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'Jurassic Park' in the Age of the Anthropocene: A Prescient and Cautionary Tale?

Reuben Martens (UGent)
(2018)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Scales of time, history and geography have started to drastically shift since we became aware of the Anthropocene, the geological era in which the influence of human activity on the world's geological and ecological systems has become visible and, to say the least, problematic. The prevailing discourses on the Anthropocene and on the geological ramifications of human culture present the contemporary artefact with a new challenge: that of scaling up its imagining of the human to the dimensions of biological and geological time. This is in contrast to what traditionally has been the investment of the literary novel and film; that of the exploration of the fate of the individual and its relation to its social contexts. In that sense, maybe Jurassic Park was ahead of its time; in my, perhaps radically, reading I want to argue that the story of Jurassic Park can be seen as an iteration of the human's fear of the ramifications of the Anthropocene and the shifts of historical and geological time. The confrontation between human and dinosaur can act like an allegory of what it means to be human in a time where traditional conceptions of time and being have begun to fade, and where anthropocentrism is not the preferred mode of philosophy any longer. The selfish, uniquely human ideal of being something very small and frail standing toe to toe with something unfathomably gigantic and avowedly all-powerful and defeating it, in a time of climate change and other hyperobjects, seems utterly nihilistic. I thus want to offer a renewed interpretation of Jurassic Park, so that it functions as a cautionary tale at the dawn of the Anthropocene.
Keywords
environmental humanities, ecocriticism, contemporary cinema, Anthropocene, object-oriented ontology

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Martens, Reuben. “‘Jurassic Park’ in the Age of the Anthropocene: A Prescient and Cautionary Tale?” 2018. Print.
APA
Martens, Reuben. (2018). “Jurassic Park” in the Age of the Anthropocene: A Prescient and Cautionary Tale? Presented at the 25 Years of Jurassic Park (1993): An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Palaeontological Imagination.
Chicago author-date
Martens, Reuben. 2018. “‘Jurassic Park’ in the Age of the Anthropocene: A Prescient and Cautionary Tale?” In .
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Martens, Reuben. 2018. “‘Jurassic Park’ in the Age of the Anthropocene: A Prescient and Cautionary Tale?” In .
Vancouver
1.
Martens R. “Jurassic Park” in the Age of the Anthropocene: A Prescient and Cautionary Tale? 2018.
IEEE
[1]
R. Martens, “‘Jurassic Park’ in the Age of the Anthropocene: A Prescient and Cautionary Tale?,” presented at the 25 Years of Jurassic Park (1993): An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Palaeontological Imagination, Cardiff, Wales, UK, 2018.
@inproceedings{8552344,
  abstract     = {Scales of time, history and geography have started to drastically shift since we became aware of the Anthropocene, the geological era in which the influence of human activity on the world's geological and ecological systems has become visible and, to say the least, problematic. The prevailing discourses on the Anthropocene and on the geological ramifications of human culture present the contemporary artefact with a new challenge: that of scaling up its imagining of the human to the dimensions of biological and geological time. This is in contrast to what traditionally has been the investment of the literary novel and film; that of the exploration of the fate of the individual and its relation to its social contexts. 

In that sense, maybe Jurassic Park was ahead of its time; in my, perhaps radically, reading I want to argue that the story of Jurassic Park can be seen as an iteration of the human's fear of the ramifications of the Anthropocene and the shifts of historical and geological time. The confrontation between human and dinosaur can act like an allegory of what it means to be human in a time where traditional conceptions of time and being have begun to fade, and where anthropocentrism is not the preferred mode of philosophy any longer. The selfish, uniquely human ideal of being something very small and frail standing toe to toe with something unfathomably gigantic and avowedly all-powerful and defeating it, in a time of climate change and other hyperobjects, seems utterly nihilistic. I thus want to offer a renewed interpretation of Jurassic Park, so that it functions as a cautionary tale at the dawn of the Anthropocene.},
  author       = {Martens, Reuben},
  keywords     = {environmental humanities,ecocriticism,contemporary cinema,Anthropocene,object-oriented ontology},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Cardiff, Wales, UK},
  title        = {'Jurassic Park' in the Age of the Anthropocene: A Prescient and Cautionary Tale?},
  year         = {2018},
}