WILD ECOLOGIES - Featured post #2: Here Bill Rose summarizes and interprets Guattari's 'ecosophy' as it is laid out in the book and elsewhere, on the way to a quasi-anarchic approach to becoming.
by Bill Rose
A strategy that bypasses politics as usual is required of us if the biosphere is to survive; a strategy that isn’t reducible to social-environmental reforms but goes down deeper and spreads far wider than any party or player could take us. The object of concern turns out to be not an object at all but relationships held together by systemic interactions forming a field whose limits only seem to expand or shrink.
This field is precisely what needs to be put into question: the borders, the shape, the constitution of our setting are due for a rethinking. This problem has been creeping up on us for too long now and it is time to fashion the tools required to relate to our environment, society, others, and ourselves in non-destructive ways. The Three Ecologies by Felix Guattari provides a good place to start on this daunting task (though it is probably already underway on some level) for a number of reasons but uniquely because it is a short and accessible work of around 25 pages. The areas of concern in the project of transforming relationships at a fundamental level (crucially without falling into social utopian planning) are plainly laid out in three easy pieces:
Constitutional democracies – moving beyond abstraction and reflection – a politics of bodies, things and relations
Part of an unpublished paper by Linda Stewart
“These days it’s the rights of man that provide our eternal values. It’s the constitutional state and other notions everyone recognizes as very abstract. And it’s in the name of all this that thinking’s fettered, that any analysis in terms of movements is blocked. But if we’re so oppressed, it’s because our movement’s being restricted, not because our eternal values are being violated. In barren times philosophy retreats to reflecting “on” things. If it’s not itself creating anything, what can it do but reflect on something? So it reflects on eternal or historical things, but can itself no longer make any move (Deleuze Negotiations 121-122, emphasis added).”
Constitutional democracies – moving beyond abstraction and reflection – a politics of bodies, things and relations (continue)
With reference to Deleuze’s Course on Rousseau, Kleinherenbrink in his translation of the course (A politics of things p.5) emphasis Deleuze’s remark that “we know how to legislate, but we do not know what to do”. Kleinherenbrink explains that Deleuze
reminds us that the Sovereign only has the law itself as its object, in a purely formal sense. In other words, after the completion of the fourth stage, we know how to legislate, but we do not know what to do. One more thing must be added, and this is precisely the relation with things or with concrete situations which confront the people: ‘to determine a law, the general will does not suffice. The formal determination of the will must be joined to the content of objective circumstances of a given society’ and adapt itself to concrete situations. Deleuze sees the figure of the legislator as referring to this ‘injection’ of material circumstances: without the legislator, the general will formally know what it wants. But it needs him to be determined materially. A good law must not consider particular persons – formal aspect – and adapt itself to concrete situations – material aspect– (p. 27) (A politics of things p.5).
This post refers to case law on socio-economic rights to use it as examples where the judiciary are continually confronted with the apparent tension between democracy and constitutional reason and illustrates the judiciary’s unresponsiveness to deal with the question what to legislate, given the court’s role as quasi legislator in constitutional democracies.
Public Feelings Salon with Lauren Berlant
Just as feminism has sought to identify the ways in which the personal and the political are linked, the study of “public feelings” draws our attention to how and why feelings and emotion (assumed to be a private, personal experience) influence politics and notions of social belonging and intimacy.
This interactive conversation, moderated by Janet Jakobsen, features Lauren Berlant, José Muñoz, Ann Pellegrini and Tavia Nyong’o, and took place on April 12, 2011 at Barnard College in New York City. The discussion was so lively and rich, the organizers decided to invite more scholars and activists to comment and discuss. You can read their responses, plus a reply by Berlant: Here
Lauren Berlant (b.1957) is the George M. Pullman Professor of English at the University of Chicago, where she has been teaching since 1984. Berlant received her Ph.D. from Cornell University. She writes and teaches on issues of intimacy and belonging in popular culture, in relation to the history and fantasy of citizenship.
Her most recent book Cruel Optimism (2011), is about the wearing out of the fantasy of the good life that has bound people to various kinds of intimate and political normativity despite their constant inadequacy to the fantasies that bring people to them. Berlant attempts to conceptualize affect historically, and then address the neoliberal sensorium insofar as it is shaped by the recognition that the social democratic/liberal fantasy of mass upward mobility, meritocracy, and durable intimacy has less and less traction in the world.
Here “optimism” does not mean the emotion of optimism but the affective structure of attachment that enables people to survive and even flourish amidst the ordinariness of life-in-crisis, life without foundations, anchors, or footing (Berlant 2011).
- Fragments on Love (gukira.wordpress.com)