Translations of Biogea and Variations

Thanks to Randolph Burks for pointing out these two new English translations of Biogea and Variations. Below are the publishers blurbs for both from Amazon so you have a sense of what ground they cover. There are some earlier posts as well on these projects. If anyone would like to offer brief reviews, reflections or interactions with either of these books, I'd be happy to publish them here or you can add them as comments.

Biogea is a mixture of poetry, philosophy, science, and biography exemplary of the style that has made Michel Serres one of the most extraordinary thinkers of his age. His philosophical and poetic inquiry sings in praise of earth and life, what he names singularly as Biogea. In these times when species are disappearing, when catastrophic events such as earthquakes and tsunamis impale the earth, Serres wonders if anyone “worries about the death pangs of the rivers.” And for Serres, one can ask the same question of philosophy as the humanities increasingly find themselves in need of defenders. Today, all living organisms discover themselves part of this Biogea. “Today we have other neighbors, constituents of the Biogea: the sea, my lover; our mother, the Earth, becomes our daughter; this beautiful breeze which inspires the spirit, a spiritual mistress; our light friends, the fresh and flowing waters.”

Variations - World-renowned philosopher, Michel Serres writes a text in praise of the body and movement, in praise of teachers of physical education, coaches, mountain guides, athletes, dancers, mimes, clowns, artisans, and artists. This work describes the variations, the admirable metamorphoses that the body can accomplish. While animals lack such a variety of gestures, postures, and movements, the fluidity of the human body mimics the leisure of living beings and things; what’s more, it creates signs. Already here, within its movements and metamorphoses, the mind is born. The five senses are not the only source of knowledge: it emerges, in large part, from the imitations the plasticity of the body allows. In it, with it, by it knowledge begins.

I've been reading Erich Jantsch Technological Planning and Social Futures (1972) and have found it most interesting on adaptive institutions and the way in which specialists can unwittingly clog the system. He also offers important reflections on how education needs to change in light of this. How much has really changed since he published this?


In the previous post I mentioned the work of a new institute. Pablo has graciously responded to my query and another colleague of his sent this conference link from last year and also this video address by Michel Serres. I try and post primarily English sources on the site but as many of you do speak French, it seemed purdent to post the video and conference link. There is a book from the conference proceedings in addition to the video archives.


News: Michel Serres Institute

Pablo Jensen and company have announced a new Michel Serres Institute for Resources and Public Good that will likely be of interest to readers of Serres. You can read more about it here but I've included a brief excerpt for you:

Humans use their power and know­ledge to manage life sys­tems as well as the bios­phere. Therefore, research must serve to increase human unders­tan­ding of those resour­ces and how best to use them for the public good. The Institute will work towards the desi­red, sus­tai­na­ble condi­tion of our socie­ties through the inte­gra­ted ana­ly­sis, moni­to­ring and mana­ge­ment of resour­ces (pro­duc­tion, dis­tri­bu­tion, access and cir­cu­la­tion)

No doubt the themes in The Natural Contract and many other works will have a bearing on how the activities and writing of the institute unfold over time. This is about all I know of it at this point but if others can contribute background, that would be helpful. I have been in touch with Pablo and hope to add more information here soon.