Cymene and Dominic talk drug awareness to open this week’s episode of the Cultures of Energy podcast and then (6:10) share laughs and ecological thoughts with their marvelous and occasionally hallucinatory colleague, Tim Morton, author of Dark Ecology: For a Logic of Future Coexistence (Columbia University Press, 2016). Tim explains how his brain works, why object oriented ontology isn’t your granddaddy’s philosophy, how ambiguity is a signal of reality in the Anthropocene, and what we need to put into the drinking water to save the world. We talk about how comedy is the same as thinking, why Interstellar is ecological and sooo much more. In a dramatic last-minute reveal, we also learn Tim’s pick to direct Dark Ecology: The Movie.
This episode is our first recorded out of the studio and on the road in St. Andrews, Scotland. Dominic and Cymene appreciate all that St. Andrews has to offer by way of golf, gulls and edible money and then (7:11), in the comfort of lovely 5 Pilmour Place (http://www.5pilmourplace.com), speak with writer, poet and ethnographer Laura Watts (http://sand14.com) about her longstanding research in Orkney. We learn about an extraordinary place where the world’s renewable energy future has already been realized, where wind, wave and tidal power provide over 100% of the archipelago’s electricity, where people talk and think energy constantly. Laura reads from her new poetic primer on marine renewable energy, Ebban An’ Flowan, and introduces us to The Electric Nemesis, Victor Frankenstein’s Orcadian bride, born out of electricity and abandoned by hubris, a reminder of the importance of what is happening in the “energy islands.”
This week’s Cultures of Energy podcast is brought to you by the number zero. Our co-hosts cover the need for more fun in academic life and Hollywood takes on the Anthropocene. Then (9:11) Cymene speaks with the ever joyful Diane Nelson, Professor of Anthropology at Duke University and author of Who Counts? The Mathematics of Death and Life after Genocide (Duke University Press, 2015). They talk hot-tub feminism, the power of numbers in how we think and feel about the world, genocide in the Capitalocene, and the politics of land, forests and hydroelectric power in Guatemala today. Diane offers us lessons from living in a country that has experienced massive human and environmental losses but also reminds us that, like the number zero, every end is also a beginning.
This week’s Cultures of Energy podcast is a double episode focusing on two art shows that CENHS has sponsored for Houston’s FotoFest 2016 biennial, “Changing Circumstances: Looking at the Future of the Planet” (http://2016biennial.fotofest.org). In the intro segment, Cymene and Dominic talk to Rice English Professor Joseph Campana, Director of CENHS’s Arts & Media Research Cluster. Joe curated the CENHS-FotoFest show and realized it in collaboration with the Rice Building Workshop. We discuss the concept for the show and it’s many reinventions and creative partnerships along the way.
Then we delve deeper with the artists themselves. First, (12:53) we speak to Marina Zurkow about the collaborative project Dear Climate (http://dearclimate.net) that she has developed together with Una Chaudhuri, Oliver Kellhammer, and Fritz Ertl. Dear Climate juxtaposes punky agitprop posters with podcasts encouraging meditation and compassion for our environment. It unfolds from the certainty that no paradigmatic changes are coming without changing how we think about the world. With Marina, we talk about how art should hybridize instead of proselytize, creating material encounters that can short-circuit expectations. Jellyfish and dandelions also make special guest appearances.
In the final segment (44:46) we interview Judy Natal about her latest multimedia project, Another Storm is Coming. Judy describes her research adventures in East Texas and Southern Louisiana. She talks about the beautiful people she met in places like Port Arthur and Cameron Parish and how they have struggled to remain resilient in one of the world’s most active hurricane corridors. We talk about the cultural complexity of storms, about the entanglements of oil culture and nature, and what is fascinating about shorelines and other liminal spaces. Judy asks us (all): What kind of light and air do we want to live with in the future?
Dominic and Cymene debate what Albertan city is most like Houston and then (6:44) talk to Imre Szeman, Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies and Professor of English, Film Studies and Sociology at the University of Alberta. They discuss Imre’s work with the Petrocultures Research Group (http://petrocultures.com) and the many dimensions of its After Oil project (http://afteroil.ca/). What is the allure of the tar sands? How does petroleum steer politics in Alberta and Canada? Why are First Nations at the forefront of blocking new fossil fuel infrastructures? Can energy humanities get involved in game design and secondary school education? These answers (and more) on this week’s podcast.
Cymene and Dominic embrace amateurism as they have trouble pronouncing names on this week’s podcast. Then (8:28) they talk to Stephanie LeMenager, Professor of English and Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, author of Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century (Oxford University Press, 2014) and founding co-editor of the journal, Resilience. The conversation explores how we live with oil and how oil lives in us, speculative fiction, teaching climate change, and how the arts and humanities can chart new ways of being together.
On this week’s Cultures of Energy podcast, Cymene and Dominic share getting up close and personal with the Anthropocene in the form of Tropical Storm Jonas. Then (6:26) Dominic talks with Roy Scranton, the author of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (City Lights, 2015) and our most recent postdoctoral fellow at CENHS. Dominic and Roy talk about how philosophy can help us come to terms intellectually and emotionally with the Anthropocene and about Roy’s recent cruise through the Northwest Passage.
Cultures of Energy Podcast is now on iTunes! Stitcher soon! We celebrate Anna Tsing, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California Santa Cruz, one of the world’s greatest analysts of globalization and the environment and the author (most recently) of The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Then (6:16) Cymene and Anna talk about feminist legacies, more-than-human anthropology, capitalist ruins and how to think with weeds and mushrooms.
Here's a little preview of the Cultures of Energy Podcast! Look for episodes on iTunes and Stitcher as soon as all the tubes get connected and all the magic podcast elves work through their holiday shopping. Cymene and Dominic answer the question ‘why do an energy humanities podcast?’ and confess their past radio sins. Then (9:14) Dominic interviews Hugo and Nebula award winning science fiction writer Paolo Bacigalupi, author of the The Windup Girl and The Water Knife, about what science fiction can do in the era of climate change.