Exactly what is the current state of play, ecologically speaking?

Why is that?

It’s the sensation of having an idea, and since we are so committed to a dualism of mind and body – so was Kant – we can’t help thinking this is a bit psychotic: ideas shouldn’t make a sound, should they?

Is it possible that there is some kind of truth in this colloquial phrase?

We could say that they are misleading, but why can they be misleading at all?

Can you think of another geological period that has such a specific start date? And can you think of anything more uncanny than realizing that you are in a whole new geological period, one marked by humans becoming a geophysical force on a planetary scale?

But is that really because things being handy, zuhanden, is the normal state of affairs?

Who cares?

Light as such isn’t directly present, you can’t pin it down and you can’t fully illuminate it: what illuminates the illuminator?

Surely seven billion (the current human population) is just one human times seven billion?

It’s about how vague heaps are – when does a collection of things become a heap? If you take a single rock away from a heap of rocks, does that mean it is no longer a heap? What if you take ten rocks away? Where does the heap start, and when does it end?



How does it suck?

In exactly what is it shaking our faith now?

What does that actually mean?

Sometimes I think, ‘Really? I have to assemble a huge group of humans and start a revolution right now, then I can relate to polar bears?

How about just visiting your local garden centre to smell the plants?

Why this constant and very particular orientation to the future – what needs ‘to be done’ in order to start being ecological?

At the end of ecology conferences, you so often hear someone saying, ‘But what are we going to do?’

‘Do you have a cat?’

‘Do you like to stroke her or him?’

A lifeform goes extinct?

But are we Neoplatonic Christian souls? Isn’t being a person a little bit about being paranoid that you might not be a person? Can you get rid of the ambiguity without tearing something?

It says a lot about us that just surviving, being hungry, are supposedly ‘real’, aka nothing to do with being human in particular – what does that say about us and what does it in fact do to us ourselves, let alone the elephants?

That says it all, doesn’t it?

But what if having a good reason to care was precisely a large part of the problem?

But why? Why the search for hypocrisies in the new process?

But if you think about the fact that the ball is still faster than your brain, what on Earth is happening?

Is the brain more like some kind of starter, which get things going, then sits back?

That’s why you need scientists, right?

What exactly are we sustaining, if not the one-size-fits-all agricultural temporality pipe that has sucked all lifeforms into it like a vacuum cleaner, prettu much, over its 12,500-year run?

What would it look like if we allowed more and more things to have some kind of power over us?

What is their language blocking?

That’s the problem with art, isn’t it?

Which is the same thing as saying you are having a conversation with utilitarianism, which is saying that you are having a conversation about happiness – whose happiness, and what kinds of happiness?

So the question is, with whom or what are we going to team up, and what kinds of affordances are we going to allow future beings, and how do we allow the spooky suspension of violence, the possibly infinite vortices of pleasures and pains with us and without us, like an eye that turns out to be a bagful of hypnotic eyes, to happen without collapsing it so fast?

What to do with these uninvited guests?

Why can’t there be an ecology for the rest of us? For those of us who don’t want to go out camping in the fresh air, but would rather pull the covers over our heads and listen to weird goth music all morning? When can we start laughing, not just in a hale and hearty way, but with irony, a sense of the ridiculous, an excessive feeling of joy? What would an ecological joke sound like?

The upshot?

Why is this feeling of attunement scary for some?

A Rothko Chapel painting is a portal: just what might come through?

(verb or noun?)

‘Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?’

Can you see how this works?

To veer, to swerve towards: am I choosing to do it? Or am I being pulled?

Do they love us back?

Doesn’t appreciating art have to do with allowing things to be ambiguous?

(or do I?)

I am experiencing unknown effects on me coming from something that I am caught up with in such a way that I can’t tell who ‘started it’ – am I just imposing my concepts of beauty on to any old thing, or is this thing totally overpowering me?

And do you know what this means?

You don’t know why you should care: isn’t that what we are all feeling when we experience something beautiful? How come this chord sequence is making tears run down my face?

Is how you relate to a beautiful artwork active or passive?

What happens when we let the spectres out of that Valley, the spectres that haunt us with supposedly divergent versions of what counts as human? What happens when it becomes an ethical-political Spectral Plain?

But if we exorcise that ghost, we’re back to survival for the sake of survival, and how’s that been working out so far for life on this planet?


It’s like how people are scornful about Buddhism – how can you desire to get rid of desire?

And now I’m asking you to get all frantic about polar bears too? On top of everything else?

Is it a feature of our psyches or a bug?

Timothy Morton, All Art is Ecological, London, Penguin Books, 2021.