This as springboard for the study to underscore

This chapter of this study
provides the discussion of the critical concepts that will serve as springboard
for the study to underscore the ecocomposition and ecological rhetoric of the
selected poems of Francis Macansantos. Taking the cue from Dobrin and Weisser’s
definition of ecocomposition, the area of study and upshot of ecocriticism that
centers on the “constitutive existence of writing and environment” underscoring
the interdependent relationship of “written discourse” and “ecological
thinking” (Dobrin and Weisser 2), Hubert Zapf’s Theory of the Ecological
Force of Literature and the Theory of Ambient Poetics, or simply
called as Ecomimesis Theory, by Timothy Morton provide good groundwork
for highlighting the metaphors, images, symbolisms, and nuances disclosing the
environment and nature as an ecologically interweaving portraiture of relation
and disharmony. With Zapf and Morton’s notions situated in the critical
foreground of this study, the tropes of ecocriticism, supporting
ecocomposition, can be further fleshed out in the selected poems of
Macansantos.

The interrelation of the concepts
posited by Zapf and Hubert are essential vistas to consider in dealing with the
poetry of Macansantos as a kind of a “sensorium and imaginative sounding board”
(Zapf 28) for accentuating literature as a site of the discourse centering on
nature and the environment. It is with this critical foregrounding in which the
ecocomposition of the selected poems of Macansantos is highlighted—the artistic
efficacy achieved through the rendering and elucidation of the natural and
environmental aspects into a heightened sense of language and aesthetics. The
notions of “ecological force” and “ambient poetics” markedly support and render
the discourse on ecocomposition dynamic, transitory, and self-reflexive.

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Zapf’s Theory of the Ecological Force of Literature

In Zapf’s essay titled Literature
as an Ecological Force within Culture from his critical work Literature
as Cultural Ecology, he asserts that literature possesses great dynamism
made manifest in its power to partake in all areas and aspects of the
“discourses of the larger culture” (Zapf 27). It is in this assertion in which
one can see how literature is rendered as a remarkable site of contestation—opening
avenues for critically ruminating on and even challenging the beliefs and
truth-claims of human life. The textual ecological potency of literature links
with literature to a greater web and system of discourses. Literature is rendered
as a metamorphic and reframing site of exploration and reflection operating on
both constructive and deconstructive heights. In this conception, literature
becomes noteworthy for engaging other vistas and discourses. To quote Zapf:

Literature as an ecological force within culture operates as a sensorium
and imaginative sounding-board for hidden conflicts, contradictions, traumas,
and pathogenic structures of modern life and civilization; and as a source of
constant creative renewal of language, perception, imagination, and
communication (Zapf 28).

 

Recognizing the
significance of the aforementioned statements, the ecological force of
literature underscores the transitory and dynamic foreground and disquisition
of literature. Such a foreground is not delineated by merely euphuistic or
notional terms but through a kind of a “textual energy” which is defined by
Zapf as a cardinal and constitutive reciprocal action between nature and
culture. It is the very force that veers away and contravenes social and worldy
conventions projecting the image of literature’s discourses creating and
actualizing ecocritical energy ranges and forces that situate the discourse in
the fluid and invigorated processes of life and in “the ecocultural biotopes of
language and the text” (Zapf 28). Grounded on the interactions of domains of
culture and nature, literature becomes integrative and compositional reflecting
the complexity of the ecocritical ranges and forces. Using this as assertion as
groundwork, Zapf avers that literature becomes a viable textual site operating
“in a high-energy field of open discursive space” obtaining its spontaneous and
calculated creativity and concentration from the linkages transpiring between
cultural and natural ecosystems. This affirms the ecocritical premise of the
world being provided with a more comprehensive delineation and understanding.

The force being
mentioned here by Zapf takes its cue from the biophysical domain surrounding
literature—the very sphere in which one can see the axiological
interrelation of the nonhuman and human spheres. The “force”, or simply labeled
as “vision” and “imaginativeness” when placed in the context of literature,
goes beyond the social sphere as it can also exhibit the very elucidation and
restatement of the natural into “cultural energies, elemental forces of life
into the communicational, self-reflexive space of language, culture, and
aesthetics” (Zapf 29).

