Academic Shagging

This range of literal construction and seeing the eco as a bounded Other could be seen as four distinct yet entangled thought trajectories- that of assertion of human control and ownership ( something to the tune of “I am master of all I survey” the immortalised lines of William Cowper), that of anthropomorphising - seeing components of nature as possessing human feelings and human character and using it to seek conversation with the natural Other (examples being that of the “sobbing deer” and various references to the tumultuous sea expressing anger, or variously, in Tennyson’s words “I am a part of all that I have met”), that of sexualising/sensualising/feminising the natural Other, and that of romancing the distant/unknown/alien- in furtherance of colonialist wonder at Other lands.

I find Gabriel Egan’s reading of the empty Shakespearean stage as the unlocalised colonial mind that could control whatever it chose to and the insinuation of deforestation of virgin forests by colonialists in the text of The Tempest, a provocatively powerful technique of telling the story of colonial sojourn. Robert Watson, very effectively reads in violence/control and exotic fetishisation of animals and Other peoples onto the act of anthropomorphising. That in a sense, provides moral sanction (through imputation of the ‘ethical quality of human relationship’) to the act of capture or annihilation. He complicates this relationship of anthropomorphisation by reading in the erotics of wonder, fear and demonisation, in his discussion of Actaeon’s horned appearance and the fear he inspires, of the wilderness, that might consume the colonial explorer and hence, he must find ways of controlling the subject of fear through linguistic tools. The flip side of the consumption of the fearsome is sensualisation (examples being the sexual wonder at naked Diana). The object that is understood in the ‘mirror of similitude’, is captured and cosumed therewith, in the shackles of linguistic representation. Watson also makes the comparison of wondered love at the Other (nature) being expressed by the human mind (the lover) to self-obsession of the mind, wondering at its own depths and contours. His further elaboration on the self-love as masculine attempt to capture feminine as expression of misogynist wonder, through which the female becomes an object of fantasy that is really about exertion of masculine power and dilution of female agency. (“Love and violence thus seem almost inseparable; you always hunt the one you love”: Watson 2006, 89) I can’t help the urge to read this thought into the correctional agenda of the ecological and development discourses- that seek to rid suffering populaces of their ills, or correct and conserve degrading landscapes, thereby harbouring and nourishing the ideal of restoring human existences and landscape beauties to an imagined, antiquated glory. Watson and Mentz’s writings open up for me the possibility of reading ecology and development movements as neo-Romanticism- trying to restore aesthetics through correctional/missionary agenda.

I find Foucauldian shadows here, of language as a tool of power, and the literary act as an act of capture and colonisation by the author. I am only partially familiar with the literature that discusses the author as a modern, romantic, humanist actor- who is also variously spoken of, spoken to, spoken through. So Watson’s self-effacing comment, at the end, about his own intentional fallacy getting mapped onto the body of Shakespeare’s work (Watson 2006, 107), provokes me into the thinking of linguistic inscriptions onto the body of the natural Other as an act of conversation as also atomistic authorship.

The development aid literature and scientific landscape readings, and I am thinking scientific/development/ecological/conservationist literature as literary here, as an act mapping one’s own cultural (knowledge, morality, aesthetics as a subset of culture?) mesh onto the land, sea, game, native humans. I don’t necessarily see that as more or less violent than the act of capture through the romantic act of authorship through the written lyric, film, music, art. I don’t necessarily see Latour’s moral censure of the act of dramatizing, by way of making the inanimate/inarticulate speak and advocating ‘secularization’ as any more of exoneration from the power of language- in fact, if anything, that too cries out for salvation from the guilt of violent representation (Latour 2004). I see literary (and am stretching the limits of literary as far as possible) tools of representation/conversation/capture as an inevitable act of human agency, that some of us enjoying power and privilege can exercise more often and more effectively, and can only live in the guilt and shame of the same, and in turn capture it in language.


Where can I get an English version?

anglophilicbong said…
you can't.... you have marvel at its alienness and feel happy...
Anonymous said…
Really good sharing this.

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