We need stories that help us imagine a multispecies flourishing future. Stories that remind us to place nature at the foreground of all our discussions and actions.
The Call for Gaia Stories and Speculative Fabulations
THE FIGURE OF GAIA
As we advance into an ecologically mutated epoch, we struggle to position ourselves within the old concept of Nature. Perhaps the most provocative notion that emerged as one that encompasses calculative and meditative thinking is the controversial figure of Gaia. Not only does Gaia embody the mythological sentiment as a divine being from Homer’s poems and the spiritual force which sparked the revival of paganism, James Lovelock’s ‘Gaia Hypothesis’ have now propelled this figure into the scientific realm of ecological theory. In his book ‘Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime’, Bruno Latour unpacks the potential of Gaia as “an ideal way to disentangle the ethical, political, theological, and scientific aspects of the now obsolete notion of nature.” (Latour, 2017)
Latour describes this Gaia as a wholly secular, animated, anti-systematic superorganism, which alters our anthropocentric mindset to one that considers every living entity to have the capacity to modify the environment around themselves to better develop, not just humans. This line of thinking has thus justified the need to put nature at the foreground of human history as an active, mobile, agent that not only is influenced by us but also influences us in an interconnected feedback loop.
GAIA STORIES & SPECULATIVE FABULATIONS
In her book ‘Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene’, Donna Haraway states her belief that we urgently require radical storytelling practices to alter our anthropocentric mindset, into one that embraces all human and nonhuman inhabitants on this earth. She calls for Gaia stories and speculative fabulations - stories that transform the way we position ourselves in nature, disclosing the message that we are a part of Gaia, to live-with and become-with Gaia.
The video below shows Haraway discussing her notion of speculative fabulations:
According to Haraway, Bruno Latour also understands the importance of storytelling in this regard:
“Searching for compositionist practices capable of building effective new collectives, Latour argues that we must learn to tell “Gaia stories”. [...] Those who tell Gaia stories are the “Earthbound”, those who eschew the dubious pleasures of transcendent plots of modernity and the purifying division of society and nature.”
–––––– Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble (2016)
In his lecture series “Facing Gaia: Six Lectures on the Political Theology of Nature”, Latour also refers to ‘Gaia stories’ as ‘geostories’, which is “a form of narration inside which all the former props and passive agents have become active without, for that, being part of a giant plot written by some overseeing entity.” (Latour, 2013) Reflecting upon the epistemological figure of Gaia discussed above, Gaia stories are stories that resist the proclamation of humans as the ultimate species, stories that oppose anthropocentrism, stories of the Earthbound. Building upon this notion, Donna Haraway proposes a form of Gaia story that pushes the boundaries of our imagination – speculative fabulations.
Storytelling enables us to fabulate a recusant shift away from the anthropocentric shackles of capitalism.
Gaia stories allow us to speculate upon a sympoietic future, as a catalyst of change and imagination.
We need more Gaia stories and speculative fabulations, to bring humanity one step closer towards achieving a multispecies flourishing future.
Join us and share Gaia stories of your own:
Latour, B. (2013). Facing Gaia: Six Lectures on the Political Theology of Nature.
Latour, B. (2017). Facing Gaia: Eight Lectures on the New Climatic Regime. Croydon: Polity Press.
Haraway, D. (2016). Staying with the Trouble. Durham: Duke University Press.