine Gan and Nils Bubandt. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN, U.S.A., 2017. 368 pp., illus. Paper. ISBN: 978-1517902377.

Where the twentieth century created and sustained the fiction of individuality, the 21st century shows that a (renewed) awareness of the entanglement between the human and nonhuman is unavoidable if we want to survive the damaging effects of our self-inflicted Anthropocene. Individuality understood as consisting of single, independent entities, whether human or nonhuman, might not have to be thrown completely out of our frame of understanding as long as it is understood that it can only exist in relation to the other. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet, the fascinating outcome of the conference of the same name that took place at UC Santa Cruz in 2014, makes this very clear. As a publication, it can be ranked alongside Textures of the Anthropocene—Grain Vapor Ray (2015; see my review in Leonardo Reviews [1]) in the way it raises our attention not only via its content but also through its design. Where Textures of the Anthropocene literally played with textures through the choice of paper and font for each of its four volumes, Arts of Living comprises two parts within one volume that are printed in opposite directions. One half is dedicated to the key theme Monsters and the other to Ghosts but not necessarily in this order. Both halves are interchangeable, entwined and entangled; they refer to one another and thus one finds oneself regularly turning the book upside down to switch between one or the other part, with page numbers starting either with M or G. Each part has its own insightful introduction and coda, which, however, refer to each other and thus form yet another form of entwinement. Arts of Living is in this way able to engage the reader not only intellectually but also physically and tacitly, making it clear that intellect and body are equally entwined and entangled.

The editors Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan and Nils Bubandt are all in one or another way connected to the Anthropology department of Aarhus University, but the contributions to their book come from a wide range of exciting authors of various backgrounds, most combining several fields of knowledge. With essays by Ursula K. Le Guin, Karen Barad and Donna Haraway as the more obvious highlights, those by the other, possibly lesser-known authors are certainly of equal interest. Arts of Living is an explicitly trans- or cross-disciplinary book, confirming that we need the intertwining of disciplines to find solutions for the rut we got ourselves into. As stated in the introduction of the Ghosts part, “to survive, we need to relearn multiple forms of curiosity. Curiosity is an attunement to multispecies entanglement, complexity, and the shimmer all around us” (G11). For the curious, there is plenty to learn—from mysterious mud volcanoes to the entanglement of horseshoe crabs and red knots birds, lichens or new ways of evolutionary thinking, spanning [End Page 94] from the tiny to the universal. Where the Ghosts part discusses various specters from the past that haunt our present in unexpected ways, the Monsters part illustrates that any I is in fact a We, as all of life exists as interdependent entities. In his book Humankind: Solidarity with Non-Human People (2017), Timothy Morton phrases how every human being consists of a considerable non-human amount and is thus a collective in itself. Scott F. Gilbert, eminent in the field of developmental genetics and embryology, uses the phrase holobiont in his contribution to Arts of Living to show how all creatures are symbioses of one sort or another. In the last essay of the Monsters section, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology Ingrid M. Parker shows that it is urgent to deal with our amnesia and blindness toward things happening in the far or nearer past. In that sense, it is interesting...