I had read “Being Ecological” by Timothy Morton almost 6 months ago and I was struck by how he relates to the feelings rather than statistical facts and can make one feel more awakened and aware of what actually is going on. The understanding of “future feel” with what we are living in the moment to moment – how the feeling of the moment is actually a bridge to the future was something I had considered but never came so close to defining and now just at the moment I feel like I comprehend Morton`s thinking, it escapes me, which could very well be the closest I can get. In an interview at the Radboud University ( available on YouTube) Morton repeats ( and he likes repetition) “the how is the what” and that the problem is not that we are not comprehending the facts but that the facts are not helping us to visualize the future.
In another podcast, Morton talks about that we have never been separate from all there is; attuned to everything that is happening in our world and the fact that we were never separate from the global warming or the climate change as all have been embedded in our biological beings as micro plastics in our digestion system, the polyester fiber; a derivative of petroleum in our jeans, or the garment maker`s life in a factory which seemly is thousands of miles away but is very much resident in your shirt. How interconnected we are with each other as well as with everything else as well, as we breathe in and out the same air and make use of the everyday tools ,ideas or notions. Consider replacing climate crisis, global warming with mass extinction and consider that each and every one of us is already a part of a future mass extinction not with a sense of guilt but a sense of seamless responsibility as a simple, joyous part of life.
“There you are, turning the ignition of your car,” he writes. “And it creeps up on you.” Every time you fire up your engine you don’t mean to harm the Earth, “let alone cause the Sixth Mass Extinction Event in the four-and-a-half billion-year history of life on this planet”. But “harm to Earth is precisely what is happening”. Part of what’s so uncomfortable about this is that our individual acts may be statistically and morally insignificant, but when you multiply them millions and billions of times – as they are performed by an entire species – they are a collective act of ecological destruction. Coral bleaching isn’t just occurring over yonder, on the Great Barrier Reef; it’s happening wherever you switch on the air conditioning. In short, Morton says, “everything is interconnected.
I have read the “Hyperobjects” translated into Turkish (not a good idea) where Morton not only emphasizes our interconnections but how these “hyperobjects” are spatial, are not bound by space nor by ownership. Global warming is an example of what Morton calls hyperobjects and what is more important is that he refers to the impact that hyperobjects make on how we think, how we coexist with one another and with nonhumans and how we experience our lives, and this is the most crucial part as understanding what is will define what will be. Morton`s call is not to be found within the bounds of normal thinking and humanity requires a fresh understanding beyond our mental attitudes and the limitations. Could it be that the global challenges we face were produced because human beings became a globally influential force while still seeing reality exclusively from our point of view.
Watching the documentary “Chasing Ice” recalled a similar sense of our connection to the past, to the future and the fact that what we saw on the screen as James Balog photographed the retreating glaciers was actually our future. The documentary released in 2012 portrays the work of nature photographer James Balog where we can witness the changes in the glaciers over the years and what he documented was a future in action. Everything that we actualize today is the future. The mini sci-fi documentary Alien Worlds on Netflix imagines what lies beyond on Alien Worlds but also depicts the unimaginable on Earth and we do not necessarily have to “imagine” how life would turn out on other planets but to look at what lies right at home. The mycelium network in a forest that binds the ecosystem is a smart information system that sustains the symbiotic relationships inherently and effortlessly. If only we can be nature – again the “the how is the what” repeated Morton in my head. (over and over)
These thoughts led me to visualize fashion as a hyperobject and that my favorite denim and jeans shape a part of our future stretching from our past. The market has transformed from single natural fibers of our 100% cotton jeans from the early 1990s to the multi fiber fabrics at scale the past 20 years adjusting to the consumer demand. Then came the poly-blends to give more performance to the fabrics in order to enhance performance and we realized that this was a design mistake in 3 decades and that we needed further science and innovation to separate the fiber blends so that we could recycle. Then came the problem where the jeans are actually consumer and where they are produced and the challenge to curate a circular system to make one feed the other; and I lost track of how it all started as an industry insider trying to tell a story on responsible production and consumption alike. I would love to have a chat with Tim Morton on this mind whirling, plastics bearing, chemically enriched, water thirsty, discounted labor intense fabric that “stretches” into an infinity.
The circularity that we are addressing today is like a shadow, a ghost whispering to us that the world that we choose to perceive today is already an extension into the future; the very notion, a deep feeling that it is not just me by myself in isolation but that we are all connected by threads, people, things that we take as everyday objects. The possibility that our connections can lead to or amplify healing and that something actually changes when we think nothing changes may invite a playful attitude, compassion and creativity into our lives.
It has happened too many times that I become overwhelmed in any of my favorite bookstores around the world. I want to devour all the information, the knowledge of the non-fiction as well as the richness of fiction. Reading and listening to Timothy Morton has hinted me that I might know all that has been written as I am all that that has been written.
“But you are already a symbiotic being entangled with other symbiotic beings. The problem with ecological awareness and action isn`t that it`s horribly difficult. It`s that it`s too easy. You are breathing air, your bacterial microbiome is humming away, evolution is silently unfolding in the background. Somewhere, a bird is singing and clouds pass overhead. You stop reading this book and look around you. You don` have to be ecological. Because you are ecological.” -Timothy Morton, Being Ecological
PS : for more wonderful Timothy Morton and Björk here is their email correspondence which is like a dance of feelings not so alien to anyone of us if we can tune in.