Van Wyck’s Discussion

Of course it would be difficult to imagine a world without us, but that is part of the necessity. In the world of ecocriticism, there is a combat of terms between what is called ecocentric and anthropocentric. Ecocentric is centered on what it sounds like: ecology. But it encompasses more than that. It is a framework for viewing life; it is somewhat of a worldview. It is a view which states that this world, ecology, the environment are not inherently about man, they are inherently about themselves. There is a hint of independence and randomness associated with it. Often times people want to ascribe a certain humanity to the environment or ecology. An ecocentric ideology would reject this. It would say, “Nature is not fighting back. It is simply being nature. It does not think like you do, it simply exists and conforms to its own rules.”

There is conversely the ideology of anthropocentrism, which posits that this world, nature, is not of course inherently anthropomorphic, but that the world now without people doesn’t make sense. Within the context of this discussion, there are certain organizations and initiatives that are particularly anthropocentric rather than ecocentric.

Van Wyck’s introduction highlights exactly the battle between these two views about the world. If this post is a close reading of this introduction, then I would make the claim that this is the goal of the introduction even. He begins with describing the process of creating something with a message that says, “Go away!” which raises questions of language and culture in and of itself. It may be difficult to describe such a command to a culture that exists 10,000 years from now. There would necessarily have to be a cultural retention from now until then in order to even be able to describe the command through some congruent symbols. Then he moves to the question of whether or not we will even be around. To claim, according to Wyck though not explicitly, that there should be a sign that even calls an avoidance would be an anthropocentric approach. The design is so terrible and intimidating in order to ward away future people; it is not designed to assimilate into nature, a far more likely presence to Wyck. So this whole introduction fights this battle as Wyck seems to be saying we are fighting even with the process itself of creating such a thing to outlast us so far.