Bioethics Blogs

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s “The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins” by Timothy Morton

The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins

by Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

Princeton University Press, 2015, 352 pages

Yeah. What a nice book. Thank goodness there are feminists at the controls as we enter the ecological—which is to say, truly post-modern (note the hyphen) era. This is a profoundly nonviolent, and therefore genuinely threatening, book. I was shocked by how Simon Critchley chose to enter ecological discursive space on the back of Roy Scranton’s Learning to Die in the Anthropocene: “We’re fucked. We know it. Kind of.” Do we? Do we know that? Or is that one of those lies in the form of the truth, the kind that show up in Blake’s Songs of Experience? And since when did being fucked count as the worst thing that could happen to “us”? And since when did being fucked equal the triumphantly horrified rubbernecking of one’s own catastrophe, which incidentally implies the horrifying extinction of actually existing nonhumans? And furthermore, since when did a deconstructor feel like resorting to an explosive monosyllabic slap upside the head (seven of them, actually in three “punchy” sentences), as if we needed any more slapping from any direction whatsoever, given what Anna Tsing says, absolutely accurately, about the current state of neoliberal play in this wonderfully playful yet serious, light yet strong, fleeting yet resilient, collective yet not communitarian mushroom of a book? A very particular mushroom, just like the very particular mushroom (the Japanese matsutake) that is its occasion.

And that Kind of.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.