The concept that us humans screwed up the world is pretty well accepted and most ecologists are hell bent on undoing the damage and restoring nature. However I came across an interesting idea today that throws this on its head: there is no such thing as a pure nature and we need to redefine nature so that it INCLUDES the state it is now.

Basically, embrace the trash.

It was a comment by philosopher Slavoj Žižek in the documentary “Examing Life, Philosophy in the Streets” by film maker Astra Taylor.

Here is what he says:

From what I can gather he is drawing heavily from Timothy Morton‘s work, especially his book, “Ecology Without Nature“, which I have not read but just ordered.

The reason this is so interesting to me is that I was profoundly moved by the Romantic’s view of nature and in many ways it is the main way society views nature today: this pristine ecology that despite the grubby little humans would be in perfect balance with the universe.

But the idea that nature is a chaotic and imperfect thing and that our trash is just as much part of it as the bark of redwoods is a very different idea. Whether that idea is the solution or that we may not even need a solution I don’t know yet. I will have to read Morton’s book. I will let you know.

Here is Timothy Morton on what he calls the “Beautiful Soul Syndrome”:
Part I

Part II

Here is a talk that Slavoj Žižek did on the idea of Ecology Without Nature. I’m not putting it up here because the audio is so bad. But worth it if you can sit through the audio.