From Zapf’s
discourse on literature as cultural ecology, the “ecological force” moves in
accordance with the notion of “interconnectedness”. In espousing
“interconnectedness”, “ecological epistemology” is to be acknowledged as an
important concept to consider as it provides a sort of “framing” or
acknowledgment of the diversity and difference taking place in various
discourses and historicities—an essential aspect to consider when dealing with
literature possessing a unique site of cultural ecology. Zapf further specifies
this “force” as the very medium that links literary theory with cultural
ecology. In the chapter Literature as Cultural Ecology, Zapf further
expounds on this medium that espouses the interconnectivity of the literary
theory with ecology in its entirety:

As has been mentioned above, a central assumption of a cultural ecology
of literature is that in its aesthetic transformation of experience, literature
acts like an ecological force within the larger system of cultural discourse
(89-90). 

 

Literature has
opened various avenues and created many means when it comes to underscoring the
reciprocal action between nature and culture. It has creatively and
emblematically expressed axiological interrelationship of nature and culture.
Contesting ideologies have made literature a “discursive space” that expresses
ecology in connection with cultural pathology, psychology, and modernization
(Zapf 90-91). In invoking the separated and distinct domains of culture,
literature is seen “to restore diversity-within-connectivity as a creative
potential of cultural ecosystems” (Zapf 91). In consonance with this,
literature becomes a “sensorium”, using the term of Zapf, for making sense with
the vibrancy, energies, and tendencies of the anthropocentric juxtaposed to the
biocentric realm. Literature partakes in the production of ecological
knowledge. This is the notion of the “ecological force” or can also be termed
as “ecopoiesis” as supported by Evan Thompson in Mind in Life: Biology,
Phenomenology and the Sciences of the Mind. This is the “force” in
literature, one that is concerned with signfication and ecocompositional
arrangement—one that recognizes dynamism, interaction of the
external and interior worlds, “chronotopes of time and space, driving and
kinetic feedback dealings, and diversity transpiring and actualizing within
interconnectedness of nature and culture” (Zapf 92).

 

Ecomimesis: Morton’s Theory of
Ambient Poetics

Timothy Morton,
in The Art of Environmental Language from his book Ecology without
Nature: Rethinking Environmental Aesthetics, underscores the notions of
“place referentiality” and “situatedness” as essential concepts to consider in
fleshing out the rhetorical stance of ecological texts. In positing such
concepts as a means of enkindling the so called “here and now of writing”
(Morton 32), Morton offers the theory of ambient poetics or ecomimesis. This is
a theory that highlights the invokes “emplacement” as opposed to to the idea of
“where one is coming from.” The person, dealing with the texts, centers his
prospect on the environment setting aside the mobile elements such as the
person or the anthropocene. Ecomimesis is a means of attesting to the
ecological foreground of a literary work. In accordance with this,
“situatedness” and “emplacement” become a form of rhetoric that is grounded on
ambience and the encompassing world. It offers a narrative of relation with the
circumambient whole of a multifaceted structure disclosing the regard for land
or earth, place, water, time, wind, trees, and even the nation. Such an
assertion show that its excursive stance complements its critical foregrounding.
For the literary criticism of the environment to be deemed as accordingly
analytical, it must capitalize on the concept of ecomimesis. To quote Morton:

Ecomimesis is a pressure point, crystallizing a vast and complex
ideological network of beliefs, practices, and processes in and around the idea
of the natural world. It is extraordinarily common, both in nature and in
ecological criticism (33).

 

Ambience is the
very core of ecomimesis. For Morton, the term aids in rendering the literary
discourse on ecology to be multifarious, vibrant and dual in nature moving in
consonance with its goal to make antic and peculiar the idea and view on the
environment. Throughout history, the environment has been fashioned by various
encompassing atmosphere. According to Morton, it is the job of ecomimesis to
convey this sense of atmosphere resulting for it to be labeled as “ambient
poetics” (34). To provide his theory on ambient poetics with a comprehensive
and centralizing take, Morton specifies the elements and pertinent features of
ecomimesis. Ecomimesis is comprised of six principal components: rendering,
medial, timbral, Aeolian, tone and the re-mark (Morton 34). It is
essential to note that such elements posited by Morton lap over each other and
can be deemed to be obscure and arbitrary. Rendering, regarded to be the
chief element, points to the outcome of ambient poetics, its very end or
purpose. The tone refers to the material composition and foundation of
nature being provided a portraiture by ecomimesis. The processes and effects
are encompassed by the Aeolian, medial and timbral. Morton had borrowed these
terms from various types of media such as poetry, film, painting, writing and
music. This is a testament to the manifold focus of ecomimesis and as a means of
providing a strong impetus and inspiration to “ambient poetics”. These elements
of ambient poetics go beyond the simple treatment of imagery in literature as
it is regarded as formally experimental and comprehensive in its goal. In
contrast with this, Morton asserts that “less experimental ecomimesis restricts
itself to imagery alone” (35).

