Waste: A Philosophy of Things
Waste: A Philosophy of Things
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Why are people so interested in what they and others throw away? This book shows how this interest in what we discard is far from new - it is integral to how we make, build and describe our lived environment. As this wide-ranging new study reveals, waste has been a polarizing topic for millennia and has been treated as a rich resource by artists, writers, philosophers and architects.
Drawing on the works of Giorgio Agamben, T.S. Eliot, Jacques Derrida, Martin Heidegger, James Joyce, Bruno Latour and many others, Waste: A Philosophy of Things investigates the complexities of waste in sculpture, literature and architecture. It traces a new philosophy of things from the ancient to the modern and will be of interest to those working in cultural and literary studies, archaeology, architecture and continental philosophy.
sense of a depopulated landscape, ‘uninhabited (or sparsely inhabited) and uncultivated country; a wild and desolate region, a desert, wilderness’,31 a description synonymous with the common moor that Lear roams. The Oxford English Dictionary notes that the first recorded use of the word ‘waste’ can be found in the Trinity College Homilies, written in the first half of the twelfth century: ‘Ac seðen hie henen wendend atlai pai lond unwend and bicam waste, and was roted oueral and swo bicam
throwaway, rocked on the ferrywash, Elijah is coming. (U, 10.752–754; UP, 308) Elijah, skiff, light crumpled throwaway, sailed eastward by flanks of ships and trawlers, amid an archipelago of corks, beyond new Wapping street past Benson’s ferry, and by the threemasted schooner Rosevean from Bridgewater with bricks. (U, 10.1096–1099; UP, 321) This is a kind of waste writing that is made to reverberate through the text. The throwaway takes on an ambiguous, intensely enigmatic role within the
is heavy and getting heavier, a place of unequivocal deposition. In describing a place heavy with waste, Stephen is also able to contemplate the weight of the past: A bloated carcass of a dog lay lolled on bladderwrack. Before him the gunwale of a boat, sunk in sand. Un coche ensablé Louis Veuillot called Gautier’s prose. These heavy sands are language tide and wind have silted here. And there, the stoneheaps of dead builders, a warren of weasel rats. Hide gold there. Try it. You have some. Sands
tend to focus on the aesthetic, philosophical and political potential that ruins evoke.1 If this book has something in common with these recently published works, then it is in viewing ruins as generative, beguiling phenomena. It thus extends that long, contemplative tradition which has isolated ruins as a distinct category of architecture. Ruins, it seems, are useful things to think with, and a cast with which to understand an enormous range of religious, philosophical, ethical and political
future-orientated time that we invest in buildings and the locations that they occupy. The convergence we feel between place and purpose reflects the way in which the finite time of use serves to enclose function and location. Building, then, does not mean simply dwelling – sparing and preserving – but doing so according to how we discern the relationship between these activities and their conclusion, according to their propensity for ruin. It is not enough, then, to define use by action alone,