Jean Gebser Society 2016: Aperspectival Anthropocene, Art and Media

With the Jean Gebser Society conference around the corner, I thought I'd publish my abstract—for the curious. See some of you in Seattle.

Shifting Perspectives of Nature: The A-Perspectival and the Anthropocene Evidenced in Art and Media

AKIRA, 1988

AKIRA, 1988

The Anthropocene is a term coined by the chemist Paul Crutzin to describe a geological age in which human activity is responsible for the majority of climate and environmental change. As we continue to find ourselves in a period of traumatic transition between what Jean Gebser described as the “Mental-Rational” structure of consciousness and the emergent “Integral”, we also see the development of new narratives in cultural storytelling that reflect the growing concern of humanity’s place within the natural world. Arguably, existential concern around economic and ecological collapse have instilled a kind of Anthropocentric Imaginary at work in works of literature like Jeff VanderMeer’s eco-horror, the Southern Reach Trilogy, or new perspectives in the humanities sampled in Richard Grossin’s The Non-Human Turn. These examples and many others evidence a shift from apocalyptic fear to creative re-working—a spiritual, originary turn in contemporary media—in a century evidencing both collapse and transformation. Still other re-workings in the humanities, such as Tim Morton’s conception of the Hyperobject, suggest new, a-perspectival modes of thinking working their way into human knowledge. As Jean Gebser was apt to do throughout his oeuvre, this paper will look at various examples in contemporary media that are attempting to transform the ecological crisis into nascent potential for a new world; hints of the integral structure gleaning through the cracks of cultural mythologizing.