Performing insensible relations

‘Most of the organisms of the world live beyond human sensing of them, and beyond the ways that humans make sense of the world. How to respond to those beings at temporal and geographical distances, and to the human-induced loss of this diverse biological life that is outside human sensing are problems for relational, ecological ethics, the strand of ethics that begins with the immediate relations between humans and others. For philosophers, this include how to write about the non-relational, about the beings and entities outside the categories and classifications that make the world make sense…

There is a phrase in the policy and science literatures to describe when these species disappear, which is ‘anonymous extinction’ – a phrase that comes close to describing the banality of extinction – but does nothing to describe its violence.  And the phrase does nothing for describing how to live together with the ‘anonymous’. Of course, we do live with the anonymous, and we always have done, they preceded humans. Many probably do not need or want close human contact. It may be that the most enduring relation is one of distance and indifference.

These problems, too, are taunts for performance, at least in theory: how to show and perform the non-relational in an art-form that works between humans and holds hard to the present tense. How might performance contribute its own responses to these problems’.

key words: Jean-Luc Nancy

at ‘Performance and Ecology Symposium’, Central School of Speech and Drama 2013