Friday, November 7, 2014 Bibliography Eduardo Kac, ed. Signs of Life: Bio Art and Beyond, MIT Press, 2007. Dmitry Bulatov, Biomediale: Contemporary Society And Genomic Culture, Kaliningrad 2004. Sue Spaid, Ecovention, Current Art to Transform Ecologies, Contemporary Arts Center, June 2002. Oron Catts, ed. The Aesthetics of Care? Nedlands, Australia: School of Anatomy and Human Biology, University of Western Australia, 2002. Oron Catts, Biofeel, BEAP Biennale of Electronic Arts Perth, 2002, exhibition catalogue published by the Curtain University of Technology, edited by Paul Thomas Vandana Shiva, Biopiracy: The Plunder of Nature and Knowledge, South End Press, 1997. George Gessert, "Notes on Genetic Art," Leonardo Vol 26, No. 3 1993. Steve Baker, The Postmodern Animal, Reaktion Books, 2000 Sheilah Britton and Dan Collins, ed, The Eighth Day: The Transgenic Art of Eduardo Kac, The Institute for Studies in the Arts, Arizona State University, 2003 Vilem Flusser, Curie's Children, * First published in: Art Forum, October 1988, p. 9 Roy Ascott, ed. Engineering Nature: Art & Consciousness in the Post-Biological Era, Intellect Books, 2006 Suzanne Anker and Dorothy Nelkin, The Molecular Gaze: Art in the Genetic Age, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2004 Michael Pollan, Botany of Desire: A Plant's Eye View of the World. New York: Random House, 2001 Catherine Chalmers, American Cockroach, Aperature 2005 James Serpell, In the Company of Animals: a Study of Human-Animal Relationships, Cambridge University Press 1996 William Cronon, ed. Uncommon Ground: Rethinking the Human Place in Nature. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Co., 1996 Ernst Haeckel, Art Forms in Nature, Dover Publications; Rev Ed edition 1974, originally published in 1904 - that version is in the public domain and online here More: Art and Genetics Bibliography, Compiled by George Gessert Exhibitions and Conferences Art Biologic, Hudson, NY, May 3-24, 2008 - APPLY TO THIS ONE! submissions due Feb 29 Biological Imperative, Newark, NJ June 14 - July 26 2008 � APPLY TO THIS ONE! submissions due april 15 sk-interfaces, Liverpool, UK - February 1 - March 31 2008 Transgenesis, Czech Republic 2007 Bios 4, Spain, 2006 Report in English BioArt and Public Sphere Conference, 2005 ART et BIOTECHNOLOGIES, Conference and book, Montreal, Canada 2005 Becoming Animal, Mass MOCA, Massachusetts 2005 Biennale of Electronic Arts, Perth, Australia 2004 BioFeel at the Biennale of Electronic Arts, Perth, Australia 2002 Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution, New York, 2000 Next Sex, Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria 2000 LifeScience, Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria 1999

