Wor(l)d Made Flesh: The Materiality of Interaction

I just finished reading two interesting blog posts by Levi Paul Bryant, whose blog Larval Subjects I highly recommend you follow. In his post, entitled “Thinking at the Edge of Apocalypse“, Bryant emphasizes that the essence of ecological ontology is not ‘nature’ (i.e. “pertaining only to rain forests and coral reefs), which, regardless of how suffuse, is representative of an illusory binary that severely limits ecology to a very narrow scope. Instead, and in all actuality, as Bryant explains, the utter impetus of ecological ontology is, in fact, a kind of inter-relational totality. Here, Bryant writes, that “To think ecologically is to think beings in relation; regardless of whether that being be the puffer fish, economy, or a literary text.” Simply stated, “Everything is ecological,” including and especially “culture and society”.

This in itself is a scathing critique of capitalistic and consumeristic ideology, which precisely proves Bryant’s point. In her article, “It’s Not Easy Being Green,” Gillen Wood demonstrates that “It is the character of modern consumer society to promote the idea that nothing is connected”. The orientation of such a societal structure is entirely individualistic, atomistic, and, above all, pathological, propagating a deleterious ontology of false segregation, thereby eliciting deprivation, and disenfranchisement. However, Wood writes that “Sustainability, by contrast, teaches that everything is connected,” as such, “sustainability is truly the science of everything, from technical strategies for repowering our homes and cars, to the ecological study of biodiversity in forests and oceans, to how we think and act as human beings”.

In this regard, Bryant further elaborates the immensity of ecological ‘inter-relationality’ and ‘interactivity’ in his post “Interactivism“. Yet, here he makes the vital distinction that these interactions of ecological ontology are not “ghostly”, phantasmic, abstract, transcendent, nor apparition-like but, instead are unavoidably material, concrete, and fleshly. Byant writes that “there is always a materiality of interactions” and that “Every interaction requires flesh.” He explains that “Even symbolic and linguistic interactions require flesh to occur,” noting that “They require an atmosphere…or electro-magnetic signals, paper, smoke, or any number of other mediums.” Flesh is matter and, as Sallie McFague explains in her book, The Body of God, flesh not only “includes all life-forms” but, also “all matter on our planet” (17). Flesh, it seems, “links us with everything in the most intimate of ways” (McFague, 17, *my emphasis added). Flesh “knits us together with all life-forms in networks of shared suffering and joy” and is without a doubt “the most intimate and most universal way to understand reality” (McFague, 17).

These are but my initial thoughts, reactions, inclinations, and musings based solely upon cursory inquires and peripheral readings. I look forward to delving deeper, thinking further, and researching more…


Published by duanetoops

Husband, father, fledgling Buddhist, struggling meditator, writer, and content creator. He has a BA in Religion, has taken the Precepts and Refuge vows in the TsaoTung Chan lineage, and is currently completing an MA in Humanities.

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