The rise of the edge: new thresholds of the ecological uncanny & Inside albatross: fictions for strange weather

Rebecca Giggs

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] THE AGE OF SYSTEMIC CLIMATE CHANGE has displaced more than just physical borders. In attempting to conceptualise contemporary ecological threat we are confronted by the collapse of many types of boundaries; divisions between self and other, nation and planet, being and seeming, here and there, everywhere and nowhere. “It’s all in your head,” declare the skeptics. What they’ve missed is how the unique psychopathology of ecological threat has supplanted the reality of the experience, so that the part that’s “all in our heads” is the only real and relevant part. This is not the same thing as simulacra, correlationism or even paranoia – the complexity of scientific thought is now more urgent than ever. Yet as the sciences move towards proving the intimacy of ecological threat, so is that threat paradoxically rendered abstract. Thinking about climate change is predicated on the inundation of the outer world by an internal reality, and vice-versa, by the flooding of an inner world with an external reality. We might call this a delusion but as will become clear, delusions proliferate around actualities more readily than around illusions. One thing is clear – the old modalities of nature and nature’s political analogue, the environment, are defunct.
Surrounded by convulsing geographies of the philosophical and the representational, the discourse of ecology has emerged as a new apparatus for structuring threat. Ecology works with interconnectedness to override the dualities that have been displaced by thinking on climate change. Ecology, as it is deployed in this context, has a specific relationship with semiotics and is energised by narrativity. In this way, ecology accounts for the end of externality and the dispersal of consciousness. But in the new state of absolute liminality and openness we must be prepared for ecology to undergo an uncanny reversion – ecology will not look like it did when nature was around. Instead of ecology working to isolate the unfamiliar and bringing it into knowledge, ecology will integrate the familiar and make it seem foreign. Indeed, in many instances the familiar thing will be us: the ecological uncanny is perhaps best encapsulated as the experience of ourselves as foreign bodies. Ecology will cease to be about naming, taxonomy and codification – rather it will move to charting the perimeters of the unspeakable, the unfathomable and the irreconcilable. In short, ecology will become cartographic. These are going to be anxious adjustments to make.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010


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