- Nowviskie operates from the assumption that the sixth extinction is irrevocable (2); as such we need to learn to dwell in endings and degradations.
- “The problem is that of extinction”: “And even while we delight in building the shiny and the new—and come to meetings like this to celebrate and share and advance that work—we know that someone, sooner or later, curates bits against our ruins” (2). How do we do scholarly work in a system that demands the constant refresh of the new while also countenancing this reality of decay?
- Uses the Long Now Foundation and Dark Mountain as two examples of creative responses to the reality of extinction; note parallels here to Hu for how these groups play a part in humanistic analysis.
- “Above all, the intellectual uses to which the Anthropocene label is currently put—by 21st century climate scientists, historians, and eco-critics, by philosophers, politicians, activists, and artists—have to do with this relation, called out in 1922: the relation between the changeable psychology of people on the one hand, and the practices that lead to their geologically detectable activities, on the other” (4).
- The contrast between Latour and Jackson: management vs. “broken world thinking” (5).
- “And perhaps that explains all our human striving toward a label for the Anthropocene: the hope against hope that we will leave material traces, even knowing that so many are traces of transgression. Maybe it’s also why—in a recent talk on retreating from academic turf wars to turf itself—Finnish media theorist Jussi Parikka reminds us that the materiality of modern info tech sinks its common roots deep below, in toxic metals in the earth (Parikka, 2012)” (8)
- “But picturing histories anew will require us to go beyond big-data algorithmic analysis and visualization. If we seek a rich and humanistic DH capable of meeting more than the technical challenges of our massive geo-temporal datasets, we must develop design approaches that address recent theoretical mergings of background and foreground, space, and time” (9). Note some of the common concerns raised in this section: 1) the challenge of visualizing across vast space and time; 2) the problem of design and the need to build “better” futures. I’m so glad that Kari is on my committee b/c I’m going to need to wrestle out these questions w/ her re: design-work and digital studies.
Archive and Impact
- Nowviskie’s talk is one I know very well: it’s the foundational call to an anthropocenic digital humanities focus; the talk that launched a thousand well-meaning talks about e-waste at subsequent DH conferences. But I think her work is doing something much more subtle that has really yet to be taken up: to think about the ethical responsibilities of how we do our own work in the digital humanities, while knitting together these practical concerns with theoretical shifts in what even our work entails at all.
- There is major overlap here with those interested in repair, e.g., Russell and Vinsel and Continent’s repair issue.
- A broader question I’ll have when going into the Meneley and Taylor collection is: what do we do with this humanist and literary anxiety over naming the anthropocene?
- Nowviskie’s talk is also one of the few examples in this unit overtly concerned with a digital studies practice. It is methodological rather than theoretical but we can still ask: what is it about digital studies, as opposed to any other kind of humanistic research discipline, that prompts these questions of decay and anthropocene? Is it the awareness of scale? Is it speed and time?