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Hayao Miyazaki’s Cursed Worlds
“I brought a friend with me the first time I saw Princess Mononoke in an American movie theater. He had no experience with Miyazaki or with Japanese culture or animation, but he was intrigued to see what promised to be a grand adventure story, especially one that was appearing in the United States under the auspices of Disney. In the middle of watching the movie, however, he started nudging me. “Who’s the good guy?” he hissed irritably. “I can’t tell which is the good guy and which is the bad guy!” “That’s the whole point!” I whispered back.

Princess Mononoke inaugurated a new chapter in Miyazakiworld. Ambitious and angry, it expressed the director’s increasingly complex worldview, putting on film the tight intermixture of frustration, brutality, animistic spirituality, and cautious hope that he had honed in his manga Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. The film offers a mythic scope, unprecedented depictions of violence and environmental collapse, and a powerful vision of the sublime, all within the director’s first-ever attempt at a jidaigeki, or historical film. It also moves further away from the family fare that had made him a treasured household name in Japan.

In the complicated universe of Princess Mononoke, there is no longer room for villains such as Future Boy Conan’s power-hungry Repka, the greedy Count of The Castle of Cagliostro, or the evil Muska of Laputa: Castle in the Sky. Miyazaki instead gives his audiences the ambitious but generous Lady Eboshi and the enigmatic monk Jiko-bō, who insists that we live in a cursed world. Jiko-bō isn’t the only one who thinks this, apparently. In the darkest moments of his tale of humans battling the “wild gods” of the natural world in fourteenth-century Japan, Miyazaki seems to be saying that all the dwellers of this realm, human and nonhuman, are equally cursed. Princess Mononoke raises questions Miyazaki had implicitly asked in the Nausicaä manga: Given what humanity has done to the planet, do we have a right to keep on waging war against the nonhuman other? Is there any way that humans and nonhumans can coexist?

These questions struck a deep chord in Japanese audiences, and the movie opened a new chapter in Miyazaki’s influence on Japanese society. Princess Mononoke became not simply a hit but a cultural phenomenon. The Japanese media celebrated the more than two thousand eager fans who lined up for the movie’s first screening in Tokyo, then vociferously commemorated the moment when the film surpassed the country’s previous highest earning movie, Steven Spielberg’s E. T. Magazine articles and even special issues on the film flooded Japan, tackling everything from the movie’s reworking of traditional history and its varied and impressive group of voice actors to its innovative animation techniques, including Studio Ghibli’s first use of computers and digital painting.

Miyazaki was interviewed on subjects ranging from environmental degradation to his judgment on whether children should see such a violent movie (on which he reversed himself, initially saying that they should not see it and then insisting that children would make the best audience). His fame among anime fans had been building for many years, and the success of his 1989 film, Kiki’s Delivery Service, opened up a still wider audience, but it is with Princess Mononoke that Miyazaki became a celebrity of sorts. This does not mean that he built a flashy house and started dating supermodels. He remained in the unpretentious Tokyo suburb of Tokorozawa and continued to welcome friends and staff members to the rustic cabin his father-in-law had built in the mountains of Nagano prefecture. In an interview after Princess Mononoke’s release, he spoke longingly of a desire “just to go away and live in a cabin in the mountains.”

This desire for retreat was understandable. As numerous articles and a six-hour documentary on the making of the film make clear, Princess Mononoke was the most stress-inducing film the director had created. Notably longer and far more expensive than any previous Studio Ghibli film, the work required almost superhuman efforts on the part of Miyazaki and his increasingly weary staff. Given Miyazaki’s obsessive attention to detail, the film’s epic scope, historical setting, and wide cast of characters made the preparation period alone intensely time-consuming, to say nothing of the time that the actual production took. Exhausted by the experience, some of the veterans who had worked on Princess Mononoke left the company when the film was finished to be replaced by new animators.

Toshio Suzuki, who produced Princess Mononoke, recalls a moment when Miyazaki finally “exploded” after being asked to do too many things in too short a time. The director was “correcting the storyboards, checking the originals, aligning the music to the story, and presiding over the ‘after recordings’ ”—vocals added after the initial animation is complete. He was also giving interviews on television and to newspapers and magazines, all while being involved with the marketing and with introducing the film to audiences as it was rolled out over Japan. As Suzuki puts it, Miyazaki had “given his body and soul” to the movie and was beyond exhaustion. Suzuki remembers being with the director the night before the movie’s premiere in the provincial city of Kochi. Miyazaki lay in bed and with a felt pen drew a sketch of his own face. Handing the paper to Suzuki, he said curtly, “Here, you put this on and go out and pretend to be me at the movie tomorrow.” Princess Mononoke’s aftermath would mark the beginning of the director’s retreat from extensive public-relations responsibilities.

The all-out marketing campaign that surrounded the movie marked a first: the studio marketed it as a Ghibli film rather than a Miyazaki film. This change was more than symbolic, attesting to the ascendance of Suzuki as Ghibli’s main producer in the widening realm of Miyazakiworld. Involved with Miyazaki and Isao Takahata since his days as an editor at Animage, he was widely credited with successfully marketing Kiki’s Delivery Service. But Princess Mononoke’s record-breaking box-office performance was deemed Suzuki’s most spectacular success to date, launching him firmly into a highly visible position in the animation industry. Viewed as the pragmatist who enables Miyazaki to express his idealistic vision, Suzuki became an increasingly dominant force at Ghibli. Indeed, the documentary on the making of Princess Mononoke sometimes appears to be allotting almost as much face time to the producer as to the man who actually directed the film.

New faces were also coming in from overseas. In 1997, Ghibli’s parent company, Tokuma Shoten, announced a deal with Disney to distribute its products worldwide. Suzuki had arranged the agreement, and it was a huge achievement for him and for Ghibli. The deal expanded Ghibli’s influence globally in one stroke and achieved an enormous public-relations coup at home. More than a thousand reporters attended the press conference announcing the deal. As Suzuki disarmingly explained, “The announcement that [Princess Mononoke] would be opening across America was important only in that it helped us capture market share at home.”

In fact, Princess Mononoke, despite an elegant English-language script written by the fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, and an impressive roster of American and English voice actors, did not perform particularly well in the United States. While the film critic Janet Maslin of the New York Times praised the film’s “exotically beautiful action” and Miyazaki’s construction of “an elaborate moral universe,” she also felt compelled to mention its occasionally “knotty” plot and sometimes “gruesome” imagery. A Japanese journalist wondered later, “How could [Americans who were] used to stories about good versus evil, full of musical numbers and comical sidekicks, and always with a happy ending, be expected to appreciate the appeal of Studio Ghibli’s offerings?”

Miyazaki’s feelings about the new arrangement with Disney are cloudy. Beyond a rather vague speech at the press conference, I can find no public pronouncement by him on the subject. Over the years, neither he nor Suzuki had had much good to say about Disney, so it seems likely that the arrangement was a purely practical one for the benefit of both parties. But Miyazaki and Suzuki could at least be satisfied that they had broken new ground for quality Japanese animation. Furthermore, the Oscar later awarded to Miyazaki’s 2001 film, Spirited Away, would show that American audiences could indeed appreciate something beyond “happily ever after.”

Although groundbreaking in many ways, Princess Mononoke did not come out of nowhere. By the early nineties, Miyazaki had completed his first adult-oriented feature film, Porco Rosso, and was finally finishing the Nausicaä manga. Always searching for new inspirations, he became intrigued by the idea of doing something with the Hōjōki, a classic work from the thirteenth century. A brief, beautifully written reflection on the world and the transience of life, the Hōjōki is still part of the curriculum in most Japanese schools.

The Hōjōki is not an obvious candidate for a movie, animated or otherwise. Written by Kamo no Chōmei, a former courtier who had grown disillusioned by the ways of the world and became a Buddhist monk, the work appeared in 1223, at a time when military takeovers, famine, pestilence, and natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods rocked the capital and claimed thousands of lives. The Hōjōki chronicles these disasters from a safe distance, through the viewpoint of a thoughtful, poetic man who sees in the apocalyptic events around him a reason for retreat and reflection.

Miyazaki’s interest in the Hōjōki was stimulated by a book called Hōjōkiden, by a favorite novelist of his, Yoshie Hotta. But beyond such influences, … [more]
hayaomiyazaki  2018  susannapier  princessmononoke  film  animation  worldbuilding  akirakurosawa  filmmaking  japan  hōjōki  emptiness  yoshiehotta  porcorosso  nausicaä  kamonochōmei  spiritedaway  storytelling  studioghibli  manga  castleinthesky  futureboyconan  war  multispecies  morethanhuman  mythology  environment  environmentalism  interconnected  interconnectedness  interdependence  industrialization  landscape 
6 days ago by robertogreco
Maria Thereza Alves – research back, decolonizing knowledge, strategies of survivance
"*1961
São Paulo, Brazil

Alves has worked and exhibited internationally since the 1980s, creating a body of work investigating the histories and circumstances of particular localities to give witness to silenced histories. Her projects are researched-based and develop out of her interactions with the physical and social environments of the places she lives, or visits for exhibitions and residencies. These projects begin in response to local needs and proceed through a process of dialogue that is often facilitated between material and environmental realities and social circumstances. While aware of Western binaries between nature and culture, art and politics, or art and daily life, she deliberately refuses to acknowledge them in her practice. She chooses instead to create spaces of agency and visibility for oppressed cultures through relational practices of collaboration that require constant movement across all of these boundaries."
mariatherezaalves  art  artists  brasil  brazil  history  borders  morethanhuman  multispecies  land  plants  animals  culture  politics  decolonization  landscape 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
No Animal Should Have to Die Alone - YouTube
“Alexis Fleming owns a hospice where she provides palliative care to more than 90 terminally-ill animals. Some of the dogs, sheep, chicken, pheasants, and pigs that Fleming has rescued were abandoned by their owners and left to die in a shelter. Others were discarded by farmers due to a disease or disability and would have met their end at the slaughterhouse. Thanks to the self-sacrificing and endlessly compassionate Fleming, these animals now have a chance to experience love and to die in peace without suffering.”

[See also: https://crannog.weebly.com/
https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/604498/crannog/

"When Alexis Fleming adopted her pit bull, Maggie, the dog had been severely neglected. Fleming, who comes from a family of dairy and sheep farmers, decided to move somewhere more rural in her native Scotland so that she could give Maggie the care and attention she needed. The dog eventually recovered from her history of abuse, and Fleming and Maggie enjoyed seven years together. Then, in 2015, Maggie experienced unexpected complications from surgery, and Fleming, who wasn’t nearby, had to make the difficult decision to end her pet’s life.

“I couldn’t be with Maggie when she died,” Fleming wrote on her website, “so I decided that, in her memory, I would build a home for other animal-folk who found themselves in need of a friend and home as their lives wind down.”

Isa Rao’s poignant short documentary Crannog follows Fleming at her sanctuary, where she provides palliative care for more than 90 terminally ill animals. Some of the dogs, sheep, chicken, pheasants, and pigs that currently live at the Maggie Fleming Animal Hospice were abandoned by their owners and left to die in a shelter. Others were discarded by farmers due to a disease or disability and would have met their end at the slaughterhouse.

“Alexis has created a tiny safe space where animals can live and die in peace while experiencing kindness—often for the first time in their lives,” Rao told me. “To her, there is no difference between human and animal suffering.”

Fleming is herself no stranger to suffering. She has Crohn’s disease, an incurable affliction of the digestive tract. A few years ago, she was given just weeks to live. After a successful major surgery, she’s now doing better, but she lives with a range of symptoms, including debilitating fatigue and extreme chronic pain. In Crannog, Fleming is shown caring for a dying sheep despite her own physical pain. Her compassion and self-sacrifice seem to know no bounds.

While filming, Rao was taken by the bond she observed between Fleming and the farm animals at the sanctuary. “It was the first time that I ever saw sheep, pigs, and even chickens come up to a person to receive back scratches,” she told me. “They nuzzled their snouts and beaks into her arms. They wanted to be close to her.” Fleming knows each animal’s personality intimately and attends to their individual preferences.

Behavioral and neuroscientific studies clearly indicate that a wide range of animals, including pigs, cetaceans like dolphins, and birds, exhibit evidence of consciousness. Rao, who has a doctoral degree in cognitive neuroscience, said that while these findings may seem intuitive to people who own pets, many people experience cognitive dissonance when it comes to considering the feelings of farm and wild animals.

“A lot of us would agree that many animals are conscious beings and can feel pain, but we at the same time often just accept animal suffering as something normal,” she said. “We still do not give animals the same consideration as humans, in particular in death and sickness. If we want to be ethically consistent, we should treat farm and wild animals with at least the same dignity and respect as we treat our pets. We need to treat them as living creatures that can feel and should not be exploited—whose lives have value, whose suffering should be avoided.”"]
multispecies  morethanhuman  2020  documentary  farms  chickens  animals  human-animalrelationships  human-animalrelations  sheep  pigs  illness  care  caring  isarao  alexisfleming  compassion  pheasants  dogs 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
These Students Are Partnering With Corvids to Replant a Forest After Fire | Audubon
"Island Scrub-Jays are acorn-planting machines. Might flying foresters be just what today's scorched Western landscapes need?"
corvids  scrubjays  2019  multispecies  morethanhuman  sarahgilman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  animals  birds  nature  wildlife 
7 weeks ago by robertogreco
Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism”
"The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of "legitimate" thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world's ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.

So what you read here is not what I've written. It's what I've said and someone else has written down. I will allow this because it seems that the only way to communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book. I don't really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can only read (of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the rule). I'm more concerned with American Indian people, students and others, who have begun to be absorbed into the white world through universities and other institutions. But even then it's a marginal sort of concern. It's very possible to grow into a red face with a white mind; and if that's a person's individual choice, so be it, but I have no use for them. This is part of the process of cultural genocide being waged by Europeans against American Indian peoples' today. My concern is with those American Indians who choose to resist this genocide, but who may be confused as to how to proceed.

(You notice I use the term American Indian rather than Native American or Native indigenous people or Amerindian when referring to my people. There has been some controversy about such terms, and frankly, at this point, I find it absurd. Primarily it seems that American Indian is being rejected as European in origin--which is true. But all the above terms are European in origin; the only non-European way is to speak of Lakota--or, more precisely, of Oglala, Brule, etc.--and of the Dineh, the Miccousukee, and all the rest of the several hundred correct tribal names.

(There is also some confusion about the word Indian, a mistaken belief that it refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in God.")

