For Bruno Latour, "the world is populated by madmen" and "there will be no exit from the tunnel"
In "Face à Gaïa", the iconoclastic thinker Bruno Latour judges that Man, blinded by his madness, has become incapable of seeing the reality of the world in the face. Hope, denial, round back, demiurgic fantasy ... nothing will prevent the inevitable from happening.
Bruno Latour is undoubtedly one of the most famous and well-known French intellectuals abroad. The books of the sociologist, anthropologist, philosopher that he has been for forty years are all translated into various languages. He collects awards and medals. Several prestigious universities have done this Doctor honoris causa. And invitations to attend conferences are raining all over the world.
The “eight conferences on the new climate regime” which make up Face à Gaïa essentially cover six of Latour's interventions made - in English - in Edinburgh (Scotland) in 2014. But translated, augmented and enriched by the author, they have changed status to become this literary object of almost four hundred pages as confusing as the fragment of painting by Caspar David Friedrich which adorns the cover of the book.
To say that Bruno Latour's prose is one that is easy to tame would be a lie. Reading is demanding. In a word, Latour deserves. With him, words, ideas, concepts intersect, jostle and collide until they threaten to drown the reader in dizzying abundance. In Gaïa, which is not nature but the symbol of the phenomena which modify the Earth system, there is question of anthropocene (did human activity give birth to a new geological era?), Religion, of spatial conquest, of theology, of Lamartine and James Lovelock… The mixing of ideas is permanent.
The world, in his eyes, is peopled with madmen
An intellectual iconoclast, a radical thinker, confused with a part of the intellectual world, Latour is a sort of prophet of doom, as is in an album of the adventures of Tintin Professor Philippilus (which he never fails to mention). For him, the world is not going through an “ecological crisis”. It would be too simple. “Talking about“ crisis ”would be another way of reassuring oneself by saying that“ it will pass ”; that the crisis “will soon be behind us”. As for the word "ecological", observes Latour, we put it to all sauces "to be reassured, to distance ourselves" and close our eyes.
It has been thirty or forty years, estimates Latour, that Man refuses to see reality in the face. It was "with surprising calm, and even an admirable form of stoicism", inherited from religions, he said, that we received the bad news that was accumulating. We remained inert so that "what could have been only a temporary crisis has turned into a profound alteration of our relationship to the world". And to add: “It seems that we have become those who could have acted (…) and who did nothing or so little. A few pages later, the philosopher drives the point home: "We are fine, as we say," in a tunnel "except that" we will not see the end ". In these matters, hope is bad advice since we are not in a crisis. It's not going to “pass”. We will have to get used to it. It is final. "
When he speaks of a “profound alteration in our relationship to the world”, Bruno Latour actually thinks of “madness”. The world, in his eyes, is populated by madmen. In a category of madmen, perhaps the most dangerous, he puts those who refuse to see reality, who say that we must "keep reason" and "live as before, without worrying too much". At their head, of course, the current President of the United States, Donald Trump.
"Return to the idea of progress"
Crazy also those who, few but active, are convinced that if the Earth machine is out of balance, it is man's fault for having controlled it closely. These preach for "a total domination over a nature always conceived as restive and wild". In the ranks of this new Church, born on the side of Silicon Valley, in California, figure prominently the apostles of geo-engineering, apprentice sorcerers of the climate and their scientific fantasies ...
And then there are the others, "the craziest, those who seem to believe that they can still do something, that it is not too late, that the rules of collective action , there too, will surely work; that we must be able to act rationally, with full knowledge of the facts, even in the face of such serious threats, while respecting the framework of existing institutions ”.
The author does not recognize himself in any of these categories. He ranks among the people of the esperados mentioned by the writer Romain Gary: marginal, hermits, artists, gardeners ... who seek in almost total isolation a way to resist anxiety. But, cabotin in his spare time, Latour specifies that in his case the remedy he found to get rid of his anxiety is to communicate it to others.
To none of these madmen, Doctor Latour leaves hope for a cure. The evil is too deep. Only the deadline, with contours that are difficult to discern, can be delayed as long as we accept a kind of care path which would consist in “going back on the idea of progress”, in “retrogressing”, as he puts it nicely. .
Source: https://reporterre.net/Pour-Bruno-Latou ... -sortie-du