Ian Buchanan is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He is the founding editor of Deleuze Studies and the author of the Dictionary of Critical Theory (OUP). He contributed the essay, ‘The Ephemeral Coast: On the Edge of the Otherly Realm’ in the Ephemeral Coast, S. Wales, 2014.


Water is endlessly fascinating to artists and poets, and indeed some of our greatest artists and poets have also been great swimmers (Lord Byron is the most well-known of the poet swimmers; Swinburne was no slouch either) but that fascination has always been tempered by fear, and the deeply felt sense that water is not a human domain (this was Shelley’s view, which he effectively proved by drowning – Shelley wasn’t the only poet to drown himself, either; Hart Crane also chose this mode of death, as did Virginia Woolf)[1]. To swim, then, is to immerse oneself in an otherly realm that is both deadly to humans and teeming with its own life as great ocean-explorers like Jacques Cousteau and Hans Hass revealed in the middle of the twentieth century.

[1] Sprawson 1992: 32-33; 99-101; 103-105.

Celina Jeffery and Ian Buchanan co-edited the 'Junk Ocean' issue of Drain Magazine, which was launched in January 2016. Buchanan also contributed the essay, 'What Must We Do About Rubbish'?