It takes a strong effort on the part of each American Indian not to become Europeanized. The strength for this effort can only come from the traditional ways, the traditional values that our elders retain. It must come from the hoop, the four directions, the relations: it cannot come from the pages of a book or a thousand books. No European can ever teach a Lakota to be Lakota, a Hopi to be Hopi. A master's degree in "Indian Studies" or in "education" or in anything else cannot make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into traditional ways. It can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.

I should be clear about something here, because there seems to be some confusion about it. When I speak of Europeans or mental Europeans, I'm not allowing for false distinctions. I'm not saying that on the one hand there are the by-products of a few thousand years of genocidal, reactionary, European intellectual development which is bad; and on the other hand there is some new revolutionary intellectual development which is good. I'm referring here to the so-called theories of Marxism and anarchism and "leftism" in general. I don't believe these theories can be separated from the rest of the of the European intellectual tradition. It's really just the same old song.

The process began much earlier. Newton, for example, "revolutionized" physics and the so-called natural sciences by reducing the physical universe to a linear mathematical equation. Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these "thinkers" took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it into code, an abstraction. They picked up where Christianity ended: they "secularized" Christian religion, as the "scholars" like to say--and in doing so they made Europe more able and ready to act as an expansionist culture. Each of these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three. Answer!

This is what has come to be termed "efficiency" in the European mind. Whatever is mechanical is perfect; whatever seems to work at the moment--that is, proves the mechanical model to be the right one--is considered correct, even when it is clearly untrue. This is why "truth" changes so fast in the European mind; the answers which result from such a process are only stopgaps, only temporary, and must be continuously discarded in favor of new stopgaps which support the mechanical models and keep them (the models) alive.

Hegel and Marx were heirs to the thinking of Newton, Descartes, Locke and Smith. Hegel finished the process of secularizing theology--and that is put in his own terms--he secularized the religious thinking through which Europe understood the universe. Then Marx put Hegel's philosophy in terms of "materialism," which is to say that Marx despiritualized Hegel's work altogether. Again, this is in Marx' own terms. And this is now seen as the future revolutionary potential of Europe. Europeans may see this as revolutionary, but American Indians see it simply as still more of that same old European conflict between being and gaining. The intellectual roots of a new Marxist form of European imperialism lie in Marx'--and his followers'--links to the tradition of Newton, Hegel and the others.

Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in order not to gain. Material gain is an indicator of false status among traditional people, while it is "proof that the system works" to Europeans. Clearly, there are two completely opposing views at issue here, and Marxism is very far over to the other side from the American Indian view. But let's look at a major implication of this; it is not merely an intellectual debate.

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And who seems most expert at dehumanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other people. One of the Christian commandments says, "Thou shalt not kill," at least not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue.

In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are used to justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real-estate speculator may refer to "developing" a parcel of ground by opening a gravel quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which more land can be "developed" through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, the whole universe is open--in the European view--to this sort of insanity.

Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans feel no sense of loss in all this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder of a mountain or a lake or a people in being. No, satisfaction is measured in terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools.

But each new piece of that "progress" ups the ante out in the real world. Take fuel for the industrial machine as an example. Little more than two centuries ago, nearly everyone used wood--a replenishable, natural item--as fuel for the very human needs of cooking and staying warm. Along came the Industrial Revolution and coal became the dominant fuel, as production became the social imperative for Europe. Pollution began to become a problem in the cities, and the earth was ripped open to provide coal whereas wood had always simply been gathered or harvested at no great expense to the environment. Later, oil became the major fuel, as the technology of production was perfected through a series of scientific "revolutions." Pollution increased dramatically, and nobody yet knows what the environmental costs of pumping all that oil out of the ground will really be in the long run. Now there's an "energy crisis," and uranium is becoming the dominant fuel.

Capitalists, at least, can be relied upon to develop uranium as fuel only at the rate which they can show a good profit. That's their ethic, and maybe they will buy some time. Marxists, on the other hand, can be relied upon to develop uranium fuel as rapidly as possible simply because it's the most "efficient" production fuel available. That's their ethic, and I fail to see where it's … [more]
russellmeans  1980  writing  oraltradition  lakota  thinking  abstraction  indigeneity  genocide  resistance  marxism  culture  outsiders  education  unschooling  deschooling  leftism  anarchism  johnlocke  adamsmith  descartes  physics  politics  economics  christianity  religion  efficiency  spirituality  complexity  hegel  karlmarx  materialism  isaacnewton  dehumanization  despiritualization  progress  development  victory  freedom  loss  indoctrination  schools  schooling  scientism  rationalism  capitalism  redistribution  truth  revolution  society  industrialization  sovietunion  china  vietnam  order  indigenous  alternative  values  traditions  theory  practice  praxis  westernism  europe  posthumanism  morethanhuman  rationality  belief  ideology  nature  survival  extermination  whiteness  whitesupremacy  community  caucasians  deathculture  isms  revolt  leaders  idols  leadership  activism  words  language  canon  environment  sustainability 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Inhumanism Rising - Benjamin H Bratton - YouTube
[See also:
https://trust.support/watch/inhumanism-rising

“Benjamin H. Bratton considers the role ideologies play in technical systems that operate at scales beyond human perception. Deep time, deep learning, deep ecology and deep states force a redrawing of political divisions. What previously may have been called left and right comes to reflect various positions on what it means to be, and want to be, human. Bratton is a design theorist as much as he is a philosopher. In his work remodelling our operating system, he shows how humans might be the medium, rather than the message, in planetary-scale ways of knowing.

Benjamin H. Bratton's work spans Philosophy, Art, Design and Computer Science. He is Professor of Visual Arts and Director of the Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is Program Director of the Strelka Institute of Media, Architecture and Design in Moscow. He is also a Professor of Digital Design at The European Graduate School and Visiting Faculty at SCI_Arc (The Southern California Institute of Architecture)

In The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2016. 503 pages) Bratton outlines a new theory for the age of global computation and algorithmic governance. He proposes that different genres of planetary-scale computation – smart grids, cloud platforms, mobile apps, smart cities, the Internet of Things, automation – can be seen not as so many species evolving on their own, but as forming a coherent whole: an accidental megastructure that is both a computational infrastructure and a new governing architecture. The book plots an expansive interdisciplinary design brief for The Stack-to-Come.

His current research project, Theory and Design in the Age of Machine Intelligence, is on the unexpected and uncomfortable design challenges posed by A.I in various guises: from machine vision to synthetic cognition and sensation, and the macroeconomics of robotics to everyday geoengineering.”]
benjaminbratton  libertarianism  technology  botcoin  blockchain  peterthiel  society  technodeterminism  organization  anarchism  anarchy  jamesbridle  2019  power  powerlessness  control  inhumanism  ecology  capitalism  fascism  interdependence  surveillance  economics  data  computation  ai  artificialintelligence  californianideology  ideology  philosophy  occult  deeplearning  deepecology  magic  deepstate  politics  agency  theory  conspiracytheories  jordanpeterson  johnmichaelgreer  anxiety  software  automation  science  psychology  meaning  meaningfulness  apophenia  posthumanism  robotics  privilege  revelation  cities  canon  tools  beatrizcolomina  markwigley  markfisher  design  transhumanism  multispecies  cybotgs  syntheticbiology  intelligence  biology  matter  machines  industry  morethanhuman  literacy  metaphysics  carlschmitt  chantalmouffe  human-centereddesign  human-centered  experience  systems  access  intuition  abstraction  expedience  ideals  users  systemsthinking  aesthetics  accessibility  singularity  primitivism  communism  duty  sovietunion  ussr  luxury  ianhacking 
november 2019 by robertogreco
There is a word for the trauma caused by distance from nature — Quartz
"Disconnection from nature can be bad for our mental health. But there was no name for this particular malaise until Australian sustainability professor Glenn Albrecht coined the term psychoterratic, creating the beginning of a vocabulary to discuss the relationship between mental health and environment.

Since then, he’s thought up a whole lexicon. In May, Albrecht’s book, Earth Emotions: New Words for a New World, will be published by Cornell University Press. It includes gems like the word ecoagnosy, a term created to describe environmental ignorance or indifference to the ecology. Then there’s solastalgia, the psychic pain of climate change and missing a home that’s transforming before your eyes."
words  forestbathing  nature  solastalgia  ecoagnosy  psycoterratic  language  vocabulary  morethanhuman  multispecies  prescribingnature  ecology  psychology 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Utopian Overreach — Real Life
"Digital wellness offers self-help as self-reliance

In July 2018, I ran a workshop called What Is Your Utopia at SpaceUs Roslindale, an MIT DesignX project that turned empty shopfronts into artist studios. The goal was to not only to demonstrate how utopian thinking can help us imagine new ways to address problems but also to show how anyone’s vision of an ideal world would inevitably impose their personal values as universals. Though the participants’ utopias were wide-ranging — from a completely pastoral society to a high-tech urbanized world to a libertarian commune — they came to see how they would quickly fall apart over such questions as “Who rules in your utopia, and how are they selected?” and “Does the society in your utopia hinge on equality, or is it something else?” A universalized mode of living and being almost always leaves someone out, always producing “losers.”

This lesson applies equally to the form of utopian thinking that is perhaps most prevalent today: digital utopianism. It is premised on the belief that technology-oriented solutions — whether it’s “smart” cities, or autonomous-vehicle systems, or drone-delivery schemes, or “connecting the world” — can fulfill a utopian ideal and provide uniform benefits for everyone. Popular science writers and technologists often deploy implicitly utopian thinking to promote their ideas, as if it were a deus ex machina to remove technologies from the sociopolitical context in which they are used.

The digital-wellness movement, though it seems to counter the grandiose schemes of the tech industry, shares a similar aspiration of fixing people for their own good, prescribing a specific one-size-fits all relationship with technology as a way to build an ideal society. This movement is typified by former Google employee Tristan Harris’s Center for Humane Technology, books like Georgetown computer science professor Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism and Catharine Price’s How to Break Up With Your Phone, and software such as the Before Launcher and Google’s new suite of experiments aimed at “balancing life and tech,” including a counter that tells you how many times you’ve unlocked your phone in a day.

What these interventions all have in common is how they frame our problems with technology as a matter between the individual and a specific device or app rather than the social, moral, and infrastructural relations that ultimately bind them together. They posit that apps in and of themselves compel our attention irresistibly through “dark patterns” of malevolent design, as if other people were not intrinsically involved in what we generally use phones to do. For example, in a Vox article, Recode’s Shirin Ghaffary claims that “if tech execs really wanted to help people with smartphone dependence, they would change their products to be inherently less addictive.”

In such accounts, technology is anthropomorphized and depicted as a separate entity with power and agency that comes at humans’ expense. Accordingly, digital wellness preaches the possibility of self-improvement through reclaiming our agency over devices. It holds that we can singlehandedly resist “technology” through individual, unilateral action once the secrets of manipulative design are explained to us. Rather than addressing the complexity of our relations with each other, institutions, social conditions, or anything else that communication technology plays into, digital wellness offers self-help as self-reliance while leaving the broader, underlying conditions unaddressed.

Newport’s digital minimalism, for instance, suggests spending time away from screens and devices, as well as “dumbing down” your phone by deleting social media, so that you can reduce screen time and “move on with the business of living your real-world life.” That may sound straightforward enough, but it takes for granted a clean separation of “worlds,” as though the demands of our lives don’t deeply involve digital communication and perpetual connectivity. Newport posits a utopia where you can live in the “real” world, with “real” relationships and a subservient technology that can “support — not subvert — your efforts to live well.” But what counts as “real”? And in an era when digital technology is used as means of employer control over employees, who has sufficient autonomy to insist on their own definition and refuse the subservience that’s mediated by phones, if not necessarily caused by them?

The digital-wellness movement associates what is “real” with what is “human,” positing a “perfect user,” as this earlier Real Life essay suggests, who engages in self-discipline and assumes responsibility for the nature of their entanglement with technology. Those with sufficient self-mastery to use technology appropriately are deemed more human than the phone zombies who succumb to tech’s predations. Media theorist Mark Poster predicted this sort of concern in his 2001 book What’s the Matter With the Internet?, where he suggests that information machines will “put into question humanity as an instrumental agent.” The digital-wellness movement tends to presume that the usefulness of technology comes at the expense of human capability, as if these were inherently zero-sum rather than potentially complementary. So it responds to the question of human agency by decontextualizing technology use and depicting it as being a matter of the individual’s unilateral will.

In protesting the functions that we’ve “offloaded” to devices, the digital-wellness movement evokes a utopia in which everyone experiences the same human-machine relation: Humans and technology are entirely separate, machines fundamentally rob humans of their agency, and humans reassert their humanity by claiming agency back. Though this sounds critical of tech-company overreach, it actually reflects the same underlying view it means to resist. Both tech companies and digital-wellness advocates posit an individual who can operate independent of society — a rational, free, and self-regulating subject. But where tech companies tend to claim their products liberate users from social entanglement, digital wellness suggests that users liberate themselves by rejecting those same products. Newport’s minimalist digital utopia and Zuckerberg’s all-enveloping digital utopia end up serving the same figure of the liberal humanist subject. In both cases, what differentiates the human from the nonhuman is the capability for agency.

But “human” has never had a truly universal definition. Feminist theorist Karen Barad, in Meeting the Universe Halfway, offers two different arguments for rejecting a universalist humanism: The first is the postmodernist claim that the human subject does not exist outside its entanglement in social practices. The second, informed by her training as a quantum physicist, points to how anthropocentric conceptual frameworks and measurement apparatuses posit a scientist who purportedly transcends the natural world and its nonhuman inhabitants.

Perhaps the strongest critique of humanism comes from postcolonial theory. Aimé Césaire notes in Discourse on Colonialism that not a single “defender of the human person” — from the preacher to the academic — showed any sign of outrage when colonialists tried to subjugate the world in the name of religion or for the “just demands of the human collectivity,” from which colonized people were excluded, simply categorized as savage beings in need of civilizing. The humanist underpinnings of the digital utopia — distinguishing who counts as a real person — draw on a perspective that is effectively colonialist.

Digital colonialism has new technologies merely replicating and strengthening existing power structures — which are already largely informed by colonialism. The concentration of much of the internet into the hands of a few tech companies have meant that digital surveillance and control have also been centralized. This has prompted some artists and academics to seek the decolonization of digital technology; Morehshin Allahyari’s 3D sculptures, for example, claims cultural works as a challenge to tech companies’ extractive practices.

