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Pollen Magazine : The Idea of Natural History

POLLEN : The Idea of Natural History; Issue 01, 2014


POLLEN #001 goes in search of what is meant by the enigmatic ‘Idea of Natural History’. The introduction of the idea of ‘natural history’ into the tradition of critical theory can be traced to a lecture delivered by Theodor Adorno in 1932 to the Frankfurt Kant Society. Briefly put; Adorno proposed to abolish the customary antithesis of nature and history. His goal was to overcome, on the one hand, a scientistic understanding of nature as pure facticity, and on the other, a broadly idealistic conception which takes history to be a process of ceaseless innovation. In this sense, ‘natural historical’ thinking takes up Adorno’s call to radically criticise the categorical definition of these two oppositional concepts. This does not mean simply a reactionary return to ‘pre-modern’ thinking, but rather it means re-reading the paradox of natural history as an imperative; to comprehend an object as natural when it appears at its most historical, and as historical when it appears as natural. The theme brings into focus ideas around

• the allegorical interplay of ‘nature’ and ‘history’ in the site of the ruin
• the critical project of recovering historical memory
• society’s relationship to nature and nature’s relationship to society
• nature as a source of ethical instruction
• the ever-present threat of human and ecological catastrophe


Including: Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, Jan Kempaneurs, Chris Wild, Tito Mouraz, Ron Fricke and Mark Magidson, Stephen Mitchelmore, Jacinta Mulders´╗┐, Leon Batchelor´╗┐, Esther Leslie, Amelia Groom, Timothy Chandler, Steve Kelsen.


More Info: Pollen Magazine Website