Another Thomas Berry quote worth spending a bit of time with:

“Acceptance of the challenging aspect of the natural world is a primary condition for creative intimacy with the natural world. Without this opaque or even threatening aspect of the universe we would lose our greatest source of creative energy. This opposing element is as necessary for us as is the weight of the atmosphere that surrounds us.” (The Great Work, p. 67)

Berry defines “the wild” as “the root of the authentic spontaneities of any being” (which sounds Deleuzian to me) and which is counterposed to a second constituent force in the universe, discipline or form. “The wild,” as my colleague Stephanie Kaza paraphrases in her review of The Great Work, “is the expansive force, the disciplined is the containing force, ‘bound into a single universe and expressed in every being in the universe’ (p. 52).”

I wonder how this dyadic understanding stacks up against the more monistic, Deleuzian-Spinozian (and Whiteheadian) views that see form-building, or morphogenesis, as part of the same process of spontaneous becoming (e.g. as developed by Manuel DeLanda in A New Philosophy of Society, Intensive Science and Virtual Philosophy, and A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History). This could probably be boiled down into the question: can the two (the expansive and the containing, the Yin and the Yang) also be one (the Dao)? Is Deleuze/Guattari’s ‘desiring-production’ (connection, becoming, subjectivation) analogous to the Dao, as Deleuzian acupuncture theorist Mark Seem has suggested, with any perceived differences being only differences of emphasis — Deleuze focusing more on the open-ended possibilities of becoming, and Daoism focusing on the patterns by which that process of becoming works itself out in time and in space, territorializing and deterritorializing as it goes?

These are rhetorical questions, of course. It’s time to go hear what wisdom my friend Cate Sandilands and British lit crit Greg Garrard can impart about “Our Critical Challenges: What’s Next for Ecocriticism?” (I’m at the ASLE conference in Victoria, British Columbia. More on it soon.)

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