Rendering is the
most fundamental goal of ambient poetics. It is concerned with creating a
pursuant sense of atmosphere moving in relation with the idea of the “simulacrum”
by Jean Baudrillard. For Morton, rendering “attempts to simulate reality
itself” (35). It is through this rendering in which one can see that a present
and unmediated world is projected by the literary text disclosing as well the
realistic imaging of the environment with no illusions fomented by an enhancive
framework of some sort. It furthers the idea of veering away from the effects
of aesthetic alertness. Through this rendering, the narrative or the text is
brought on the level of the ecological—the very adequation
that asserts that language and literature can also accompany and project the
realism of the discourses on the environment and ecology. Rendering entails
showing real ecological concepts, impressions, and opinions in textual
discourses.

The medial
element is parallel with the concept of foregrounding. It centers on the
atmosphere in which the message is transmitted (Morton 37). This element
emphasizes the projecting and emotive conception and nature of language. As
ecomimesis works to underscore the environment, the medial is also being
engaged. Ecomimesis makes one cognizant of the atmosphere encompassing the
environment and the action transpiring. The medial can be regarded as the very
“echo” that is situated in the background of the action. This “echo” projects
the idea of presence, impression and originality—the
very sound that typifies the peculiarity of the thing or action that is being
rendered. This is an important element to consider for a work that is regarded
to be “environmental” and “ecocritical” in its entirety. The medial is also
rendered as the timbral emphasizing on the appositeness and physicality of the
language. This is emphasis on germaneness is deemed to be powerfully
environmental. This is a substantial ground for examining environmental
language. 

 To further expound on this point, Morton
provides an example of the medial and language’s phatic dimension as made
manifest in writing:

“As I write” (birds are singing, the grass is growing) is a medial
statement. Literally, and the medial is always literal to some extent, the
dimension is the page we are reading. The idea is to reinforce the illusion
that the dimension of reading is the same as inscription: that reader and
writer inhabit the same dimension, the same place (38).

 

The Aeolian is
conceived to be synesthetic in nature. This is the element that provides the
consecrated and transcendental intensity of ecomimesis—a
means of echoing the environment through textuality. This element entails
expanding one’s conceptuality and perception of the natural. The stance and
outlook of a particular work augments its physicality. The Aeolian element
guarantees that ambient poetics effects the “sound form” of the place that is
being unfurled.

Ambience is an
expansion of the space-time continuum in a work of art (Morton 43). It is with
this assertion that Morton brings in his delineation of tone. Mortton
provides the term with a different definition. For Morton, tone is equivalent
to place resulting for him to posit the concept of the “ecozone” (43). The tone
in ambient poetics refers to atmosphere and to the environmental space.
Environmental art makes one cognizant of the surrounding atmosphere. Tone is
fomented by the narrative forepart of ecomimesis. Tone is further concretized through
pictorial description or ekphrasis. In relation with this, tone is projected by
imagery and rhythm.

Re-mark is the last element and is also considered as an
essential and underlying property of ambient poetics. This the element that
distinguishes the concepts of the background and foreground in an
environmental work. On one hand, the paper on which a text appears as the
background (Morton 47). Put simply, background refers to materiality and
concreteness. On the other hand, the foreground is highlighted when a
particular sound, concept, or notion is fleshed out in a narrative or text. In
this conception, the foreground refers to substance that supports the
“rendering”. Merging both background and foreground, re-mark becomes a sort of
echo—a peculiar and uncommon mark to be considered as they
make one conscious of nature and environmental signifiers embedded in an
environmental artwork. The logic of the re-mark makes one sentient to the idea
that there is something to comprehend and realize in a work of art that deals
with the complexity of nature and environment. The commodious ambience of
nature provides sole impetus to its rendering in a work of art, literature in
particular. Ecomimesis is carried out as weak if it is astigmatic in its
outlook transpiring when writing plainly evokes the environment from a highly
romantic perspective. It is important to note that it is a instrumentality that
corroborates the ecological substance of a particular work. Gaining insights
from Morton, it must include in it the examination of the processes, thoughts,
ideologies that surround the natural world. As a result, the critical stance of
ecological criticism is singularly fomented through such an approach. With the
aforementioned six elements as starting posts, the criticism of the environment
achieves a vibrant, dual and multifarious standpoint—one
that is not merely delineated by the romantic trend but one that opens the
discourse to other scientific vistas and viewpoints that can also support the
connection of literature and the environment.

