[artinfo] Langdon Winner on Anthropocene

John Hopkins jhopkins at neoscenes.net
Mon Nov 16 13:02:16 CET 2015

I ran across this excerpt from an interview with Langdon Winner:

Q: You have also been critical of the term Anthropocene, the idea 
that we are living in a new epoch where human activities define 
ecosystems. It's an idea that could shape development planning over 
the next few decades. Why do you think we need to be wary?

LW: It's the idea that you can name geological epochs according to 
some identifiable characteristic. The people who proposed the 
Anthropocene say humanity is responsible for the significant changes 
of the past centuries and changes in the future. But naming this 
geological period after humanity is kind of deterministic - "this is 
what humans have done". And it is self-exulting - "look at our grand 
role in the history of the cosmos".

But if you look at what is being projected, a better name might be 
Thanatopocene, after Thanatos, the Greek personification of death. It 
appears that instead of a grand exultation and transcendence of 
humanity, we are at a death spiral. So why exult ourselves with 
concepts like Anthropocene? I find its self-congratulatory power 
fantasy highly suspicious, at the very point where we ought to be 
looking at the good evidence that challenges the way of life that's 
been built up over the last three centuries.

Full interview at


++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++Dr. John Hopkins, BSc, MFA, PhD
grounded on a granite batholith
twitter: @neoscenes

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