Plant Scale and the Anthropocene

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Contribution to Book

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In this chapter, I study narratives making visible in startling and subversive ways the life-producing photosynthetic vegetal power that has always fed us and our companion species, provided all land-based breathers with oxygen and altered the planet's climate and ecosystems. Plants have enabled our current ecological circumstances, and we are dismantling them experimentally, blindly even. While human actions are changing the world's biosphere, we gain insights (and horror) when we understand these actions in terms of a multispecies-justice agenda from within the florosphere, to coin a term describing the systems of water, air, weather and life created and altered by plants from the depths of the oceans to the atmosphere's gases. This critical plant studies chapter, guided by Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass, presents the florosphere with studies of the burned Linden trees in Goethe's Faust, who is blinded at the end of the play, and of Sue Burke's 2018 science-fiction novel Semiosis that takes place on a distant, vegetal-dominated planet. Learning to see plants is the challenge let us here consider a vegetal scale as the base reference point for all other scales of the Anthropocene.







Publication Information

Narratives of Scale in the Anthropocene: Imagining Human Responsibility in an Age of Scalar Complexity