Apprising Ecocomposition with the
“Force” and “Ecomimesis”

The critical
notions posited by Hubert Zapf and Timothy Morton provides splendid springboard
for examining the selected poems of Francis Macansantos. In the selected poems
of Macansantos to be analyzed in this study, it is observed that nature and the
environment is brought into the picture reflecting a decidedly settled
cognizance of the natural world in which man is emplaced in the circumambient
physical realm (Parini, 1993). The environment is rendered as a impulsive
entity opposing its adynamic and motionless imaging. The poems carry out its
instigating and didactic premises by underscoring the sensibility to the
interrelation of all life on earth supporting the biocentric outlook of the
selected poems. This study attempts to flesh out the ecological consciousness
in the selected poems of Macansantos—bringing to light the
appreciation and mindfulness to ecological thinking projecting the idea of
“living in place” and having a “sense of place” (Living Awareness Institute,
nd).

This study
attempts to specify the ecological/environmental bent of the selected poems of
Macansantos through the concept of ecocomposition and ecological rhetoric.
Taking the cue from Dobrin and Weisser in Ecocomposition: Theoretical and
Pedagogical Approaches, the poems of Macansantos are to be placed in
context with other discourses showing how the poems are discursively affected
by the concepts of places, environments, spaces, locations, and the dynamism of
nature. This affirms Dobrin and Weisser’s assertion that “ecocomposition is
about affinity and interrelationship” (2). The notion of place-referentiality
is a resilient ground for ecocomposition resulting for the ecological rhetoric
in Macansantos’ poetry to be furthered and apprised. In consonance with the the
thoughts posited by Salchak discussed in the second chapter, the take on
ecocomposition, using the poems as springboard, is to be rendered as
multidisciplinary as it makes use of ecology and the sciences in general for
its goal of examining the relationship of writers to the “more than
anthropocentric realm”. In relation to this, ecocomposition has a incisive
interest in the pedagogy of writing. It centers on the holistic discourse of
relationships and interrelations.     

Recognizing the
significance of the above-mentioned statements, it is observed that the
epistemologies of this offshoot of ecocriticism are singularly linked to the
critical heights. In raising such point, the informing and filling in of
ecocomposition as a concept and supposition is posited—a
means of contributing to the critical pedagogy in literary studies particularly
in ecocriticism. Hubert Zapf’s Theory of the Ecological Force of Literature and
Timothy Morton’s Theory of Ambient Poetics are the very conjectures that
can push forth this agenda as complemented by the selected poems of
Macansantos. These theories, Zapf’s Ecological Force that espouses
“interconnectedness” making literature multifaceted and compositional disclosing
and adhering to the complexity of ecocritical forces and ranges, and Morton’s
Ambient Poetics or Ecomimesis that capitalizes on “place-referentiality” and
“situatedness” as concepts for framing and attesting to the ecological
composition of a work of art, are advantageous as they can flow in accordance
with the modern world, the comprehensive and integrative endeavor of
“rendering” the environment, and its various worldviews rendering
ecocomposition and ecological rhetoric to be multifarious engaging social
movements going beyond the social realm in general.

Recognizing the
delineations of nature poetry, environmental poetry and ecopoetry, the
aforementioned theories aid in examining the images, symbolisms, metaphors and
nuances in the selected poems of Macansantos thereby revealing the “ecological
force” through “ecomimesis” and its attendant elements in his poetry—a
way of showing the environment and nature as an ecologically interweaving
portraiture of relation, disharmony and disconnectedness resulting for the
underscoring of the tropes of ecocriticism in his selected poems.