Monday, February 22, 2010


Howdy, Gang, Dale here. I've been battling a flu bug all weekend and find it worse rather than better today, so, since our class meets so early I've just decided to cancel tomorrow's class in advance. Otherwise, I fear too many of you won't hear about it in time to know not to come onto campus quite so early or what have you. Please let other folks know about this among your friends in case you think they may not check the blog. We'll nudge the syllabus around, don't worry. Treat this week's assignments as next week's instead, for now. I'll figure out where to go from there. Hope all are well, d

Precis for Dark Vibrations: ecofeminism and the democracy of creation

While I feel like I generally understand the three main points of Keller's lecture, I don't think I was the audience intended for this reading without first having extensive knowledge of what is ecofeminism. Or for that matter, what dominion, oscillating gender roles, and the Creator all have to do with power dynamics human/nonhuman roles in nature.

Let me first begin with the three main points of the lecture.

* Cosmos/chaos--Basically your pastor has been lying to you. God never 'creates' out of 'nothingness' (which in turn is actually CHAOS). Yeah sure, he made the 'heavens' (which are of course intangible) and "as in the beginning elohim was creating the heaven and earth, the earth was tohuvabohu darkness was upon the face of the deep, the tehom, and the ruach elohim was pulsing on the face of the waters." The vibration occurs before the speech or word, before 'Let there be Light." The spirit of the 'earth' is already synchronized with the Creator and a co-creation exists. This is the human/nonhuman world and "Creation," not "Nature" is the biblical concept.
* Subjects/objects-- Biblical theology is used as the groundwork of understanding denaturalization (what is called "natural" in human behavior is culturally constructed) and the patriarchal hierarchy of the "natural" command of things. "Nature" is designed around two centers--culture and nature. "Indeed it is this metaphysics that divides reality fundamentally into human subjects and their objects, to which count all the nonhuman things." There is the "natural law" of things that is constantly brought up in Christianity--that man was made of the earth in God's vision, the extinction of entire species is a "natural" order, the roles of the "female" vision is a "natural" command. The created encode themselves with a democratic vision of becoming.
* Created sexed themselves--Well, with the good old help of Christianity of course. It's interesting to note how often Christianity uses terms such as "natural law" and "nature" and how gender roles are just "natural" processes. Our gender roles are linked with the nonhuman world, and are a bi-product of the 'sin' of nature. Even the Earth is forced into this dynamic--Mother Nature. "...Nature itself is not after all the problem, for ecological politics, but the unmarked males who need it to be a Her--sometimes fixed, sometimes fickle. This is the premise of ecofeminism: that out species has treated the earth like a "women"--to be alternatively taken for granted like mom or romanticized like a fresh love, exploited when convenient, discarded when used up, and demonized when like a monster of chaos she/it storms out of bounds."

Those are general points made in each section that somewhat summarize her argument.

Some questions to think about:

1. Keller states that feminists should not content themselves with the mere declaration that Nature is socially constructed and further, that to deconstruct nature we would dissociate ourselves from the nonhuman world around us. What then, do you think connects us to the biological and sexual components of nonhumans?

2. How do you feel like the role of the Creator (God) versus the Creation (Nature) has affected the human relationship towards Nature?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Precis on Unnatural Passions? Notes Toward a Queer Ecology

by luke baldwin

There are a couple key objectives in Unnatural Passions, the main one being to validate the term “queer ecology” as a legitimate expression and practice. Sandilands argues that queers have the ability to have a “queer ecological sensibility” by focusing on the dimensions of their experience in the queer community and using the “resulting emotional resonances and conceptual links” as a way to perceive nature differently. She gives examples and histories of both ecofeminism and queer ecology in hopes for substantiation. There are moments of both clarity and assumptions that left me feeling both excited and under-whelmed. But nonetheless an interesting argument is given that allows for our understanding of nature to be questioned.

            One observation this is made through this “queer ecological” perception is that sexist and racist ideals have been imposed onto nature/landscape, mainly spaces such as national parks such as Yellowstone and Banff which both at the time of creation were inhabited by aboriginal populations. Whether this is fact or an assumption, I’m not entirely sure.

