Learning to Die in the Anthropocene

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I have grown to really appreciate concise, idea-packed writing. This book meets those criteria. It takes an existential view to the global climate crisis, asking us to confront the fact that it might already be too late to save what we have as a precondition to meaningful action. What I appreciated about it most was that it refuses, unlike quite a lot of writing about current events and politics, to present a totalizing Theory of Everything or to trade in throwaway neologisms. This is a book about finding new lines of flight in the face of the unspeakable and overspoken.

There is a beautiful quote within a quote that stuck with me:

How do we interrupt the perpetual circuits of fear, aggression, crisis, and reaction that continually prod us to ever more intense levels of manic despair? One way we might begin to answer these questions is by considering the problem of global warming in terms of Peter Sloterdijk's idea of the philosopher as an interrupter:

"We live constantly in collective fields of excitation; this cannot be changed so long as we are social beings. The input of stress inevitably enters me; thoughts are not free, each of us can divine them. They come from the newspaper and wind up returning to the newspaper. My sovereignty, if it exists, can only appear by my letting the integrated inpulsion die in me or, should this fail, by my retransmitting it in a totally metamorphosed, verified, filtered, or recoded form. It serves nothing to contest it: I am free only to the extent that I interrupt escalations and that I am able to immunize myself against infections of opinion. Precisely this continues to be the philosopher's misssion in society, if I may express myself in such pathetic terms. His mission is to show that a subject can be an interrupter, not merely a channel that allows thematic epidemics and waves of excitation to flow through it. The classics express this with the term 'pondering.' With this concept, ethics and energetics enter into contact: as a bearer of a philosophical function, I have neigther the right nor the desire to be either a conductor in a stress-semantic chain or the automaton of an ethical imperative."

If that’s not timely philosophy I don’t know what is. In this little hundred-odd page book, Scranton zooms from these abstract heights down to the geopolitical structure of the energy industry and labor movement. His demands are for more honesty and new ideas rather than concessions and I found it deeply refreshing.