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How to Build a Home

wwu2's picture

Marjorie Wu

Paper #12

December 7th, 2014


How to Build a Better Home

Nowadays an increase in population demands on natural resources, and increases demands on agriculture and livestock. Farmers use chemical fertilizers to prevent insects from ruining the plants; loggers cut down trees and other plants to increase more acres for cultivation; white-collars drive their vehicles to work. Humans are so selfish that only think of their own convenience regardless of the fact that the rivers and soils are being contaminated, the biodiversity is reducing, the amount of CO2 is increasing. What if people think ecologically from another angle, from earth’s aspect? Don’t you think we are putting burden on the environment?

In Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene, Bruno Latour uses the Newton’s attraction theory to explain his idea of anthropomorphism. He illustrates that “the slightest movement of any one planet has immediate effects on all the others” so that human’s behaviors have huge influence on other species with which we are sharing the planet” (Latour 6).Maybe those frequent natural disaster we experienced recently, the earthquakes, the typhoons, and the hurricane are warnings from the earth? The earth has humanity and “comprehends the point of the other bodies”; therefore, it “reverberate with the events of the whole system” (6). That’s when Latour’s second idea comes into place: “taking into account the vast cultural background that allows scientists to first animate them, and then, but only later, to reanimate them.” The same content can be applied when we think about the earth. If we animate the earth, how can we bear to torture him(her)?

In addition, throughout LeGuin’s sci-fi short story Vaster Than Empires and More Slow, he gives one of the character, Osden, an “unsound mind” that he have empathy towards others and deliver those emotions to one another.However, his peculiar thought scares away other non-empaths. Tomiko is one exception. She understands Osden’s idea of the sentient planet. She implies that “all the biosphere of a planet should be one network of communications, sensitive, irrational, immortal, isolated…” (LeGuin 173). And Humans “have no peers. No enemies. No relationship with anything but itself. One alone for-ever” (173). Because they are too “destructive”. Same situation applies to the earth, what will happen if we, humans, are less "destructive" to this planet, if we try to communicate with it, or if we try to sense its feelings? 

If we comprehends Latour’s statement and LeGuin’s story, then we should try to notice what the Earth needs and how the Earth “feel”. There is a mutual relationship between the earth and humans. Earth is our home, and organisms living on this planet are essential to us. Therefore, humans should care about each being’s needs, and each individual should show empathy to adapt and understand each other. That’s how we can think ecologically and eventually we will be able to create a better home. 


Work Cited:

 Latour, Bruno.  "Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene." New Literary History 45, 1 (Winter

2014): 1-18.

 LeGuin, Ursula. "Vaster than Empires, and More Slow." The Wind's Twelve Quarters: Short

Stories.  New York: Harper and Row, 1975. 148-178.


Anne Dalke's picture

Some reading notes on this paper:
* where are you in the litany of abuses you list in your second sentence? Do you include yourself among the “selfish humans”—with what activities?
* what is your answer to the question, ‘what will happen if we try to communicate with the planet’?
* do you think that Latour and LeGuin are both advocating empathy as a solution?
(see Emily’s caution)

Some talking notes, from our final writing conference:

* your feeling hampered by how demanding these texts are;
* a need for you to manage your time better and focus more on these papers;
* a suggestion that you draw on what you are learning in geology to re-do this paper:
does your current textbook "deanimate," "animate" or "reanimate" the earth?