Why Bother Talking to a Jellyfish?

This Thursday, Studium Generale invites everyone to come meet our jellyfish. A larger-than-life projection of climate data, this art installation has the floating beauty of a jellyfish, and captures a little of the wonder and mystery that we feel when faced with nature. But we’re not just going to gaze at it. We are asking everyone to listen to it, to let it speak to them, to imagine that we could relate to a jellyfish as if it was another person. Someone with the same value and depth of feeling as a human being.

And we’re not just doing it because it’s fun – which it will be! According to philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, it is the face of the other that invites us to relate to them, which appeals to our sense of responsibility. Without that interpersonal dimension, it is impossible to treat them the way they deserve to be treated. “The face presents itself, and demands justice.”

Now, a jellyfish doesn’t have a face. Our planet cannot speak to us and demand justice for our oceans. What to do?

This is the issue that the jellyfish is designed to solve. We are flooded with data about the climate crisis. We know that it’s going from bad to worse. We also know that it will have an untold impact on things that we care about: nature, animals, other people, future generations, and indeed our own lives. But how do we process something so huge, so beyond our own experience? And how do we act accordingly?

So, this Thursday, we will be asking you to use your imagination. You will be invited to speak to the jellyfish, to touch its smooth surface, to ask it questions. If our planet could speak, what would it say? And if we could listen, what would we do?

To find out for yourself, join us in the Library Central Hall, Thursday June 8th, 4 – 5pm.