Just as technology’s impacts and benefits are unevenly distributed, on both an individual and a cultural level, so is the nature of the agency humans have over it. Some groups draw on privilege they have beyond online spaces to exert control within them, while others depend on online connection to a different degree because of the exclusions they experience. Consider what early internet communities provided for people who do not have the same chance to make kin IRL, the “geeks, freaks, and queers who embraced the internet as a savior,” as theorist danah boyd has pointed out. Such divergent experiences with technology break down the idea of a universal digital anxiety. The anxieties, fantasies, and possibilities technology evokes are contextual; they vary according to the power relations among individuals, groups, and institutions within a given circumstance, because of the multitude of power, privilege, race, and other sociocultural dynamics that exist in relation to these technologies. The digital wellness utopia flattens all that into a single concern, reflecting the anxieties of one particular group — the demographic that includes Silicon Valley technologists.

Poster suggests that the “sensible” approach to thinking about technology would be not to lament “the destruction of nature by the irresponsible deployment of machines or the loss of human reality into machines or even the cultural ‘misshaping’ of the human by its descent into the instrumental” but rather to consider the nature of the cyborg — what he calls the “humachine.” The figure of the cyborg has been a fantastically important tool in reimagining social and technical relations, from Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg… [more]
wellness  individualism  technology  colonialism  liberalism  alifibrahim  2019  self-help  self-reliance  humanism  digital  digitalwellness  minimalism  reallife  self-mastery  internet  web  online  mobile  phones  decontextualization  employment  control  autonomy  privilege  karenbarad  utopia  universalism  morethanhuman  aimécesaire  collectivity  collectivism  civilization  marginalization  inequality  posthumanism  posthuman  yukhui  cybernetics  ideology  philagre  freedom  shiringhaffary  catharineprice  calnewport  launcher  google  tristanharris  facebook  markzuckerberg  addiction  spaceusroslindale  mitdesignx  equality  onesizefitsall  socialmedia  morehshinallahyari  decolonization  art 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Allora & Calzadilla, The Great Silence, in collaboration with Ted Chiang. - YouTube
"Allora & Calzadilla, The Great Silence (2016, 16’53’’), in collaboration with Ted Chiang.

The silent, subtitled, inner monologue of a parrot on the brink of extinction, reflecting on voice, silence, extraterrestrial life and human folly. The film is focused around the Arecibo Observatory, which captures and transmits radio waves from and into outer space - and whose site is also home to the critically endangered Puerto Rican parrots.

Artists, dancers, writers and scientists gathered at the London Zoo to consider animal, human and artificial consciousness, language, and interspecies communication. See below for participants. Participants include writer Ted Chiang, artist Michela de Mattei; dancer Claire Filmon (performing Simone Forti); artist Rasmus Nielsen; dolphin cognition researcher Diana Reiss, as well as a remote participation by Internet pioneer Vint Cerf and a screening of The Great Silence by Allora & Calzadilla (in collaboration with Ted Chiang)."
morethanhuman  multispecies  tedchiang  arecibo  puertorico  animalintelligence  language  languages  parrots  birds  animals  nature  extinction  universe  listening  2016  film  astronomy  physics  sound  communication  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  consciousness  londonzoo  serpentinegalleries  storytelling  wildlife  clairefilmon  michaelademattei  rasmusnielsen  vintcerf  alloraandcalzadilla 
november 2019 by robertogreco
The Susurrations of Trees - BBC Sounds
""To dwellers in a wood almost every species of tree has its voice as well as its feature. At the passing of the breeze the fir-trees sob and moan no less distinctly than they rock; the holly whistles as it battles with itself; the ash hisses amid its quiverings; the beech rustles while its flat boughs rise and fall..." That's the opening of Thomas Hardy's novel, 'Under the Greenwood Tree'.

Producer Julian May and Bob Gilbert, author of 'Ghost Trees' (about the trees of East London, the poplars of Poplar and beyond), are fascinated by the rustles of leaves in the breeze. They capture the distinctive susurrations of several species: quivering poplars, aspens that sound like rain, rattling London planes, whispering elms (there are still elms, they spring up, but the beetles bringing Dutch elm disease get them before they can mature) the hiss of the ash, whooshing pines and the strangely silent yew. They test Hardy's contention with Matthew Steinman and Ian Rogers, arboriculturalists who care for the trees of the Royal Parks.

They are intrigued by the words coined for these sounds - the learned - psithurism- from the Greek meaning whispering, to the local - 'hooi' the New Forest word for wind in the trees. The poet Alison Brackenbury reveals how John Clare, especially, has conjured them in language with vibrant dialect words, brustling, for instance. They explore the way writers such as Hardy, Edward Thomas, Francis Kilvert have responded to these sounds.

Musicians too have been inspired, there's Liszt's 'Forest Murmurs'; Iris Dement sings 'Whispering Pines'. There is new music composed especially for the programme by Lisa Knapp who incorporates the sounds of leaves in her violin piece."
sound  sounds  audio  trees  multispecies  morethanhuman  nature  listening  woods  forests  words  language  english  thomashardy  julianmay  bobgilbert  johnclare  music  lisaknapp 
november 2019 by robertogreco
A Giant Bumptious Litter: Donna Haraway on Truth, Technology, and Resisting Extinction
"Socialists aren’t the only ones who have been techno-utopian, of course. A far more prominent and more influential strand of techno-utopianism has come from the figures around the Bay Area counterculture associated with the Whole Earth Catalog, in particular Stewart Brand, who went on to play important intellectual and cultural roles in Silicon Valley.

They are not friends. They are not allies. I’m avoiding calling them enemies because I’m leaving open the possibility of their being able to learn or change, though I’m not optimistic. I think they occupy the position of the “god trick.” [Eds.: The “god trick” is an idea introduced by Haraway that refers to the traditional view of objectivity as a transcendent “gaze from nowhere.”] I think they are blissed out by their own privileged positions and have no idea what their own positionality in the world really is. And I think they cause a lot of harm, both ideologically and technically.

How so?

They get a lot of publicity. They take up a lot of the air in the room.

It’s not that I think they’re horrible people. There should be space for people pushing new technologies. But I don’t see nearly enough attention given to what kinds of technological innovation are really needed to produce viable local and regional energy systems that don’t depend on species-destroying solar farms and wind farms that require giant land grabs in the desert.

The kinds of conversations around technology that I think we need are those among folks who know how to write law and policy, folks who know how to do material science, folks who are interested in architecture and park design, and folks who are involved in land struggles and solidarity movements. I want to see us do much savvier scientific, technological, and political thinking with each other, and I want to see it get press. The Stewart Brand types are never going there.

Do you see clear limitations in their worldviews and their politics?

They remain remarkably humanist in their orientation, in their cognitive apparatus, and in their vision of the world. They also have an almost Peter Pan quality. They never quite grew up. They say, “If it’s broken, fix it.”

This comes from an incapacity to mourn and an incapacity to be finite. I mean that psychoanalytically: an incapacity to understand that there is no status quo ante, to understand that death and loss are real. Only within that understanding is it possible to open up to a kind of vitality that isn’t double death, that isn’t extermination, and which doesn’t yearn for transcendence, yearn for the fix.

There’s not much mourning with the Stewart Brand types. There’s not much felt loss of the already disappeared, the already dead — the disappeared of Argentina, the disappeared of the caravans, the disappeared of the species that will not come back. You can try to do as much resurrection biology as you want to. But any of the biologists who are actually involved in the work are very clear that there is no resurrection.

You have also been critical of the Anthropocene, as a proposed new geological epoch defined by human influence on the earth. Do you see the idea of the Anthropocene as having similar limitations?

I think the Anthropocene framework has been a fertile container for quite a lot, actually. The Anthropocene has turned out to be a rather capacious territory for incorporating people in struggle. There are a lot of interesting collaborations with artists and scientists and activists going on.

The main thing that’s too bad about the term is that it perpetuates the misunderstanding that what has happened is a human species act, as if human beings as a species necessarily exterminate every planet we dare to live on. As if we can’t stop our productive and reproductive excesses.

Extractivism and exterminationism are not human species acts. They come from a situated historical conjuncture of about five hundred years in duration that begins with the invention of the plantation and the subsequent modeling of industrial capitalism. It is a situated historical conjuncture that has had devastating effects even while it has created astonishing wealth.

To define this as a human species act affects the way a lot of scientists think about the Anthropocene. My scientist colleagues and friends really do continue to think of it as something human beings can’t stop doing, even while they understand my historical critique and agree with a lot of it.

It’s a little bit like the relativism versus objectivity problem. The old languages have a deep grip. The situated historical way of thinking is not instinctual for Western science, whose offspring are numerous.

Are there alternatives that you think could work better than the Anthropocene?

There are plenty of other ways of thinking. Take climate change. Now, climate change is a necessary and essential category. But if you go to the circumpolar North as a Southern scientist wanting to collaborate with Indigenous people on climate change — on questions of changes in the sea ice, for example, or changes in the hunting and subsistence base — the limitations of that category will be profound. That’s because it fails to engage with the Indigenous categories that are actually active on the ground.

There is an Inuktitut word, “sila.” In an Anglophone lexicon, “sila” will be translated as “weather.” But in fact, it’s much more complicated. In the circumpolar North, climate change is a concept that collects a lot of stuff that the Southern scientist won’t understand. So the Southern scientist who wants to collaborate on climate change finds it almost impossible to build a contact zone.

Anyway, there are plenty of other ways of thinking about shared contemporary problems. But they require building contact zones between cognitive apparatuses, out of which neither will leave the same as they were before. These are the kinds of encounters that need to be happening more.

A final question. Have you been following the revival of socialism, and socialist feminism, over the past few years?

Yes.

What do you make of it? I mean, socialist feminism is becoming so mainstream that even Harper’s Bazaar is running essays on “emotional labor.”

I’m really pleased! The old lady is happy. I like the resurgence of socialism. For all the horror of Trump, it has released us. A whole lot of things are now being seriously considered, including mass nonviolent social resistance. So I am not in a state of cynicism or despair."
donnaharaway  2019  californianideology  interviews  wholeearthcatalog  stewartbrand  technosolutionism  technology  climatechange  extinction  deminism  ontology  cynicism  resistance  siliconvalley  objectivity  ideology  science  politics  policy  loss  mourning  biology  resurrection  activism  humans  multispecies  morethanhuman  extractivism  exterminationism  plantations  capitalism  industrialism  history  indigenous  socialism 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Gothic Nature Journal – New Directions in Ecohorror and the EcoGothic
“Gothic Nature: New Directions in Ecohorror and the EcoGothic was originally born as a two-day conference in 2017 held at Trinity College Dublin and supported by funds from the Trinity Trust. The interest the conference received, coupled with the high volume and standard of submissions from speakers around the world, made it clear that Gothic Nature should be more than a one-off event. This enthusiasm has ultimately led to what you hold in your hands (or, more likely, view on your screens) today: a peer-reviewed, open access journal that engages with the all too pressing issues of our increasingly ‘Gothic’ conceptions of, and relationship to, the natural world.

Gothic Nature is run by Elizabeth Parker and Michelle Poland, who bonded over their fascination with the realities and representations of the ‘darker side of nature’ and particular love of the Deep Dark Woods. As two ECRs, we are extremely grateful to have the mentorship and support of established scholars working in the fields of ecohorror and ecoGothic, who have helped bring this journal to fruition by generously agreeing to form our Editorial Board.

We are dedicated in our vision of Gothic Nature to provide the most up-to-date research on all things ecohorror/ecoGothic and to deliberately include a mix of work from newer and more revered scholars in ecocriticism, Gothic and horror studies, and the wider environmental humanities. We warmly welcome contributions from creative writers and artists and are particularly interested in interdisciplinary research.

The journal covers a wide historical perspective and geographical scope. New and innovative ideas and topics will be received with an open mind and enthusiasm; however, broadly, we are seeking submissions that:

- explore the spectrality, monstrosity, sublimity, and uncanniness of nature in the Gothic imagination, and beyond.
- build on and engage with definitions of ecoGothic and/or ecohorror.
consider how Gothic and horror give expression to, and register the anxieties of, environmental crisis.”

[https://gothicnaturejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Mortensen_202-225_Gothic-Nature-1_2019.pdf

"EcoGothic dramatises the leakiness of systems, the fuzziness of boundaries and the precariousness of habitats, bodies, organisms and identities, as objects, animals, acts and substances that appear to violate the laws of nature take on forms of agency ordinarily attributed only to the human subject. EcoGothic is less a new type of Gothic than it is a matter of examining perhaps very well-known texts with a new and enhanced attentiveness to their environmental significance.”]
gothicnature  nature  multispecies  morethanhuman  elizabethparker  michellepoland  ecohorror  ecogothic  ecocriticism 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Humans, animals and the sensory world | Wellcome Collection
"How we perceive the world through our senses is often seen as what makes us human. But questioning the assumptions we make regarding our senses can help us think differently about our relationship with the animal world. Rather than separating us, our senses can show how animals and humans are interconnected."
senses  animals  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  perception  2019  wellcomecollection  multispecies  morethanhuman 
october 2019 by robertogreco
Wendell Berry’s Lifelong Dissent  | The Nation
“At a time when political conflict runs deep and erects high walls, the Kentucky essayist, novelist, and poet Wendell Berry maintains an arresting mix of admirers. Barack Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal in 2011. The following year, the socialist-feminist writer and editor Sarah Leonard published a friendly interview with him in Dissent. Yet he also gets respectful attention in the pages of The American Conservative and First Things, a right-leaning, traditionalist Christian journal.

More recently, The New Yorker ran an introduction to Berry’s thought distilled from a series of conversations, stretching over several years, with the critic Amanda Petrusich. In these conversations, Berry patiently explains why he doesn’t call himself a socialist or a conservative and recounts the mostly unchanged creed underlying his nearly six decades of writing and activism. Over the years, he has called himself an agrarian, a pacifist, and a Christian—albeit of an eccentric kind. He has written against all forms of violence and destruction—of land, communities, and human beings—and argued that the modern American way of life is a skein of violence. He is an anti-capitalist moralist and a writer of praise for what he admires: the quiet, mostly uncelebrated labor and affection that keep the world whole and might still redeem it. He is also an acerbic critic of what he dislikes, particularly modern individualism, and his emphasis on family and marriage and his ambivalence toward abortion mark him as an outsider to the left.

