Postmodern Ecology

Communication, Evolution, and Play

By Daniel R. White

Subjects: Ecology
Paperback : 9780791435748, 257 pages, November 1997
Hardcover : 9780791435731, 257 pages, December 1997

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Table of contents

List of Figures





Cybernetic Imaginations Old and New: Communication and Control in Living Systems

Toward a New Demonology: The Confluence of Mind and Nature

Infodynamics: The Creative Fusion of Mind and Matter

Toward a Recursive Vision of Postmodern Diversity

Ecological Feminism: A New Dialogue between Man and Woman, Nature and Culture or How to Stop Fighting and Start Playing


Chapter 1: Postmodern Ecology and the Crisis of Modernity


The Languages of "Nature" and "Culture": Ecological and Postmodern Discourses

The Convergence of Postmodernity and Ecology

The Project of Modernity: A Historical Fable about the Domination of Nature

The Foundations of Modern Science

The "Human" Empire: Science, Technology, and Capitalism

The Mastery of "Mother" Nature

Classical and Medieval Antecedents: The Great Chain

Splitting the Ecosystem: The Ecological Crisis Implicit in Modernism

From Ancient Mythos to Modern Logos to Postmodern Ecologos

The Humanists Strike Back

Ecology and Postmodernity: Toward a New Critique of Modernism

I: Writing the Story of Natural History

II: Toward a Neostructuralist Ecology

III: A New Look at an Old Myth: From Genesis to the Joyous Science

The Moral of the Story


Chapter 2: Ecology and Lifeworld


Spirit in Flames: Toward a Postmodern-Ecological Phenomenology

The Poetry of Evolution: Steps to an Ecology of Mind

Radical Cybernetics: Life as Communication

The Charm and Terror of Digitation

Two Evolutionary Models

Stepping Backward: From Learning to Evolution

Toward New Evolutionary Personae

Seeds of Ecometaphorical Identity: From Arizona to the Amazon to Walden Pond


Chapter 3: Ecosociality: From the Universal Logos of Communicative Rationality to the Situated Mythos of Ecofeminism


Communicative Action and the Serious Ascent toward a Rational Society

Communication and the Ecometaphorical Differentiation of Society

The Play of Nature and Culture

Steps toward a Multicultural Mind or La Pensée Sauvage Talks Back

Who Is that Masked Woman? or Superbarrio Meets Ecofemina

A Stitch in Time: The Quilt of Ecosociality


Chapter 4: Ecopoetics: Literary Ecology and Postmodernity


Ecological Poetics

Literary Ecology and Postmodernity in Thomas Sanchez's Mile Zero and Thomas Pynchon's Vineland

What Is Literary Ecology?

The Origins of Literary Ecology

Literary Ecology in Mile Zero and Vineland


Chapter 5: From the Ecological Wasteland to the Cybernetic City: Communication, Evolution, War, and Play


The Play of Communication

Toward a Living Demonology

Cybercity, Here We Come: Play in Virtual Reality versus the Manichaean Struggle for the Electropolis



Works Cited


Provides a significant picture of the ecological crisis from the interdisciplinary perspective of postcolonial cultural studies, in order to map the emerging virtual and ecological territories of the twenty-first century "electropolis."


This book spins a historical fable about the trends in European thought that have contributed to the rise of industrial civilization and to the ecological crisis. It explores alternative visions of nature and culture, from Romanticism to ecological theory, in an effort to rewrite the story of natural and cultural history. Its themes include ecological poetics, technological artistry, evolutionary learning, the play of communication, and the struggle for a viable ecological ethic.

Daniel R. White is Associate Professor in Critical Theory and Cultural Studies at The University of Central Florida. He is also the author of Asian Wisdom: India, China, and Japan.


"The linking of ecology and postmodernity is expected, and here done well, but the link with the phenomological life-world is a very perceptive touch and one crucial to both ecology and postmodernity. Just at the moment when a reader might have placed White in a non-aesthetic corral, he adds a chapter on literary ecology, a discussion of how the ecological and postmodern interrelationships are brought into play in literary worlds."-- Joseph Natoli, Michigan State University

"White has given himself a heroic challenge by bringing together several current fields of scholarship, literature, and philosophical speculation into the all-encompassing whole of the book title: Postmodern Ecology. He has admirable command of the materials and moves knowledgeably among biological ecology, communication theory, structural anthropology, philosophy, literature, and contemporary popular culture."-- Fred E. H. Schroeder, University of Minnesota, Duluth

"Intellectually, to argue against, and more importantly, to simply think our way out of the dead end of modernist ideologies, we need radically alternative perspectives. White, and others, argue that such perspectives are already around, but need to be mobilized. This book is a contribution to the discussion of which perspectives these should be and how they can be mobilized in some larger view of human and transhuman interests."-- Jay L. Lemke, City University of New York