I made this map of the themes in Plastic, an autobiography. I wanted it to be like a molecular diagram, but it turns out it’s not that linear. (Photo by CAConrad.)
Today by the miracle of interlibrary loan I received this GE publication from 1946, How Plastics Solved War Problems. It came encased in plastic.
It came all the way from Stillwater, Oklahoma.
I had hoped that inside I would find out how the builders of the atomic bomb used Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic.
I did not find that secret inside, but a bee arrived.
The fantastic poet Lindsey Boldt pointed me to a vid of Slavoj Zizek, in which he stands around in a landfill and talks about the need to love trash. (If you don’t want to watch the whole video, you can just read the caption along the bottom to get the idea.) http://annepercoco.wordpress.com/2011/05/12/the-true-love-of-the-world/ (Also, this ecological artist annepercoco.com is worth checking out.)
I don’t think Zizek goes far enough. He seems to reduce love of trash to an aesthetics, to loving things despite their imperfections. I want to cultivate a love for trash that grows out of an understanding that it is not separate—we are continuous. This is what I was getting at with this piece the Beloved.
We are not (only) star stuff, we are also our trash, waste, contamination. Consider the bisphenol-A inside the bodies of nine of ten people in the United States, the more than two hundred industrial chemicals circulating through newborn babies—chemicals that tweak hormones and lead to changes that may persist across generations, affecting the ovaries of the grandchild born fifty years later. This is not the coming ecological catastrophe, this is the banal today.
The catastrophe—which just means “the turn, the change”—is not in the future, or in the air, or the ocean. It’s inside our bodies, which also contain future, air, and ocean.
What if we understood each piece of trash we encountered as part of us, and loved it like ourselves, as life. What would that be like?