Berry’s writing is hard to imagine separated from his life as a farmer in a determinedly traditional style, who works the land where his family has lived for many generations using draft horses and hand labor instead of tractors and mechanical harvesters. But the life, like the ideas, crisscrosses worlds without belonging neatly to any of them. Born in 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky, Berry was but the son of a prominent local lawyer and farmer. He spent much of his childhood in the company of people from an older generation who worked the soil: his grandfather, a landowner, and the laborers who worked the family land. His early adulthood was relatively cosmopolitan. After graduating from the University of Kentucky with literary ambitions, he went to Stanford to study under the novelist Wallace Stegner at a time when Ken Kesey, Robert Stone, and Larry McMurtry were also students there. Berry went to Italy and France on a Guggenheim fellowship, then lived in New York, teaching at NYU’s Bronx campus. As he entered his 30s, he returned to Kentucky, setting up a farm in 1965 at Lane’s Landing on the Kentucky River. Although he was a member of the University of Kentucky’s faculty for nearly 20 years over two stints, ending in 1993, his identity has been indelibly that of a writer-farmer dug into his place, someone who has become nationally famous for being local, and developed the image of a timeless sage while joining, sometimes fiercely, in fights against the Vietnam War and the coal industry’s domination of his region.

Now the essays and polemics in which Berry has made his arguments clearest over the last five decades are gathered in two volumes from the Library of America, totaling 1,700 tightly set pages. Seeing his arc in one place highlights both his complexity and his consistency: The voice and preoccupations really do not change, even as the world around him does. But he is also the product of a specific historical moment, the triple disenchantment of liberal white Americans in the 1960s over the country’s racism, militarism, and ecological devastation. In the 50 years since, Berry has sifted and resifted his memory and attachment to the land, looking for resources to support an alternative America—”to affirm,” as he wrote in 1981, “my own life as a thing decent in possibility.” He has concluded that this self-affirmation is not possible in isolation or even on the scale of one’s lifetime, and he has therefore made his writing a vehicle for a reckoning with history and an ethics of social and ecological interdependence.”



“Throughout his work, Berry likes to iron out paradoxes in favor of building a unified vision, but he is himself a bundle of paradoxes, some more generative than others. A defender of community and tradition, he has been an idiosyncratic outsider his whole life, a sharp critic of both the mainstream of power and wealth and the self-styled traditionalists of the religious and cultural right. A stylist with an air of timelessness, he is in essential ways a product of the late 1960s and early ’70s, with their blend of political radicalism and ecological holism. An advocate of the commonplace against aesthetic and academic conceits, he has led his life as a richly memorialized and deeply literary adventure. Like Thoreau, Berry invites dismissive misreading as a sentimentalist, an egotist, or a scold. Like Thoreau, he is interested in the integrity of language, the quality of experience—what are the ways that one can know a place, encounter a terrain?—and above all, the question of how much scrutiny an American life can take.

”All of Berry’s essays serve as documents of the bewildering destruction in which our everyday lives involve us and as a testament to those qualities in people and traditions that resist the destruction. As the economic order becomes more harrying and abstract, a politics of place is emerging in response, much of it a genuine effort to understand the ecological and historical legacies of regions in the ways that Berry has recommended. This politics is present from Durham, North Carolina, where you can study the legacy of tobacco and slavery on the Piedmont soils and stand where locals took down a Confederate statue in a guerrilla action in 2017, to New York City, where activists have built up community land trusts for affordable housing and scientists have reconstructed the deep environmental history of the country’s most densely developed region. But few of the activists and scholars involved in this politics would think of themselves as turning away from the international or the global. They are more likely to see climate change, migration, and technology as stitching together the local and global in ways that must be part of the rebuilding and enriching of community.

The global hypercapitalism that Berry denounces has involved life—human and otherwise—in a world-historical gamble concerning the effects of indefinite growth, innovation, and competition. Most of us are not the gamblers; we are the stakes. He reminds us that this gamble repeats an old pattern of mistakes and crimes: hubris and conquest, the idea that the world is here for human convenience, and the willingness of the powerful to take as much as they can. For most of his life, Berry has written as a kind of elegist, detailing the tragic path that we have taken and recalling other paths now mostly fading. In various ways, young agrarians, socialists, and other radicals now sound his themes, denouncing extractive capitalism and calling for new and renewed ways of honoring work—our own and what the writer Alyssa Battistoni calls the “work of nature.” They also insist on the need to engage political power to shape a future, not just with local work but on national and global scales. They dare to demand what he has tended to relinquish. If these strands of resistance and reconstruction persist, even prevail, Wendell Berry’s lifelong dissent—stubborn, sometimes maddening, not quite like anything else of its era—will deserve a place in our memory.”
wendellberry  2019  jedediahbritton-purdy  dissent  climate  climatechange  agriculture  farming  kentucky  amandapetrusich  activism  writing  christianity  violence  land  communities  community  anticapitalism  individualism  left  humanism  morality  life  living  howwelive  environment  environmentalism  interconnectedness  us  ecology  economics  labor  ronaldreagan  inequality  growth  globalization  finance  financialization  politics  storytelling  mining  stripmining  pacifism  collectivism  collectiveaction  organizing  resistance  mobility  culture  popefrancis  wholeness  morethanhuman  multispecies  amish  localism  skepticism  radicalism  radicals  jedediahpurdy  innovation  competition  hypercapitalism 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Living With the Land: Four Seasons in Tibet • Lu Nan • Magnum Photos
“As part of an ongoing series, Living With the Land, we speak to Magnum photographers whose work explores a way of life tied closely to nature.

The  inhabitants of rural Tibet—as seen through the lens of Magnum photographer Lu Nan—live a relentlessly tough existence. From morning until night – when photographed near the turn of the millenium – they had endless work to do; in the spring, they sow, in the autumn, they harvest, before the summer, they shear wool which they twist into yarns. When they weren’t farming, they were sewing and weaving clothes and quilts. They are materially poor and their survival is closely bound to the whims of the weather. But, as Lu Nan explains, “Tibetan peasants do not talk about nature [as a separate entity], they are part of nature.”

In Tibet, the vast majority of peasants are Buddhists, but their religious faith is rarely fixed upon ceremony. “It is integrated into their daily life. This embodies itself in their attitude towards Nature, divinities and other living beings, as well as towards birth, aging, sickness, death and so on,” says Lu Nan. “Peasants do not use pesticides. Even if they are given out for free by the government, they still refuse to use them. The reason is very simple: pesticides will kill bugs. Life is fully respected here.”

Lu Nan spent seven years documenting these communities, resulting in the project titled, Four Seasons, which made up the third and final chapter of his Trilogy series. From 1996 to 2004, he made nine trips to Tibet and stayed three to four months each time, living alongside his subjects. His approach was methodical; he generally lodged at a government township and would visit any villages within a 2.5 hour walking distance from where he was staying. “On my last two trips, between August 2002 and May 2004, I worked in Tibet for fifteen months—six months for the first time and nine months for the second. During the work for Four Seasons, I photographed the entire spring sowing twice and the entire autumn harvest four times.”

Eighty-five percent of Tibetans are rural workers, and live lives that are fundamentally little removed from that of their ancestors. They plow their fields with oxen and horses, reap with sickles, and winnow wheat with the wind. Lu Nan witnessed a poetry in this machineless life. “What we hear is the ‘yo-heave-ho’ of driving draught animals, the songs of the women in the harvest, loudly thanking God for bestowing a bountiful harvest and the sound of threshing,” he says.

As a nationality, Tibetans value relationships deeply, especially among family members, says Lu Nan. “When you visit one family, if only the children are in the home, you can’t ask them where their parents are. Because of the harsh environment, poverty and lack of medical care, one of their parents may well have died. The children may begin to weep [if] asked such a question,” he explains. “Therefore, when one visits a family, one should instead ask how many people there are in the family and who they are and then you know whether the children’s parents are still alive.” Friendship outside of the family unit is also fundamental to their survival. “For example, when one family builds a house, every family in the village will send one person to help,” he adds.

Four Seasons offers a powerful and intimate study of a group of people with a profound connection to the land they live upon. This in turn leads to a deep appreciation of the present, evident in Lu Nan’s portraits. Quiet pleasure—and often sheer joy—is taken in tea making, braiding hair, lifting wheat, roasting barley, sitting with family or taking rest in the sun. “In their peaceful inner state, Tibetan peasants live and work leisurely and at ease, without being trapped by the past or disturbed by the future,” explains Lu Nan. “This is the state of happiness according to Buddhism, which resonates with the blessedness sought by Epicureanism, Stoicism and Spinozism.”

The project was heavily influenced by the work of German writer and statesman Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.“Goethe’s belief in the infinite value of living in the present and his overall vision of everything determines the level of Four Seasons,” says Lu Nan. “During the seven years of photographing Four Seasons, no matter how familiar I was with the peasants’ lifestyle and their customs, I was always prepared to leave empty-handed before I went to Tibet, because the fascination of life lies in its impermanence, which is also the inspiration and solace of life for me.””
tibet  lunan  photography  nature  morethanhuman  weather  seasons  time  multispecies  buddhism  religion  belief  faith  animals  agriculture  farming  happiness  epicureanism  stoicism  spinozism  goethe  spinoza  relationships  life  living  peasants  machines  land  landscape  geography  pleasure  pleasures  simplicity  leisure  work 
september 2019 by robertogreco
Why Euthanasia Rates at Animal Shelters Have Plummeted - The New York Times
"A cultural transformation: Spaying and neutering are now the norm, and rescue adoption is growing in popularity."
rescue  adoption  cats  dogs  pets  us  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  2019  spaying  neutering  euthanasia 
september 2019 by robertogreco
CENHS @ Rice! » 133 – María Puig de la Bellacasa
“Dominic and Cymene indulge a little post-Pruitt glee on this week’s podcast and speculate about the possibility of six foot tall low carbon lava lamps in the future. Then (16:46) we are thrilled to be joined by star STS scholar and emergent anthropologist María Puig de la Bellacasa to talk about her celebrated new book, Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds (U Minnesota Press, 2017). We start with the importance of care in feminist philosophy and how this work, alongside her own activist background, inspired this project. She asks us to consider how we can make knowledge that takes seriously a politics of care without giving ourselves over to the neoliberal commodification of care. And she asks how a commitment to speculative ethics can lead us to imagine and enact worlds different than the one we inhabit now. Later on, María tells us about what led her to quit philosophy and why appropriation might not actually be such a bad thing. Then we turn to her work with permaculturalists and soil scientists, what it was like to study with Starhawk, changing paradigms of soil ontology and ecology, what are alterbiopolitics, speculative ethics in a time of political crisis, and so much more.”

[See also:

“Matters of Care by María Puig de la Bellacasa, reviewed by Farhan Samanani”
https://societyandspace.org/2019/01/08/matters-of-care-by-maria-puig-de-la-bellacasa/

“Reframing Care – Reading María Puig de la Bellacasa ‘Matters of Care Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds’”
https://ethicsofcare.org/reframing-care-reading-maria-puig-de-la-bellacasa-matters-of-care-speculative-ethics-in-more-than-human-worlds/ ]
maríapuigdelabellacasa  care  maintenance  2018  morethanhuman  humanism  posthumanism  multispecies  anthropology  ecology  alterbiopolitics  permaculture  caring  ethics  politics  soil  philosophy  brunolatour  work  labor  activism  neoliberalism  feminism  donnaharaway  academia  knowledge  knowledgeproduction  thoughtfulness  environment  climatechange  individualism  concern  speculation  speculativeethics  speculativefiction  identitypolitics  everyday  pocketsofutopia  thinking  mattersofconcern  highered  highereducation  intervention  speculative  speculativethinking  greenconsumerism  consumerism  capitalism  greenwashing  moralizing  economics  society  matter  mattering  karenbarad  appropriation  hope  optimism  ucsc  historyofconsciousness 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Duke University Press - What Comes after Entanglement?
"By foregrounding the ways that human existence is bound together with the lives of other entities, contemporary cultural theorists have sought to move beyond an anthropocentric worldview. Yet as Eva Haifa Giraud contends in What Comes after Entanglement?, for all their conceptual power in implicating humans in ecologically damaging practices, these theories can undermine scope for political action. Drawing inspiration from activist projects between the 1980s and the present that range from anticapitalist media experiments and vegan food activism to social media campaigns against animal research, Giraud explores possibilities for action while fleshing out the tensions between theory and practice. Rather than an activist ethics based solely on relationality and entanglement, Giraud calls for what she describes as an ethics of exclusion, which would attend to the entities, practices, and ways of being that are foreclosed when other entangled realities are realized. Such an ethics of exclusion emphasizes foreclosures in the context of human entanglement in order to foster the conditions for people to create meaningful political change.

Praise

“What Comes after Entanglement? is an exciting and novel book. It is unique in its combination of innovative theoretical explorations of activism and social change with suggestions for practical political interventions. Crucially, Eva Haifa Giraud explores the messy practicalities of activism. The findings and significance of her book go far beyond the case study focus on a broad variety of animal activism since the 1980s, which weaves together different times and places in really interesting ways.” — Jenny Pickerill, author of Cyberprotest: Environmental Activism Online

“Eva Haifa Giraud does not accept relationality theory without question. The force of her work is her seeing theory as in need of a thinking-through that does not simply apply it to situations, but instead sees the situated work of activism as rendering our notion of theory and relationality in a more nuanced fashion. I don't know of any other text that follows through on the activist potentials in the theories Giraud draws from as much as this one does. An impressive work.” — Claire Colebrook, author of Death of the PostHuman: Essays on Extinction"
books  activism  animals  animalstudies  morethanhuman  multispecies  feminism  evahaifagiraud  2019  toread  anticapitalism  ethics  exclusion  entanglement  politics 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Animals, Anthropomorphism and Mediated Encounters: 1st Edition (Hardback) - Routledge
"This book critically investigates the pervasiveness of anthropomorphised animals in popular culture.

Anthropomorphism in popular visual media has long been denounced for being unsophisticated or emotionally manipulative. It is often criticised for over-expressing similarities between humans and other animals. This book focuses on everyday encounters with visual representations of anthropomorphised animals and considers how attributing other animals with humanlike qualities speaks to a complex set of power relations. Through a series of case studies, it explores how anthropomorphism is produced and circulated and proposes that it can serve to create both misunderstandings and empathetic connections between humans and other animals.

