Issue #127 The Agency of (Planetary) Feeling

The Agency of (Planetary) Feeling

Josephine Berry

Pierre Huyghe, After ALife Ahead, 2017. Installation view, Skulptur Projekte Münster, June 10–October 1, 2017. Courtesy of the artist; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York; Esther Schipper, Berlin; Hauser & Wirth, London; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Ola Rindal. Copyright: Pierre Huyghe. 

Issue #127
May 2022

Feeling needs to be in the center of a culture of life, as it is our connection with the remainder of the world. We do not share our way of reasoning with other beings, but we all take part in the same way of feeling. We all are vulnerable beings who know the bitterness of pain and the sweetness of the self in ascent.

Andreas Weber1

The experiences of the new millennium have been nothing short of traumatic. Even attempting to summarize the reasons starts to overload me with information, confusing and blurring the core of feeling I carry in my body. It’s a residue of all the events that collectively spell what Mark Fisher, following Franco Berardi, called the “slow cancellation of the future.”2 The feeling I have is one of rigidity, staleness, and an overuse of a too-narrow set of responsive behaviors, of too few stimuli for my sensorium and imagination. This is what cabin fever feels like: a backfiring of sensuous extensions, an amputation of relational tendrils. Consciously changing your habits or behavior doesn’t seem to shift this feeling because the condition is too diffuse. It’s like driving in the cybernetically controlled city, where your flow and the free range of instinctive reactions is constantly interrupted by a network of sensors, surveillance cameras, traffic signs, and fast-changing rules.3 To avoid all that frustration, you outsource your own spatial perception to a navigation app, switch the car to cruise control. There is a feeling of sickliness caused by contracted receptivity and diminished vitality in a rigidified environment. It may be that this example of driving is inappropriate, since I am of course referring largely to the interconnected crises that afflict globalized and Westernized societies teetering on the brink of extinction, insufficiently called “climate change,” but it only serves to illustrate the point: everything is wrong!

Yet, we should pay close attention to this feeling of wrongness because it is undoubtedly essential to life. As philosopher of science Georges Canguilhem wrote, life “is in fact a normative activity” and is therefore never indifferent to its environment.4 Pathology shouldn’t be considered merely a part of the spectrum of existence that extends between the poles of health and illness, but rather as a kind of self-regulating feedback system signaling to the organism in question that something is out of balance and needs adjusting or escaping, or the condition will do them in. “There is no biological indifference,” Canguilhem insisted, “and consequently we can speak of biological normativity. There are healthy biological norms and there are pathological norms, and the second are not the same as the first.”5 These are norms established by living beings and not an externally imposed medical or statistical reality. The healthy organism, for Canguilhem, is not only able to attain a homeostatic norm, but crucially also able to actively produce new ones through transformation. In this respect, it is norm-making or normative. In the contemporary form of the “control society,”6 normativizing regulation of behavior is outsourced from people to the networked infrastructural environment in a way that is quite inimical to life.

In his 1934 book Art as Experience, John Dewey understood the organism’s continuous negotiation with its environment in a related way. Sensuous experience, for the American pragmatist philosopher, is essential in the lessening of discomfort or the increase of well-being. It is integral to the aesthetic experience common to all life—an experience which gives rise to expressive forms and can be understood as the organismic precondition of art. Put another way, for Dewey, art is an artificial separation of the aesthetic sensibilities that suffuse and structure the experience of life-forms in the living world. These aesthetic experiences, which arise through interaction with environmental conditions, connect what has been reified as “civilization” by European colonial narratives to humans’ deep animal ancestry:

The world is full of things that are indifferent and even hostile to life; the very processes by which life is maintained tend to throw it out of gear with its surroundings. Nevertheless, if life continues and if in continuing it expands, there is an overcoming of factors of opposition and conflict; there is a transformation of them into differentiated aspects of a higher powered and more significant life. The marvel of organic, of vital, adaptation through expansion (instead of by contraction and passive accommodation) actually takes place. Here in germ are balance and harmony attained through rhythm. Equilibrium comes about not mechanically and inertly but out of, and because of, tension.7

