Joyelle McSweeney’s The Necropastoral interrogates the cultural history of the deadly landscape, from the annihilating plagues of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura to the aftermath of 9/11. Explicitly modelled on a classical poetics, this volume bears both physical and intangible traces of violent crime ranging from blood and bodily fluids to the “spectral quality of capitalism, the way money and debt accrues and erodes in damaging patterns, the way damage to bodies is sometimes the first materialisation of corporate malfeasance.” The necropastoral offers a key to looking at obscured but visible worlds that exist in the interstices of the media, the spectacle, the haunting. By reversing the sense of order that the pastoral has traditionally sought and been concerned with “bodies, living, dead, ghostly, inhuman, artificial” the necropastoral is:
The lethal double of the pastoral and its fantasy of permanent, separated, rural peace. In emphasising the counterfeit nature of pastoral, the necropastoral makes visible the fact that nothing is pure or natural, that mutation and evolution are inhuman technologies, that all political assertions of the natural and the pure are themselves moribund and counterfeit, infected and rabid.