Vital Reenchantments: Biophilia, Gaia, Cosmos, and the Affectively Ecological

Greyson, Lauren | from Multimedia Library Collection:
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Vital Reenchantments. Cover.

Greyson, Lauren. Vital Reenchantments: Biophilia, Gaia, Cosmos, and the Affectively Ecological. California: punctum books, 2019.

Vital Reenchantments takes up E. O. Wilson’s Biophilia (1984), James Lovelock’s Gaia (1979), and Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (1980), in order to show how each work fleshes out scientific concepts with a unique attention to “affective wonder.” These works reenchanted the scientific world without pandering to what Richard Dawkins would later term “cosmic sentimentality.” Carl Sagan may have said “We are made of starstuff,” but he would never insist, as Joni Mitchell did in 1969, that “we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.” Instead, Wilson, Lovelock, and Sagan insisted on a third way that does not rely on the idea of an ecological Eden—a vigorously vital materialism in which the affective trumps the sentimental. Further, the historical emergence of these works, all published within 5 years of each other, was no accident: each book responded to an ever deepening sense of environmental crisis, as well as to the large-scale disenchantment brought on by modernity. Greyson argues that the persistence of these works and their affectively-charged scientific concepts in contemporary popular culture and ecological thought is no accident. As such, these works deserve recognition as far more than “popular science” and can be seen as essential contributions to more contemporary vital materialist thought and ecological theory. (Text from punctum books)

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