Searching for Black Creek: An experimental expedition into narrative ecotheory.

Max Meyer, 2017
Vol. 23 No. 14 ISSN 1702-3548

This paper is an exploration of the land around Black Creek, a polluted urban creek northwest of downtown Toronto. It flows above ground for some 35 kilometers from its source in the southern edge of the Oak Ridges Moraine through industrial areas and low-income neighbourhoods before its eventual confluence with the Humber River. The paper takes the form of a narrative expedition upstream from the creek’s mouth. The fictionalized author recounts layers of historical, geographical, and theoretical knowledge in an effort to develop a familiarity with the creek, to understand how it came to be as it is, and to aid in the voyage to its source. At the same time, the paper ambivalently engages with the impossibility of objective knowledge and the consequences of actions driven by anthropocentric, post-Enlightenment ideology. In an effort to overcome this, the narrator attempts to deploy a hybrid of speculative realism and vital materialism to better build an understanding of the creek, this cyborg entity. The paper moves toward a frantic search for methods to engage with or even to understand the catastrophic anthropogenic forces which seem to have developed a life of their own—seeking their own ends without the faintest ecological concern.