Vacuum Ecology: J.G. Ballard and Jeff VanderMeer
J.G. Ballard’s novel The Drought (1965) reimagines an ecological dystopia into a strategy for how to live through the catastrophe of the Anthropocene. We suggest the term “vacuum ecology” for a literary strategy which represents a way to live in our current ecological crisis. Ballard describes how a near-total emptiness of time and space is one way to respond to a global ecological catastrophe. Using Ballard’s novel as a guide, our concept of vacuum ecology is developed along with along with the work of Jason Moore, Roy Scranton and others. In The Drought, the concept of modulation is suggested as the mechanism for change. At the end of the essay, Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation (2014), along with Catherine Malabou’s notion of destructive plasticity, is seen as challenging the idea of modulation with a strategy of intermingling. In short, both texts foreground the possibility of new kinds of change when concepts of time and space are questioned. This has consequences for the different beings we must become in order to live in the Anthropocene.
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