The More I Study Nature: Georgiana Molloy and the Code of Modernity

Angela Campbell


As the twenty-first century unfolds amid growing concerns of climate change and related ecological disaster it becomes increasingly urgent that we uncover the deep logic (or illogic) of the ways that we inhabit and exploit the places in which we live. In ‘The More I Study Nature: Georgiana Molloy and the Code of Modernity’, I ask the reader (or audience) to consider the codes of knowledge and behaviour that we have inherited and that continue to propel our lives. These codes map, shape, calibrate and compute. They are often hidden, sometimes secret, but always present. There are wet codes and dry codes; they are algorithmic and linguistic, mathematical, biological, moral, legal, social and economic. These codes not only describe and control, they can also provide a key to the internal logic of how things work in the world.

My aim is to engender a greater awareness of both the existence of and mutability of these abstract imperatives in the hope that this will, in the face of present ‘global crises such as warming and species decline’, enable us to ‘challenge the logics which determine the course of events.’ This challenge requires us to decipher the codes by which we live so that we might consider our choices. In this paper I contemplate a way of being in the world that gives value both to an embodied experience of the environment we find ourselves in, and a conceptual understanding of the effect our presence has on that environment. This process of contemplation could also be described as a poetics of place. And a poetics of place, I suggest, can be explored via the code of performance.

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