Rethinking human vs nature
sharing in an intimate world acknowledges the impossibility of maintaining an anthropocentric worldview[‡] in an era of eco-crisis and invites us to tease out ways to orient ourselves within a biosphere in which we are continuous with the network of entities we previously called nature.
This re-imagined world-view has been described as the third-place (Bruno Latour) or in the words of Timothy Morton, an experience of intimacy and closeness with nonhuman entities, which may include the bacteria in our bodies, the biota, animals and plants with whom we cohabit, but also trash; the plastic, chemical and biological waste we have carelessly spread around and are now intimately surrounded by.
I would like to draw attention to the semantic origins of the term intimacy, a noun deriving from the Latin root intimus, meaning innermost, most personal, profound. If we put aside the anthropocentric usage of intimacy as referring solely to close and/or sexual relations between humans, we may find the original meaning instructional for addressing this unexpected encroachment of nonhumans into physical and psychological human space. When intimacy is extended to include nonhumans, it appears less comfortable, indicating a close, family-like connection between disparate entities. Close, as in next to your skin and embedded in your thinking, and family-like as in inherited, an inescapable birth-right.