EDITORIAL: THE TASK OF ECOPOIESIS
The underlying premise of our work at the Ecopoiesis journal is that we are in the midst of an environmental crisis. Without intending to, we have transformed the world and everything in it into a wasteland. Climate change is only one aspect of this transformation. In addition to the fires and floods which rising temperatures have occasioned, we have destroyed countless other species of living beings. Furthermore, pollution is everywhere: in the water we drink, the air we breathe, the earth we stand on. When we see all this, we can understand why, in his interview in this issue, Michael Marder goes so far as to say that the world itself has become a dump. No wonder that eco-grief is something we all experience.
Are human beings an essentially destructive species? Is it our nature to act in such a way that the earth is to be regarded only as an object for the satisfaction of our own needs? Clearly, not all societies have engaged in this kind of destructive behavior. Indigenous cultures, in particular, seem for the most part to have a harmonious relationship with the world around them. Moreover, there are many places in the world where individuals and communities have struggled to live in a mutually beneficial way with their environment. Conservation, permaculture, and many other practises aim to remedy the destruction. Climate activists all over the world are engaged in protest against it. Even nation-states recognize the problem and claim to remedy it, though often in ways that are too little and too late.
None of this would be possible if humanity were itself the problem. it must be social and historical change that has produced this result. Hierarchy, colonialism and patriarchy all are part of this development. Yet it would be a mistake to attempt to engage in a transvaluation of values in which we aim to return to a state of purity in which complete equality exists. This is the fantasy of a state of nature unmarred by civilization. In fact, human beings are cultural animals. Unlike other species, they are not pre-adapted to a specific environment. In order for them to exist, they have to transform the world about them. This is both their burden and their gift: a burden because it requires work to make nature into a habitat, a gift because it means we can adapt to changing conditions and can respond creatively to the change.
The question arises, what could be our creative response to the destruction of the environment today? Contributors to the Ecopoiesis journal are based in diverse artistic, therapeutic and educational practices. There is something in both therapy and art-making that runs counter to the practices of domination characteristic of our epoch, as the contributions to the current issue show. It seems to us that the common denominator is the practice of poiesis. The term itself is taken from the Greek and was used to mean the act of making. In this sense, human beings are poietic beings. We must make our world; we do not find it waiting for us. Even technology was thought of as a poietic activity. Heidegger points out that techne and poiesis were originally intertwined. However, when technology is separated from the poietic act it becomes a form of domination of the other.
If you look at the therapeutic relationship, we see that change occurs not when therapists have an agenda that they force on to clients but when they frame the encounter in such a way that clients find their own way to be with their suffering. This requires a letting-go on the part of the therapist, similarly to Heidegger’s sense of Seinlassen (letting-be) as an alternative to technological domination. In the same way, the artist cannot force the work to emerge. The first step in art-making is to engage in a receptive attitude so that whatever comes can find its own form. Arts therapists are drawn to their practice because they find this quality of receptivity in both therapy and art.
Receptivity is essential to both art, therapy, and education, but it needs to be supplemented by a more active relationship. We could call the two modes “holding” and “shaping.” Shaping is the response to what emerges, helping it find its own form. This is the aesthetic responsibility of arts therapists, to shape the session in such a way that clients find their own response to what emerges. The aesthetic response is one in which clients are moved with what they make. It is an encounter with beauty, not in the sense of a form that one beholds from a distance in a disinterested manner, but rather a bodily-affective experience of what has emerged.
The poet Hölderlin wrote, “Poetically we dwell upon the earth.” It is the task of ecopoiesis to reclaim this poetic way of dwelling. Our hope is that the Ecopoiesis journal will contribute to this task. Let our journal foresee the dawn of Pardes Ecopoiesis and those who follow it be like Akiva, who was the only one of the four who entered paradise and returned unscathed.
Stephen K. Levine,
In accordance with the Law of the Russian Federation on the Mass Media, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) on September 22, 2020, the web-based publication - The peer-reviewed scientific online journal "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" was registered (registration number El No. FS77-79134).
“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.
The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.
One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.
The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.