12th ASLE Biennial Conference, June 20-24, 2017 at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan
Deadline: 12 December 2016
Eve: So this is your wilderness. Detroit.
Adam: Everybody left.
Eve: What’s that?
Adam: It’s the Packard plant, where they once built the most beautiful cars in the world. Finished.
Eve: But this place will rise again.
Adam: Will it?
Eve: Yeah. There’s water here. And when the cities in the South are burning, this place will bloom.
—Vampire couple in Jim Jarmusch’s film, Only Lovers Left Alive
In Rust: The Longest War, Jonathan Waldman claims that, for those who “yield to rust, find beauty in rust, capitalize on rust, raise awareness of rust, and teach about rust, work is riddled with scams, lawsuits, turf battles, and unwelcome oversight. Explosions, collisions, arrests, threats, and insults abound.” Rust is the underside of cosmopolis. Rust belts follow industry and its corrosions; the parasitic Rust fungi are enemies of agriculture. And yet there is an irenic side to rust: it inspires contemplation, the search for beauty, and the effort to defend what is threatened. As an agent of time, rust sponsors stories of collapse-and-recovery, evolution-and-extinction, but it also questions them. Narratives of progress that see rust as the enemy are not universal. In Japanese aesthetics, for instance, sabi is the beauty of natural aging and aged materials; what is new is not as lovely as what has weathered. In a time obsessed by environmental apocalypse, rust may reveal other trajectories for cultures of recovery. Resurget Cineribus, “It Will Rise from the Ashes,” is the motto of Detroit—our host city.