This book will appeal to academics and students interested in visual media, animal studies, sociology and cultural studies."
animalstudies  animals  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  anthropomorphism  multispecies  morethanhuman  culture  visual  books  claireparkinson 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Interspecies Entanglements
“Dr Vanessa Ashall and Professor Joanna Latimer are delighted to announce a new Wellcome Trust funded interdisciplinary project. Supported by Prof Stephen Wilkinson (Lancaster), Prof Miriam Johnson (Hull York Medical School) and Dr Amanda Boag (President of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) this grant aims to explore the professional, academic and policy potential of interspecies end of life care research

Contemporary approaches in the social sciences are destabilising traditional boundaries between human and non-human animals through acknowledging complex interspecies relationships in our society. The concept of ‘interspecies entanglement’ has recently been used within sociological studies of biomedicine, human and veterinary healthcare; broadening the scope of interdisciplinary spaces to include research which crosses both species and professional boundaries.

Previous Wellcome Trust funded research, conducted by Dr Ashall, has introduced the veterinary treatment of companion animals as an important empirical space from which to access unique accounts of experiences, frustrations and preferences related to the medical treatment of humans.

Conversations from the clinic; bringing together medical and veterinary healthcare professionals to share their experiences of animals & humans becoming ‘entangled’ during end of life care

Our Mission

Apply the concept of interspecies entanglement to the development of a new stream of interdisciplinary end of life care research, supported by a robust professional, academic and policy networks, and a collaborative research agenda.

Connect social, ethical and legal studies of end of life care for humans and animals though empirical research centred on the disparities and growing similarities between veterinary and medical healthcare approaches; including palliative care and euthanasia.

Our Vision

Explore how the study of such interspecies entanglements might offer opportunities to forge connections with and between existing streams of research, create new interdisciplinary spaces and offer new perspectives on pressing policy debates.

A new form of transdisciplinary end of life care research”

[blog: https://www.interspeciesentanglements.org/blog ]
interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  interspecies  multispecies  entanglement  vanessaashall  joannalatimer  morethanhuman  biomedicine  medicine  health  healthcare  companionspecies  animals  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  care  caring  death 
august 2019 by robertogreco
The Wake of Crows – Thom van Dooren
"The Wake of Crows: Living and Dying in Shared Worlds, Columbia University Press: New York, 2019

The blurb:

Crows can be found almost everywhere that people are, from tropical islands to deserts and arctic forests, from densely populated cities to suburbs and farms. Across these diverse landscapes, many species of crows are doing very well today: their intelligent and adaptive ways of life have allowed them to thrive amid human-driven transformations. Indeed, crows are frequently disliked for their success, seen as pests, threats, and scavengers on the detritus of human life. But among the vast variety of crows, there are also critically endangered species that are barely hanging on to existence, some of them subjects of passionate conservation efforts.

The Wake of Crows is an exploration of the entangled lives of humans and crows. Focusing on five key sites, Thom van Dooren asks how we might live well with crows in a changing world. He explores contemporary possibilities for shared life emerging in the context of ongoing processes of globalization, colonization, urbanization, and climate change. Moving between these diverse contexts, this book tells stories of extermination and extinction, alongside fragile efforts to better understand and make room for one another. Grounded in the careful work of paying attention to some very particular crows and their people, The Wake of Crows is an effort to imagine and put into practice a multispecies ethics. In so doing, van Dooren explores some of the possibilities that still exist for living and dying well on this damaged planet.

Endorsements:

“A necessary and beautiful book, The Wake of Crows models the work of living responsibly inside both the humanities and the sciences in order to nurture still possible worlds. This book shows us what collaborative efforts to enact multispecies communities mean, and might yet mean, in the context of ongoing processes of extinction and extermination. Moving through diverse sites of human/crow encounter, it offers insights into the fragile, situated, ongoing, work necessary to cultivating ecologies of hope in troubled times.”
~ Donna Haraway, author of Staying with the Trouble, and When Species Meet

“The Wake of Crows is a thoughtful and captivating book that opens our imagination. In this book van Dooren shows us that accepting the challenge to coexist with crows without dreaming that they will come to behave as a loyal and grateful companion species, might teach us priceless lessons at a time when we need to learn how to make room for many different, sometimes inconvenient, but so very interesting, others.”
~ Isabelle Stengers, author of In Catastrophic Times: Resisting the Coming Barbarism

“Writing from a personal and scholarly perspective, Thom van Dooren takes us on a deep dive into the human-crow relationship that both informs natural history and lays bare the importance of expanding our own ethics to value all of life and our wonderful connections to it.”
~ John M. Marzluff, Professor of Wildlife Science, University of Washington and author of Gifts of the Crow and Welcome to Subirdia."
thomvandooren  crows  animals  birds  corvids  books  intelligence  donnaharaway  isabellestrengers  johnmarzluff  globalization  urban  urbanism  urbanization  climatechange  colonization  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  multispecies  morethanhuman 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Gabriel Rosenberg on Twitter: "Ok y'all did it: A thread about hogs, ferality, and race in American history." / Twitter
[via: https://twitter.com/metaleptic/status/1158736606183841794
"come for the feral hogs, stay for the porcine analytic of settler colonialism."]

“Ok y’all did it: A thread about hogs, ferality, and race in American history.

Domestic hogs are not indigenous to North America. They were first introduced by the Spanish during the earliest phases of colonization. In fact, in many cases, hogs long preceded Europeans as the first wave of colonizers,

Hogs are tough, fierce, and hardy beasts. Their tusks offer ample defense against catamounts and other predators. They are thrifty breeders, producing large litters of viable offspring. And they can self-provision in forests, scrub, and grass (tho they also need shade and mud).

European colonizers seeded the landscape with small populations of hogs, knowing they would multiply quickly and, thus, would provide a ready supply of meat. Seeded so, hogs quickly advanced across the North American continent far faster than Europeans.

Indigenous populations faced an ambivalent gift in these new creatures. On the one hand, they could be hunted and provided another useful food source. Much like with horses, indigenous populations ingeniously harnessed porcine possibilities.

However, pigs also brought European diseases and were a vector of contagion for the epidemics that devastated indigenous populations. Hogs made life easier for settlers, and it disrupted indigenous land use. ate the crops of indigenous communities, sparking conflicts.

By the 19th century, hogs were consummate companions of settlers and pork was the predominant meat of Euro-Americans. Hogs didn’t need pasture and they produced ample lard (the most common cooking oil).

They could be pickled, barrelled, and floated down the Mississippi for the Atlantic seaboard and Europe. Cincinnati was memorably awarded the moniker “Porkopolis.” Settlers from around the Ohio River Valley drove millions of hogs there for slaughter and export.

In sum, settlers found pigs to be a useful way to extract calories from the landscape and to transform it cheaply into food and sometimes commodities. But this form of hog husbandry was low-intensity and rarely involved fences or enclosure.

In this context, the modern distinction between feral and domestic was muddier. Most hogs lived proximate to proximate to humans, some in human shelters, but they had enormous autonomy and roved freely.

This made sense early in settler colonialism, but fencing and property systems changed the story. As setters planted grains, they found roving hogs a menace who trampled and ate their crops. Similarly, fences were a form of improvement that strengthened property claims.

Over the course of the 19th century, fence laws and enclosure spread West from the Atlantic seaboard (with the exception of the South East and Appalachia where enclosure was contested until the end of the century).

In the meantime, settlers (now imagining themselves the “permanent” natives after only a generation) began to develop a different system of hog husbandry. Instead of free ranging their hogs, they increasingly confined them and fattened them on grain.

After the Civil War, the development of a robust rail system also meant live pigs could be easily transported to Chicago, which quickly replaced Cincinnati as the center of hog slaughter. This transportation network created a hog-corn nexus throughout the Middle West.

This different system of production also required a new kind of hog: settlers (now called farmers) wanted a hog that put on weight quickly and efficiently transformed corn into fat, not one that could defend itself and self-provision from a forest.

They no longer needed a lean, muscular hog with long legs and tusks capable of making a long drive to Cincinnait. They wanted a stout fat hog, with short legs, and no tusks, an animal that was docile and easily transported.

Enclosure meant they had the opportunity to do this. Whereas free ranging hogs were mostly left to their own mating, fences, crates, and barns meant farmers could intensively breed their pigs and determine with precision which animals should mate.

Ok gotta run and catch the U to get a haircut, but I’ll tweet as I go, spotty WiFi and all.

By the 1880s, pig farmers across America endeavored to “improve” their herds by breeding in European stock. Through elaborate systems of genealogy and recording, they adapted the European tradition of pure-breeding to a settler colonial context.

Such farmers raved about the purity of their (animal) bloodlines, which they considered a powerful proof of the superiority of European settled agriculture and civilization. The refinement and purity of their breeds was evidence that settler colonialism was just and natural.

And what of “unimproved” pigs? They called these animals “mongrels”, “degenerates”, “scrubs”, and “natives.” The last term indexes the conflation of indigeneity with biological inferiority and unmanaged reproduction.

And much as “refined” stock proved white European superiority, “native” animals showed that those communities setter colonialism had eradicated were “degenerate” and “barbarous.”

It is in this context that the concept of “feral” can begin to emerge as a distinct and threatening concept to white American culture: a form of unmanaged reproduction and life that exists outside and apart from property ownership and settled agriculture.

That defense of assault weapons is almost too on the nose: hordes of unmanaged life invade domesticity and managed reproduction (the daughter) and must be culled with massive and indiscriminate violence. Six hundred years of settler colonialism is speaking in that tweet.

If you learned something from this thread, please read the work of the many historians working on agriculture who helped form my thinking. These include: Anderson’s Creatures of Empire, Cronon’s Changes in the Land and Nature’s Metropolis, and Specht’s Red Meat Republic.

Also, Logan O’Laughlin’s forthcoming work, Wood’s Herds Shot Round the World, Franklin’s Dolly Mixtures, Mizelle’s Pig, Blanchette’s forthcoming Porkopolis and many many more. Oh and read some Sylvia Wynter too!

Fin.

Epilogue: I have safely returned to my office at the
@MPIWG
with a fresh bald fade and this thread completely viral. If you’re interested in my work, some links will follow.

#1 My article, “A Race Suicide Among the Hogs”: https://www.academia.edu/21787581/_A_Race_Suicide_among_the_Hogs_The_Biopolitics_of_Pork_in_the_United_States_1865_1930_American_Quarterly_68.1_March_2016_49-73

The article examines meat agriculture as a site for the production of knowledge about gender, race, and sexuality that spanned human and non-human animals. Livestock breeders and commentators alike…

#2 My article, “How Meat Changed Sex” (on the unexpected sexual politics of livestock production): https://www.academia.edu/35295117/HOW_MEAT_CHANGED_SEX_The_Law_of_Interspecies_Intimacy_after_Industrial_Reproduction

HOW MEAT CHANGED SEX: The Law of Interspecies Intimacy after Industrial Reproduction
The article explores the history and structure of American laws criminalizing sex- ual contact between humans and animals to demonstrate how the ecological conditions of late capitalism are…

#3 My book, “The 4-H Harvest: Sexuality and the State in Rural America”: https://www.amazon.com/4-H-Harvest-Sexuality-America-Politics/dp/0812247531/

4-H, the iconic rural youth program run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has enrolled more than 70 million Americans over the last century. As the first comprehensive history of the organization

#4 A popular piece I wrote for the @BostonGlobe that gives you a sense of how I think about farming and rural America in the context of settler colonialism, “Fetishizing Family Farms”: https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2016/04/09/fetishizing-family-farms/NJszoKdCSQWaq2XBw7kvIL/story.html

Fetishizing family farms: History is nothing like the political mythology.

#5 A recent microsyllabus on Animal Studies I wrote for the Radical History Review’s incredible @abusablepast: https://www.radicalhistoryreview.org/abusablepast/?p=3164

Microsyllabus: Animal Studies
Compiled by Gabriel N. Rosenberg Animal Studies queries the relationship between nonhuman animals (or “animals”) and human social orders. It is an interdisciplinary field, encompassing scholarship”
pigs  hogs  multispecies  history  colonialism  gabrielrosenberg  animals  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  us  animalstudies  morethanhuman  imperialism  feral  ferality  farming  land  ownership  agriculture  livestock  food  landscape  settlercolonialism 
august 2019 by robertogreco
The Miyawaki Method: A Better Way to Build Forests? | JSTOR Daily
"India’s forest production company is following the tenets of the master Japanese botanist, restoring biodiversity in resource-depleted communities."
forests  plants  india  japan  biodiversity  botany  multispecies  morethanhuman  miyawakimethod  akiramiyawaki  afforestation  timber 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | The Lessons of a Hideous Forest - The New York Times
"My God, I breathed. It was suddenly, momentarily beautiful. From a coyote’s-eye view, you could see what the trees were up to: Growth, failure, decay and the drip of acid water through the gravel were mixing a dirt out of the detritus. This hideous forest, I suddenly realized, was there to repair the damage done, and not at our bidding. Its intent was not to look good. Its intent was to stay alive, year by year, century by century, until at last it had recycled even the nylon stocking.

We know how long it takes most kinds of leavings to decay. Organic material goes quickly: cardboard in three months, wood in up to three years, a pair of wool socks in up to five. A plastic shopping bag may take 20 years; a plastic cup, 50. Major industrial materials will be there for much longer: An aluminum can is with us for 200 years, a glass bottle for 500, a plastic bottle for 700, and a Styrofoam container for a millennium.

A fallen willow tree sprouting new growth.

The forest does not know this. It does not think. It just acts. Because it is so good at sprouting, resprouting, reiterating, and repeating the entire process, it can keep up the living and dying for as long as it takes, even if that is a thousand years. The trees are not conscious. They are something better. They are present.

My colleague Laura met the genie of Fresh Kills one sodden afternoon among the garbage. It was not the only plastic doll’s head we had seen there, but this one was different. The cropped gray fusilli of its hair had become the matrix for a crew cut of living, growing moss. A sort of real-life Chia Pet. Well beyond the imagination of its makers — and almost in spite of them — the doll was coming to life. No human strategy of command and control had made it so, but rather the insistence of the wild.

