Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Latour on Tyrell and Gaia

I previously wrote about Toby Tyrell's book On Gaia and Clive Hamilton's references to it at the AIME colloquium. Bruno Latour himself has recently written/spoken about this book at an event in Rio. Suffice to say, his reading of Tyrell's book is scathing. However, there is far more to the text than just the critique. He fleshes out his post-Darwinian reading of Lovelock's work quite a bit and makes very clear the fundamental inscrutability and plurality of Gaia as he understands the concept.
Lovelock describes a planet that is alive because his prose is alive, meaning that any time you add an entity, even if it's a gas, a rock, a worm or a mat of micro-organisms, it vibrates with all the historical specificity of the other agencies intertwined in it. (18)

3 comments:

  1. "it" which vibrates being the object in the world or in the reader or where?
    -dmf

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  2. In this case I suppose 'it' being the constantly amended, reconstructed, shifting narrative. However, Latour also says elsewhere that Gaia in her 'geohistoricity' has the structure of a narrative so there's a resonance between the concept of narrative and that of Gaia herself. The ambiguity is, I think, deliberate as his whole point is that we can't know what Gaia 'is' and yet we are inextricably entangled with her, becoming as part of her but not in a part/whole relationship. There can be no easy split between representation and represented; truth and falsehood would seem therefore to rest not on correspondence but upon consequence. Does this or that representation lead to a healthier relationship? That is the only truth condition. Consequently, Lovelock's method of narrative construction (which Latour describes in some detail) is perfectly suited to this task; the scientistic attempt to produce a fixed representation of the 'Earth system' (as with Tyrell) is not.

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  3. sounds like another reduction of human-being to "narrative", what about being-embodied-in-environs?
    Latour should get out of the biblical hermeneutics biz and back to anthropo-logoi.
    we are getting into this over @
    http://knowledge-ecology.com/2014/09/20/a-philosophical-ecology/
    -dmf

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