            The rest of the essay is in sections, the first of which focuses on the biological/evolutionary narrative which compares heterosexual acts which function as a means for the continuation of the species, to non-heterosexual acts as either aberrant or as an indirect part of the hetero-reproductive process. The second section focuses on queer environments, which discusses the idea that the artificiality of cities is somehow linked to homosexuality. And the final section talks about the representation of queers in pop culture as being consumers and how they can counteract that. Each argument has a counterargument, but each statement brings up interesting and important topics for discussion.




“… sexism and racism are systemic forms of oppression that negatively influence human beings’ relationships with the natural world.”


“Parks were born from a gendered and racialized view of nature, and were also used to impose a gendered and racialized view of nature, and were also used to impose gendered and racialized relations on nature. In turn, parks supported and extended racialized and class ideals of masculinity, and literally erased aboriginal peoples from the landscape, with fairly disastrous results for all concerned, including nature.”


“Heterosexual reproduction was the only form of sexual activity leading directly to the continuation of a species from one generation to the next; thus, logically, other sexual activities must be either aberrant or, at best, indirectly part of the heterosexual reproductive process.”


Topics for discussion:


  1. Are class-, race-, and gender-specific views of nature being imposed on the landscape? Or is this just an assumption?


  1. Is any sexual activity that doesn’t lead directly to the continuation of a species indirectly part of the heterosexual reproductive process, or are these activities aberrant?


  1. Can only queers be queer ecologists?

Presentation for Tuesday

I'll be playing some video which is closely related to the readings.
All you need to do is bring yourself to class.


NYT Article: The Spotless Garden

It uses far less water than traditional farming methods and if you are adept at constructing things it would be a relatively cheap DIY project. Difficult and likely not condoned by your landlord, setting up an aquaponic system in your apartment might not be the best idea, however. Still, the people building these things are examples of regular folks getting creative and working towards a more sustainable way of feeding ourselves.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dirt! The Movie

If you're into preachy documentaries with cheesy animated sequences that anthropomorphize dirt, watch Dirt! The Movie.

Seriously. It'll be great.

more More MORE

I need to be seeing more links for reports, more precises, more discussion on this blog. Get on it, people.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Honor Of This Week's Readings

From Seventeen, May 1970. From a Kotex ad.

I just saw this little double entendre online today and thought I'd share it.

global warming is bull shit (says fox news)

xxxreportxxx: Vegan Eco Straightedge Metalcore!!!

I will talk about vegan eco straightedge metalcore, sometimes called hardline. It's a movement that I encountered in high school when I would attend all ages concerts. It's interesting that there are as many metal and hardcore music niches as there are environmental value systems.

A young vegan straightedger talks about what the movement means to her.

Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat was criticized for popularizing the straightedge lifestyle, but emphasized that he was only encouraging young people to think for themselves before engaging in self-destructive behavior.

Vegan eco straightedge kids use eco styling gel, duh.

I'll bring music to class and lyrics so people can get a feel for what the artists are doing here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Architecture for Humanity

You've all had a chance to navigate the Architecture for Humanity site -- anybody want to do a report on it to start us off? Seems like a gimme to me.

Green Urbanity

Lots of stuff to read for tomorrow morning, especially the Mike Davis stuff, but be sure to click on the Arcosanti, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Architecture for Humanity stuff, much of which is beautiful, provocative, weird, and full of stuff to play around with... Hope your weekends were good.

Precis for "Broadacre City Plan" by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wrights "Broadacre City" model (1935) propositioned an alternative urban plan that sought to decentralize power through the implementation of agrarian like democracy and individual freedom. Wright's model purposed the partition and ownership of one acre lots for all its citizens, enabling them to build shelter and grow food for a self sustainable lifestyle. By eliminating a recognizable metropolitan center Wright hoped to blur the distinction between urban/rural environments thus dissolving the destructive habits inherent of capital production. The model includes an economic plan which eliminates the concept of "rent" and implements a banknote that devalues annually at a fixed rate, encouraging spending and preventing hoarding. Wright believed that with the implementation of his model we could overcome problems of "poverty and class conflict" by creating a world of "stability, prosperity, and love" through the promotion of education, diversity, and the apportioning of abundance. Wrights model for "Broadacre City" questions the ways in which traditional urban plans limit the individual within society. Given the conventional language and theory behind "Broadacre City," Wrights design is modeled for every individual with a willingness to rethink his/her way of living.