We think of woodlands as places of beauty and repose. We are accustomed to judge a picturesque woodland as a good one and an ugly wood as bad. When Mount St. Helens exploded in 1980, there were endless plans to make it better. Instead, the rangers and scientists mainly stood back and watched. A new forest is slowly emerging. We need to change our thinking: Ask not just what these landscapes look like, but also what they are doing. Fresh Kills Landfill taught me that they may be places of struggle and healing as well, particularly when they come to restore what people have deranged."
forests  trees  nature  statenisland  nyc  anthropocene  resilience  plants  via:aworkinglibrary  2019  multispecies  morethanhuman  garbage  healing  williambryantlogan  damonwinter  mountsainthelens  restoration  growth  failure  decay  life  time  woodlands 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Going Home with Wendell Berry | The New Yorker
[via: https://twitter.com/annegalloway/status/1150867868696772608 ]

[Too much to quote, so here’s what Anne quoted:]

“Lancie Clippinger said to me, and he was very serious, that a man oughtn’t to milk but about twenty-five cows, because if he keeps to that number, he’ll see them every day. If he milks more than that, he’ll do the work but never see the cows! The number will vary from person to person, I think, but Lancie’s experience had told him something important.”
via:anne  wendellberry  rural  slow  small  empathy  kindness  georgesaunders  relationships  neighbors  amish  care  caring  maintenance  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  culture  farming  agriculture  local  locality  place  trees  history  multispecies  morethanhuman  language  restorativejustice  justice  climatejustice  socialjustice  johnlukacs  environment  sustainability  kentucky  land  immigration  labor  work  gender  ownership  collectivism  conversation  lancieclippinger  god  faith  religion  christianity  submission  amandapetrusich  individualism  stewardship  limits  constraints  memory  robertburns  kafka  capitalism  corporations  life  living  provincialism  seamusheaney  patrickkavanagh  animals  cows  freedom  limitlessness  choice  happiness  davidkline  thomasmerton  service  maurytilleen  crops  us  donaldtrump  adlaistevenson  ezrataftbenson  politics  conservation  robertfrost  pleasure  writing  andycatlett  howwewrite  education  nature  adhd  wonder  schools  schooling  experience  experientiallearning  place-based  hereandnow  presence 
july 2019 by robertogreco
The Voices of Birds and the Language of Belonging – Emergence Magazine
"As we listen and seek to connect, we should remember and honor this difference. At the same time, let us not allow otherness to bar the door to kinship, curiosity, and imagination. There is a bridge. That bridge is made from the gift of our attention. Sometimes attention is focused into science, but mostly it is an opening to the languages of birds in the everyday.

What do we hear in the bird voices of our homes? Every species has a sonic signature, and individuals within species have their own unique voices. In this diversity of acoustic expression are embedded many meanings.

First, the particularities of species, each with its own cadence and tempo. House wren. Bald eagle. Song sparrow. Raven. By noticing and naming, we take the first step into friendship and understanding, crossing the gulf between species. Sound is a particularly powerful connector because it travels through and around barriers, finding us and calling us out of inattention. We walk across town and notice our avian cousins. Kinship and community are no longer just ideas, but are lived, sensual relationships."

...

"With some attention and perhaps the help of a recording device, we can hear the individuality of birds around our homes. But understanding the meanings embedded in these sounds is harder. In the human realm, I can learn the singular voices of people speaking in a foreign tongue, but I’ll completely fail to understand what they say and mean. How much more difficult is the task with creatures separated from us by hundreds of millions of years of evolution.

Yet, attentive bird-listeners hear the edges of meaning. Individuality in bird sounds is not random or accidental; it reveals the personality of each bird. In the society of chickadees, some birds have open and exploratory personalities, others are more careful and precise. The rattle of kingfishers and the wood thrushes’ evening song take on new inflections when birds court and pair. At the nest, we hear information flowing in a stream of sound between mated birds. No two phoebe nestlings beg for food in the same way. When sparrow youngsters babble and practice their songs, they explore acoustic spaces in ways that parallel human speech: improvisational, repetitive, refined by listening to elders. In the trees at dusk, crows warble softly to themselves as they preen. A raven’s call is filled with mocking irony as the bird mimics for its companions the call of a sandhill crane. Parrots laugh, causing those around them to frolic and play. As robins gather on a lawn, a blue jay screams a red-shouldered hawk call, a deception that the bird repeats with great gusto when humans walk under its tree. These are not the dead clankings of machines, nor are they the mere utilitarian grunts of feeding or social tokens of sexual union. These sounds are intricate, layered, responsive, generative, and humorous.

Laboratory studies reveal that bird utterances are imbued with understanding, full of representation, organized by rules, powered by creativity, and shaped by culture and context. Bird sound-making has internal grammatical rules. Their brains learn and innovate. Birds hear and remember nuances of sound, connecting abstract acoustic patterns to the physicality of their ecological and social worlds. They listen to the voices of other species and understand what is meant. Social interaction with kin and neighbors molds the shape of individual sounds and the organization of these parts into a whole.

These scientific studies, valuable as they are in expanding our understanding, have queried bird language in only a handful of species, often with the goal of testing whether specific rules of human grammar also manifest in birds. Thus far, science alone is insufficient to the task of hearing birds. A few dozen experiments conducted by a handful of researchers will not open the ears of the human species to the voices of our cousins. Language-learning is for everyone.

When we understand the meanings of a sound made by a bird, nerves in two different brains touch and signal. The link between nerve cells is made from vibrating air, a connection as strong and real as the chemical links among nerves in a single brain. Bird sounds, then, are sonic neurotransmitters that leap across species boundaries.

When we understand the meanings of a sound made by a bird, nerves in two different brains touch and signal."
birds  sound  listening  multispecies  morethanhuman  2019  language  nature  davidhaskell  understanding  intelligence  biology  communication  wildlife  meaning  kinship 
july 2019 by robertogreco
The Book That Made Me: An Animal | Public Books
"The Lives of Animals was the first book I read in college—or at least the first book I read in a strange, amazing seminar that rewired my brain in the first semester of freshman year. The course was about animals, and I signed up for it probably because it was a course my dad, who had been advising me on all things college, would have taken himself. He kept animal effigies all over the apartment: portraits of a donkey and a marmot in the bathroom; a giant poster of “The External Structure of Cock and Chicken” in the living room; dog figures of many breeds; pigs, his favorite, in all shapes and sizes, in every single nook and cranny. In the dining room he had a huge pig sculpture made of leather, which in retrospect was a strange and morbid combination: one animal skinned to make an image of another. Our cocker spaniel had chewed its face beyond recognition by the time my mom got around to throwing it out.

My dad passed away in 2016, two years after they got divorced, and I faced the monumental task of disposing of his menagerie. I kept many things, of course, but couldn’t keep them all. It was so easy to throw out or donate clothes, housewares, furniture, even books. I didn’t know what to do with the creatures, who seemed to contain his spirit more than anything else. I laughed when I found a key chain in a random drawer: a little brass effigy of one pig mounting another. That was his humor. That was his mind, his way of seeing, his culture—which was based, like all cultures, in certain ideas about nature. Frankly, he was a difficult man to know even when he was alive. The animals offered me a way in, as they probably did for him.

Anyway, he was the one who saw the listing for a course named “Zooësis” and thought I might like it. And I really did, from the moment our indefatigably brilliant professor, Una Chaudhuri, asked us to read J. M. Coetzee’s weird, hybrid book. The Lives of Animals is a novella, but Coetzee delivered it as a two-part Tanner Lecture at Princeton in 1997, and it centers, in turn, on two lectures delivered by its aging novelist protagonist, Elizabeth Costello. During her visit to an obscure liberal arts college, she speaks hard-to-swallow truths about the cruelties we visit upon animals, making a controversial analogy between industrialized farming and the Third Reich. But the content of her lectures is almost less important than the reactions they generate and the personal consequences she incurs, which Coetzee shows us by nesting the lectures within a fictional frame. People get incensed; the academic establishment rebukes her argument, her way of arguing, everything she represents. Even her family relationships buckle under the weight of a worldview that seems to reject reason.

Her first lecture is about the poverty of philosophy, both as a basis for animal ethics and as a medium for thinking one’s way into the mind of another kind of creature. But her second lecture is about the potential of poetry, and it’s captivating in its optimism about the ability of human language to imagine radically nonhuman forms of sensory experience—or, perhaps more radically, forms of sensory experience we share with other species.

As a person who has worked within the field commonly known as animal studies but has never worked with real animals (unlike so many great boundary-crossing thinkers: the late poet-philosopher-veterinarian Vicki Hearne, the philosopher-ethologist Vinciane Despret, et al.), I often find myself bummed out by the inadequacy of representation: Specifically, what good are animals in books? Are they not inevitably vessels of human meaning? In Flush, her novel about the inner life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s cocker spaniel, Virginia Woolf has another way of putting the problem: “Do words say everything? Can words say anything? Do not words destroy the symbol that lies beyond the reach of words?” To which I would add: Do they not destroy, or at least ignore, the creature beyond the symbol as well?

Coetzee has a different view. Or Costello, at least, has some different ideas about what poetry can do. She celebrates poems like Ted Hughes’s “The Jaguar” and Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Panther”—“poetry that does not try to find an idea in the animal, that is not about the animal, but is instead the record of an engagement with him.” She finds value in poems that try to capture the fluid complexity of a moment of contact across species, rather than try to preserve an imagined essence of the animal in amber. She also defends the human imagination as something more powerful than we give it credit for. My favorite line from the book is her response to Thomas Nagel’s famous essay “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” Nagel insists that it’s impossible for a human to know the answer to his titular question. Costello rebuts: “If we are capable of thinking our own death, why on earth should we not be capable of thinking our way into the life of a bat?” I think it takes an effort of heart, more than mind, to follow her train of thought.

The novella reflects her resistance to the imperious voice of human reason—and her embrace of the messiness of the subjective imagination—on many levels. She’s uneasy at the bully pulpit, as was Coetzee himself. For the longest time I thought that the narrator was omniscient—an impersonal God figure aligned with Coetzee’s own position at that Princeton lectern. But then I read the novella again, preparing to teach it in a lit class where we were also reading Jane Austen. I realized that the narrator filters everything through the perspective of John Bernard, Costello’s son, who has a strange tendency to obsess over his mother’s body (paging Dr. Freud: “Her shoulders stoop; her flesh has grown flabby”) and profoundly ambivalent feelings about her. He is torn between sympathy and repulsion, connection and alienation. He is torn, also, between her perspective, which persuades him to an extent, and the perspective of his wife, Norma, a philosophy professor who loathes her and has no patience for her anti-rationalist message.

The question this novella raises is always that of its own construction: Why is it a novella in the first place? What does Coetzee communicate through fiction that he couldn’t have communicated through a polemic? I think the technique of focalization, which grounds everything in John’s perspective, shows us exactly what an abstract polemic about animals couldn’t: the impossibility of speaking from a position outside our embodiment, our emotions, our primordial and instinctual feelings toward kin. In other words, the impossibility of speaking about animals as though we were not animals ourselves.

Every time I read the book—definitely every time I teach it—the potentialities of its form grow in number. I find new rooms in the house of fiction that reveal how grand a mansion it is. I display it proudly, in the center of a bookshelf lined with animal books like Marian Engel’s Bear, Woolf’s Flush, J. R. Ackerley’s My Dog Tulip, Kafka’s stories, and John Berger’s Pig Earth. The shelf is my own version of my father’s menagerie, brimming with all manner of complex and contradictory creatures. All of them are representations, but that doesn’t make them feel any less real, or any less alive.

I regard my father with some of the ambivalence that John, the son in Coetzee’s story, feels toward his own mother and her thoughts on animals. But I encounter the creatures he left behind with warmth, solidarity, and hope."
via:timoslimo  jmcoetzee  multispecies  morethanhuman  senses  writing  howwewrite  language  whywewrite  fiction  animals  bodies  unachaudhuri  philosophy  elizabethbarrettbrowning  virginiawoolf  vincianedespret  animalrights  vickihearne  rainermariarilke  tedhughes  narration  thomasnagel  imagination  messiness  janeausten  perspective  novellas  kafka  johnberger  marianengel  jrackerley  hope  solidarity  communication  embodiment  emotions  persuasion  mattmargini  canon  books  reading  howweread  teaching  howweteach  farming  livestock  sensory  multisensory  animalstudies  poetry  poems  complexity  grief  literature  families  2019 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Feminist cyborg scholar Donna Haraway: ‘The disorder of our era isn’t necessary’ | World news | The Guardian
"The history of philosophy is also a story about real estate.

Driving into Santa Cruz to visit Donna Haraway, I can’t help feeling that I was born too late. The metal sculpture of a donkey standing on Haraway’s front porch, the dogs that scramble to her front door barking when we ring the bell, and the big black rooster strutting in the coop out back – the entire setting evokes an era of freedom and creativity that postwar wealth made possible in northern California.

Here was a counterculture whose language and sensibility the tech industry sometimes adopts, but whose practitioners it has mostly priced out. Haraway, who came to the University of Santa Cruz in 1980 to take up the first tenured professorship in feminist theory in the US, still conveys the sense of a wide-open world.

Haraway was part of an influential cohort of feminist scholars who trained as scientists before turning to the philosophy of science in order to investigate how beliefs about gender shaped the production of knowledge about nature. Her most famous text remains The Cyborg Manifesto, published in 1985. It began with an assignment on feminist strategy for the Socialist Review after the election of Ronald Reagan and grew into an oracular meditation on how cybernetics and digitization had changed what it meant to be male or female – or, really, any kind of person. It gained such a cult following that Hari Kunzru, profiling her for Wired magazine years later, wrote: “To boho twentysomethings, her name has the kind of cachet usually reserved for techno acts or new phenethylamines.”

The cyborg vision of gender as changing and changeable was radically new. Her map of how information technology linked people around the world into new chains of affiliation, exploitation and solidarity feels prescient at a time when an Instagram influencer in Berlin can line the pockets of Silicon Valley executives by using a phone assembled in China that contains cobalt mined in Congo to access a platform moderated by Filipinas.

Haraway’s other most influential text may be an essay that appeared a few years later, on what she called “situated knowledges”. The idea, developed in conversation with feminist philosophers and activists such as Nancy Hartsock, concerns how truth is made. Concrete practices of particular people make truth, Haraway argued. The scientists in a laboratory don’t simply observe or conduct experiments on a cell, for instance, but co-create what a cell is by seeing, measuring, naming and manipulating it. Ideas like these have a long history in American pragmatism. But they became politically explosive during the so-called science wars of the 1990s – a series of public debates among “scientific realists” and “postmodernists” with echoes in controversies about bias and objectivity in academia today.

Haraway’s more recent work has turned to human-animal relations and the climate crisis. She is a capacious yes, and thinker, the kind of leftist feminist who believes that the best thinking is done collectively. She is constantly citing other people, including graduate students, and giving credit to them. A recent documentary about her life and work by the Italian film-maker Fabrizio Terranova, Storytelling for Earthly Survival, captures this sense of commitment, as well as her extraordinary intellectual agility and inventiveness.

