Mastery of Non-Mastery in the Age of Meltdown

Mastery of Non-Mastery in the Age of Meltdown

Michael Taussig

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780226684581

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

For centuries, humans have excelled at mimicking nature in order to exploit it. Now, with the existential threat of global climate change on the horizon, the ever-provocative Michael Taussig asks what function a newly invigorated mimetic faculty might exert along with such change. Mastery of Non-Mastery in the Age of Meltdown is not solely a reflection on our condition but also a theoretical effort to reckon with the impulses that have fed our relentless ambition for dominance over nature. Taussig seeks to move us away from the manipulation of nature and reorient us to different metaphors and sources of inspiration to develop a new ethical stance toward the world. His ultimate goal is to undo his readers’ sense of control and engender what he calls “mastery of non-mastery.” This unique book developed out of Taussig’s work with peasant agriculture and his artistic practice, which brings performance art together with aspects of ritual. Through immersive meditations on Walter Benjamin, D. H. Lawrence, Emerson, Bataille, and Proust, Taussig grapples with the possibility of collapse and with the responsibility we bear for it.