The collage above brings together fragments of thought from Timothy Morton’s brilliant essay, X-Ray in the collection, Prismatic Ecology. Of particular interest to me, are his thoughts on science and the power we give it over non-humans. He posits the following:
“Things are caught in a circle: they are real because they are measured, because measuring measures them. And the humanities therbey ceded a giant area - the area of non-human beings - to science, happy to occupy its ever-shrinking island on the ocean of reason, constantly about to be inundated by the global warming of science and technology, with it ever-encroaching waves of nihilism”
Put simply we have limited ourselves to the human realm, letting only certain specialists be our interpreters of the non-human. But as Morton states, “at the very same time as Western humans are arguing that we have no direct access to the world, we are intervening in it more directly than ever before”. Our waste, our cities, even our conservation efforts are forms of communication with non-humans. In this way, every person is in contact with the non-human.
The above image is of a California Condor, the xray reveals human trash lodged in the condor carcass. While obviously a tragic image, perhaps Morton’s understanding will move our discourse beyond the empty feelings of sadness (followed quickly by buying a kombucha and cliff bar) towards an understanding of the agency of both the individual human and non-human. In this discourse how do we want to communicate? How can we listen?