In this week’s discussion we had the choice of looking at 2 different readings. I chose “Sonic Liminality: Soundscapes, Semiotics, and Ecologies of Meaning” by Jonathan Beever. In this reading, Beever discussed how digital technology-driven soundscape ecology can give semioticians access to informational ecosystems. Now once I began reading this article, I did not know what soundscape ecology was, of semioticians. However, after further research I discovered that soundscape ecology was the study of how living organisms such as humans, animals and their environment are related though “acoustic relationships. Furthermore, Semioticians are people who are experts in the study of signs and symbols.
First things first, I was not aware that soundscape ecology was possible. I never thought that living organisms could show relationships based on sound. The reading also used the term “liminal spaces” which was another term I was not familiar with. From my understanding, liminal spaces are “transition spaces” or according to the reading, they are “intersections and aggregations of human and nonhuman-animal umwelten”. With that said, I learned that these spaces can be evaluated using biosemetic analysis. What intrigued me the most about this reading was how we can see an example of these studies in our daily lives, in particular, the zoo.
One of the final sections of sonic liminality at the zoo showed how we can see how contemporary zoos are examples of liminal spaces. Using recording devices, they were able to evaluate how each animal reacts to different sound frequencies. From this data, they were able to conclude that “all experiences are liminal, and all spaces are liminal spaces”. They even went so far as to make interpretations on how certain sounds such as “train railing” will affect how an animal reacts. I am very interested to find out how humans react certain ways to certain wounds. Since “all spaces are liminal spaces”, do we interpret our human space any differently?
Nature encompasses everything, yet nothing. In this week’s reading we read the “Twenty-Two Theses on Nature” by Shaviro. This reading discussed how we misinterpret our own relations with nature, as well as how we have lost touch with what nature really is. In each of the 22 theses, Nature was defined in a new way, or interpreted in a different perspective. The first 3 theses draw in the audience by addressing how our normal views of nature are actually incorrect.
For example, in the second thesis the first sentence states, “We must think of nature without any residual anthropocentrism: that is to say, without exempting ourselves from it , and also without remaking it in our own image.” This quote alone already addresses how our values on nature are incorrect. Many of us, especially those who believe in global warming, already associate anthropocentrism with nature. We are quick to associate nature with our own values. And according to the 22 theses if we think this way we are already wrong. Nature itself is its own being, but it is also what we make of it. In Thesis 16, Shaviro discusses how important perception is in nature.
Perception in and of its own is one topic. The way we perceive things is just as important as the way we act to things. In regards to nature, our perception is important when it comes to the definition of what is a living organism. This reading has helped me realize how perception can totally change your opinions on a topic. In regards to nature, The way we define a living organism determines how we treat nature. Shaviro even goes so far to compare nature to a thermostat. Which evidently proves that if we can associate nature with a thermostat, then is our perception of nature really correct?
This week in class we are discussing “The Tamarisk Hunter” by Paolo Bacigalupi. This story in its many layers discusses the future impacts of global warming. In a world where water is limited, characters are forced to find excessive ways to survive. For only $2.88 a day, one of the characters is forced to pluck tamarisk in order to provide for their family.
Not only does this story highlight the environmental changes to global warming, but the economic changes as well. In a post-apocalyptic world, these lower class individuals are struggling to make ends meet. As a result, they have to resort to alternative ways to get resources. In relation to today’s society. We live in a world where wealth can grant you safety and security. The problem with this ideology is that the rich benefit off the poor. In addition, at the moment the world is suffering, but there is still time to recover it. In the story The Tamarisk Hunter, it seemed as if time was almost irrelevant to the stage of the world. The world was already pushed to the point of no return. Consequently, characters are now desparate for resources such as water and money.
But that’s not to say that these actions do not occur in our everyday society. Most upper class individuals value the growth of their wealth rather than the well-being of the poor. Furthermore, there is very little change happening towards global warming. We are taking action, but not fast enough. Sooner or later, we will regret creating a world that is no longer sustainable. We will turn into a “post-apocalyptic” era where even wealth will not be able to hold value anymore. Instead, survival would be the main priority. Bacigalupi foreshadows an inhabitable world through the eyes of two lower class individuals, but so far, it seems like we’re heading straight into our downfall.