Thursday, May 8, 2014


The following is from "Planetarity," Chapter Three of Death of a Discipline by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, published in 2003 by the Columbia University Press and based on the Wellek Library Lectures in Critical Theory she delivered in May 2000. The following excerpts amount to just a few pages from a much longer text and are divided (by me) into numbered theses -- most of them shorn from the context of specific close textual readings that give them their specific vitality -- but each one of which comments in this form on key themes from our course.           
The meaning of the figure is undecidable, and yet we must attempt to dis-figure it, read the logic of the metaphor. We know that the figure can and will be literalized in yet other ways. All around us is the clamor for the rational destruction of the figure, the demand for not clarity but immediate comprehensibility by the ideological average. This destroys the force of literature as a cultural good… [T]o learn to read is to learn to dis-figure the undecidable figure into a responsible literality, again and again. It is my belief that initiation into cultural explanation is… a training in reading.
I propose the planet to overwrite the globe. Globalization is the imposition of the same system of exchange everywhere. In the gridwork of electronic capital, we achieve that abstract ball covered in latitudes and longitudes, cut by virtual lines, once the equator and the tropics and so on, now drawn by the requirements of Geographical Information Systems. To talk planet-talk by way of unexamined environmentalism, referring to an undivided "natural" space rather than a differentiated political space, can work in the interest of this globalization… The globe is on our computers. No one lives there. It allows us to think we can aim to control it. The planet is in the species of alterity, belonging to another… and yet we inhabit it, on loan…. When I invoke the planet I think of the effort required to figure the (im)possibility of this undrived intuition.
To be human is to be intended toward the other. W provide for ourselves transcendental figurations of… this animating gift: mother, nation, god, nature. These are names of alterity, some more radical than others. Planet-thought opens up to embrace an inexhaustible taxonomy of such names… If we imagine ourselves as… planetary creatures rather than global entities, alterity remains underived from us; it is not our dialectical negation, it contains us as much as it flings us away… We must persistently educate ourselves into this peculiar mindset.
One will have to look out for what Raymond Williams calls the preemergent around the corner, suppressed by a specifically metropolitan moment that emphasizes the uneven and asymmetrical global digital divide. The "preemergent" leads us toward a "structure of feeling." … But thinking of institutional attitudes to be fostered by pedagogy, we do not need to tap those modes, we need only remember them. The altered attitudes toward language learning, areas versus nation-states, figure versus rational expectations… can no doubt be plotted as a "structure of feeling," if that is the language we prefer. The scenario that I am constructing would suggest that the dominant figuring of "prehistory" as cyberpresent or science fiction adventure would interfere with the emergence of the figuration of an undecidable planetary alterity.
The country… is not simply the prenational as opposed to the national. It is also the… mass of the national, to which the blood rushes first and that becomes continuous with the exchange of the Earth. The Earth is the paranational image that can substitute for international and can perhaps provide, today, a displaced site for the imagination of planetarity. The choice of the blood rushing back as the first move, the description of the rural as a specifically national mass, and the inclusion of the trade-related word "redistribution" … seeks to undo the contradiction between the national and the rural.
Just as socialism at its best would persistently and repeatedly wrench capital away frm capitalism, so must the new Comparative Literature persistently and repeatedly undermine and undo the definitive tendency of the dominant to appropriate the emergent… Training in such persistent and repetitive gestures comes, necessarily, in the classroom… This is not an easy "positional skepticism of postmodernist literary and cultural studies," but something to worked through in the interest of yoking the humanities, however distantly, with however few guarantees, to a just world… If we want to compete with the hard "science"(s) and the social sciences at their hardest as "human science," we have already lost, as one loses institutional competition. In the arena of humanities as the uncoercive rearrangement of desire, he who wins loses.
In this era of global capital triumphant, to keep responsibility alive in the reading and teaching of the textual is at first sight impractical. It is, however, the right of the textual to be so responsible, responsive, answerable. The "planet" is, here, as perhaps always, a catachresis for inscribing collective responsibility as right. Its alterity, determining experience, is mysterious and discontinuous -- an experience of the impossible. It is such collectivities that must be opened up with the question "How many are we?" when cultural origin is detranscendentalized into fiction -- the toughest task in the diaspora.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Keywords Final Project

There are well over a hundred keywords listed below from among the many more terms we have taken up and deployed over the course of our readings and conversations this term.

For your Final you are to create three categories entirely of your own choosing and design (they can be conceptual, practical, figurative, whatever works best for you), and then include under each of these categories a number of keywords from the list below which seem to you to be related to one another in a significant or useful way through each of your chosen categories and in respect to your sense of the overall subject of our course together.

For each keyword you choose, provide a clear and concise definition of the term (nothing more than a sentence, at most two) in your own words, and then follow that definition with a quotation from one of the assigned texts from our syllabus. The quotation should be one that is especially illuminating for the definition you have made in some way: the quotation can be a definition that yours is a variation of, the quotation can be an example or illustration that supports your definition, the quotation can provide an analogy or figure or frame that inspired your definition, the quotation can even be something that seemed so wrong to you that it provoked your definition as a kind of protest or intervention.

