Review of Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Coexistence. By Timothy Morton

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Review of Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Coexistence. By Timothy Morton
  B O O K R E V I E W Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Coexistence.  By Timothy Morton. NewYork: Columbia UP, 2016. 208 pp. Cloth $30.00. The fourth book in Morton’s ecological series, this latest installmentgrew out of the Wellek Lectures which Morton delivered in May 2014at the University of California, Irvine, and builds upon the argumentsthat he lays out in earlier volumes.  Dark Ecology  sets out to unpackwhat Morton calls “ecognosis,” an ecological politics that “involves re-alizing that nonhumans are installed at profound levels of thehuman—not just biologically and socially but in the very structure of thought andlogic” (159).The book is organized in three sections, or “threads,” that build to-ward Morton’s major claim, a call for humans to question our bound-aries between things—both those separating humans from otherthings and those separating things from each other. Morton begins byaddressing a number of criticisms posed regarding the term“Anthropocene,” but he could have more clearly articulated his de-fense against the claim that “Anthropocene” is colonialist and/or racistin that it implicates  all  humans in a geophysical force largely created by white Western humans. We cannot deny that we are in the midst of this environmental crisis largely because of the actions of white coloni-alists. Morton’s Neolithic argument might have been mobilized tomore effectively combat these claims, but the erasure here is troublingeitherway.The crux of Morton’s book is what he terms “agrilogistics,”the mas-sively distributed agricultural practices that emerged in the Neolithicperiod that “establish[ed] thin, rigid boundaries between human andnonhuman worlds and  . . .  reduc[ed] existence to sheer quantity” (43).Agrilogistics begins to unravel when we shift into an “arche-lithic”temporality, the idea that we are existing in a number of timescales si-multaneously (we are in the midst of the Bacteriocene, theCyanidocene, the Anthropocene, etc.) (77). This temporality allows usto recognize that patterns are intertwined with being, to move beyond Downloaded from gueston 04 October 2017  the rigid boundaries between human and nonhuman things. Mortonultimately argues, a bit surprisingly, that in order to move forward,ecological awareness must embrace esthetics and consumerism.Consumerism “unsettles the Mesopotamian idea that we deliberatelyimpose our will on things,” he claims, and highlights the fact that thethings we purchase are working on us at  least  as much as we are work-ingonthem(123).Thisprovidesamodel,inMorton’sview,forhowen-vironmentalism should proceed moving forward, though this modelcouldbe moreclearlyexplicated.Though he falls short of providing the in-depth theories and practi-calapplications hepromises,Mortondoescreatespaceforfutureschol-ars to begin to generate those materials. The third thread includes,albeit briefly, a call of support for interdisciplinary collaboration, andthis is where  Dark Ecology  becomes most applicable to the work thatmany are doing in the humanities and in universities more generally.In carving out a space for the humanities in these conversations,Morton pushes those scholars already engaged in or considering inter-disciplinary work to understand the importance of the questions weare raising in our scholarship, to encourage future scholars to considerwhat canbeincrediblygenerativecollaborations.ElleEverhartBoston College ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment  (2017), pp. 1–2doi:10.1093/isle/isx059 V C  The Author(s) 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Association for theStudy of Literature and Environment. All rights reserved.For Permissions, please email: 2  I S L E Downloaded from gueston 04 October 2017
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