By Karen Laura Thornber
Creation: Environments, Environmental Ambiguities, and Literatures
Environments of Literature
Changing Environments of Literature
One: Environmental Degradation and Literature in East Asia Environmental Degradation in China
Chinese Literature and Environmental Degradation
Environmental Degradation in Preindustrial Korea and Japan Environmental Degradation in smooth Japan
Japanese Literature and Environmental Degradation
Environmental Degradation in sleek Korea
Korean Literature and Environmental Degradation
Environmental Degradation in Taiwan
Taiwanese Literature and Environmental Degradation
Two: Accentuating Ambivalence
Navigating Disparate Attitudes
Three: Underlining Uncertainty
The Unknown and Unknowable
Making experience of Symptoms
Assessing Collateral Nonhuman Damage
Questioning Nonhuman Resilience
Four: Capitalizing on Contradiction
Determining reason, Assessing Accountability
Necessity and Accountability
Human, Nonhuman, or Both
Contradictions: buying and selling Off
Decreasing Human Numbers, aiding Environments
Increasing Human Numbers, Harming humans and Environments
Helping Environments, Harming Environments
Assessing checks of Behaviors
Social and Temporal Standards
Myopia and Myopic Hyperopia
Accepting Environmental Degradation
Necessity, Compulsion, and Actively destructive Environments
Six: Illusions and Delusions
Physically and Conceptually Manipulating Environments
Culture, Civilization, and broken Environments
Admiring Ecosystems, eager for Control
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Extra resources for Ecoambiguity: Environmental Crisis and East Asian Literatures
97 The worlds these texts discuss often are physically beyond our own place and time, but the concerns they address strike close to home. Concepts of “planetary consciousness” have long been linked with imperialism. Discussing natural history in eighteenth-century Europe, Mary Louise Pratt aligns that era’s “planetary consciousness” with disruption, (re)ordering, imperialism, and Eurocentrism: 24 ecoambiguity The eighteenth-century systematizing of nature as a European knowledge-building project .
9 Similar discourse surrounded postwar industrialization in the 1950s and early 1960s in Japan, in the 1960s–1970s in South Korea and Taiwan, and in China in the 1980s. During these decades people generally did not see themselves as significantly damaging environments. Ecosystems were believed so resilient, and their self-restorative powers so great in relation to human demands, that even such activities as disgorging toxic waste were not thought to matter much if at all. As environmental damage became more severe and widespread, this relative nonchalance receded, only to be replaced by a conviction that blighted environments were a necessary cost of rapid, sustained growth.
Recent visions of planetary humanism and planetary consciousness stress the need to analyze creative and other discourse on urgent issues of actual or potential interregional and often planetary import. ”105 Although Dimock here speaks of broadening the evidentiary ground of historical research, literary criticism might follow a similar trajectory, examining more fully, for instance, intercultural networks on slavery and other human rights abuses. Such criticism would analyze creative works as products both of specific times and places and of shared human experience.