How can we solve, or are we already solving, the feeling of being powerfully “out of gear with [our] surroundings” and yet straitjacketed by a highly advanced technocratic and necrotic globalized capitalist society, one that deprives us of our vital capacity for normativity in both senses of the word, i.e., the attainment of homeostatic states as well as the freedom to break them so as to adapt continuously through emergent responses? As the Marxist tradition has often elaborated, there is a reciprocity between the human process of giving life to machines and the reciprocal functionalization of human existence, resulting in our tendency to become adjuncts to technological processes. In Matteo Pasquinelli’s summary, “The cybernetic apparatus of the factory grows and improves thanks to the contribution of workers’ socialized intelligence.”8 The production of the individual and its “freedom” from communal life through the advent of the nation-state and the material abundance derived from distributed social production comes at the expense of a freedom of social and environmental reciprocity. “Without our relationships to our food and friends, air and water, land and lovers, we are not free to flourish at all,” write Isabelle Fremeaux and Jay Jordan in We Are “Nature” Defending Itself (2021), their account of the ZAD, a semi-autonomous protest-based community in western France.9

Of interest here, and what I would like to think about through one example of artistic practice and one of artful living, is whether it is actually possible for beings of sensation and experience to become as rigid and inflexible as such accounts of technological modernity would have us believe. Or can the nauseating feeling brought on by contemporary constrained and depotentiated responsiveness, one largely robbed of its capacity to invent new norms and conditions, be considered a creative force in itself that is already active in helping us adjust to an environment that is perilously out of equilibrium? The multidimensional crisis sensuously cognized through the pandemic’s ill wind—or when it hits 15 degrees Celsius in a late English December, or when a subtropical cyclone causes a month’s rainfall in a few days in northern Brazil—has the power to startle despite the passivity inculcated by a hypermediated, securitized, and commodified environment. Maybe all the more because so many of us had bought into the technosphere as a stabilizing and immunizing force more than we realized. These sensations felt from the various terrains of climate crisis, provoked when planetary forces pierce our diverse social and technological shields to “speak” to us directly, could be thought of as disturbing the simulacral regime of capitalism—be that “Netflix and chill” or Amazon’s automated tracking-and-firing system that captures workers like hamsters in a wheel of pure invention. While the pandemic or cyclones directly hit production, they also disturb the immunizing bubble of the capitalist spectacle, which starts to look like a flimsy scenery of toothpaste smiles and trite platitudes in the face of real disaster. The exigencies of Amazon’s tracking-and-firing system are an equally simulacral fitness regime in which workers succeed or fail. The pandemic exposed the “disposability” of such workers, imputed by capitalist logic, as a contemptible fiction, revealing instead their essentialness to the survival of billions subject to lockdowns. If the category of “surplus population”10 into which most of humanity now falls feels itself reduced to a mere mechanism, this is but the reciprocal state of what Andreas Weber calls the “violence against aliveness” perpetrated by enlightenment and capitalism.

In her essay “Images Do Not Show,” Irmgard Emmelhainz examines the gradual process of the ontological ungrounding of humans through technological modernity as registered in the subject-object relationships constructed through pictures and technical images. She traces an arc from the single-point perspective of Renaissance painting to the rise of what she calls a “tautological form of vision,” in which the image is reduced to a sign which increasingly refers to other signs in a kind of imploding holodeck of semiocapitalist sign value:

With the enabling of data visualization by machines, images have become scientific, managerial, and military instruments of knowledge, and thus of capital and power. In this context, seeing means accelerating perception in the fields of everyday experience, or rather, the field of trivial visual analogies of experience: a kind of groundless, accelerated tautological vision derived from constant passive observation.11

The transition from the creation of imagery through acts of imagination, sensation, and techne, to the semi-automated production and acceleration of image regimes destructive of this very capacity, puts visual arts into a precarious predicament vis-à-vis the degradation of humanity’s psychic and semantic environment as well as physical ones. The passively received “tautological image” has become part of wider environmental distress. Perhaps this partially explains the turn in contemporary art to animal aesthetics and the post-human solicitation of the alien or unknowable experience of nonhuman others.

This tendency is conspicuously and dramatically achieved in the art of Pierre Huyghe, such as his environmental piece After ALife Ahead, made for Münster’s Sculpture Projects in 2017. In this piece, Huyghe converted a disused ice rink into what he called “a kind of found biosphere” animated by a series of interacting living and nonliving elements which produced a certain autonomous emergence of the work over time.12 The floor was cut following a logic game designed by Archimedes; on the ceiling, black pyramids, reminiscent of the movie Tron, opened and closed, letting in sunlight and rain, or shutting it out. Their movements were controlled by “an operator” tracking the patterns on the shells of snails contained in an aquarium situated in the middle of the rink; these patterns acted as a score or code deciding whether the glass of the aquarium would be opaque or transparent. This, in turn, controled the opening or closing of the pyramids, which effected whether sunlight and rain would fall on the critters and plants living in the aquarium. The power over life and death is systematized by the artist and then nominated as “self-running.”

