An und für sich: the TV adaptation?

I don’t want to muscle in on jms’s and Craig’s territory by posting something about TV on a Thursday, but ABC’s new show Revolution does touch on a few themes which struck me as of interest to AUFS. The show is about a post-apocalyptic future in which electricity no longer works. This is a pretty neat idea, although it falls apart at the slightest scrutiny (if “electricity” doesn’t work, how come “nervous systems” still do?); unfortunately, the show does seem to be encouraging scrutiny of the premise by making the characters’ attempt to discover how the apocalypse happened an ongoing plot thread. High concept aside, Revolution isn’t really a “good” show; its post-apocalyptic hardships are pretty off-the-shelf, as are the characters (idealistic teenagers, surly dudes with a soft heart, etc), but there are a couple of interesting things about it. One is its presentation of cities as objects of nostalgia; the main character, who was a toddler when electricity stopped working, keeps an illicit collection of post-cards of the major American cities (I’m reminded of David Simon saying he made Treme in response to people who asked him why anyone would live in the city depicted in The Wire); indeed, on one level at least, the show presents an argument against the lo-fi localism which is something of a liberal consensus. Read the rest of this entry »

In Defense of a Grey Ecology: Think Biospherically, Act Ecosystematically

The last post on this topic was largely polemical and so I thought I would expand on some of the concepts presented in concentrated form there. Let’s focus on a well-worn maxim of environmentalism, “Think globally, act locally”. It is important for people to understand that there is a disconnect between the political environmental movements and the science of ecology. The two sometimes overlap, of course, but there is a lot of work to be done to bring them together in a more fruitful union. This old environmental maxim hints at that disconnect for it overcodes the scientific via the political. Global and local are not strictly speaking technical scientific concepts, they are metaphors that are appropriated from the spatial approach to politics and this leads to all sorts of ideological coloring of environmentalism. Some can be quite nefarious, for instance the recent Red Tory appropriation of “localism” aims at a kind of “greening” that’s been common to the Conservative party since David Cameron came up with the idiotic slogan, “Vote blue, go green”. Again, there is no respect here for ecosystem science, as the conservative localist isn’t concerned with the actual ecotones (the corridors that mark off a kind of porous boundary from one ecosystem to another), but only with a crude notion of the parish. This localism pushes a return to parish boundaries without any regard for what that would mean ecologically, but still make use of a green veneer. In short, the environmental movement needs to begin to take more from the science of ecology, to make some kind of peace with its scientific character (which often offends the environmental steward), and from there, with that knowledge, we can begin to create a more rational, more human, and ultimately successful political ecology. Read the rest of this entry »

In Defense of a Grey Ecology: The Amphibology of the Greenest Green and the Blackest Black

It is probably narcissistic to think that the last paragraph of Owen’s recent Guardian piece is due in part to a conversation we recently had when he was visiting Nottingham, but during that conversation I talked to him about the importance of a militant urban ecology for facing the current ecological crisis. In truth I shouldn’t say crisis, because in a time where there is nothing but crises and crises that the capitalist system feeds off of we risk losing our bearings, we risk distraction, and the kind of hysteric worry that comes when one is assured that there is no real hope of coming through the crisis. This is not a crisis, it is but a spur, a spur to think more rationally, more humanly in the generic sense, towards a kind of disinterested, unalienated earthly humanity. So what follows is a bit of a note on Owen’s piece in an effort not just to combat the usual stupidity of the comments that litter CiF, but the stupidity of the “green” movement itself. That stupidity that thinks the answer to the ecological crisis is hair shirts, apologies to Gaia for being human, and the working towards the death of millions in the name of some kind of “respect for nature”. Read the rest of this entry »


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