This week we are discussing the reading “The Vanishing” by Malcolm Gladwell. In this article, Gladwell analyzes how Jared Diamond talks about humans destroying themselves. One topic that I found interesting was on the topic of the destruction of Greenland. Especially the fact that the name of the country itself is quite contradictory to what it actually is. A country that had once shown potential for life, was now showing little sign of human residency or any significant life at all to be fair. And it was all due to human infestation. Humans “destroyed” the country by creating meadows for agriculture, and chopping down trees for resources. Yet they did not realize they were harming the country until it was too late.
To be fair, this seems like the common problem with humanity today. They have consistently displayed the characteristic of being oblivious to the harm they do to our world. You would think that we would learn from our past mistakes, but that’s just the problem – we don’t. Luckily, in our modern day world we have small glimpses of hope here and there with climate change activists and others who want to cure the damage mankind has done. But the majority of man have still yet to fix their mistakes. Until they do, our entire world will follow what has happened to Greenland.
Though that’s not to say that there is still potential. Now more than ever are we actually seeing some positive change being made to our environment. Appliances such as solar and hydropower are making our environment more sustainable. But that’s just it, the fact that we have to use the word “sustainable” to justify the well being of our planet is absurd. It is a word that acknowledges the fact that we are harming our planet and are trying to find more ways to cure it. When in reality, we should be taking care of the world the same way it was taken care of. Therefore, we must act now before we will become “The Vanished” of our future stories.
This piece of artwork is known as The Labyrinth of Plastic Waste. Located in Barcelona, this plastic complex is created out of local usages involving beverages, packaged items, and more. This piece of work looks to bring awareness to the overuse of plastic within our world and our local environments. These artists use products that are local to the area to create a greater discomfort for its visitors. Not only do they get to visualize the vast amount of plastics, but they can see how they contribute to the cause as well.
When it comes to the harmful effects of humans on the environment. Science is found everywhere. In this case, the maze of waste supports the scientific evidence that humans contribute to the well being of the environment. Especially, in terms of biodegradable materials. One needs to understand the science behind how plastic impacts the environment in order to work on making a change.
But that’s not to say that different individuals respond to the artwork in a different way. In fact, most people who view the artwork continue to use plastic waste on a consistent basis. Yet, when viewed in the right perspective, this artwork can be used as a tool. Not only are individuals able to see their impacts on the environment, but they are presented with a work of art that they can admire. It’s easier to admire art then it is to admire our impacts on the environment. As ironic as it may sound, people have the tendency to avoid the topic of plastic waste. So by combining art with a global crisis, it can give people more motivation to act.
Although this is displayed in a way that is a “call-to-action”. It’s overall real impacts may not reflect it’s motives. The artwork clearly states that plastic waste is a significant problem within our world, yet it is not displayed in a manner that will make individuals act based on guilt. Art in its own form can only display the problems, not provide solutions for it. Therefore, it would be difficult for one to act solely based on a common problem.
The balance between making the artwork and presenting the artwork, is a topic in and of its own. For example, the artist uses local resources to produce their piece. However, the materials themselves are still negatively impacting the environment. Even though the materials are being recycled, they are still a source of harm that we have still yet to solve.
All throughout history, we have neglected the presence of the indigenous people within the United States. It has been repeatedly recorded time and time again that the indiginous individuals always suffer at the expense of the rest of America. One way that these people have suffered, is through the effects of climate change.
This week in Dawn of Anthropocene we analyzed “Indigenous peoples and cultural losses” by Robert Melchior Figueroa. Figueroa separated the figure into 9 separate sections – all of which – explained how the lives of the indigenous people are being impacted by the malpractices of our modern day world. One point that I thoroughly agreed on was the claim that “indigenous and local communities are among the first to face the direct adverse consequences of climate change, due to their dependence upon and close relationship with the environment and its resources.” Indigenous groups have always been known to lean more towards natural resources in order to make a living. Yet once we take a look at what consequences are being made due to climate change, then we can see the negative impacts that they have on the indigenous society.
