EXTERRANEAN MINDFULNESS ON THE BOULEVARD SAINT-MICHEL, or "YEs, Indeed, NO TEXT MESSAGES WITHOUT TANTALITE"
Thanks to the Ecole des Mines and the associated Musée de Minéralogie, the Boulevard Saint-Michel is a place of exterranean mindfulness: “Without tantalite, no text messages,” reads one of the signs, referring to the fact that, as the same poster explains in small print, tantalum “turns out to be necessary for the manufacturing of the miniaturized capacitors used in portable phones and laptops.” The s’avère nécessaire (turns out to be) situates the realization in the time of the person stopping to read the sign: “Why yes indeed, it turns out I wouldn't be able to send text messages without this chemical element.” The other posters make similar points for other elements.
This first exterranean awareness goes hand-in-hand with another slightly different one: just a few steps further along the boulevard, mined matter, turned into the very building of the Ecole des Mines, in its geological depths, carries the traces of human history in the form of bullet holes from World War II (see photo). Standing here, the flâneur becomes aware both that the phone in his pocket can't take photos and upload them without small bits of tantalite; and that other mined matter, in the form of the building, serves both in the wall and in the memorial plaques attached to it, serves to wind together geological history and memory in an uncannily similar way.
A two-day conference at Dartmouth College, organized by David P. Laguardia, provided a fantastic venue for discussion of the various meanings of space in early modern France. Tom Conley opened Day 1 (May 22) with a fabulous discussion of Le théâtre d’agriculture (1600) by the “father of French agronomy” Olivier de Serres, about whom Architectura offers this useful introduction. Tom paused notably on the book’s index, especially its entry on “Terre” (Earth), which begins “La Terre est le fondement de l’Agriculture” (The Ear is the fundament/foundation of Agriculture), revealing to what extent such a reflection on agricultural use of land counters and shapes discourses about early modern mining/extraction. (See Tom’s upcoming article in a volume from the Ecole des Chartes). Other fabulous talks on Day 1 included Andrea Frisch on the “spaces of forgetting” in the Wars of Religion, Jeremie Korta on Pierre Belon, ending with Katie Chenoweth on Montaigne-as-mountain. I began Day 2 (May 23) with a talk about “manufactured landscapes” in various early modern treaties on mining, which was followed by numerous splendid papers, ending with David Laguardia on the spatial writing of Pierre de l’Estoile. An intense and intensely rewarding two-day gathering in the fine state of New Hampshire.
Mic.com announces that "ahead of a series of major events later this year, The Foundation for Deep Ecology and the Population Media Center released a collection that illustrates the devastating effects of out-of-control growth and waste, and it's breathtaking." The collection includes many breathtakingly frightening extraction landscapes, such as this one (Mining Diamonds).
News at salon.com of Marilyn Baptiste’s victory in Canada—Baptiste and others managed to convince the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) of the dangers involved in Vancouver-based Taseko Mines Limited’s plan to drain Fish Lake in order to build a huge gold and copper mine.
Project THE HUMANIST anthropocene
is a thought archive and workspace of Phillip John Usher (NYU) at the crossroads of early modern humanism and the problems and insights of the Anthropocene. Main Research Page.
ASLE (Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment)
Environmental Humanities (journal)
Resilience (A Journal of the Environmental Humanities)
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