Your final must provide definitions and quotations for at least thirty-six keywords but no more than forty. None of your categories can contain fewer than seven keywords and none can contain more than sixteen keywords.

Each of your categories should have a title and a general explanatory paragraph (and I do mean a paragraph, not an essay) indicating what you mean for your category to delineate.

The deadline for the final is our last class together. If you have time to get this done early rather than later, you should by all means do so. This is the sort of project that is very doable if you devote some time to it, but almost impossible if you try to do it at the last minute. You should give yourself several days to do this work, since scouting through passages and notes across the whole term often yields unexpected insights and shocks of recognition that lead to revisions of your initial categorizations and keyword groupings. I hope this exercise is an enlightening and enjoyable one for you all rather than a drudgery. Be experimental, exploratory, earnest about it and you are almost sure to get incomparably more benefit from it. The love you take is equal to the love you make, as it were.

If you have questions, always feel free to post them in Comments, e-mail them to me, raise them in class, or talk with me about them personally.

Here are the Keywords I'm having you choose from:

Appropriate Technology
Biosphere 2
Cap and Trade
Climate Change
Climate Refugees
Climax Ecosystem
Common Good
Common Sense
Companion Species
Consensus Science
Deep Ecology
Ecosystemic Services
Edge Effects
Edible Landscaping
Endangered Species
Energy Descent
Environmental Justice
Environmental Racism
Farmers Market
Guerrilla Gardening
Industrial Agriculture
Input Intensive
Instrumental Rationality
Integrated Pest Management
Intentional Community
Intellectual Property
Land Ethic
Natural Capital
One Size Fits All
Peak Oil
Political Ecology
Precautionary Principle
Private Good
Public Good
Resource Descent
Resource Wars
Seed Saving
Seed Sharing
Slow Food
Small Is Beautiful
Smart Grid
Social Ecology
Systems Thinking
Terminator Seed
Triple Bottom Line
Urban Agriculture
Urban Planning

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Interactive Plastics Recycle Sculpture

I have an interactive sculpture installed in the courtyard (March 24- April 2) and would greatly appreciate you sharing this information with students in our Planetary Thinking Class (or other classes also).

The Goal: to strategize (safe) methods to sculpt plastic trash. This prototype will help us strategize for a larger project. We are asking for creative input through interaction with the armature installed in the corner of the courtyard. Artists can also help by so adding their own plastic waste.

Final Project Summary: With the support of the Davis Projects for Peace Grant, we will partner with Agung Bali Children’s Foundation (ABC Foundation) to teach elementary school children and their families about ecological stewardship through collaborative art projects utilizing trash collected from their local environment. We will also work with ABC Foundation co-director Darren Leaver to develop a recycling plan to reduce improper waste disposal, helping to promote peaceful relations between neighboring rural villages that are in conflict over downstream pollution.

Thank you, Julia Gray

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Syllabus for Planetary Thinking and Environmental Justice

Fridays, 9-11.45 AM, Studio 18 Chestnut
Instructor: Dale Carrico;;
Course Site:

Provisional Grade Breakdown: Att/Part 25%; Precis 15%; In-Class Report 15%; Final Exam: 45%

Provisional Schedule of Classes

Week One | January 24 | Personal and Thematic Introductions

Week Two | January 31 | Screening and Reading Critically the Politics of "An Inconvenient Truth," Nearly Ten Years Out

Week Three | February 7 | Green Idols and Precursors

Curtis White, The Idols of Environmentalism
John Muir, Save the Redwoods
Aldo Leopold, The Land Ethic
Aldo Leopold, Thinking Like a Mountain
Margaret Atwood, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, 50 Years On
Bill McKibben, Global Warming's Terrifying New Math

