President's Dream Colloquium on Creative Ecologies

What would you do (and who would you kill) in order to save the world?

November 28, 2019

About the Presentation

“What would you do (and who would you kill) in order to save the world?”

It might appear, at first glance, that post-apocalyptic culture has intensified as a response to the growing awareness of climate change and other existential threats (such as viral pandemic, resource depletion and runaway artificial intelligence).  If we accept that premise then it might also make sense to assume that the problem of resilience becomes urgent and far more focused and attuned to survival at a global level – not just the maintenance of specific systems but saving the world in general.  In this chapter I will argue that the contrary is the case, and that post-apocalyptic culture is a flagrant masking of the thought of extinction, as is the dialectic of resilience.  Both post-apocalyptic narratives and dominate conceptions of resilience that are focused on saving the world occlude the apocalyptic possibility not only of another world, but also abandoning our fetishized conception of the world.  Just as the cinematic experience of flirting with the end of the world only to see it saved reinforces that there can be no other world than this world and that ‘we’ are too big to fail, so the problem of how much we adapt, adjust and sacrifice in order to remain resilient covers over the thought not only of what might take place after the end of this world, but also what might be possible if one contemplates those forms of existence that are constantly annihilated for the sake of saving the world.  One might think of this annihilation on micro and macro levels: the ‘world’ today relies upon some lives not mattering, as though the value of the world required the non-being of many forms of existence (blackness being the most flagrant example).  At a macro level what has come to be known as the Anthropocene, which in turn intensifies the sense of the end of the world and saving the world, has always required the destruction of worlds (especially indigenous worlds).

About the Speaker

Claire Colebrook is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Pennsylvania State University.

Claire Colebrook is the author of New Literary Histories (Manchester UP, 1997), Ethics and Representation (Edinburgh UP, 1999), Deleuze: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continuum 1997), Gilles Deleuze (Routledge 2002), Understanding Deleuze (Allen and Unwin 2002), Irony in the Work of Philosophy (Nebraska UP, 2002), Gender (Palgrave 2003), Irony (Routledge 2004), Milton, Evil and Literary History (Continuum 2008), Deleuze and the Meaning of Life (Continuum 2010), and William Blake and Digital Aesthetics (Continuum 2011). She co-authored Theory and the Disappearing Future with Tom Cohen and J. Hillis Miller (Routledge 2011), and co-edited Deleuze and Feminist Theory with Ian Buchanan (Edinburgh University Press, 2000), Deleuze and History with Jeff Bell (Edinburgh 2008), Deleuze and Gender with Jami Weinstein (Edinburgh UP 2009) and Deleuze and Law (Palgrave) with Rosi Braidotti and Patrick Hanafin. She is the co-editor, with Tom Cohen, of a series of monographs for Open Humanities Press: Critical Climate Change. She has written articles on visual culture, poetry, literary theory, queer theory and contemporary culture. She recently completed two books on Extinction for Open Humanities Press: The Death of the Posthuman, and Sex After Life, and has co-authored (with Jason Maxwell) _Agamben_ (Polity, 2015) and (with Tom Cohen and J.Hillis Miller) _Twilight of the Anthropocene Idols (Open Humanities Press, 2016). She is now completing a book on fragility (of the species, the archive and the earth).  

Lecture Topics