November 21-23, 2019


“Extremophilia” literally translates to “love of the extreme” from its Greek and Latin roots. It describes microorganisms that thrive in extreme conditions that would be considered hostile to most life forms — extreme heat, cold, acidity — conditions that, nevertheless, likely resemble the primordial soup from which all life on Earth originally emerged.

Extremes are often dangerous, threatening to disrupt the tenuous balance of our delicate constitutions. As our world experiences extreme weather and ecological distress, as well as mounting ideological extremism and polarization, a sense of existential dread begins to permeate all facets of contemporary culture.

At times like these, extremophiles, which embody the very definition of adaptation and resilience, make for worthy paragons. They remind us of the life that exists beyond the limits of possibility, of the outliers that defy all odds and create previously unimaginable opportunities for flourishing.

Will the extreme conditions we contend with today result in the extinguishing of life? Or can they instead serve as a wellspring of new life and new ways of living? What can we learn from extremophiles, from those who exist at the margins and beyond? What new modes of (co)existence can we derive from the concept of “extreme love”?

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