Week Four | February 14 | Deep Ecology and Deep Economy

Arne Naess, The Shallow and the Deep
Arne Naess and George Sessions, Deep Ecology Platform
Bill McKibben, Reversal of Fortune
E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful
Murray Bookchin, Social Ecology Versus Deep Ecology

Week Five | February 21 | Ecosocialism

An Ecosocialist Manifesto by Joel Kovel and Michael Lowy
Joel Kovel, Why Ecosocialism Today?
John Bellamy Foster, The Four Laws of Ecology and the Four Anti-Ecological Laws of Capitalism
Naomi Klein, Climate Rage
Alyssa Battistoni, Toward Cyborg Socialism
James Boyle, Enclosing the Genome

Week Six | February 28 | Eco-feminism

Cathleen McGuire and Colleen McGuire, Ecofeminist Visions
Rosemary Radford Reuther, Ecofeminism
Catherine Keller, Dark Vibrations: Ecofeminism and the Democracy of Creation
Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands, Unnatural Passions: Notes Toward a Queer Ecology
Democracy Now! An Hour With Vandana Shiva

Week Seven | March 7 | Environmental Justice Critique

The Rio Declaration
The Johannesburg Declaration
Environmental Protection Agency: Environmental Justice Equals Healthy, Sustainable, and Equitable Communities
Ludovic Blain, Ain't I An Environmentalist?
Robert D. Bullard, Ph.D., Poverty, Pollution, and Environmental Racism
Rachel Schragis, Is Climate Apartheid Inevitable?
Lisa Campbell Salazar, National Parks and Environmental Racism

Week Eight | March 14 | Green Urbanity

Mike Davis, Slum Ecology
Mike Davis, Sinister Paradise: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
Stewart Brand, How Slums Can Save the Planet
Fred Pearce, Greenwash: The Dream of the First Eco-City Was Built on a Fiction
WikiHow: How to Start Guerrilla Gardening
Raj Patel, Saving the World with Che, Mao, and Carrots
Wendy Koch, Green Living Thrives in Communes, Eco-Villages
Global Eco Village Network
Architecture for Humanity

Week Nine | March 17-21 | Spring Break

Week Ten | March 28 | From Agriculture to Polyculture

John Zerzan, Agriculture
John Zerzan, Why Primitivism?
Wes Jackson and Wendell Berry, A 50-Year Farm Bill
Ted Nace, Breadbasket of Democracy
Dale Allen Pfeiffer, Eating Fossil Fuels
Al Gore, Introduction to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring
Permaculture Design Principles, Online Interactive Presentation
Permaculture Design Course Video
Farming With Nature Video
Introduction to Permaculture: Concepts and Resources, Online Compendium

Week Eleven | April 4 | Natural Capitalism and Greenwashing

Paul Hawken: Natural Capitalism
A Roadmap for Natural Capitalism, Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, Paul Hawken
OpenPolitics Critiques of Paul Hawken and Natural Capitalism
Wayne Norman and Chris MacDonald, Getting to the Bottom of the "Triple Bottom Line"
Jane and Michael Hoffman, How Greenwashing Works
Greenpeace: Greenwashing
Greenwashing Index
New Scientist: Carry on Polluting

Week Twelve | April 11 | Futurology Against Ecology

Marc Stiegler, The Gentle Seduction
Bruce Sterling, Viridian Design Speech
Bruce Sterling, Manifesto of January 3, 2000
Bruce Sterling, Viridian Principles
Bruce Sterling, Last Viridian Note
The Guardian: What Is Geoengineering? Lisa Hymas, We Need Birth Control, Not Geoengineering
Time Magazine on Geoengineering
Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron, The California Ideology
Jedediah Purdy The God of the Digerati