At her home in Santa Cruz, we talked about her memories of the science wars and how they speak to our current “post-truth” moment, her views on contemporary climate activism and the Green New Deal, and why play is essential for politics.

We are often told we are living in a time of “post-truth”. Some critics have blamed philosophers like yourself for creating the environment of “relativism” in which “post-truth” flourishes. How do you respond to that?

Our view was never that truth is just a question of which perspective you see it from.

[The philosopher] Bruno [Latour] and I were at a conference together in Brazil once. (Which reminds me: if people want to criticize us, it ought to be for the amount of jet fuel involved in making and spreading these ideas! Not for leading the way to post-truth.)

Anyhow. We were at this conference. It was a bunch of primate field biologists, plus me and Bruno. And Stephen Glickman, a really cool biologist, took us apart privately. He said: “Now, I don’t want to embarrass you. But do you believe in reality?”

We were both kind of shocked by the question. First, we were shocked that it was a question of belief, which is a Protestant question. A confessional question. The idea that reality is a question of belief is a barely secularized legacy of the religious wars. In fact, reality is a matter of worlding and inhabiting. It is a matter of testing the holdingness of things. Do things hold or not?

Take evolution. The notion that you would or would not “believe” in evolution already gives away the game. If you say, “Of course I believe in evolution,” you have lost, because you have entered the semiotics of representationalism – and post-truth, frankly. You have entered an arena where these are all just matters of internal conviction and have nothing to do with the world. You have left the domain of worlding.

The science warriors who attacked us during the science wars were determined to paint us as social constructionists – that all truth is purely socially constructed. And I think we walked into that. We invited those misreadings in a range of ways. We could have been more careful about listening and engaging more slowly. It was all too easy to read us in the way the science warriors did. Then the rightwing took the science wars and ran with it, which eventually helped nourish the whole fake-news discourse.

Your PhD is in biology. How do your scientist colleagues feel about your approach to science?

To this day I know only one or two scientists who like talking this way. And there are good reasons why scientists remain very wary of this kind of language. I belong to the Defend Science movement and in most public circumstances I will speak softly about my own ontological and epistemological commitments. I will use representational language. I will defend less-than-strong objectivity because I think we have to, situationally.

Is that bad faith? Not exactly. It’s related to [what the postcolonial theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak has called] “strategic essentialism”. There is a strategic use to speaking the same idiom as the people that you are sharing the room with. You craft a good-enough idiom so you can work on something together. I go with what we can make happen in the room together. And then we go further tomorrow.

In the struggles around climate change, for example, you have to join with your allies to block the cynical, well-funded, exterminationist machine that is rampant on the Earth. I think my colleagues and I are doing that. We have not shut up, or given up on the apparatus that we developed. But one can foreground and background what is most salient depending on the historical conjuncture.

What do you find most salient at the moment?

What is at the center of my attention are land and water sovereignty struggles, such as those over the Dakota Access pipeline, over coal mining on the Black Mesa plateau, over extractionism everywhere. My attention is centered on the extermination and extinction crises happening at a worldwide level, on human and non-human displacement and homelessness. That’s where my energies are. My feminism is in these other places and corridors.

What kind of political tactics do you see as being most important – for young climate activists, the Green New Deal, etc?

The degree to which people in these occupations play is a crucial part of how they generate a new political imagination, which in turn points to the kind of work that needs to be done. They open up the imagination of something that is not what [the ethnographer] Deborah Bird Rose calls “double death” – extermination, extraction, genocide.

Now, we are facing a world with all three of those things. We are facing the production of systemic homelessness. The way that flowers aren’t blooming at the right time, and so insects can’t feed their babies and can’t travel because the timing is all screwed up, is a kind of forced homelessness. It’s a kind of forced migration, in time and space.

This is also happening in the human world in spades. In regions like the Middle East and Central America, we are seeing forced displacement, some of which is climate migration. The drought in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America [Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador] is driving people off their land.

So it’s not a humanist question. It’s a multi-kind and multi-species question.

What’s so important about play?

Play captures a lot of what goes on in the world. There is a kind of raw opportunism in biology and chemistry, where things work stochastically to form emergent systematicities. It’s not a matter of direct functionality. We need to develop practices for thinking about those forms of activity that are not caught by functionality, those which propose the possible-but-not-yet, or that which is not-yet but still open.

It seems to me that our politics these days require us to give each other the heart to do just that. To figure out how, with each other, we can open up possibilities for what can still be. And we can’t do that in a negative mood. We can’t do that if we do nothing but critique. We need critique; we absolutely need it. But it’s not going to open up the sense of what might yet be. It’s not going to open up the sense of that which is not yet possible but profoundly needed.

The established disorder of our present era is not necessary. It exists. But it’s not necessary."
donnaharaway  2019  anthropocene  climatechange  science  scientism  disorder  greennewdeal  politics  interdependence  families  critique  humanism  multispecies  morethanhuman  displacement  globalwarming  extermination  extinction  extraction  capitalism  genocide  deborahbirdrose  doubledeath  feminism  postmodernism  harikunzru  cyborgmanifesto  philosophy  philosophyofscience  santacruz  technology  affiliation  exploitation  solidarity  situatedknowledge  nancyhartstock  objectivity  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships 
june 2019 by robertogreco
British Animal Studies Network
"The British Animal Studies Network emerged out of a recognition that a growing number of scholars were researching human-animal relations from a number of different humanities and social sciences disciplines at a number of different institutions within the UK and beyond, and that ideas from one discipline were influencing and expanding the range of others in massively productive ways. As well, it was recognised that this focus on nonhumans might be both enriched by contact with, and in turn enrich the work of, those outside of academia - in NGOs, museums, and so on.


While academic colleagues are meeting at the increasing number of conferences on animal-related themes it is clear that such contacts, which are short in duration, do not allow for long-term discussions and collaborations to take place. Where edited collections and special issues of journals are bringing together work from different disciplines more and more frequently, such publications do not allow for conversations between essays. And such conversations are vital for the continuing development of animal studies as an area of academic inquiry.

The reason for this is obvious: animals are present in many and varied areas of human lives: as workers, objects for scientific inquiry, characters in stories, images, companions, food. To analyse the human relationship with and perception of animals (which, broadly speaking is the focus of animal studies) therefore requires interdisciplinary work. A literary scholar must have a sense not only of the genre of their primary materials, but also of contemporary biological and philosophical ideas; an anthropologist’s thinking must be informed by primary research in the culture of study, but also of ideas ranging from the theological to the zoological.

Having a regular opportunity to meet with colleagues working in different academic disciplines to discuss the same topic has always been invaluable in animal studies and BASN allowed for a formalising of such meetings."

[See also: https://twitter.com/BasnTweets ]
human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  interdisciplinary 
june 2019 by robertogreco
CURRENT FUTURES: A Sci-Fi Ocean Anthology—XPRIZE
"In honor of World Oceans Day, XPRIZE partnered with 18 sci-fi authors and 18 artists, with contributions from all seven continents, to create an anthology of original short stories in a future when technology has helped unlock the secrets of the ocean. The series is a “deep dive” into how some of today’s most promising innovations might positively impact the ocean in the future, meant to remind us about the mystery and majesty of the ocean, and the critical need for discovery and stewardship."

[via: "Dive into a new sci-fi anthology set in the world’s oceans: In honor of World Oceans Day"
https://www.theverge.com/2019/6/8/18653780/current-futures-sci-fi-anthology-short-series-world-oceans-day ]
scifi  sciencefiction  oceans  fiction  vandanasingh  sheilafinch  rochitaloenen-ruiz  nalohopkinson  mohalemashingo  marielu  malkaolder  madelineashby  laurenbeukes  karenlord  kameronhurley  gwynethjones  gushi  elizabethbear  deborahbiancotti  catherynnevalente  brendapeynado  brendacooper  future  futurism  multispecies  morethanhuman  classideas 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Anne Galloway 'Speculative Design and Glass Slaughterhouses' - This is HCD
"Andy: You’ve got quite an interesting background. I’m going to ask you about in a second. I wanted to start with the quote from Ursula Le Guin that you have on your website. It’s from the Lathe of Heaven. “We’re in the world, not against it. It doesn’t work to try and stand outside things and run them that way, it just doesn’t work. It goes against life. There is a way, but you have to follow it, the world is, no matter how we think it ought to be, you have to be with it, you have to let it be.

Then on the More Than Human website, you have these three questions. What if we refuse to uncouple nature and culture? What if we deny that human beings are exceptional? What if we stop speaking and listening only to ourselves? The More Than Human lab explores everyday entanglements of humans and non-humans and imagines more sustainable ways of thinking, making, and doing. Anne, let’s get started by first talking about what do you mean by all of that?

Anne: The Ursula Le Guin quote I love mostly because a critical perspective or an activist perspective, anything that says we ought to be changing the world in any way, it always assumes that we need to fix something, that the world is broken and that designers especially are well-suited to be able to solve some of these problems. I like thinking about what it means to respond to injustice by accepting it, not in the sense of believing that it’s okay or right, because clearly, it’s been identify as unjust. I love Le Guin’s attention to the fact that there is a way to be in the world.

As soon as we think that we’re outside of it, any choices or decisions or actions that we take are, well, they sit outside of it as well. I like being embedded in the trouble. I like Donna Haraway’s idea of staying with the trouble. It’s not that we have to accept that things are problematic, but rather that we have to work within the structures that already exist. Not to keep them that way, in fact, many should be dismantled or changed. Rather, to accept that there is a flow to the universe.

Of course, Le Guin was talking about Taoism, but here what I wanted to draw attention to is often our imperative to fix or to solve or to change things comes with a belief that we’re not part of the world that we’re trying to fix and change. It’s that that I want to highlight. That when we start asking difficult questions about the world, we can never remove ourselves from them. We’re complicit, we are on the receiving end of things. We’re never distant from it. I think that subtle but important shift in deciding how we approach our work is really important."



"Andy: Yes, okay. I was thinking about this, I was reading, in conjunction, this little Le Guin quote, I was trying to think, it’s unusual in the sense that it’s a discipline or a practice of design that uses its own practice to critique itself. It’s using design to critique design in many respects. A lot of what speculative design is talking about is, look what happens when we put stuff into the world, in some way, without much thought. I was trying to think if there was another discipline that does that. I think probably in the humanities there are, and certainly in sociology I think there probably is, where it uses its own discipline to critique itself. It’s a fairly unusual setup.

Anne: I would think actually it’s quite common in the humanities, perhaps the social sciences, where it’s not common is in the sciences. Any reflexive turn in any of the humanities would have used the discipline. Historiography is that sort of thing. Applied philosophy is that sort of thing. Reflexive anthropology is that sort of thing. I think it’s actually quite common, just not in the sciences, and design often tries to align itself with the sciences instead.

Andy: Yes, there was a great piece in the Aeon the other day, about how science doesn’t have an adequate description or explanation for consciousness. Yet, it’s the only thing it can be certain of. With that, it also doesn’t really seem to come up in the technology industry that much, because it’s so heavily aligned with science. Technology, and you’ve got this background in culture studies and science and technology and society, technology is a really strong vein throughout speculative design. Indeed, your work, right? Counting sheep is about the Internet of Things, and sheep. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that and why I am talking to you from the picture things to the Lord of the Rings, it basically looks like you’re living in part of the Shire in Middle Earth?

Anne: I do live in a place that looks remarkably like the Shire. It’s a bit disconcerting at times. The science and technology question in speculative design I think is first of all a matter of convenience. Science fiction, speculation, they lean historically, habitually towards science and tech. It becomes an easy target for critique. Not that it’s not necessary, but it’s right there, so why not? There’s that element to it. It has an easier ability to be transformed into something fanciful or terrifying, which allows for certain kinds of storytelling through speculation, that I think people, both creators and audiences or readers really enjoy.

Now, the irony of all of this, of course is that arguably one of the greatest concerns that people have would be tied to technological determinism, the idea that we’re going to have these technologies anyway, so what are we going to do about it? Now, when you speculate using these technologies, what you’re doing is actually reinforcing the idea that these technologies are coming, you play right into the same technological determinism that you’re trying to critique. In fact, one of the counting sheep scenarios was designed specifically to avoid the technology. It was the one that got the most positive responses."



"Andy: With all of this, and I may this pop at the beginning, just before we were recording, that there’s a sense of, because of everything going on in the world, that if only designers could run the world, everything would be fine, right, because we can see all of the solutions to everything. What would you want designers to get out of this kind of work or this kind of perspective?

Anne: Humility. That simple. I am one of those people. It’s because of being an ethnographer as well and doing participant observation and interviewing many people and their ideas about design. I’ve run into far more people who think that designers are arrogant than ones who don’t. This has always really interested me. What is it that designers do that seems to rub non-designers the wrong way? Part of it is this sense of, or implication that they know better than the rest of us, or that a designer will come in and say, “Let me fix your problem”, before even asking if there is a problem that the person wants fixed.

I actually gave a guest lecture in a class just the other day, where I suggested that there were people in the world who thought that designers were arrogant. One of the post-graduate students in the class really took umbrage at this and wanted to know why it was that designers were arrogant for offering to fix problems, but a builder wasn’t, or a doctor wasn’t.

Andy: What was your answer?

Anne: Well, my answer was, generally speaking, people go to them first and say, “I have this problem, I need help.” Whereas, designers come up with a problem, go find people that they think have it and then tell them they’d like to solve it. I think just on a social level, that is profoundly anti-social. That is not how people enjoy socially interacting with people.

Andy: I can completely see that and I think that I would say that argument has also levelled, quite rightly, a lot of Silicon Valley, which is the answer to everything is some kind of technology engineering startup to fix all the problems that all the other technology and engineering startups that are no longer startups have created. It’s probably true of quite a lot of areas of business and finance, as well, and politics, for that matter. The counter, I could imagine a designer saying, “Well, that’s not really true”, because one of the things as human-centred designers, the first thing we do, we go out, we do design ethnography, we go and speak to people, we go and observe, we go and do all of that stuff. We really understand their problems. We’re not just telling people what needs to be fixed. We’re going there and understanding things. What’s your response to that?

