Edward M. Guetti
Title: “Once Out of Nature”: Narrativity, Amerindian Perspectivism, and the Politics of an Anthropocene Aesthetics
Abstract: While it may be thought that the determination of the ‘Anthropocene’ in any kind of strict sense, is best left to geological science, the significance of these terms requires a patient and interdisciplinary elaboration. This multifaceted hermeneutical effort flows from the proposal of “monumentalizing the Anthropocene,” as Szerszynski has put the matter, which, in turn, emphasizes a return to the collective narratives of the subject(s) who have become aware of this dawning epoch and are considering its differentiation from a prior time. But, as Chakrabarty claimed in a seminal essay, the Anthropocene destabilizes divisions that became paradigmatic for historical narration. As this paper sketches the issue, narrative histories explicitly related to the Anthropocene as well as prior narratological reflections on (post)modern forms of epochal consciousness seem to lead unavoidably to an impasse where the Anthropocene is the time in which a projected unified (Terran) subject is tasked with the need to give an account of historical becoming while being, at the same time, unable to provide any narrative unity for this experience. As this paper argues, this impasse of historical narrativity should be seen as a remnant from a non-provincialized conception of the Anthropocene, which shrinks from the challenge of provincializing the Anthropocene (as Morrison presents the matter following Chakrabarty). Using Danowski and Viveiros de Castro’s portrayal of Amerindian perspectivist cosmology as describing a “first Anthropocene,” this paper frames an exit from the paralyzing historical impasse of the (non-provincialized) Anthropocene modelled on the “counter-ontologies” described in Amerindian perspectivism. This model counter-ontology is not dissociable from an appeal to revisiting fundamental concerns of an aesthetics (i.e., the capacities of a human sensorium, overlapping with political-epistemological arguments associated with Latour), presented here as a kind of disenchantment from the spurious disenchantments of modernity. This paper concludes by sketching the confluence of this aesthetics with Rancière’s political articulation of a distribution of the sensible (dovetailing here with the models in Latour) in order to return to not only the possibility but also the political urgency for democratic contestations in the narrative of the Anthropocene.
Bio: I received my Ph.D. in Philosophy from the New School for Social Research in 2018, and I have held postdoctoral appointments at the University of Leipzig as well as a research cluster within the Brazilian Center of Research (CEBRAP). I have recently published papers on the concept of Wittgensteinian forms of life (Lebensformen) within the Anthropocene and a critical appraisal of recent defenses of Everyday Aesthetics. I am currently a Lecturer at American University in Washington, DC, where I teach classes on Environmental Philosophy, Ecological Justice, and Latin American Philosophy.