Post-pandemic Nature, Crisis, Catastrophes and Their Metaphorical Discourses. Editorial Introduction
This article provides an extensive theoretical introduction to the main topic of the special issue of the journal. The authors aim at updating the metaphoric discourse on the environmental crisis and climate change in the time recently challenged by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, concerning the central theme of the journal’s issue, the authors review the “catastrophic criticism” developed in environmental humanities and ask how the perspective of depicting elemental nature has changed since modernity and its technological approach to the living world. Another question is what kind of metaphors are needed to reflect on the catastrophes and crises we face; and how the very concepts of crisis and catastrophe function as metaphors in the theories developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
By reopening the question of agential nature distorted by crisis and catastrophe in a post-pandemic world, this article analyses the discursive and generic reappropriations of environmental risks, including the regional cultural background (e.g. the Chernobyl figure for CEE countries). An example which illustrates the irrelevance of nature theorized as a resource in modernity is taken from the canonical Question Concerning Technology by Martin Heidegger. It is followed up by critical Frankfurt School philosophers’ perspectives and is detectable in such environmentally loaded literature of Olga Tokarczuk’s. The authors’ findings show in this article how the pandemic realm has immensely repositioned how we read the leading theoreticians of catastrophic discourse. The examples are, e.g. Albert Camus or Oswald Spengler, and what texts we find relevant in the political, economic and social contexts of the debate on the contemporaneity of crisis and catastrophe, e.g. Niall Ferguson, Slavoj Žižek, Steven Pinker. In conclusion, this article draws on reopening the question on the role and authority of science in mitigating the climate and ecological crisis since the recent pandemic is an integral part of it.
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