At the work’s center is the gesture of delegating control of formal and expressive emergence, while ultimately reimposing it at a higher level. Huyghe described the piece as situated between “heterogenous intelligences, co-existing without equality … a quasi-subject, and entity of unknown modes of existence, constituted by material with consciousness.” He speculated that “matter, chemical elements in a certain arrangement might accidentally, over time, produce consciousness.”13 Is Huyghe playing God, or trying to create the conditions for the artist’s own disappearance? Maybe the two possibilities yield the same result given that in both cases he reserves the position of exception for himself: either meta-control or non-culpability. Against his ostensible discourse on “dehumanizing” art, however, the compelling theatricality of his mise-en-scène, with its alluringly sinister pathos, can’t be overlooked or mistaken. The foregrounding of unknowable types and scales of experience—existing between code and organism, mechanism and mutation—acts both as the work’s explicit content and as an affective tone with which the artist composes. The other’s experience becomes a sort of palette. The alterity of more-than-human experience is dramatically instantiated yet simultaneously denied; perhaps in the end this is just a late-modernist lament disguised as a post-humanist cessation of control. If Huyghe’s concept of post-humanism seems to repeat key characteristics of humanism (the preeminence of the artistic sensibility) while staging its demise (emergent consciousness and quasi-subjects), this is due to the lack of scope given to sensing and sense-making between humans and their so-called others. The “flesh of the world,” per Maurice Merleau-Ponty, by which he meant the self-feeling power of the living world, is denied through the over-coding power of the “operator” and its Archimedean algorithm. Yet imagistically, Huyghe’s bizarre and beautifully sinister environments do convey a powerful sensation of disorientation and collapse. The installation is split between the non-site of its concept (to create a self-regulating biosphere), and the material and biological emergence it directly produces, to which it allows no opening to knowing or feeling. This material particular or “quasi-subject” thus becomes a mere instantiation of the concept all over again.

The work’s fascination certainly relates to its promise to perform some sort of anthropocenic transformation of art. Yet Huyghe’s gesture of instigating creative emergence is irrevocably limited or diverted by its siting in the exceptional, because apparently autonomous, space of art. No matter how much the artist14 wishes it, the heteronomy of the diverse creatures and beings acting in the piece will forever be enclosed within art’s socially prescribed autonomy, which prizes all beings-of-experience free of their sympoietic lifeworlds. Indeed, the work only ran for four months, and hence the emergence could never converge with the wilds beyond the art laboratory—whether the ex-urban environs or beyond. Huyghe’s composition with more-than-human sensoria ultimately isn’t very interested in the reciprocity of feeling and desire which produces new becomings. The operator ultimately determines the interactions between the work’s different actors, creating a singular horizon of decision-making which overwrites all other impulses and reciprocities. This limit suggests the twin stigmata of art and extractivism, or as Fremeaux and Jordan refer to it, “extractivist art.” If the aesthetic regime can be said to extract general creativity from its lifeworld, extractivist regimes convert whatever forms they target as well as the labor recruited to perform the extraction into mere objects denuded of interiority, experience, or agency of any significance.

In this the work diverges sharply from Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s discussion of modernity’s “insurgent feel” produced through the experience in the holds of Atlantic slave ships: “a way of feeling through others, a feel for feeling others feeling you.” They elaborate:

Previously this kind of feel was only an exception, an aberration, a shaman, a witch, a seer, a poet amongst others, who felt through others, through other things … Except in these instances, feeling was mine or it was ours. But in the hold, in the undercommons of a new feel, another kind of feeling was common. This form of feeling was not collective, not given to decision, not adhering or reattaching to settlement, nation, state, territory or historical story.15

