When we are trying to be environmentally friendly or ecologically conscious we often produce statements that express, what Tim Clark calls, ‘derangements of scale’. ‘Thus’, he argues, ‘a sentence about the possible collapse of civilization can end, no less solemnly, with the injunction never to fill the kettle more than necessary when making tea’. While it seems necessary to move between various scales when discussing environmental issues, Clark signals the possible short-comings of such a practice. So, in the eco-criticism course I co-convene with Rebecca Giggs at NYU Sydney, we spent a week exploring the various complexities of scale, across both time and space.
We decided to go on a field trip to the Farm for this part of the course, because it is a site where the complexities of scale converge. Our own shared living experiment tries to navigate the complex derangements of scale that come with both living in a city of the global north and trying to respond meaningfully to climate change at the same time. We read Carrie Tiffany’s 2005 novel Everyman’s Rules For Scientific Living, Val Plumwood’s article ‘Shadow Places and the Politics of Dwelling’ and Timothy Clark’s article ‘Scale’ (see link above). We had a lively discussion about all of these things and indulged in cups of liquorice tea and peanut cookies. It was a fun field trip! I’ll miss these guys when they head back to the Big Apple in early December.