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Volume 19, 2018

Jan Jasper Mathé
Pages 47-53

The Anthropocene as Event

The Anthropocene could become the defining name of our period, yet scholars continue to disagree over the very concept. One important challenge that remains to be addressed is the apparent inability to locate our experience of anthropogenic events into meaningful action. We see what is happening around us and we know that we need to do something. But in the end, there is no actual response. Even in our most promising scientific solutions, the evental nature of the Anthropocene is often overlooked. The very fact that we think about anthropogenic events from within the symbolic framework of science and technology obscures them. Drawing from the philosophy of technology and a critical engagement with Slavoj Žižek and Bernard Stiegler, I argue that technoscientific culture provides a fantasy of reality in our current age of human history, which is now inextricably bound up with the history of the Earth. Therefore, the Anthropocene is an event in every sense of the word, namely an object that is fundamentally transforming reality. It not only challenges the framework that regulates our access to reality – which would introduce it as just another fantasy – it shatters that reality completely. Understanding the Anthropocene as event may offer a solution to a general sense of disorientation that leaves human beings unable to react in ways other than merely acting out.

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