// Week 2 //

Monday 8/31

Today we continued our work in relation to the Anthropocene. We had guest lecturers Beate Geissler and Ömür Harmanşah speak to us about the work that we will be parsing and working into some form of publication. Som questions posed during the lecture were “how do you do field work on climate change” and “how do artists do field work?”. Ömür made note of the play “Life of Galileo” by Bertolt Brecht and Hanns Eisler as well as the book “Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime” by Bruno Latour who also lead a workshop on the Anthropocene at UIC. Following the lecture we discussed the posibility of this publication taking the form of a website and if that makes more sense than a book. I think we landed on keeping both options open as we continue to move forward. It was also thrown out that maybe we keep our own ‘field notes’ while working on this project. Currently that lives as a class owned google doc.

Wednesday 9/2

Notes from Catherine Malabou’s lecture Anthropocene, A New History?
  • Malabou argues that the Anthropocene is happening in our history and also determined by nature and that it is a indecision between nature and history.
  • Blurs the lines between what is cultural and environmental — what is historical and what is natural.
  • Ecology blurs the line of civilization and the environent in a similar way.
  • Deep history as put forth by Dipesh Chakrabarty and Daniel Smail.
  • Chakrabarty’s definition of deep history relies on it being geological while Smail defines deep history as being biological (sepcifically neurobiological). 

Bulleted ideas from Chakrabarty include:
  • The collapse of humanist distinction between natural and human histories and a removal of traditional concepts of history in which it is implied that nature can have no history (there are natural events, not just natual facts).
  • The human being is much larger than a biological agent of the past, and that we are now a geological force that has an effect on all geospheres (lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere).
  • The ecology challenge is beyond a crisis of capitalist managment, and that the soultion will not be a critique of capitalism.
  • We never experience ourselves as a species (no consciousness of self), one never experiences being a concept.
  • Climate change escapes us because it is not intentionally produced, which produces a “stone“ mode of being.
  • Anthropos defined as lithic species that is an anonymous and indifferent subject that appears as a neutral geological force.

Bulleted ideas from Smail include:
  • Bioligy, brain, and behavior as three fundamental concepts to understand deep history.
  • The brain is the in-between zone between biology and behavior.
  • Smail analyzes the legibility of deep histoy by quesitoning what is an archive or a trace. Noting that archives can be things unwritten, they can be natural things.
  • Evdience is often extracted from things that are accidental preservations leading to the notion that history happens to us rather than being made by us.
  • The brain is not entirely genetically programmed/wired but is shaped by relationships with the environment.
  • Smail also notes that the Anthropocene is tied to our addiction to technology.
  • Dispense with the idea that biology gave way to culture with the advance of civilizaiton, rather civilization enabled certain aspects of human biology.
  • Anthropos defined as an addicted subject that is an over affected one, cold as stone (indifferent) and craving.

  • Appeal of human responsibility in relation to the threat of climate change relies on our natural irresponsibility (history happening to us), and that our responsibility is also a responsibility for this specific irresponsibility.
  • We must admit to our natural part in the Anthropocene (geological or neurobiological).
  • We are responsible for the irresponsible passivity in which our deep historical nature puts us.
  • We should embrace an avoidance of bad consciousness and avoidance of guilt in order to summon us to not deny our responsibility, by taking into account our irresponsibility.

Notes from Dipesh Chakrabarty’s The Climate of History: Four Theses : TBD?

Notes from Art in the Anthropocene : TBD?

Notes from Michael Taussig’s Fieldwork Notebooks
  • Pearls and coral – More beautiful when removed from the ocean?
  • Phantom – understanding/ouher aspect. A feeling from putting or reading information in a field notebook
  • Love letter to field notebooks
  • Fetish – romantic/fetishized, fetishized by others that the owners (after owners passing). Notebooks s a commodity vs magical object.
  • Unpacking library – notebooks being a collection
  • Sparks not facts
  • Fieldworkers notebooks are collections of ideas and chance, a vestigial organ designed to catalogue thoughts outside of the mind. Often unintelligible to anyone but the author, notebooks allow us to travel back to a time when the contents of the page ere written if only for a moment. Better if these notes are simple or even abstract. Written quickly as a way of saving a thought or something seen without having to take down the whole idea or sight in detail. “Spontaneous phrases that cannot be repeated, too vague for anything but one’s notebook.” Short-circuit language
  • “Don’t take photographs, draw; photography interferes with seeing, drawing etches it in the mind.”
  • Notebooks aren’t for home, but instead for work — more specifically field work. Diary in the field of strangeness.
  • Design notes for this one! Field notebook of short-circuit language out of the content we were provided? Colletive notebooks?

Notes from Elaine Gan, Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson and Nils Bubandt‘s Haunted Landscapes
  • “The hubris of conquerors and corporations makes it uncertain what we can bequeath to our next generations, human and not human”
  • “Endings come with the death of a leaf, the death of a city, the death of a friendship, the death of small promises and small stories.”
  • Private owners and public officials ask us to forget due to focus on short-term gains by pretending that environmental devastation doesn’t exits. Constant pressure to move forward and grow. Only focused on immediate power and profits.