Roy Scranton has written an article for the New York Times‘s “smart thinking” section The Stone, ‘‘Learnig how to die in the Anthropocene‘
I’m not sure the objective nihilism of our age has been expressed in a more open fashion in the mainstream media before here. Scranton even concludes by calling for attention to turn to developing what those of us involved with the syntheticzero project are calling a post-nihilist praxis.
The biggest problem climate change poses isn’t how the Department of Defense should plan for resource wars, or how we should put up sea walls to protect Alphabet City, or when we should evacuate Hoboken. It won’t be addressed by buying a Prius, signing a treaty, or turning off the air-conditioning. The biggest problem we face is a philosophical one: understanding that this civilization is already dead. The sooner we confront this problem, and the sooner we realize there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves, the sooner we can get down to the hard work of adapting, with mortal humility, to our new reality.
To my mind debates about the meaning of the Anthropocene are bunk if they don’t enter into this particular topic. Like it or not The Age of Man, even if it went under a different name, is a name for the Earth for us, it just happens that it is also attached to an Earth that is increasingly unable to sustain us. The Earth-for-us and the Earth-without-us run ever closer to one another, the geological record we leave compressed into the crust like a hidden track on a potentially unplayed music disc. The differential actualisations of crisis bespeak of a spatio-temporal regime in which Eugene Thacker terms of Earth-for-us and Earth-without-us begin to coexist- first of all in thought, but soon enough in the all too real.
With a background in nursing, when I look at things from this perspective it’s all too clear that it’s far to late to stop the damage and that the damage is far too advanced for the possibility of a cure. I don’t want to stretch the metaphor beyond its effective use a heuristic device, but I have previously and continue to phrase the challenge to species as one of harm reduction and/or palliative care. If this sounds pessimistic or grim then go and re-read the article (if you haven’t already), and remember that the minimisation of harm is, at it’s most expansive, about attaining recovery. As far as I can see there is nothing about our grim reality that calls for a dire hopelessness. The call is, as always, to build the new world in the shell of the old.