Macfarlane: Generation Anthropocene
In case you didn’t catch it, there’s an interesting article in today’s Guardian by Robert Macfarlane entitled “Generation Anthropocene”. It’s quite good.
But (as I noted in a comment there “below the line”) William Blake already had a concept of the Anthropocene, only he called it the “Ulro” — the Shadowland of the human self-image become the bubble of reality. Blake was way ahead of us in that respect.
Macfarlane’s article is worth reading (and you can link to “Generation Anthropocene” here). It even refers to it as the “Anthroobscene” as I once did here in The Chrysalis and does mention it as a narcissitic formation. It should also be noted that Marshall McLuhan also had a conception of the Anthropocene (or Ulro) earlier in his famous book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (and which is available in full online).
And for those of you familiar with Iain McGilchrist’s research on the divided brain in The Master and his Emissary, you will recognise this Anthropocene as being “the Emissary” itself, the usurper, who Blake also calls “Urizen”. The Anthropocene is the form of Urizen, certainly not “Albion”.
Macfarlane provides a wealth of resources for further investigation of this Anthropocene as the human self-image realised as “environment”. That’s perhaps the best that can be said about the Anthropocene itself. It allows us to see ourselves as we presently are “objectively” and in projection since it is the realised “hypberobject” (to use a term in the article itself) of our own self-image — the human form made manifest as a bubble and as the logical conclusion to human narcissism. It’s a gigantic golem or egregore.
This golem or egregore will be dispelled only with insight, which will render it transparent. Without that insight, it will turn and devour us. And that is a possibility even foreseen by the father of Cybernetics, Norbert Wiener, in his God and Golem Inc. (also available online for the curious).
So, get to know this “Anthropocene” as the same as Blake’s “Ulro”, and as the irony, and the dragon, called “end of history” too. In him, we now live, move, and have our being.