cover of book

Bleak Joys: Aesthetics of Ecology and Impossibility
by Matthew Fuller and Olga Goriunova
University of Minnesota Press, 2019
Paper: 978-1-5179-0553-8 | Cloth: 978-1-5179-0552-1 | eISBN: 978-1-4529-6180-4
Library of Congress Classification BH301.E58F85 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 111.85


A philosophical and cultural distillation of the bleak joys in today’s ambivalent ecologies and patterns of life

Bleak Joys develops an understanding of complex entities and processes—from plant roots to forests to ecological damage and its calculation—as aesthetic. It is also a book about “bad” things, such as anguish and devastation, which relate to the ecological and technical but are also constitutive of politics, the ethical, and the formation of subjects.

Avidly interdisciplinary, Bleak Joys draws on scientific work in plant sciences, computing, and cybernetics, as well as mathematics, literature, and art in ways that are not merely illustrative of but foundational to our understanding of ecological aesthetics and the condition in which the posthumanities are being forged. It places the sensory world of plants next to the generalized and nonlinear infrastructure of irresolvability—the economics of indifference up against the question of how to make a home on Planet Earth in a condition of damaged ecologies. Crosscutting chapters on devastation, anguish, irresolvability, luck, plant, and home create a vivid and multifaceted approach that is as remarkable for its humor as for its scholarly complexity.

Engaging with Deleuze, Guattari, and Bakhtin, among others, Bleak Joys captures the modes of crises that constitute our present ecological and political condition, and reckons with the means by which they are not simply aesthetically known but aesthetically manifest.

Nearby on shelf for Aesthetics / Special topics: