Prospects of Enchantment, Dreamworlds of Nature

by Clark, Nigel

Abstract (Summary)
Restricted Item. Print thesis available in the University of Auckland Library or available through Inter-Library Loan. The ecology movement claims that the current environmental crisis derives from an instrumental orientation toward 'nature': this is construed as a definitive characteristic of western modernity. The movement expounds the need for a revalorization or 're-enchantment' of nature. This form of critique, it is suggested, iterates much of the 'disenchantment thesis' - which is an important tradition in social, cultural and philosophical discourses on modernity. It is proposed that the critique of instrumental rationality which is integral to the disenchantment thesis has proved incapable of adequately addressing the representation of nature. An alternative approach is taken which posits a succession of relatively distinct cultural or semiotic orders, each with its own particular way of constituting the natural world. From the premodern order of 'resemblances', we move through industrial society to the order of 'hyper-real' simulations, and perhaps beyond. Each order, it is suggested, makes recourse to the nature of the previous order, to provide a guarantee or a referent for its own arrangement of signs and things. It does so by re-presenting nature - by composing spaces, making images, collecting objects, and other practices - each of which seeks to close the gap between signs and the world. In this way, each order effects its own 're-enchantment' In the present, it is claimed that the multiplication of natural spaces, images and objects has reached a point of a excessiveness. Hyper-real simulations, from theme-parks to virtual reality, tend toward a ubiquitous simulation of nature, to the extent that the specificity of the natural is compromised. In this context, it is argued, the ecological attempt to re-enchant the world only serves to speed up the circulation of the signs of nature, and is therefore ultimately self-defeating. Meanwhile new imbrications of biology and technology suggest the need for further inquiries into the simulation of nature.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:01/01/1994

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