"The new city will be nowhere, yet everywhere."
-Frank Lloyd Wright


-Graham Austin

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Why arcologies are awesome and yet unlikely to happen anytime soon

Arcologies (a word derived from 'architecture' and 'ecology') are mega-structures designed to house large populations within a small physical area as a response to the environmental and ecological problems associated with urban sprawl. These sustainable structures would eliminate the need for automobiles, thus reducing pollution and demand for fossil fuels. Because arcologies occupy such a relatively small acreage, the surrounding land could be used for agriculture and recreation within immediate reach. The health, environmental, and social benefits to be had from the arcology are numerous and I personally would totally love living in one. However, I see two major roadblocks on the road to a country dotted with things that might look like this:

First, we have the whole weirdness factor. Popular in science fiction and computer games the arcology risks being perceived as a nerdy, futuristic, sci-fi pipe dream. For example, the Shimizu TRY 2004 Mega-City Pyramid, an enormous structure proposed to house 750,000 people off the coast of Tokyo, can't even be built with materials currently available. In the video/computer game SimCity 2000, the arcologies blast off into space to float around or colonize other planets. The arcology shows up in what one might deem decidely 'nerdy' avenues of popular culture (check out the wikipedia article on arcologies for a long list of references). Which is to say they're relatively unpopular. Even if Miley Cyrus started playing RPGs and reading scifi, the need to consolidate populations into enormous buildings doesn't feel very pressing. Sure, they look awesome in movies set in a post-apocalyptic world, but this only further encourages the view that they are impossible for contemporary technology and unnecessary.

Then again, Italian architect Paolo Soleri has founded the Arcosanti project and is currently building an arcology in Arizona that will house 5,000 people. The reviews on are lukewarm and report a general air of "datedness" and somewhat lackluster maintenance of the site and its hotel rooms. By contrast, the Arcosanti website is rather convincing of the project's awesomeness and the benefits of living in an automobile-free super house. It had me convinced, and while I am a bit of a nerd, it seemed at first that convincing the rest of society to live in an arcology might not be that hard. Then I read Mike Davis' article on Dubai, which brings us to the second obstacle.

The Arcosanti ideals as revealed through the website and its description of arcology theory in general don't exactly account for the potential dangers of consolidating several thousand people in one big building. If the location was chosen poorly like so many of our disaster-prone urban centers (like the one in which you currently reside) the results would be catastrophic. If some deranged resident decided to concoct a poisonous gas in his LEED-certified suite he or she could release it into the building's ventilation system and kill everyone. Then there's that whole terrorism thing.

Happily, most of the problems I came up with from more benign, prank-like acts of wanton behavior to the more serious nuking of several thousand citizens housed in an easily-targeted structure, can be avoided with careful planning, organization, and some effort on our government's part to make everyone like us. Sadly, achieving those goals and getting funding to build arcologies seems about as possible as convincing non-sci-fi geeks to live in one.

London Super Tower, Moscow Crystal Island,

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Weekend Prep

Go ahead and print up the readings for Tuesday morning -- And if you're writing precises, go ahead and post them to the blog -- And if you are giving reports, go ahead and post links to the blog for us to look into in advance... Let's get this show on the road, people! Hope you're having a good weekend...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Onion article

I ran across this article from The Onion - 'How Bad For The Environment Can Throwing Away One Plastic Bottle Be?' 30 Million People Wonder last month and bookmarked it just so I could share it with our class. Really, I am that on top of my academic game.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

This Week --

I'm expecting two in-class reports and at least one precis on an assigned text for this week. If it doesn't happen by your initiative it will happen from now on as a direct result instead of the heavy-hand of my dictatorial vengeance. Hulk smash!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Tomorrow Morning --

There's an enormous amount of material we can explore tomorrow, but I do want to make sure everybody has read the two short Curtis White pieces. I realize that Thoreau and Emerson are the big guns assigned this week, but those are also enormously long and deep pieces, and I suspect all of you who have managed to read them will nonetheless bring very different perspectives to them. Let's start with the White pieces because they are contemporary in their language and concerns (and are also tapping into transcendentalist themes from the older pieces), and be sure to read the very short, very lovely Aldo Leopold pieces as well. The Land Ethic is one of the most influential works in the whole Green canon. See you all tomorrow morning, d

My Report in class

I will be presenting an artist by the name of Amy Balkin on Tuesday. this is a link to one of her many websites and the main project that I will be discussing Tuesday. also
Sean Haywood