Wild Ecologies:
Speculative Anarchism & Guattari's Three Ecologies 
READING GROUP 

In the first of what we hope to be a series of group readings, Wild Ecologies encourages participants to read Felix Guattari’s The Three Ecologies (1989) and share insights and commentary intended to stimulate discussion and debate on the possible resonances and potential disconnects between anarchist and post-anarchist positions and of one of Guattari’s seminal texts. Our goal is salvage and repurpose whatever valuable insights and practical considerations generated in the collision between psycho-ecological theory and anarchist interventions, as a means of enriching political and personal praxis, as well as the more general orientations of ecological thought.

A copy of Guattari’s The Three Ecologies can be read online: HERE

COMMENTS and related GUEST POSTS welcome

Guattari’s The Three Ecologies

“Environmental ecology, as it exists today, has barely begun to prefigure the generalised ecology that I advocate here, the aim of which will be to radically decentre social struggles and ways of coming into one’s own psyche… Ecology must stop being associated with the image of a small nature-loving minority. Ecology in my sense questions the whole of subjectivity and capitalistic power formations.” (p,2)three eco

Félix Guattari was a French psychotherapist and philosopher who founded both ‘schizoanalysis’ and ‘ecosophy’. In the early 1950’s Guattari helped create La Borde, an experimental psychiatric clinic in south Paris, France. He went on to train under (and was analysed by) the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, but is best known for his intellectual collaborations with philosopher Gilles Deleuze – most notably in Anti-Oedipus (1972) and A Thousand Plateaus (1980), and What is Philosophy? (1991). Guattari worked at La Borde from its inception until his death from a heart attack in 1992.

In The Three Ecologies (1989) Guattari’s develops ideas formulated by anthropologist and systems theorist Gregory Bateson in Steps to An Ecology of Mind, wherein he describes three interacting and interdependent ecologies: Social ecology, Mental ecology, Environmental ecology. These three ecologies not only present as sites of negotiation and reconstruction, but also as interchangeable theoretic lenses or perspective styles. They are not distinct territories but formed relationally and transversally. Guattari sought to elaborate and refine these concepts in detail, and along with his own psychoanalytic perspective adding a mutated form of poststructuralist Marxism into the mix. Guattari often presented these ideas as strategies or processes towards a reconstruction of social and individual practices, or what he called “ecosophy”. For Guattari, the “ecosophic problematic is that of the production of human existence itself in new historical contexts” (p.24).

Speculative Anarchism?

an·ar·chism (noun): belief in the abolition of all government and the organization of society on a voluntary, cooperative basis without recourse to force or compulsion.

The speculative turn is a phrase that has been used to talk about the way that recent continental philosophy has sought to explode beyond the constraints of endless talk about discourse, language, power-knowledge, textuality, and culture. At the same time the speculative turn also seeks to move passed the frozen obsession with the ‘death of man’ that has, by ceaselessly ensuring that the human, the subject, or Dasein remain the core around which philosophy circles, perpetually enacted a ‘resurrection of man’.

The speculative is about leaving the comfortable waters of human narcissism behind and venturing out once more into the “great outdoors” of objects, material processes, vibrant matter, geological and cosmological time, and thus simultaneously enacting a philosophy that rediscovers the more-than-human ecologies that we are embedded in. Much of this work offers means with which to think the materiality of power and to grasp the cartographies of capitalism.

Key to this is the common theme among the new speculative philosophers and their antecedents on leaving behind the tired distinction between nature and culture. Any anarchism today must be able to think about nature in ways that avoid reproducing the modernist trap of treating it as separate from humans- some raw material “out there” that we can ceaselessly take as exclusively our own inexhaustible means to freedom. We are embedded within ecologies and are ourselves units of alien ecologies.

Many anarchists have engaged with continental philosophy only begrudgingly or not at all. The epithets of idealism, self-importance, separation from everyday concerns, and theoretical self-indulgence, as well as a certain stale boredom, haven’t gone unanswered by certain circles of philosophers, anthropologists and sociologists.

The speculative turn towards materialism and realism offer an opportunity for anarchism to re-engage with a different kind of philosophy. The purpose of a reading group that explores the possibilities of speculative anarchisms will be to assess whether the speculative turn is able to help us make sense of the multiple crises that we find ourselves faced with and whether there is anything that anarchists and anarchist perspectives can make use of in these works. It remains an open question…

Related Posts:

Schizoanalysis as Anthro-Ecology, by Edmund Berger

Guattari’s Eco-Logic, by Bill Rose

Bewilded, by Stephen Duplantier

1

We call change in a person the effect of time, witness my new dress, so short,
with buttons on the yoke shaped like swans.
I enter from the back of the room, pausing at the hopeful energy of people
gathered to see me.
They are a surface, alive and redolent, half unseen, like iridescent cloth.
I sense structure spontaneously form, as when crossing the room to greet you,
what I say forms.
And I worry that spontaneity acts for its own reasons, not mine.
My dress is a visual image of unconscious affirmative processes, the way spontaneity
expresses its order, as I create a world, stocking it with small dogs on the runway,
handbags, a bouillonne of rose tulle at the waist of a jacket.
So, I’m not limited to what I observe, rather than feel.

