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Ecology without Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics

By: Timothy Morton

Harvard University Press

Paperback | Sep 2009 | #181341 | ISBN-13: 9780674034853
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Hardback | Mar 2007 | #164284 | ISBN-13: 9780674024342
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About this book

In Ecology without Nature, Timothy Morton argues that the chief stumbling block to environmental thinking is the image of nature that most writers on the topic promote: they propose a new worldview, but their very zeal to preserve the natural world leads them away from the "nature" they revere. The problem is a symptom of a far deeper situation--of accepting the idea of "ecology without nature." That is, to have a properly ecological view, we must relinquish, once and for all, the idea of nature.

Developing a fresh vocabulary for reading "environmentality" in both content and form, Morton shows that representations of nature inevitably become metaphysical. Ranging widely in eighteenth- through twentieth-century literature, philosophy, culture, and the arts, Morton explores the value of art in imagining environmental conditions for the future. In short, the idea of nature has served much the same function in the modern period as the aesthetic has--that of healing what society has damaged; but as a result, unrealistic expectations have developed. Morton investigates our ecological assumptions in a way that is provocative and deeply engaging.

Morton demonstrates that because most ecocriticism assumes nature/environment as a concept, most ecocritics perpetuate the assumptions of the literature that they purport to critique. He argues that nature is an arbitrary rhetorical concept whose modern origins can be traced to Romantics writing during the Industrial Revolution--essentially, that ecocriticism fetishizes "nature." He contends that a "really deep ecology" would let go of the idea of nature because it marks the difference between "us" and "it." Drawing on writers from Adorno to Zizek, and considering literature and art from the 18th century to the present, Morton offers a complex, important, and often playful argument that lays the groundwork for new directions in ecocriticism. -- G. D. MacDonald Choice 20071001 We're in the sh . We have to face it and learn to live with it. That's a basic idea in dark ecology, which Timothy Morton outlines in his book Ecology Without Nature...Dark ecology has a realistic take on the human state without resorting to false optimism or fatalistic tones of apocalypse. It also requires people to take control, and not lay down in the mud with blind faith of staying above the surface without ever drowning. When we realise our connection to the rest of the world, we understand that our actions reflect all life on the planet...Dark ecology has the potential to be the punk rock or experimental pop of ecological thinking. Or even the death metal, since it shares a goth sensibility that focuses on the dark. Kasino A4 20071201 Ecology Without Nature offers original and important critiques of ecocritical theory, in particular through its analysis of the legacy of Romanticism and the paradox of dualism that pervades much ecological writing. Its occasionally irreverent style and embrace of kitsch make it an enjoyable read, even when the associationist organization and technical terminology require the reader to slow down. However, this slowing down is exactly what Morton recommends for ecocritics as we enter the twenty-first century and the increasingly urgent demands of "this poisoned ground" where Morton calls us to stand. -- Janet Fiskio Environmental Philosophy 20080401


* Introduction: Toward a Theory of Ecological Criticism * The Art of Environmental Language: "I Can't Believe It Isn't Nature!" * Romanticism and the Environmental Subject * Imagining Ecology without Nature * Notes * Index

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Timothy Morton is Professor of Literature and Environment, University of California, Davis.

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