Tag Archives: nature

Tim Morton: “Ain’t Natural” Ain’t Reasonable

21 Jul

From Timothy Morton. The Ecological Thought. Harvard UP 2010.

Here’s a tricky passage, p. 86:

Okay, deep breath—it just isn’t right to criticize genetic engineering as unnatural, as if decent people should ban horses, dogs and cats, wheat and barley. It isn’t sound to call “technological” gene manipulation wrong, as if stud farming wasn’t technical manipulation. Crossbreeding is a form of technology. Fields and ditches are technology. Apes with termite sticks are technological. And what is barley if not a queer plant? Biological beings are all queer. All food is Frankenfood. The ecological thought might argue, provocatively I know, that genetic engineering is simply doing consciously what was once unconscious. My DNA can be told to produce viruses—that’s how viruses replicate. There isn’t a little picture of me in my DNA: hence the swine flue, which evolved from viruses affecting three different species. Genomics can use a virus to tell bacterial DNA to make plastic rather than bacteria.

So for so good. I think.

The assertion “it’s unnatural and therefore wrong” is loaded with ideological freight and thus fraught with risk of self-contradiction. Just what about us humans and our ways IS natural, anyhow? Fruit may grow on trees, but loin cloths, no matter what they’re made of, the DON’T grow on trees, or anywhere else. We make them out of stuff of one kind or another. They are un-natural. But not wearing one—or a similar garment—is generally considered to be a bit too, um, err, natural. Continue reading

Gravsports: Lama, Red Bull, Cerro Torre

9 Dec

Elite mountain-climbing is a very esoteric sport that doesn’t show up much on TV. But it has it’s own culture, and ethics and aesthetics. It’s about nature and the environment, but it’s also about ecstasy and peak experiences. This is is passage from a longish article about a climbing incident in Patagonai (do you know where that is?):

5. As a climber I’m increasingly looking at my “ethics” not as just what I do while climbing but what my travel to go climbing and my other sports does to the atmosphere and the wilderness places I visit. This is a much bigger problem than whether I use a pin or a bolt, and to pretend otherwise is selective ignorance.

via Gravsports: Lama, Red Bull, Cerro Torre.