95 Hey There, Nature, You Strange Stranger

Willow Moulton; Marissa Vargas; Tucker MIlwrath; and Joshua Bartsch

Timothy Morton argues that ecology is more than just biology and science. It is everything in this world connected. It is art and the humanities along with science. He calls this the ecological thought. Morton writes, “[i[t has to do with reading and writing. It has to do with race, class, and gender. It has to do with sexuality” (2). The ecological thought forces us to become one with nature instead of “othering’ it like we always have. We put it over there, far away, somewhere almost unreachable. But Morton is saying it is us, everything around us and in between. Morton terms it “the mesh,” an intimacy, interconnectedness, a coexistence that is open-ended (8). The mesh is just as hard to grasp Morton’s queer ecology. But think about this: the mesh questions and deconstructs ideologies, just as queer theory does. When we construct the simplest ideologies, we group things almost unconsciously. For example, gender ideology places men and women in their rights and responsibilities in society. We’ve all heard the saying “women belong in the kitchen.” The mesh deconstructs this ideology because it would argue that men and women are connected and coexisting: they are not separated by male and female. The grouping in the mesh is an entirety instead of little ‘social groups.’ It is more of a ‘we are one.’

The mesh tells us that EVERYTHING is connected. There’s no way we can wrap our head around how each little part is connected; this is the strange stranger. Morton is saying we haven’t been able to comprehend that nature is connected to us instead of this far-away thing but we need to. We’re not going to understand it all though, no matter how much we try. Trying to comprehend it is strange, but realizing you can’t comprehend it all is stranger. By realizing that we are closer to nature than we seem it brings up the concept of dark ecology. Morton writes, “..life is catastrophic, monstrous, nonholistic, and dislocated, not organic, coherent, or authoritative” (275). Dark ecology is part of the reason we have othered nature and put it over there, away from us. We have repressed its dark side.

Morton argues that queer theory and the mesh challenge an “inside-outside manifold” (274). This manifold proposes that nature is a closed system, just as gender ideology proposes that genders are stable and binary. But like the body, how has nature ever been a closed system? Both queer theory and nature defy these boundaries. We as humans have defied the boundaries by accepting queer theories and deconstructing ideologies; changing genders and nature does the same thing because as Morton states, “biology shows us that there is no authentic life form” (275). He writes about how plants benefit from encounters with others but specifically with life forms different from their own such as insects. Ultimately, Morton’s argument on the ecological thought and queer ecology is important for us to actually come a little closer to saving our planet.

Works Cited:

Morton, Timothy. The Ecological Thought. First Harvard University Press, 2012.
Morton, Timothy. Guest Column: Queer Ecology. Modern Language Association, 2010.


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The Student Theorist: An Open Handbook of Collective College Theory Copyright © 2018 by Willow Moulton; Marissa Vargas; Tucker MIlwrath; and Joshua Bartsch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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