Monday, February 9, 2009

Bruno Latour Lecture

I caught the Bruno Latour lecture on Thursday, February 5th. He’s a delightful speaker, humorous and deadly serious all at once. Made for an engaging experience even when the material veered into dense territory.

Broke his talk into sections, how we’ve come to be who we are – perhaps the myth of modernity (said the West has never been Modern), where we are now, and his solution to get people to talk together and essentially, save the planet. While I’ve got a lot of notes on this, I’ll try to summarize just that last part here. He talks of “Cosmo-politics” a term which by using “Cosmo” ensures it refers to more than just humans and by using “politics” means more than nature. Comes up with an idea of politics of nature, whereby “Spokespersons” for humans and “spokespersons” for nonhumans, their representatives so to speak, gather at a parliament, congress, arena of all, and work out the best ways for all to survive, co-exist. It’s a hopeful image, unfortunately founded on the need to have representatives in good faith of all these parties – including humans, and that having organized it, they can act. It’s amazing to see the enormity of articles in science magazines, the emphasis in his talk, to act now. For people seeing the big picture, as I believe Latour does quite well, it’s unfathomable to unravel how come everyone isn’t realizing how urgent this is and now. Here’s hoping more people here him and start acting.

On a related note, his solution of bringing together complex issues, reminded me more than a little bit of “Consilience” E.O. Wilson’s proposal for the coming together of the sciences and the arts, which has spoken strongly to me since I first encountered it. Great book:– N

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