Ecological Gyre Theory: vortextual thinking after the ecologic turn
for Humanities on the Brink

Nearly Carbon Neutral Conference
Association for the Study of Literature and Environment University of California, Santa Barbara

Our research aims to continue the momentum that guided the ecological turn that has dominated the humanities for the 21st Century. Extending this we propose Ecological Gyre Theory: the turn growing unfixed, unsteady, gyroscopic and in endless multiplicities as acceleration and flows destabilise contemporary frameworks of being. To outline our theory of EGT, we follow the process of whale fall, wherein a deceased whale descends to the ocean bed, becoming a new ecological site from its own decay. Following this whale through volumetric thinking we intersect with notions of space, being, and becoming; moving toward the unknown terrain of the seafloor, a representation of New Materialist reworlding.

Drawing from wet/sea ontologies, the gyre is a volumetric space marked by philosophies of depth - a vortextual space through which we work across and through contemporary ecological discourse. Within this, the fluvial methodology of EGT becomes a tool for dredging and trawling; seeking circularities, rotations, orbicular processes as commonalities through which we feel out and penetrate the permeable boundary between human and nonhuman; muddying taxonomies, notions of terrestrial fixity and traditional dialectics. As the ecological turn grows unfixed and unsteady we seek to build from Aristotelian law toward an hyldromorphism. The original Greek, guros, the ring - a symbol of completeness - speaks to the gyre’s ontological nature, as a state of being and being-in; the totalising nature of the ecological crisis a force underpinning not only our research but our everyday actions.