future manufacturing

Chaos, territory, art. Deleuze and the Earth Framing
Forfatter: Elizabeth Grosz
Forlag: Forlaget H//O//F (Norge)
ART & PHILOSOPHY / The earth as a whole has been transformed into human territory at the expense of all other forms of life. MODERN TIMES prints here an excerpt of the book Chaos, Territory, Art.


Elizabeth Grosz highlights in her book Chaos, territory, art a hopeful and forward-looking perspective of the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze: The art calls for "a future people and a future earth". This is a theme that is repeated as a refrain in the chapter on "geophilosophy" in Deleuze and Guattaris What is the philosophy? ("What is Philosophy?"). Such a new earth and such new people must be brought forth by new forms of coexistence, anticipation and perhaps even the production of art – of stories and compositions that intertwine people, animals and landscapes.

If this sounds utopian, it may be primarily because art's connections seem fragile and insignificant, not only measured against the compelling considerations of politics, but even more measured against technology's interference with nature, its grip on Earth. Has not the "framing of the Earth" in our day become something fatal? At a time when technology – we might say human infrastructure – is occupying more and more of Earth, our planet as a whole is being transformed into human territory at the expense of all other life forms. In a wider context, the technological way of life, which Heidegger described as a "planetaryization of technology", is so far beyond our control that he believed that "only a god can save us." For Heidegger, framing the Earth is primarily a challenge to nature, where it is dominated and made available to man as a "resource" (characterized by the German term "Gestell"). Such a world can no longer be transformed by thinking, for even thinking is characterized by technique, by a calculating relationship with the world.

Stifling order regime

If the industrialized world is haunted by destructive chaos, these are just the side effects of a stifling regime of order that creates chaos in all the territories of nature that have been slowly and artfully created. To the extent that salvation lies with ourselves, it may be found in art; a higher form of poetry (poiesis) or technique (techne) becomes the only thing that gives hope for a saving transformation of the world.

"You think and write for the animals yourself."

Deleuze, who rarely mentions Heidegger, paid much attention to him in an early 1953 lecture series on "reason" as a philosophical term. Here he draws a parallel between the exploration of philosophy for a foundation and the establishment of a territory, which was central to Heidegger, "The Thinker of the Earth." The form Deleuze repeats from Heidegger is that "freedom is the root of reason" – a baselessness, an openness that alone allows one to found something new. This insight is left to Deleuze when he returns to Heidegger and the territory of the old age What is the philosophy? – although he points out that Heidegger "chose the wrong people, the wrong soil and the wrong blood". The opening art must aim for is a liberation of nature, of reason, of territory, through an opening of "the possible". Such an artistic opening is not just about the human. Even thinking is a movement into something else and unknown: "one thinks and writes for the animals himself." Heidegger's sentiment that the animals are poor in the world invites in our time, above all, to a literal reading. They are made poor by depriving their world and the freedom to shape it.

The beauty of nature

Anthropocentrism, previously considered a lamentable fallacy and a prejudice one wanted to live, manifests in our times in a more brutal form – such as extermination and subjugation. In the light of man-made mass extinction of species through direct and indirect nature interventions, anthropocentrism appears as a murderous form of domination, as Eurocentrism was throughout the era of imperialism. As the colonial powers knew to appreciate the colorful cultures of the colonized peoples, we like to talk sentimentally about the beauty of nature – but this is rare enough to protect the animals' worlds against the constant expansion of humans. In the time of the sixth extinction, natural politics – or biopolitics – is about territories and the basis of life.

Elizabeth grosz

Grosz emphasizes that the task of art and philosophy is not to prophesy and predict the future, but to present the future by putting latent opportunities into play. The future of art is neither to describe nor represent nature, but rather what arises in its encounter with it.

We can create an art that builds relationships with other species, a task that contemporary art has also begun in recent decades. Some of these projects may appear as theatrical staging, even as spasmodic travesty paths, abusive and frustrated attempts to regain a closer and more fruitful relationship with nature.

We can create an art that builds relationships with other species.

The art can be as much about the dissolution of territories as about the establishment of them. The framing of the Earth finds its counterpart in the framing, in the settlement of the hegemonic and monotonous, in the opening of the ground, the liberation of opportunities.

In this context, Grosz's appeal to a resounding future at the end of the book can be understood as what Jakob von Uexküll called nature's polyphony: a chorus of the human and non-human peoples to which this future belongs. An art that can be traced back to its origins in nature – in human interaction with animals and plants – and a resurgence of art's primordial form.

Translated by Anders Dunker

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