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Geology watchers were more than a little surprised last month to learn that we are living in a new age called the Meghalayan, which apparently began about 4200 years ago.

After all the excitement over the Anthropocene, it seems that a rival group of geological stratigraphers — one tasked with naming the sub-parts of the Holocene — has won the naming race, for the time being. Some, like Mark Maslin and Simon Lewis, are not happy with the outcome, which triviliazes the whole point of the Anthropocene debate — to gauge the degree to which humans are and should recognize our collective centrality in geological-scale global change. Geologist Ben van der Pluijm calls this trivialization Monty Pythonesque — a slicing up of the Holocene by “the Ministry of Silly Cuts.”  Continue Reading »

The following six books all have the same title. Without looking them up, match each book’s subtitle with the author and publication details listed below.

  • Coming to Our Senses: Affect and An Order of Things for Global Culture
  • Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West
  • Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness
  • Coming to Our Senses: A Naturalistic Program for Semantic Localism
  • Coming to Our Senses: Perceiving Complexity to Avoid Catastrophe
  • Coming to Our Senses: Significance of the Arts for American Education

Continue Reading »

Last amended on August 7, 2018

Immanence sometimes dips into areas of controversial or “boundary” science, which means areas of science whose interpretation is both publicly and scientifically contentious. While I don’t consider climate science to be all that scientifically controversial (though it is certainly politically controversial), and the general topics of “fake news,” “information war,” and the alternative media ecosystem (which are sometimes covered here) are not particularly scientifically contentious, topics such as “the Hum,” to take one example, fall into the area of anomalous phenomena — phenomena whose ontological status is considered unknown, mysterious, or problematic from a scientific perspective. (See note 1 below on the Hum.)

Public health has seen a number of such contentious issues arise, and in recent years the growth in cases of Lyme disease, and more so of “chronic Lyme,” has joined the ranks of other syndromes and conditions — from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (or specific variants of it, such as Gulf War Syndrome), Recovered Memory Syndrome, Multiple Personality Disorder, and others — which have at various times teetered precipitously at, or over, the edges of what the scientific community considers “real.” There are connections between many of these phenomena and environmental change (on that, see Mary Beth Pfeiffer’s book), but those won’t be the primary focus of this post. Continue Reading »

On civility

Some say the problem in today’s political world is the lack of civility. Others say the problem is civility itself, or the pretense of it (and use of it as a bludgeon), when what is called for is outrage.

It seems to me that there is no universal “civility.” Civility is a matter of fitting in and accommodating oneself to a larger civic body, a larger civitas.

The problem today is Continue Reading »

(Or twice the video below.)

Immanence passed its tenth anniversary last month and somehow failed to celebrate it. (The actual anniversary, May 11, marks the posting of this two-line fragment. Regular posts took another seven months to appear, or at least to take on a permanent form.)

To celebrate, I recently re-did the Primer page, which collects some of the more interesting theoretical/analytical posts across several themes — “Eco-theory and climate politics,” “Post-constructivism and Speculative Realism,” “Process-relational theory,” “Cinema and media theory,” “The body politic (politics, affect, culture),” “Interdisciplinarity, scholarly publishing, and academic life,” “the ‘Anthropocene’ naming debate,” and “Readings” (i.e., book discussions). I also added to the “Faves” pageContinue Reading »

Reading Bill McGuire‘s 2012 book Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes, I came across this description of the annual “pulse” called an “Earthbeat,” which is supposedly responsible for Earth’s preference for volcanic eruptions between November and April (also known as “volcano season”):

rather like a beating heart, the Earth changes shape systematically and repeatedly with each ‘Earthbeat’ taking 12 months. During the course of a single ‘beat,’ the northern hemisphere contracts, reaching a peak in February and March, at the same time as the southern hemisphere expands. This is followed by Continue Reading »

Please circulate widely…

FEVERISH WORLD 2018-2068: ARTS & SCIENCES OF COLLECTIVE SURVIVAL 

A Symposium and Convergence in Burlington, Vermont, October 20-22, 2018

Fifty years after the widespread international protests of 1968 challenged institutional norms, and some sixty years after C. P. Snow lamented the gap between academia’s “two cultures,” those of the arts and the sciences, it is time to ask whether educational institutions have changed in ways that help us address the world’s intensifying crises.  Continue Reading »

A post-Commencement pep talk for myself (& academic friends who care to listen)

It should be pretty obvious by now that predatory, extractive capitalism is not working, and that we need to move swiftly to a regenerative mixed economy grounded in a respect for living systems.

The implications of that are pretty simple, but also profound.

For instance, that transition will require phasing out all of the millions of jobs — predatory jobs, bullshit jobs — that are premised on squeezing a profit at the expense of people, communities, and living systems. And it will require a simultaneous phasing in of all the work that it takes to make our communities socially and ecologically sustainable — healthy, happy, just, flourishing, eudaimonic, and ecologically diverse and resilient.   Continue Reading »

Okay, so I watched Harry and Meghan’s royal wedding (not so much intentionally as to enjoy the loving company of my co-habitants) and was impressed by the tension between Bishop Michael Curry’s sermonizing on love and the dour and perplexed faces of many of the royal-loving Brits in the audience. Diana Evans’ Guardian piece gets at that tension very nicely.

I also caught the references in Curry’s speech to Jesuit paleontologist and theologian Teilhard de Chardin, whose work has been creeping into mainstream Catholic views about humanity and ecology, and whose views undergird — with significant critical rethinking — the views of ecotheologian Thomas Berry. (Berry should be familiar to most readers of Immanence: see, e.g., here, here, and here. In fact, his term “Ecozoic” figures in the tag line to my EcoCulture Lab — oh, and by the way, welcome, readers, to the EcoCulture Lab.)

Now, in a stunning article on Religion Dispatches, Notre Dame theology and history of science graduate John Slattery claims that Teilhard was not only forward-thinking in his embrace of evolutionary theory, but was also disappointingly retrograde in his embrace of eugenics and blatant racism. Continue Reading »

Coming soon…

“volcanic eruptions and revolutions, ant cities and dog parks, data clouds and space junk, pagan gods and sacrificial altars, dark flow, souls (of things), and jazz”

Continue Reading »

My Gund Institute research talk from a few months ago, on “Navigating Earth’s ‘Zone of Alienation’: Chernobyl and the Search for Adequate Images of the Anthropocene,” can now be viewed online (see link below). It consists mostly of out-takes from my book Shadowing the Anthropocene, forthcoming later this year from Punctum Books.

Continue Reading »

The 5 D’s

… that might get humans to pull through the next few centuries relatively intact as a species (if not undiminished or unscathed): Decarbonization, Deplasticization, Demilitarization, Decolonization, and Demographic Transition.

The first, Decarbonization, entails a dramatic reduction in industrial production of atmospheric carbon (and other greenhouse gas) emissions. It will keep conditions for the flourishing of human life from getting too unstable and unreliable. As it’s mainly a technical task, it should be pretty doable, as long as the interests vested in maintaining current carbon-heavy systems can be overcome.

The second, Deplasticization, entails the dramatic reduction in industrial production of (relatively) nonbiodegradable polymers (including microplastics). It will keep us from choking on our own industrial puke. Like the first, it’s also a technical task, so in principle it’s pretty doable.

Those two are the easy ones.   Continue Reading »

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