The feeling described by Moten and Harney is one denied of all sentiment that can be understood as attaching to the “proper,” the morally coded, and the emplaced. It is an insurgent and bodily feeling of ungrounded subjecthood in the process of feeling that same experience in others: reciprocity without fixity, coordinates, or limit. This is what makes it fragile but also dangerous to the status quo. This is the same errancy or becoming which Canguilhem affirms as integral to life’s norm-creating powers, that erupts here at the brink of death and senselessness. As a feeling that exists between enslaved humans, in spite or because of their despised status, its defining reciprocity opens it to the unmoored and the unknown. As a norm of belonging is shattered, the insurgent feeling is perhaps the experience out of which new worlds may start to form. Huyghe’s convocation of beings are exiled from this full and dangerously potentiated reciprocity due to the coded operator that mediates between them yet has no capacity to feel itself. Huyghe’s meta-modelling of “quasi-subjects” is thus reminiscent of the bio-economical regime that conceives life (genes, memes, and the utilitarian Homo economicus) as a mechanism and whose long history has, in the words of Weber, led to “a loss of species and an extinction of experience.”16

I began by talking about the sickly feelings of the last years and how these might be taken as a sustaining sign of life within an environment which would impose sign-value stimulus responses without end. The perturbation of the environment caused by capitalist extractions produces a continuous spectrum of disturbances, triggering breakdowns everywhere, while denying its subjects expressive reflexivity linked to environmental sensation and transformation. I need only point to the mental-health bomb17 triggered by the pandemic’s successive lockdowns as an illustration, where for so many adolescents their stifling house arrest was compounded by social media’s psychic norming. This was the systematic denial of experience and its replacement with stimulus-response triggers taken to its Black Mirror extreme. Yet the depression and sadness which accompany the ubiquitous imposition of globalizing and profit-oriented norms—and their production of psychic, biological, and material monocultures—could perhaps also signal a new sign of life. For all the talk of “lying flat,” it refutes the possibility of life’s total indifference to its circumstances.18 This activating sensitivity to environmental conditions is the very source of life’s mutation of forms, its intergenerational power.

I want to end by returning to the pamphlet by Fremeaux and Jordan. What starts out as an exhilarating account of the culmination of a successful forty-year campaign to stop the construction of a new airport on farmlands north of Nantes in France ends as an account of the integral relationship between environment, feeling, aesthetic expression, ritual, and life. The authors—a French sociologist turned activist and an English art-activist—weave their own stories, related through shifting authorial pronouns, into that of the collective struggle to fight off the airport. If the plan had succeeded, it would have turned the “bocage”—a medieval patchwork of fields, hedgerows, streams, and ditches—into just another wasteland exhausted by capital. Their defense of this land on general ecological principles developed into a rootedness in and love of the area. This was brought on by working and living on it while helping to build up and protect the zone à défendre (ZAD) from the state, not to mention the trauma and exhaustion caused by the pitched battles with police and state bureaucrats. They gradually come to realize that a reciprocity of feeling with a living place is the essence of flourishing: the art of living well, which they vehemently counterpose to the separation of art and everyday life.

Reviewing the history of the combined rise of art and capitalism, Fremeaux and Jordan observe that the commoners in England and Wales were thrown off the land in the mid-eighteenth and nineteenth centuries through a series of Enclosure Acts (which appropriated land available for common use to private ownership) at the same moment when art as an autonomous sphere, or aesthetic regime, was invented. The separation of people from the commons that sustained them outside the wage relation and private property did more than simply turn them into itinerant labor power: it annihilated their feeling for the living world that sustained them and gave rise to a collective world of experience. This reciprocity of feeling was the source and object of numerous expressive activities by which a community of makers renewed their relationship to each other and the seasons and cycles of the natural world. This, Fremeaux and Jordan assert, is not some idealized vitalism but a question of “embodied feelings” which connect human beings to all other living things. They quote Andreas Weber: “Art then is no longer what separates humans from nature, but rather it is life’s voice fully in us.”19 They argue that the separation of art from common existence, its use in justifying colonial violence,20 and that old individualizing word “artist” can no longer be held apart from all the other Cartesian separations by which the world has been turned into object, thing, or resource. Theirs is a call not for the visual substitutes for feeling that define so much contemporary capitalist culture (the pornographic succulence of food advertising, the showy tenderness of touch in face-cream promotions) but for a return to the living world that sustains us. “Maybe all life will be regarded as no different from art, because it too is simply form emerging from feeling,” they speculate.21

This offers a new reading of Donna Haraway’s encouraging phrase “staying with the trouble,” and in a strange way also connects to Moten and Harney’s insurgent feeling of modernity.22 Form emerging from feeling is always productive of new lifeways, however narrow a space these are given. While the ZAD is emphatically not scalable to the global human population, the lessons Fremeaux and Jordan take from it surely are. The more we pay attention to the fluctuations and distress calls of our environment, whatever that may be, the more we allow ourselves to feel it feel and vice versa, the more it will fill and nurture our imaginations by which forms of life deviate, err, and create new norms.