Week Thirteen | April 18 | Green Eats

John Vidal, Ten Ways Vegetarianism Can Save the Planet
Kathy Freston, Vegetarian Is the New Prius
Krissah Thompson, Michelle Obama Plays Referee in the Food Tug-of-War
Clara Jeffrey, Michael Pollan Fixes Dinner
Jim Hightower, Food Industry Is Now Calling Junk Food Healthy
Marc Abrahams, Food for Thought
Saul Landau, Reagan and Bottled Water
14 Questions that Could Save Your Life and the Planet
Just Food, Food Justice

Week Fourteen | April 25 | Extracting Ourselves From Extraction

Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency
Scientific American Peak Everything: An Interactive Look At How Much of Everything Is Left.
Chris Vernon, Agriculture Meets Peak Oil
Michael T. Klare, The Coming Resource Wars
Michael T. Klare, The Third Carbon Age
Chris Arsenault, Risk of Water Wars Rises with Scarcity
Kate Kelland, Antibiotics Overuse Threatens Medicine

Week Fifteen | May 2 | Toxic World and Green Ethos

2013: World's Top Ten Toxic Threats
Top Ten Anthropogenic Disasters
Gayatri Spivak, on Planetarity
Bruno Latour, To Modernize or to Ecologize? That’s the Question
George Lakoff, How We Talk About the Environment Has Everything to Do With Whether We Will Save It

 Week Sixteen | May 9 | Conclusions

Keyword Final Due
All assignments due.
Concluding remarks and discussion.


1. Interrogate the discourses of "nature," as registers of materiality, worldliness, scientificity, wilderness, sublimity, insecurity, grace, and consider the ways in which these different (sometimes outright contradictory) registers function in argument and in identification as supplements, complements, resolutions, dissolutions, contraries, paradoxes, and so on.

2. Survey a host of "green" discourses, from transcendentalism, deep ecology, social ecology, urban gardening and green cities, permaculture, to eco-feminism, eco-socialism, environmental justice critique, natural capitalism, anti-civilizational discourse and anarcho-luddism -- identify both continuities and discontinuities in their assumptions, aspirations, figurations, frames, gestures.

3. Consider "environmentalisms" as more than argumentative claims, but as sites of subculture and style, identification and dis-identification, practices of education, agitation, and organization stratified by race, sex-gender, class, nationality.

4. Treat "greenness" as a site through which to think more generally about relations of theory and practice, political engagement, critical thinking, and art practices, as well as to think about political engagement and efficacy under contemporary conditions.

5. Acquaint students with hundreds of "Keywords" connected to various Green practices, theories, communities, strategies (eg, abrasion, biomimesis, cradle-to-cradle, downcycling, externality, financialization, greenwashing, etc.).

6. Embed these discourses within an STS (science and technology studies) framework, emphasizing publicity/historicity of objects/subjects, actor-network formulations of actant/associate agency, and strong critique (via Arendt, Latour, and Haraway) of triumphalist-emancipatory narratives of technoscientific-sociopolitical progress.

Course Description: Planetary Thinking and Environmental Justice

In 1972, an image of the whole earth as seen from space circulated across the whole earth. Has a planetary perspective different from the parochialisms, imperialisms, and globalizations that still beset our politics emerged as a possibility as that whole earth has become one of the mostly widely distributed images in history? Just how are the politics of catastrophic climate change and resource descent exacerbated by planetary networks, planetary migrations, planetary exploitation, and planetary governance? What are the differences within the planetary frame between environmentalisms as sites of identification, as subcultures, as movements, as political programs, as research programs, and as rhetorical perspectives? How has Green education, agitation, organization, and consciousness changed over time and in what ways does Greenness abide for earthlings like us? We will read a number of canonical and representative environmentalist discourses and vantages-from transcendentalism and deep ecology to eco-feminism, eco-socialism, and environmental justice critique; from permaculture and mindful eating to futurological geo-engineering and corporate-military greenwashing-seeking to understand better how to read and write and make the planet Greenly. Tracking through these texts each of us will struggle to weave together and testify to our own sense of the planetary as an interpretive register, as a critical perspective, as a writerly skill-set, as a site of imaginative investment, and as a provocation to collective action and personal transformation.