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The Oedipal Logic of Ecological Awareness

Author(s): Morton, Timothy

Journal: Environmental Humanities
ISSN 2201-1919

Volume: 1;
Start page: 7;
Date: 2012;
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The Anthropocene is the radical intersection of human history and geological time. Humans have belatedly realised that they have become a geophysical force on a planetary scale. This creeping realisation has an Oedipal logic, that is to say, it is a strange loop in which one level of activity—industrial agriculture and the swiftly ensuing industrial revolution—crosses into an entirely new level of planetary force and, following from that, an uncanny recognition of this force. This essay argues that the Oedipal logic is embedded in the technical, logistical and philosophical framework of agriculture as such. Indeed, the Theban plays (of which Oedipus Tyrannus is one) dwell on the fact of agricultural society as a form of uncanny existence. This essay argues that the principal reason for the uncanniness is the reduction of being to non-contradiction. Exit strategies from this logic (and its concomitant logistics) cannot cleave to a view of beings that is reductionist in any sense. Thus the potential for using Deleuze and Guattari to exit modernity is limited. What is required is a deconstruction of existing (agri)cultures and logics, rather than an attempt to push past them or avoid them, since as in the story of Oedipus, the attempt to push past and avoid is precisely what brings about the cataclysm.
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