Dr Steven Langsford is a translator and early career researcher in cognitive science. He has produced Chinese-to-English translations for the AALITRA Review, Sydney Review of Books, the Sherman Contemporary Art foundation, and as translator-in-residence for the Neilma Sidney Writer’s Sanctuary residency. He has worked on behavioural studies of cognition as a PhD student at Adelaide University, and as a post-doc at the University of Michigan and Aarhus University. 

Dr Amelia Walker completed her PhD in 2016 for a thesis about the challenges creative writing academics face in neoliberal times, and the value creative writing brings to universities. She has published four poetry collections and has in recent years increasingly focused on collaborative writing-based projects exploring broadly social justice-oriented concerns.

The value and limits of the healthy ecology metaphor

Ecopoetry and connections between diversity, communication and survival in the face of environmental crises

This paper presents an interdisciplinary dialogue between a cognitive scientist (Steven Langsford) and a researcher in the field of creative writing (Amelia Walker). The dialogue concerns a proposition that ecopoetry encourages people to become more open to mind styles that differ from their own and can thereby help support what Félix Guattari (1989) termed the mental ecology by facilitating interaction between people whose mind styles differ from one another. In contrast with models of evolutionary literary criticism that champion competition and selection, a Guattarian approach emphasises collaboration and variation, arguing the need for humans to work together with one another and with beyond-human beings to support diversity and thereby promote stronger possibilities for survival and wellbeing on the collective scale. A diverse mental ecology supports environmental sustainability and collective survival because it enables the raising and consideration of a broader range of approaches to problems including but exceeding environmental crises. The chapter connects these ideas with research concerning Bayesian inference, rational speech act (RSA) theory, and the benefits of strategy diversity in scientific communities.

Keywords: ecopoetry; neurodiversity; ecosophy; Bayesian inference; sustainability