1471 – Radical Botany: Plants and Speculative Fiction by Natania Meeker and Antónia Szabari (book, 2019)

Radical Botany

Radical Botany is an extraordinary contribution to the burgeoning fields of plant studies and the nonhuman turn. The book succeeds beautifully in discovering and entwining an entire tradition of speculative botany that will reshape plant studies and posthumanist theory. I have no doubt this text will be eagerly devoured by readers.– Stacy Alaimo, author of Exposed: Environmental Politics and Pleasures in Posthuman Times

 

DESCRIPTION

Radical Botany excavates a tradition in which plants participate in the effort to imagine new worlds and envision new futures. Modernity, the book claims, is defined by the idea of all life as vegetal. Meeker and Szabari argue that the recognition of plants’ liveliness and animation, as a result of scientific discoveries from the seventeenth century to today, has mobilized speculative creation in fiction, cinema, and art.

Plants complement and challenge notions of human life. Radical Botany traces the implications of the speculative mobilization of plants for feminism, queer studies, and posthumanist thought. If, as Michael Foucault has argued, the notion of the human was born at a particular historical moment and is now nearing its end, Radical Botany reveals that this origin and endpoint are deeply informed by vegetality as a form of pre- and posthuman subjectivity.

The trajectory of speculative fiction which this book traces offers insights into the human relationship to animate matter and the technological mediations through which we enter into contact with the material world. Plants profoundly shape human experience, from early modern absolutist societies to late capitalism’s manipulations of life and the onset of climate change and attendant mass extinction.

A major intervention in critical plant studies, Radical Botany reveals the centuries-long history by which science and the arts have combined to posit plants as the model for all animate life and thereby envision a different future for the cosmos.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Preface | vii

1. Radical Botany: An Introduction | 1

2. Libertine Botany and Vegetal Modernity | 28

3. Plant Societies and Enlightened Vegetality | 56

4. The Inorganic Plant in the Romantic Garden | 86

5. The End of the World by Other Means | 114

6. Plant Horror: Love Your Own Pod | 144

7. Becoming Plant Nonetheless | 171

Acknowledgments | 203

Notes | 205

1420

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New York graffiti artist and B-boy theoretician Rammellzee (the artist encases himself during gallery performances in Gasholeer, a 148-pound, gadgetry-encrusted exoskeleton inspired by an android he painted on a subway train in 1981. Four years in the making, Rammellzee’s exuberantly low-tech costume bristles with rocket launchers, nozzles that gush gouts of flame, and an all-important sound system.)

«From both wrists, I can shoot seven flames, nine flames from each sneaker’s heel, and colored flames from the throat. Two girl doll heads hanging from my waist and in front of my balls spit fire and vomit smoke… The sound system consists of a Computator, which is a system of screws with wires. These screws can be depressed when the keyboard gun is locked into it. The sound travels through the keyboard and screws, then through the Computator, then the belt, and on up to the four mid-range speakers (with tweeters). This is all balanced by a forward wheel from a jet fighter plane. I also use an echo chamber, Vocoder, and system of strobe lights. A coolant device keeps my head and chest at normal temperature. A 100-watt amp and batteries give me power.»

«slanguage» – a heavily encrypted hip-hop argot – is the linguistic equivalent of graffiti «tags» all over the mother tongue. In an essay on English as the imperial language of the Internet, the cultural critic McKenzie Wark argues for the willful, viral corruption of the lingua franca of global corporate monoculture as a political act.

Black to the Future: Afrofuturism 1.0

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