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I was sitting at my son’s baseball game last night catching up on some reading when I picked up the latest issue of PMLA, the journal of the Modern Language Association (March 2010).  The first essay was by Timothy Morton: “Queer Ecology.”  Prof. Morton calls for a merger of Queer Theory and Ecological Criticism, two staples in literary studies.  The essay is fairly wide-ranging, but I thought I would provide two provocative bits for a reaction from our readers:

“Ecological critique has argued that speciesism underlies sexism and racism ([Carey] Wolfe [Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory.  Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991])—why not homophobia too?  How do we think about life-forms and their diverse sexualities and pleasures?  Any attempt at queer ecology must imagine ways of doing justice to life-forms while respecting the lessons of evolutionary biology—that the boundary between life and non-life is thick and full of paradoxical entities” (276).

“Queer ecology will worry away at the human-nonhuman boundary, too.  How can we ever distinguish properly between humans and nonhumans?  Doesn’t the fact that identity is in the eye of the beholder put serious constraints on such distinctions?  It’s not just that rabbits are rabbits in name only; it’s that whether or not we have words for them, rabbits are deconstrictive all the way down—signifying and display happen at every level.  Nothing is self-identical.  We are embodied yet without essence.  Organicism is holistic and substantialist, visualizing carbon-based life-forms (organic in another sense) as the essence of livingness.  Queer ecology must go wider, embracing silicon as well as carbon, for instance. . . .  Queer ecology would go to the end and show how beings exist precisely because they are nothing but relationality, deep down—for the love of matter” (277).

 As Mike Myers used to say via his Linda Richman character on SNL, “Now, talk amongst yourselves!”

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