Is eco literature our future?


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Nicanor Parra … courtesy Arteaga

With protests staged by environmentalists of different ages in many parts of the world, one is left wondering if this is not a major issue that needs to be addressed by the literary community over other issues as it links to our basic survival. These lines by Nicannor Parra, the famous Chilean poet, say it all.

The mistake we made was in thinking

that the earth belonged to us

when the fact of the matter is

we’re the ones who belong to the earth.

He redefined himself as an eco poet in the latter part of his career and said: “The eco-poet also works with contradiction, he defends nature, but he cannot fall into the trap of a new dogmatism. So there are some eco-poems which are apparently anti-ecological, like the following: ‘I don’t see the need for all this fuss, we all know the world is at its end.’ It must be kept in mind that any type of dogmatism, including ecological dogmatism, produces a hardening of the soul. To avoid this hardening, this new dictatorship, this new central committee, one has to denounce even ecological dogmatism. Paradoxically, this is also the soul regulating itself. The man who only affirms runs the risk of freezing up inside. Constant movement, vital motion is crucially important for me.”

So, what is eco literature? Is it the same as cli- fi ?Is it in the genre of speculative fiction or science fiction?

Editor and writer, Rajesh Subramanian, says in an essay: “Eco-literature is not nature writing. It is not romantic poetry. It is not about how humans live in forests or in mountains. In such cases, the writing would be only a realistic portrayal, just like in other human environments. Eco-lit needs to delve deeper into portrayals of how environmental degradation leads to human agony, suffering and displacements; how citizens turn into refugees within their own country; how economic and political exploitation turn human life upside down and jeopardise the environment, thereby making it unsuitable for life in future. But it needs to be done as literature, as human stories of subtlety, not just the sterile badgering of activism.”

Read the complete essay in thewire.in.

 

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