Echology, Echosystems, Echocide — Işık Barış Fidaner


The issue with the ubiquitous reference to ‘ecology’ and ‘environment’ is the same with Lacan’s issue with the notions of Innenwelt and Umwelt in biology. In Seminar 9, Lacan calls this duality of inside and outside ‘spherical’ as to its topology: The surface of a sphere separates the inner volume from the outer space and evokes the fantasy of a substantial centre. This fantasy brings about a vulgar materialism in which the being of the subject and the being of the enviroment are imagined to be isolated from each other. In this view the involvement or relation between the ego and the eco is imagined to be a tertiary element that emerges secondary to their conformity or conflict. This is why the imaginary world of ‘ecology’ basically consists of strategies to maximize the ego’s conformity to eco and strategies to minimize the ego’s conflict with eco.

‘Ecology’ designates the science that studies the environmental processes in Nature and how human actions affect them. ‘Ecosystem’ designates something that is liable to planned isolated human interventions whose effects can be objectively perceived, inscribed and communicated via a predesigned metalanguage to a scientific community. The study of such effects ultimately reveal either a conformity or a conflict between the ego and the eco. But the conflict and the ego have the upper hand in this matter. Thus ‘Ecocide’ designates the systematic destruction of the environment by the actions of a humanity whose body dwells in the environment while the inner world of whose mind remains somehow unaffected by this destruction. That’s why environmentalists should raise awareness and awaken the people. These all result from a spherical imagination.

In order to articulate the subjective structure of desire, Lacan removes the ‘whole’ness of the central spherical substance and instead opts for a toroidal structure with a ‘hole’ in the middle. There must be an empty room in which human desire can reverberate. This central lack complicates the clear-cut distinction between the ego and the eco: The lack belongs both to the subject and to the Other simultaneously. Let us designate this reverberation of desire around the void with the word “echo”. Now we can speak about echology, echosystems and echocide.

True desire for scientific work is extimately linked to the invocatory drive. That’s why a true scientist has to resist the temptation of dazzling graphics. The cognitive model for the Natural environment remains to be the fantasmatic visual display of a nice green field viewed through a window or a screen like the Windows Desktop. Just think of the fascination with the first Mars images from the Perseverance. To be up for the current challenge of the climate crisis, science must traverse this fantasy of the Natural environment. This traversal is a transition from seeing (theory) to listening (auscultation). This transition takes the ‘human relation with the environment’ and turns it into the ‘human environment with the relation’. ‘Echology’ designates this ‘human environment’ that incorporates the ‘relation’ through its invocatory drive. ‘Echosystems’ designate echological systems that exchange echoes of effects in the form of human acts and non-human occurrences. ‘Echocide’ designates the obsessive need to ‘cancel the noise’ of the echosystems where one dwells in. One form of echocide is the epistemological cancellation that is the widespread climate denialism. Another form of echocide is the ontological cancellation that is the obsession with leaving zero ecological footprint.

Işık Barış Fidaner is a computer scientist with a PhD from Boğaziçi University, İstanbul. Admin of Yersiz Şeyler, Editor of Žižekian Analysis, Curator of Görce Writings. Twitter: @BarisFidaner

Thanks to Das Unbehagen who organized “Ecocide and Psychoanalysis” for inspiration.


  1. […] [4] Burada özellikle ‘bakmalıyız’ değil ‘kulak vermeliyiz’ diyorum. Bu noktada artık ‘theory’ (bakmak ve görmek) değil ‘auscultation’ (dinlemek ve duymak) sözkonusudur. ‘Ego vs. Eco’ karşıtlığını terk ederiz ve semptomdaki hakikat yankılarını dinleyen Echology disiplinini kurarız. Bkz “Echology, Echosystems, Echocide” […]


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