Eighty Works in Late Style

Joel Weishaus


"The call to explore different modes of being in the Anthropocene
is an invitation to speculate about what it means to live in place,
that we remain ‘curious, experimental, open, adaptive,

imaginative, responsive and responsible.'"


In 1945, Russian biochemist Vladimir Ivanovich Vernadsky wrote, "In the twentieth century, man (Anthropos), for the first time in the history of the earth, knew and embraced the whole biosphere, completed the geographic map of the planet Earth, and colonized its whole surface.”

However, the Anthropocene may have begun during the Upper Paleolithic, when "The waters were speaking into the ear of the sky;" or during the Neolithic, with the domestication of animals and plants; or with the Industrial Revolution's abundant production of noxious waste; or with the "Great Acceleration"
after WW II, when a global marketplace's need for the exponential birth of consumers began to overwhelm the resources and regenerative systems of the Earth's Critical Zone.

Unlike the Holocene, an epoch of relatively stable climate measured from the end the last Ice Age, there is no "golden spike" for when Anthropos, "who claims his right and greatness not to pay attention,” began altering the entire planet. The Anthropocene is like a tornado that picks up every thing [science, economics, politics, the humanities...] and sets them down somewhere else, including this project, which follows the impulse that we cannot engage the future without a poiesis to animate our languages and stimulate the metaphors of our imagination.



Although a notion of late style may be traced to Jacob Grimm's 1860 lecture, "On Old Age," I became aware of it when reading Herman Broch's essay on "the style of old age," which relies less on the extent of one's vocabulary than on "the enrichment of the syntactical relations of expression,” drawing texts into knotty networks while weaving a "rich fabric of references."

Karen Painter wrote that Theodor Adorno "seemed to insist that the key to late works lay not in any psychological or organic life trajectory of the artist or composer but in the relation of art to the
age itself."
The Anthropocene signifies that it is already too late to avoid serious disruptions to Earth's life-supporting systems, so Broch may retort: "To render...the whole epoch (the artist) cannot remain within it; he must find a point beyond it.”

Here we are "free to seek the common root of poetry, philosophy, and science, and to honor it as best we can in any kind of language that we choose." This is the pretext for Leaving the Anthropocene.


The call to explore: T. Toso, K. Spooner-Lockyer, K. Hetherington, "Walking with a Ghost River: Unsettling Place in the Anthropocene." Anthropocenes, 27 May 2020.
Valdimar Vernadsky: "The Biosphere and the Noösphere,” American Scientist, January 1945
The waters were speaking: R. Char. From "Lascaux II." G. Sobin Trans.
Earth's Critical Zone: "For us, anyway, the Critical Zone is the invention of a few scientists, mostly from the Earth sciences and geochemistry, as a way to bring different disciplines together in order to refresh the study of the thin skin of the living Earth." B. Latour, Critical Zones: The Science and Politics of Landing on Earth. Cambridge, MA., 2020.
who claims his right: I. Stengers, “Accepting the Reality of Gaia.” In, C. Hamilton, et.al., eds.,The Anthropocene and the Global Environmental Crisis. London, 2015.

Herman Block's essay: “The Style of the Mythological Age.” Intro., R. Bespaloff, On The Iliad. New York, 1947.
rich fabric of references: H. Sato, trans., Basho's Narrow Road. Berkeley, 1996. (Intro.)
Karen Painter: "On Creativity and Lateness." In, K. Painter & T. Crow, eds., Late Thoughts: Reflections on Artists and Composers At Work. Los Angeles, 2006.
free to seek: R. Bringhurst, "The Philosophy of Poetry and The Trashing of Doctor Empedokles." Everywhere Being is Dancing. Berkeley, 2008.



— Designed on a 15" laptop. May not appear correctly on a screen smaller than 10".
—In midst some texts, in a different font, is my trope of invagination: fragments exhumed from the literary corpus and transplanted into a new textual body.
—There are also images, palimpsests juxtaposed with some of the texts. "
(W)e should confront the notion that we are dealing more with palimpsests than with individual slices of time or snapshots of evidence and pattern." M. W. Conkey, “Thinking Strings.” In, Seeing the Knowing. G. Blundell, et. al.., eds., Walnut Creek, CA., 2010.












To: Susan Alison Rowland: partner, wife, the love of my life.

And, for their generous support:

University of New Mexico: Center for Southwest Research.
Pacifica Graduate Institute: Colleagues and Students.
Portland State University: Departments of English and Philosophy.
Virginia Tech, Center for Digital Discourse and Culture.

MIT Press
Thames & Hudson
Ojai Valley Land Conservancy.


© Joel Weishaus 2019-2021