First and foremost, the author touches upon the country’s reliance on indigenous support. For example, there are written agreements between the state and the native groups that allow for the full participation of native groups in the development of their area. In other words, the state will now have written implications that can force the natives to adapt, mitigate, and monitor the well-being of their designated area. Furthermore, with all of our advancement in technology we have learned to depend on our new advancements in order to make predictions of our future. However, we must realize that it was vital observations made by local indigenous people that was efficient before technology came into play.
Now that’s not to say that the prediction of whether wasn’t practical but rather, that the impacts of climate change would now alter the past strategies of the natives tribes. Not only physically, but culturally as well. As a result, even though we may not see how we influence the impact of climate change, we shouldn’t neglect the impact climate change has on those around us.
“Sustainability” as a word itself holds many definitions and meanings depending on the user. In the essay “Sustainability” written by Maria Garcia Maldonado, Rosario Garcia Meza, and Emily Yates-Doerr, the authors discuss how the word “sustainability” can be interpreted in separate ways.
One way the word can be interpreted is through environmental change. In the perspective of the World Health Organization, sustainability is more associated with “sustainable development goals”, this includes global influences such as climate change and its impact on our health. Therefore, sustainability – in this case – is defined as the prevention of world depletion.
In another perspective, the authors analyzed “sustainability” in the eyes of a working individual from Guatemala. In spanish, sustainability translated to sostenible or sustentable. In this case, this translated word now meant “a capacity to be maintained overtime”. Therefore in this case, the word “sustainability” did not hold many motives to a native speaker. In this language, the word lacked an additional “progress to an oriented future” aspect. The authors then went on to try to use native words to produce a common understanding of the subject, yet still the explanations were too broad. But what they did find in common, was the idea that there was always worry of what the future holds.
With such a broad shift in translation, the authors discovered that “amid the stratified reproductions of global development, the reproductions of our translations are stratified too”. It is important to note that the aim of the translation is not to define a “one term fits all” policy but rather, to provide a neutral understanding so change can be made. Many “not-so-global” languages hold definitions to words that are not coherently translated back to english. So if we are looking for communal sustainability then we must start with communal understanding. Once find a common ground on our sustainable perspectives, then we can start making progress.
This past week we discussed the culpability of Christianity in the environment. This idea was taken through two perspectives.
Lynn White claims that Christianity made gave man the incentive to exploit nature at their own expense. Essentially, God planned nature’s existence for the benefit of man, where the world is the hands of man. On the other hand, Saint Francis claims that man – like all creatures in the world – were created equally, and man was just the resulting culprit of a superior being.
As different as they may seem, these claims share some similarities. For example, they both agree on the fact that in some way shape or form, a change to our environment has occurred due to an association between man and god. Whether or not these similarities cause a consequence to the environment, is a whole different discussion. Both of these arguments are formed on many different layers. In terms of Lynn White, this author agrees on more than one culprit of our environment. White also discussed western traditions, and medieval influence to provide content to the culpability of Christianity. With the support of the previous context, White goes on to explain the scientific reasoning as to why Saint Francis is wrong. In this case, they state “Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crisis can be expected from them alone”. With so many layers to each claim the solution to our ecologic crisis seems scarce.
However, the differences between the arguments of Lynn White and Saint Francis propose a defined cause. In terms of White, they claim that since the roots of our ecologic crisis involves christianity, then it must involve christiany to solve these problems. In terms of Saint Francis, he doesn’t state that any entity is the culprit – rather – what occurs as a result of man is a result of fate. Furthermore, Saint Francis proposes no solution.
Therefore in conclusion, with no clear definition on Christianity’s motives with the environment, we cannot come to a conclusive answer as to who is at fault.
An Honors Colloquium in Environmental Arts and Humanities