edge archiving.

Patch and / or Void of Plastics
September 26, 2010, 5:46 pm
Filed under: psychogeographical edges

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch does not have a particular location, nor does it have a particular shape.  It is unknown when it was discovered, or by whom.  It is not land, and it is not ocean.  It is known as either a “patch” or a “void.”  While its size cannot be determined, it is estimated to be about twice the size of Texas.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a stew of plastics and human waste (much from land waste, in addition to sea waste), which became a prominent figure of the “green” ideology within the last few years.  In 2007, NPR reported a story about a man who encountered the mysterious plastic island (link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15713260), but the actual discovery of the “patch” is subject to a number of other mythologies.  Legends of this plastic island lend themselves to a kind of collective green paranoia, prevalent to many of the narratives you’ll find surveying the news media circuits.

Out of this liberal apocalypticism, the garbage patch has come to mark a dystopic edge-site, the mythologies of which are moreover a part of a longer history of the oceanic imaginary of capital.  The patch presents itself as territory, while it is in fact the anti-territory which has developed out of the “rim” — the Pacific rim, which functions within this tropology as the edge of erasure between global market sites.  Through this erasure of space, the “rim” has produced a space for our human waste.  This is a “void,” not a “patch.”

In a project which is premised on a tropology, the figure of the “patch” and / or “void” works into a narrative of the “rim” that has been governed by the right.  To the constant accusation of the right — that the left is composed of mythologies — the retorts have been dominantly either a move to de-mythologize, with some pretense of ‘history,’ or to re-mythologize the right.  What goes unevaluated, however, is the function of these mythologies — and in this case, the materiality of these mythologies.  As a result of the Pacific rim imaginary — or, the oceanic imaginary of capital — the ocean has taken on a new landscape.  For ships which travel the “rim” between Japan and the U.S. coast, the “patch” must be navigated as land: it is an obstruction which refuses terrestrial logic, always changing its shape and location, while it is an edge-site which cannot be broken through.  Yet in terms of its mainstreamed “green” narrative, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has been absorbed into a certain mythology which is without a critical bearing in the mythology which produced it.  That this “patch” exists mythologically, without longitudinal / latitudinal coordinates, constantly re-mapping itself, might be understood through and outside the Pacific “last ocean” narratives of capital.  The material reality of this mass — or stew — forces a re-imagining of the ocean, forces a “void” to break from the “rim” of local obliteration.  This is how to make sense of the “problem,” which has been mediated by the “rim,” generating the solutions of an out-moded narrative of returning, recycling, going “back to the garden” with consumer politics.

Through the green-stream:


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