Earth, landscape and country
conference contributionposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Warwick MulesWarwick Mules
A landscape is a perspective or view – an image torn away from the earth. Landscapes substitute a formed presence for the life that inhabits the earth. In environments controlled by landscapes, there can be no earthly life, or very little. Rather, what life there is, is life lived in perspective, in subjection to representation and calculated reason. In this paper I explore the thought of life lived in environments controlled by landscapes, and ways in which this life can be returned to the earth. Through a reading of Jean-Luc Nancy’s essay “Uncanny Landscape”, I propose a way of thinking about landscapes and their relation to the earth.The earth is the resistive material on which landscapes are inscribed. In Nancy’s terms, inhabited earth is country, a matrix of interwoven singularities, in excess to perspective or view, in which people ‘belong’. It is how one remains ‘at home’ while being subject to the gaze of a perspective. As landscape, Australia is its own perspective, but as country, Australia is an open material configuration, a place where people might belong in different ways. In this paper I explore the disjuncture between landscape and country as a means of opening up potential for life to be lived otherwise. To do this is to un-Australia, to unpack and reshape Australia as a new kind of imagined place, one that retains contact with the earth as resistive to perspective and the imperative of control.