Fuller, Matthew and Goriunova, Olga. 2017. Devastation. In: Erich Hoerl and James Burton, eds. General Ecology. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 323-344. ISBN 9781350014701 [Book Section]

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In this chapter we want to try to address the force, in the context of a general ecology, of devastation. What we refer to as devastation is not solely a kind of becoming of nothing in which the nothingness is produced by this or that becoming of some thing, neither are devastations simply diminutions of the stock of entities in the world or the finite number or range of things. Some aspects of devastation are captured in describing it as attenuation or diminution of the virtual, but such figurations are too extensive to address the recalibration of the virtual that devastation presents, and what we propose to do here is to map such shifts through general ecologies.

Devastation operates and couples with, protrudes from, and dissolves certain other kinds of becomings that are biochemical, military and economic, socio-political, technical and mediatic, among other things. General ecology is inclusive of the three Guattarian ecologies of the mental, social, environmental—ecologies beyond “nature”—but today it also takes on the overtones of and relates itself to the debates around such events as extinctions, their threatening immediacy and increasing intensity.1 General ecology faces the need to recognize and explicate anxious humans, the strategies of modern warfare, calculations of probabilities, a rainbow of waste molecules in water, carcinogens, plastic- or high fructose corn syrup-packed bellies, oil spills, the proliferation of dross disguised as information, among many other layers and registers. Devastations cut across these to produce something that exceeds their categorical limits.

It seems that in the discussions of extinction, taking place for instance in the accounts of deforestation or other examples of the destruction of natural habitats, the Aristotelian model of genus and the forking paths of classification (and with them, primary and secondary substances and lasting identities) adhered to in the Linnean classification still have significant traction on the public sense of the diminution of the variety of species, in turn endangering the ecological and social horizons of possibility. But something more is occurring. In conditions of devastation it is not a set of things becoming extinct under a category or idea that is thus itself transformed, affecting the others in a cascading logical fashion that uncannily follows a tree-like formation, but it is the concept as an existing multiplicity, a differential, that fails to actualize, a potentiality that is wounded in a way that makes it implode, that makes it actualize a devastating becoming.

Deleuze draws upon the example of a lens in Bergson, where the virtuality of all colors in white light are actualized to offer a range of shades; one could ask what happens to color if the blue of the sky is no longer actualizable because the atmosphere has changed or disappeared.2 What changes in the concrete universal of light that passes through the lens when there is no blue of the sky?

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Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



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12 Jun 2018 09:55

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12 Jun 2018 09:55


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