Virtual Author Meets Critics with Professor Danielle Celermajer, Sydney University
Writing the unfolding climate catastrophe presents a dilemma for scholars. Our habitual modes have us writing ‘about’ the objects of our analysis. Academic conventions require that we offer a series of performative markers to render our analysis legitimate: citations, arguments, evidence. In the face of a threat of this scale, however, many of us are asking about the type of work that our habitual modes of writing do: their capacity to bring about the affective transformations that are a necessary condition for action; their distancing effects, often seducing other thinkers into the security that knowledge seems to afford. At the same time, providing simple reportage of the horrors deprives us of the specialized and valuable perspectives that philosophy and social and political theory might bring to help us interpret what is unfolding and imagine possibilities for responding to it.
Written in part during, and in part immediately after the Black Summer fires of 2019-2020 in Australia, Summertime is an attempt to write both as a philosopher and from the place of direct experience. It is an experiment in writing from the space of uncertainty, fear, love and grief, and at the same time to marshal the intellectual resources of our disciplines and their insights into uncertainty, fear, love and grief. Unlike traditional academic writings, it does not seek distance from particular attachments and affective commitments; but in keeping with the tradition of philosophy, it seeks to speak, perhaps not the universal, but out across from the particular to differently located others. It is in this sense, an invitation to others to enter into experiments of thinking, writing and otherwise communicating in the world as it appears before us now.
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