A salamander made for the celebrations that took place at the ZAD after the airport project was abandoned. Photo: Philippe Graton, 2018.


Fremeaux and Jordan’s account of the ZAD offers much food for thought, both in terms of the tactics collectively used by farmers, squatters, commonizers, and others to almost miraculous effect, but also in relation to the slippery question of the blurring of art and life—that classical concern of the historical avant-garde. The mutual transformation implied in this well-worn maxim is today pronounced with an ever more ecological inflection, and nowhere more so than in Fremeaux and Jordan’s pamphlet. While the early avant-garde meant it to imply the abolition of art’s separation within a fully reconciled (socialist, anarchist, or communist) society in which necessity, creativity, and imagination would converge, in recent times the antithesis of art and life has itself been understood as an effect of the anthropocenic culture of reason. To blur them, or overcome their separation, would demand a complete overcoming of this entire epistemological and material regime, or be directly at stake in its overthrow. Post-Enlightenment society has produced an objectification of the natural world and the West’s Others, whose debasement it requires in order to construct the subject of reason and art. Within the prevailing bio-economic framework of capitalist society composed of selfish genes and self-motivated market actors, the tactile receptivity between organism and environment that life’s creativity demands is disordered and suppressed. The blurring of art and life therefore takes on the newly eco-aesthetic implication of a will to “enlivenment,” to use Weber’s term.

This is a will that is widely shared, though on the day of this writing, when Russian troops have incomprehensibly fired artillery at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine in an act of military nihilism, such a turn to enlivenment feels increasingly hard to imagine. Levelling the power of embodied feeling and its creative expressions against the automatisms of petro-capitalism in all its forms may seem weak to the point of absurdity. We could go further and say that some creative expressions actively adopt extractivist-capitalist ends and therefore the two cannot be clearly counterposed. Yet the planetary crisis we now face acts so transversally that it starts to undermine the relentless coherence of the extractivist class and its self-serving logic; not even the elite authors of war and ecocide will be able to eat when the soil can no longer sustain a harvest.

Yet the eco-aesthetic characterization of art’s lifelike capacity to initiate, to bring into being, and to err can also feel too programmatic. While the continuities of experience and expression in nature and art elaborated by Dewey, Weber, and Fremeaux and Jordan help resituate aesthetic practice away from its exceptions borne of its separation from natural and intellectual commons, their notion of its sensuous continuity with the natural and material world can be flattening. They run the risk of ontologizing life as well as creativity, robbing both of their explosive capacities for transformation and destruction. This capacity must indeed exist somewhere between materiality, sensation, experience, and imagination, yet the world of necessity does not explain the world of freedom (poiesis) that momentarily erupts out of it. Indeed, in Gaston Bachelard’s account, which runs counter to European philosophy’s conventional positioning of the imagination as an effect of perception, the imagined image may well precede reality. He writes:

This revolution is the equivalent of placing
dream before reality
nightmare before tragedy
fright before the monster
nausea before the fall23

His notion affirms the incomprehensible leap that the imagination performs, one that cannot be tracked back to its source in perception or experience, and that reforms the world beyond its known horizons. “Imagination,” he continues, “is not, as its etymology would suggest, the faculty of forming images of reality; it is rather the faculty of forming images that go beyond reality, that sing reality.”24 In this he insists on the freedom of poetic images to leave behind the “hell of their source” and cross the “threshold of shadows,” transmuting their matter.

Perhaps this is to say that the creative outflow, and possibly exit, from a rigidified environment which constrains responsiveness may not be quite mappable to that environment nor sensations in any causal way. While the feelings that arise from reciprocity with a place may be sweetened by close experience of the seasons’ turning, or pacified by the deadening circulation of simulacral sign-values, the imagination cannot be contained nor explained by them. The artful life has no ideal form or milieu, and the opening of sensoria to unknown experiences will always demand imagination’s detour to guide the insurgency. Yet even while following Bachelard, the degree to which environmental degradation debilitates the imaginative faculty remains an open and burning question.


Andreas Weber, Enlivenment: Toward a Poetics for the Anthropocene (MIT Press, 2019), 135.


See Mark Fisher, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures (Zero Books, 2013).


During the pandemic, this also included “livable streets,” blocked-off roads, and time-limited access.


