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Bleak Joys

Aesthetics of Ecology and Impossibility

2019
Authors:

Matthew Fuller and Olga Goriunova

Bleak Joys

A philosophical and cultural distillation of the bleak joys in today’s ambivalent ecologies and patterns of life

Bleak Joys develops an understanding of complex entities and processes—from plant roots to forests to ecological damage and its calculation—as aesthetic. It draws on scientific work in plant sciences, computing, and cybernetics, as well as mathematics, literature, and art in ways that are foundational to understanding ecological aesthetics and the condition in which the posthumanities are being forged.

Bleak Joys is a tour de force—a survey of some of the most important ideas and environmental issues of our times.

Eben Kirksey, author of Emergent Ecologies and editor of The Multispecies Salon

Bleak Joys develops an understanding of complex entities and processes—from plant roots to forests to ecological damage and its calculation—as aesthetic. It is also a book about “bad” things, such as anguish and devastation, which relate to the ecological and technical but are also constitutive of politics, the ethical, and the formation of subjects.

Avidly interdisciplinary, Bleak Joys draws on scientific work in plant sciences, computing, and cybernetics, as well as mathematics, literature, and art in ways that are not merely illustrative of but foundational to our understanding of ecological aesthetics and the condition in which the posthumanities are being forged. It places the sensory world of plants next to the generalized and nonlinear infrastructure of irresolvability—the economics of indifference up against the question of how to make a home on Planet Earth in a condition of damaged ecologies. Crosscutting chapters on devastation, anguish, irresolvability, luck, plant, and home create a vivid and multifaceted approach that is as remarkable for its humor as for its scholarly complexity.

Engaging with Deleuze, Guattari, and Bakhtin, among others, Bleak Joys captures the modes of crises that constitute our present ecological and political condition, and reckons with the means by which they are not simply aesthetically known but aesthetically manifest.
Bleak Joys

Matthew Fuller is professor of cultural studies at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Olga Goriunova is reader in media arts at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Bleak Joys

Bleak Joys is a tour de force—a survey of some of the most important ideas and environmental issues of our times.

Eben Kirksey, author of Emergent Ecologies and editor of The Multispecies Salon

With Bleak Joys, Matthew Fuller and Olga Goriunova take us on an extraordinary exploration of aesthetic transformations in the era of the new climate regime. Not only does the book offer a unique perspective on a new framework of thought, but it also questions the perceptual, emotional, and ethico-aesthetic transformations imposed on us by the ecological crisis that constitutes our present.

Didier Debaise, author of Nature as Event: The Lure of the Possible

Bleak Joys

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Devastation

Anguish

Irresolvability

Luck

Plant

Home

Coda

Notes

Index