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critical writing

Pleasure, pain and dispossession (in the anthropocene)

About work

Pleasure is inconsistent with the anthropocene Pleasure is only possible in an imagined space that sits outside of it. This space is called the Imaginocene. Pleasure and joy reside in the Imaginocene. Warning you are entering the anthropocene: Weather no longer exists, only climate. Everything is politics. There is more plastic than fish in the ocean, chemicals in the water and ecosystem destruction at scale. There is no hope. We are enmeshed in a destructive paradigm of dominance, hierarchy and brute force. There is no future, only armageddon. There is hedonism in the anthropocene, but that is different to pleasure. Radical rethink: to emerge out of this with potential and possibility is radical. And it’s necessary to consider, to imagine other ways to continue the co-evolution of the human story with Earth. Welcome to the Imaginocene: The imaginocence thinks about the past, present and future in very different ways. In the imaginocene we ask, how can the future be transformed into something better? How can we reimagine the narrative and ‘destiny’ of homo sapiens to use their force to recreate a world? It is Integrative, autonomous, and decentralized. The people of Gaia work “alone, together”. The imaginocene can be found in a painting or a playground. A book or a poem. A movement or a garden. An act of peaceful resistance. Pleasure is: identifying as fundamental parts of an interconnected. Pleasure is: the lure of the becoming and bringing about more of the infinite. Pleasure is: an aliveness that is not matched by anything else. Pleasure is possible in the imaginocene.

pleasure; pain; anthropocene; Imaginocene; imagine

works/a06aa3f87c48f3ae8793b80219d253de/thumbnail/Abstract--TheImaginocene v Anthropocene.pdf

Editors comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

I very much appreciate the essence of your proposal, and the sense of an urgent call to reframing certain dominant perspectives—through an imaginocene— given the current and overwhelming magnitude of the illness at the heart of the destructive colonialist/capitalist system/s. As a writer, the study of the function of the Imagination, beyond its conception as a purely psychological instrument, has played a major role in my own work, and I share your conviction in its importance.

I appreciate that your work is both a poetic response, containing the seed of a theoretical manifesto, and part of a longer, and much more involved work. Its evocation of the potential scenarios of environmental destruction is powerful. This longer explanation and framing will be critical, I believe, to establishing the practical dimensions of these ideals. Central to this expansion, I suggest, it will be important to develop, as well as commit to an ontology (the branch of metaphysics which deals with the nature of objects and their being/existence in relation to each other) which you perceive as appropriate to your vision, and also situate this within the comparative history of Western conceptual /philosophical frameworks (particularly the post-Cartesian trajectory, through the various materialist conceptions of the nature of mind and ‘reality’), vs those which have, across many cultures, disciplines and philosophical situations, explicated these ideas in the past.

Culturally speaking, there have been, for hundreds, if not thousands of years, peoples to which this way of perceiving, viewing and interacting with the world has been absolutely central. Moreover, these cultures have posited narratives surrounding this ontological and phenomenal perception as integral to understanding the current cycle of environmental destruction and human conflict.

Notable among these, and in a context which may be applicable to your work, is Henri Corbin.

An introduction to his work can be found here:


And a critical and eloquent explication of his central ontology found here:


We observe immediately that we are no longer reduced to the dilemma of thought and extension, to the schema of a cosmology and a gnoseology limited to the empirical world and the world of abstract understanding. Between the two is placed an intermediate world, which our authors designate as 'alam al-mithal, the world of the Image, mundus imaginalis: a world as ontologically real as the world of the senses and the world of the intellect, a world that requires a faculty of perception belonging to it, a faculty that is a cognitive function, a noetic value, as fully real as the faculties of sensory perception or intellectual intuition. This faculty is the imaginative power, the one we must avoid confusing with the imagination that modern man identifies with "fantasy" and that, according to him, produces only the "imaginary." Here we are, then, simultaneously at the heart of our research and of our problem of terminology.

I would suggest that in order to avoid particular traps that the very dominant systemic cultural, philosophical, and phenomenological hegemony that your work may seek to escape, that it explores terrain which is not limited by philosophies born from these same traditions, yet at the same time does not unnecessarily appropriate select elements in a potentially contradictory way.

View other works commented by Sam Burch  ››

This could be a good start to a project. As an abstract, or mini-manifesto, it sets out some stark contrasts and pushes toward an interesting direction. Perhaps the Imaginocene can be portrayed through visuals, graphics, music, sound – provide examples of what art might look like with these principles. This will inspire thoughtful responses more than filling out the ideas in essay form. Can you do this yourself, or collaborate with others to make this a vibrant stepping-off point?

View other works commented by Daniel Marcus  ››

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Entry details


Pleasure, pain and dispossession (in the anthropocene)

Concept author(s)

Laura Ballantyne-Brodie

Concept author year(s) of birth




Competition category

critical writing

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Subfield description

I'm a conceptual artist, eco-philosopher and (femme) activist. As a research fellow at New York University I worked closely alongside Professor Natalie Jeremijenko in the Environmental Health Clinic. We do mutualistic design for urban environments. I'm into systems philosophy, which can be hard as not many people know what I am talking about. I'm into ethics, and values too, which also makes me a strange creature in the dominant cultural paradigm.