Claire Colebrook on the Anthropocene

That notion that one could completely achieve this moment of a completely flat ontology where I speak as if from nowhere seems to be promised by the anthropocene but is also crossed out by it. So it is always going to have this moral quality of doom – unless we do X we will die. And it does seem to have this bet or this strategy. At the same time its necessary then that we think that way, but also completely impossible…because, and this is my last point in this line, here’s the counterfactual. Let’s imagine that there was a world in which the anthropocene did not occur. That is, the human species emerged and did absolutely nothing violent to the planet, that it behaved in a manner that was proper, that its relation to the planet would occur in such a relation of harmony that after the human species ceased to exist a future geologist (should there be one) would not have seen that we existed. I want to ask what that possible species would be. Whether it would be a difference of degree — yes, we can see the fossils of mollusks, so in a way they have done violence to the earth, would we have wanted to exist at that level of degree? Would we then want to erase completely the strata of the anthropocene era such that our relationship to the earth was one of harmony? My question would be A is that desirable? Well for us, no, because we’re parochial and we would have liked a world, I’m imagining we would have liked a world where Shakespeare and the Bhagavad Gita existed, but also impossible. The counteranthropocene is a thought experiment as well.

Claire Colebrook in conversation with Cary Wolfe

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