Georges Canguilhem, “The Normal and the Pathological,” in A Vitalist Rationalist: Selected Writings from Georges Canguilhem, ed. François Delaporte (Zone Books, 2000), 339.


Canguilhem, “The Normal and the Pathological,” 342.


In his text “Postcript on the Societies of Control,” Giles Deleuze extends Michel Foucault’s genealogical analysis of forms of social power and domination. He argues that we have departed the disciplinary society, organized through spaces of enclosure (family, school, military barracks, factory), to free-floating spaces of mutable control (continuous assessment, complex salary structures, data surveillance, fluctuating supply chains, and one can add traffic cameras, anti-climb paint, and “shared surfaces” in road design, etc., which embed rule enforcement into the physical environment). See Giles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control,” October, no. 59 (Winter 1992): 3–7.


John Dewey, Art as Experience (Perigree Books, 2005), 13.


Matteo Pasquinelli, “Italian Operaismo and the Information Machine,” Theory, Culture & Society 32, no. 3 (2015): 56.


Isabelle Fremeaux and Jay Jordan, We Are “Nature” Defending Itself: Entangling Art, Activism and Autonomous Zones (Vagabond Pamphlets and Pluto Press, 2021), 119. An excerpt from the book was published in the February 2022 issue of e-flux journal .


The terms “surplus population” is derived from Karl Marx and was imagined to be a temporary effect of capital’s continuous expansion and restructuring. As one line of production becomes overly productive (through automation and efficiency drives), markets become saturated, consumption drops, and prices fall. This leads to the temporary expulsion of labor from the labor process. However, the ultraleft journal Endnotes argues that due to complex effects of globalization, automation, and financialization, surplus populations are no longer the temporary collateral of capitalism’s “creative destruction” but a long-term condition for the global population. The resulting picture is the management of the human “surplus”—people divorced from land and therefore self-sufficiency—through “warehousing” them in ghettoes, prisons, and camps, or annihilating them in warfare. See “Misery and Debt: On the Logic and History of Surplus Populations and Surplus Capital,” Endnotes, no. 2 (April 2010) .


Irmgard Emmelhainz, “Images Do Not Show: The Desire to See in the Anthropocene”, in Art in Anthropocene: Encounters Among Aesthetics, Politics, Environments and Epistemologies, ed. Heather Davis and Etienne Turpin (Open Humanities Press, 2015), 136–37.


See Pierre Huyghe and Hans Ulrich Obrist, “Conversation,” in Pierre Huyghe at the Serpentine, ed. Natalia Grabowska et al. (The Serpentine, 2018), 313.


Huyghe and Obrist, “Conversation,” 313.


Huyghe or any other.


Stefano Harney and Fred Moten, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Minor Compositions, 2013), 98.


Weber, Enlivenment, 58.


For a medical account of this phenomenon see .


See Franco “Bifo” Berardi, “Resign,” e-flux journal, no. 124 (February, 2022) ; and Your Lazy Comrades, “The Interregnum: The George Floyd Uprising, the Coronavirus Pandemic, and the Emerging Social Revolution,” Haters Cafe (blog), January 7, 2022 .


Fremeaux and Jordan, We Are “Nature” Defending Itself, 122.


See especially the work of Ariella Äisha Azoulay and David Lloyd.


Fremeaux and Jordan, We Are “Nature” Defending Itself, 124. Emphasis in original.


For Donna Haraway, “Staying with the trouble does not require such a risk-allaying relationship to times called the future. In fact, staying with the trouble requires learning to be truly present, not as a vanishing pivot between awful or Edenic pasts and apocalyptic or salvific futures, but as mortal critters entwined in myriad unfinished configurations of places, times, matters, meanings.” Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Cthulucene (Duke University Press, 2016), 1.


Gaston Bachelard, “Creative Imagination and Language,” in On Poetic Imagination and Reverie, trans. and ed. Colette Gaudin (Spring Publications, 2014), 70.


Bachelard, “Creative Imagination and Language,” 71.

Nature & Ecology, Philosophy, Aesthetics
Art Activism
Return to Issue #127

Many thanks to Catherine Ferguson and the Planetary PhD Group at the Royal College of Art’s School of Arts and Humanities for all the discussions that have led to this article.

Josephine Berry is Research Tutor at the Royal College of Art, London, and is currently involved in a study of “Planetary Realism.” She is author of Art and (Bare) Life: A Biopolitical Inquiry (Sternberg, 2018).


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