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Extra info for Anthropocene or Capitalocene?: Nature, History, and the Crisis of Capitalism
Nonhuman can direct a flood of grievances that might strike a humbling note into the human soul. Adverse impacts must be contained insofar as they threaten material damage to, or the survival of, the human enterprise, but the “I” is also becoming linguistically contained so that its nonstop chiseling and oft-brutal onslaughts on nature become configured in more palatable (or upbeat6) representations. The Anthropocene discourse veers away from environmentalism’s dark idiom of destruction, depredation, rape, loss, devastation, deterioration, and so forth of the natural world into the tame vocabulary that humans are changing, shaping, transforming, or altering the biosphere, and, in the process, creating novel ecosystems and anthropogenic biomes.
But still,” as philosopher Hans Jonas entreated decades ago, “a silent plea for sparing its integrity seems to issue from the threatened plenitude of the living world” (Jonas 1974, 126). The threatened plenitude of Life asks that we view timeworn stories of human ascent with the deep suspicion they deserve, see through the self-serving ontology of the world recoded as “resources,” “natural capital,” and “ecological services,” and question what it is we are salvaging in desiring to sustain the human enterprise.
The ecological philosopher and multispecies ethnographer Thom van Dooren also inhabits the layered complexities of living in times of extinction, extermination, and partial recuperation; he deepens our consideration of what thinking means, of what not becoming thoughtless exacts from all of us. In his extraordinary book Flight Ways, van Dooren accompanies situated bird species living on the extended edge of extinction, asking what it means to hold open space for another (2014). Such holding open is far from an innocent or obvious material or ethical practice; even when successful, it exacts tolls of suffering as well as surviving as individuals and as kinds.