2

They assess quite accurately my choice of babydoll dress as value for others.
Each absorbs encouragement from her assessment, even though every being’s
imprinted with data to create every appearance.
Seeing a leaf may reveal knowledge that communicates instantly among
microbes, which can change in a wink.
So, the optimistic idea would be the most biologically pertinent one.
I dress to express a hoped for solution.
Rachel’s blouse, for example, is not purple just for photographers’ enjoyment.
Flowers are intrinsic to her feeling for her value, she seeks by expression to extend.
Each guest creates her own sumptuous panoply from my honey sable coat over
silvery pajamas, new, vintage, because of simultaneous time, therefore matter.
So, physical change is not time, as such.

3

I feel love from the fashion community as light from photographs of others’ bodies
as light from their scrutiny of my photograph in a dress bold enough to sustain
the penetration of disembodied light of my entrance.
To audience, unnamed cutters, sewers, embroiderers, beaders I attribute this beauty,
when meaning i.e., style, is given a sympathetic presence.
Mirroring touches it, like exquisite jet beads on a gray coatdress in almost
transparent bouclé, clusters of dark stones on the shoulder.
A loose blouse in cream silk crepe is tied at the sleeves with glistening cellophane
ribbons.
You feel I understand your own contingency plans.
Do you remember my show in London, when all the models were drunk, broken
glass everywhere?
Fashion does that, giving shape and color to our inarticulate impulses.
I present the contemporary as liminal, transitions, transparencies.
You nurture the uncontained confusion, when no permeable resonance has yet
formed.
The gray is cloudy, deep, but without melancholy.

4

Before dinner, we’re asked to sign the guestbook on a Boulle console in the hall.
People I’ve seen in magazines seem very tall, their features enlarged from being
photographed.
Each appearance has a materiality more significant than we usually expect from
bodies.
Style, soul, is power through which matter is formed.
Like historic change, a body can re-materialize in its chrysalis, when the life you
know is left behind.
You’re alone in a white brocade jacket with fur trim and frosting white cloque, a
skirt of stiff flounces, like quartz crystals flecked with gold.
In this chrysalis, you now change the contemporary, viewing the past in
extending light that’s mobile around your body.
My dress is not stuck in time like a butterfly born in a jar, whose wings are
therefore useless.

5

In the dining room, with Ming wallpaper restored by young Chinese artists, Kiki
wears a blue silk coat embroidered with gold.
I mention Louise’s white helmet, Camilla on pewter platforms flashing to gold,
light on water, what we mean visually by souls for whom the the body is potential,
futural.
In my closet, there’s no distinction between material and the intelligible.
When I continue to dress after I tell  him my dog has died, he begins to weep.
He asks how I can waste this evening chattering?
I say through tears I mourn my little dog, but that means little to him, because of
my outfit.
He makes a mistake in reading, like a wrong accessory, inserting an extra vowel
or syllable and changing the whole passage, though I don’t usually wear sheer
stockings with that dress.
It was a case of spontaneity, a transparent white warp like an open window
through which a moment is perceived, unshaded by the physical.
And in fact, many in the room were not in good health.
Through this window, I take in a non-causative molecule to change myself, what
a mother administers, placebo, the intent of a dress.
When you wear it for the first time, you’re surprised by a rush of feeling for
yourself.
Published on 1 Jul 2015

Mark Epstein, M.D. presented the 2015 Ikuo Yamaguchi Memorial Seminar at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration on March 9, 2015.

If there is one thing Buddhism and psychoanalysis can agree upon, it is this: Trauma does not just happen to a few unlucky people, it happens to everyone.

Many in Western psychology teach that if we understand the cause of trauma, we might move past it, while those drawn to Eastern practices often see meditation as a means of rising above, or distancing themselves from, their most difficult emotions. Both of these tendencies fail to recognize that trauma is an indivisible part of life. Fortunately, dissenting voices occur in both camps. Resisting trauma is pointless, these voices council, and only makes it worse.

Today’s presentation brings this perspective forward. Ranging from the contributions of analysts like D.W. Winnicott, Philip Bromberg and Robert Stolorow to the undercurrent of loss in the Buddha’s own biography—today’s discussion holds that not only do the ‘Little T’ traumas of early life condition how we respond to the ‘Big T’ traumas all around us but that we can use the traumas of daily life to open our minds and hearts.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 402 other followers