Anne: Well, my first response is, yes, that’s absolutely true. There are lots of very good designers in the world who do precisely that. Because I work in an academic institution though, I’m training students. What my job involves is getting the to the point where they know the difference between telling somebody something and asking somebody something. what it means to actually understand their client or their user. I prefer to just refer to them as people. What it is that people want or need. One of the things that I offer in all of my classes is, after doing the participant observation, my students always have the opportunity to submit a rationale for no design intervention whatsoever.

That’s not something that is offered to people in a lot of business contexts because there’s a business case that’s being made. Whereas, I want my students to understand that sometimes the research demonstrates that people are actually okay, and that even if they have little problems, they’re still okay with that, that people are quite okay with living with contradictions and that they will accept some issues because it allows for other things to emerge. That if they want, they can provide the evidence for saying, “Actually, the worst thing we could do in this scenario is design anything and I refuse to design.”

Andy: Right, that and the people made trade-offs all the time because of the pain of change is much … [more]
annegalloway  design  2019  speculativefiction  designethnography  morethanhuman  ursulaleguin  livestock  agriculture  farming  sheep  meat  morethanhumanlab  activism  criticaldesign  donnaharaway  stayingwiththetrouble  taoism  flow  change  changemaking  systemsthinking  complicity  catherinecaudwell  injustice  justice  dunneandraby  consciousness  science  technology  society  speculation  speculativedesign  questioning  fiction  future  criticalthinking  whatif  anthropology  humanities  reflexiveanthropology  newzealand  socialsciences  davidgrape  powersoften  animals  cows  genevievebell  markpesce  technologicaldeterminism  dogs  cats  ethnography  cooperation  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  slow  slowness  time  perception  psychology  humility  problemsolving  contentment  presence  peacefulness  workaholism  northamerica  europe  studsterkel  protestantworkethic  labor  capitalism  passion  pets  domestication 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Landscape Circuitry – Nick Sowers Architecture
"What happens when you wire up parts of a landscape and amplify its own remixed sounds? This is the next iteration of my series with SEAP : Sonorous Environment Amplification Panel. I have set up this four channel audio installation on the edge of Seaplane Lagoon on the former Naval Air Station in Alameda to explore the sonic textures in magnified detail.

Through live amplification of sounds picked up by a variety of microphones (contact, omnidirectional, shotgun, and hydrophone) I am able to reveal elements of the landscape which may otherwise go unnoticed. The sounds of birds, waves, pebbles, electricity, and wind through a security fence travel through the wires and merge digitally before being projected through the acrylic sound panel.

Even the more visible and audible parts which pass through such as Southwest jets taking off from nearby Oakland Airport are filtered through the sound installation, mixing and resonating with bird sounds and howling wind. We can hear all of this without augmentation, yet the ability to turn the dial up or down on certain sounds gives the observer a new form of participation in the landscape.

The forms of participation enabled by SEAP can be unexpected. One thing that surprised me is how the slight delay between the sounds initially heard and the sounds played back through amplification immediately creates a new atmosphere. The delay is like what you hear in a hard concrete alley, your own footsteps bouncing back to you in a kind of pangy-hollow sound. But you wouldn’t expect to find that echo effect in an open landscape. When a security guard pulled up to ask me what I was doing, his own voice was thrown back to him. He seemed satisfied with my description “Just testing out an art installation” and drove away.

Another unexpected sound comes from this security fence blocking access to the breakwater. I wired up a contact microphone to the galvanized steel post supporting the fence. The wind which slips through the fence is not audible to the naked ear, yet the metal absorbs the sound and can be amplified and mixed in with the rest of the environment. Listen:

In the recording you’ll hear the sounds of birds picked up by this omnidirectional microphone aimed down into the rocks. Crevices contain their own little sonic worlds. The space between rocks shelters a bowl of stiller air. In this placement, the microphone avoids clipping from wind. Tinier sounds like pebbles trickling down and birds whose calls would otherwise be drowned out are easily picked up.

I found myself thinking about artist Jenny Odell‘s practice of observation at the Morcom Amphitheatre of Roses in Oakland, about how this place on the fringes of a former Navy base could be my rose garden. From the perspective of an architect, I’m not doing anything here. I’m not analyzing a site as a precursor to making a building. Yet I am doing more than bird watching or walking or fishing– all fine activities for absorbing the nuances of a place and experiencing the passage of time. SEAP is an evolution of the many years I have walked landscapes and recorded sounds. Now I have an apparatus with which to gauge the subtle textures of a soundscape and add my own interpretation back into it. I expect to return to Seaplane Lagoon with an ever evolving set of processes to fold in between the processes of erosion and construction."
nicksowers  sound  audio  landscape  listening  2019  microphones  jennyodell  oakland  morethanhuman  recording 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Sensing & Knowing: David Abram in conversation with Dougald Hine - YouTube
"A conversation filmed in Oxford in September 2010. If you enjoy this, do check out the Dark Mountain Project (http://dark-mountain.net) which was how David and I came to meet. He had read the Dark Mountain manifesto and got in touch with us. A text based on this conversation appeared the following year in Dark Mountain: Issue 2."

[via:
"We began with the thought that animism might be the default mode of human existence… and anything else, a temporary aberration."
https://darkmountainproject.tumblr.com/post/53935222519/we-began-with-the-thought-that-animism-might-be ]
davidabram  dougaldhine  animism  2015  nature  writing  instinct  humans  multispecies  morethanhuman 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Magic and the Machine — Emergence Magazine
"Indeed, it is only when a traditionally oral culture becomes literate that the land seems to fall silent. Only as our senses transferred their animating magic to the written word did the other animals fall dumb, the trees and rocks become mute. For, to learn this new magic, we had to break the spontaneous participation of our eyes and ears in the enfolding terrain in order to recouple those senses with the flat surface of the page. I remember well, in first grade, the intensity with which I had to train my listening ears and my visual focus upon the letters in order to make each letter trigger a specific sound made by my mouth, such that now whenever I see the letter K, I instantly hear “kah” in my mind’s ear, and whenever I see an M, I hear “mmm.” If my ancestors once engaged in animistic participation with bent twigs, animal tracks, cliff-faces, and cloud shapes, I learned an analogous participation with the letter shapes upon the page. But notice: while a thundercloud or a raven might utter strange sounds and communicate strange sensations, the written letters always speak with a human tongue.

Hence, far from enacting a clear break with animism, alphabetic literacy can be recognized as a particularly potent form of animism, one which shifts the locus of magic—or meaning—away from our interactions with the more-than-human surroundings to the relation between ourselves and our own signs. Only as alphabetic literacy comes into a previously oral culture (often through Christian missionaries teaching how to read the Good Book) does that culture get the curious idea that language is an exclusively human property. The living land is no longer felt to hold and utter forth its own manifold meanings; the surrounding earth soon comes to be viewed as a mostly passive background upon which human history unfolds."




"For animism—the instinctive experience of reciprocity or exchange between the perceiver and the perceived—lies at the heart of all human perception. While such participatory experience may be displaced by our engagement with particular tools and technologies, it can never entirely be dispelled. Rather, different technologies tend to capture and channel our instinctive, animistic proclivities in particular ways."



"Despite the flimsy gesture toward a kind of magical reality, the fact is that we’re still speaking only to ourselves, to things that we have programmed to talk back to us. And so, after the initial novelty, which maybe lasts about twenty minutes, there’s nothing here that can surprise us, or yield a sense that we’re in communication with beings strangely different from ourselves."



"And maybe this attempt to recreate that primal experience of intimacy with the surrounding world will actually succeed. Certainly it’s giving rise to all sorts of fascinating gizmos and whimsical inventions. But it’s also bound to disappoint. The difficult magic of animistic perception, the utter weirdness and dark wonder that lives in any deeply place-based relation to the earth, is the felt sense of being in contact with wakeful forms of sentience that are richly different from one’s own—the experience of interaction with intelligences that are radically other from one’s own human style of intelligence. Yet when interacting with the smart objects that inhabit the always-online world of the internet of things, well, there’s no real otherness there. Of course, there’s the quasi-otherness of the program designers, and of the other people living their own wired lives; although just how other anybody will be when we’re all deploying various forms of the same software (and so all thinking by means of the same preprogrammed algorithms) is an open question. My point, however, is that there’s no radical otherness involved: it’s all humanly programmed, and it’s inhabited by us humans and our own humanly-built artifacts; it’s all basically a big extension of the human nervous system. As we enter more deeply into the world of ubiquitous computing, we increasingly seal ourselves into an exclusively human zone of interaction. We enter into a bizarre kind of intraspecies incest."



"Yet it’s the alterity or otherness of things—the weirdly different awareness of a humpback whale sounding its eerie glissandos through the depths, or an orb-weaver spider spinning the cosmos out of her abdomen; or the complex intelligence of an old-growth forest, dank with mushrooms and bracket fungi, humming with insects and haunted by owls—it’s the wild, more-than-human otherness of these powers that makes any attentive relation with such beings a genuine form of magic, a trancelike negotiation between outrageously divergent worlds.

Without such radical otherness, there’s no magic. Wandering around inside a huge extension of our own nervous system is not likely to bring a renewal of creaturely wonder, or a recovery of ancestral capacities. It may keep us fascinated for a time but also vaguely unsatisfied and so always thirsty for the next invention, the next gadget that might finally satisfy our craving, might assuage our vague sense that something momentous is missing. Except it won’t."



"Western navigators, long reliant on a large array of instruments, remain astonished by the ability of traditional seafaring peoples to find their way across the broad ocean by sensing subtle changes in the ocean currents, by tasting the wind and reading the weather, by conversing with the patterns in the night sky. Similarly, many bookish persons find themselves flummoxed by the ease with which citizens of traditionally oral, place-based cultures seem always to know where they are—their capacity to find their way even through dense forests without obvious landmarks—an innate orienting ability that arises when on intimate terms with the ground, with the plants, with the cycles of sun, moon, and stars. GPS seems to replicate this innate and fairly magical capacity, but instead of this knowledge arising from our bodily interchange with the earthly cosmos, here the knowledge arrives as a disembodied calculation by a complex of orbiting and ground-based computers."



"There is nothing “extra-sensory” about this kind of earthly clairvoyance. Rather, sensory perception functions here as a kind of glue, binding one’s individual nervous system into the larger ecosystem. When our animal senses are all awake, our skin rippling with sensations as we palpate the surroundings with ears and eyes and flaring nostrils, it sometimes happens that our body becomes part of the larger Body of the land—that our sensate flesh is taken up within the wider Flesh of the breathing Earth—and so we begin to glimpse events unfolding at other locations within the broad Body of the land. In hunting and gathering communities, individuals are apprenticed to the intricate life of the local earth from an early age, and in the absence of firearms, hunters often depend upon this richly sensorial, synaesthetic clairvoyance for regular success in the hunt. The smartphone replicates something of this old, ancestral experience of earthly acumen that has long been central to our species: the sense of being situated over Here, while knowing what’s going on over There."



"And so we remain transfixed by these tools, searching in and through our digital engagements for an encounter they seem to promise yet never really provide: the consummate encounter with otherness, with radical alterity, with styles of sensibility and intelligence that thoroughly exceed the limits of our own sentience. Yet there’s the paradox: for the more we engage these remarkable tools, the less available we are for any actual contact outside the purely human estate. In truth, the more we participate with these astonishing technologies, the more we seal ourselves into an exclusively human cocoon, and the more our animal senses—themselves co-evolved with the winds, the waters, and the many-voiced terrain—are blunted, rendering us ever more blind, ever more deaf, ever more impervious to the more-than-human Earth.

Which brings us, finally, back to our initial question: What is the primary relation, if there is any actual relation, between the two contrasting collective moods currently circulating through contemporary society—between the upbeat technological optimism coursing through many social circles and the mood of ecological despondency and grief that so many other persons seem to be feeling? As a writer who uses digital technology, I can affirm that these tools are enabling many useful, astounding, and even magical possibilities. But all this virtual magic is taking a steep toll. For many long years this techno-wizardry has been blunting our creaturely senses, interrupting the instinctive rapport between our senses and the earthly sensuous. It’s been short-circuiting the spontaneous reciprocity between our animal body and the animate terrain, disrupting the very attunement that keeps us apprised of what’s going on in our locale—the simple, somatic affinity that entangles our body with the bodies of other creatures, binding our sentience with that of the local earth. Today, caught up in our fascination with countless screen-fitted gadgets, we’re far more aloof from the life of the land around us, and hence much less likely to notice the steady plundering of these woodlands and wetlands, the choking of the winds and the waters by the noxious by-products of the many industries we now rely on. As these insults to the elemental earth pile up—as the waters are rendered lifeless by more chemical runoff, by more oil spills, by giant patches of plastic rotating in huge gyres; as more glaciers melt and more forests succumb to the stresses of a destabilized climate—the sensorial world of our carnal experience is increasingly filled with horrific wounds, wounds that we feel in our flesh whenever we dare to taste the world with our creaturely senses. It’s too damned painful. Hence … [more]
animism  davidabram  technology  language  alphabet  writing  oraltradition  secondaryorality  smarthphones  gps  multispecies  morethanhuman  canon  literacy  listening  multisensory  senses  noticing  nature  intuition  alterity  otherness  object  animals  wildlife  plants  rocks  life  living  instinct  internet  web  online  maps  mapping  orientation  cities  sound  smell  texture  touch  humans  smartdevices  smarthomes  internetofthings  perception  virtuality  physical 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Oceans of Noise: Episode One – Science Weekly podcast | Science | The Guardian
"Contrary to popular belief, and the writings of Jacques Cousteau, life beneath the ocean surface is not a silent world but a dense and rich sonic environment where sound plays a fundamental role in life.

In episode one of this three-part series, pioneering nature sound recordist Chris Watson begins a journey driven by his fascination with recording the songs and signals of life under the ocean surface. He will meet scientists examining the possible impacts of noise pollution, from the likes of shipping noise and seismic explosions used in the search for oil and gas. He will also talk to sound artists trying to raise awareness of the issue through their art.

Watson talks to Dr Lucille Chapuis, a marine biologist from the University of Exeter, who explains why water is such an effective medium for sonic communication, and how different types of marine life take advantage of this. Marine biologist Asha de Vos is an ocean educator, senior TED fellow and pioneer of blue whale research in the northern Indian Ocean. De Vos talks about how the mystery of life under the sea lured her towards an incredible career in conservation. She believes that just as sound is crucial to these majestic creatures, their survival is crucial to us.

Much of what we know about the significance of sound to the marine environment began with the research of Prof Christopher Clark from Cornell University. He takes Watson back to where it all began as he relives the moment where he realised just how important sound is to all life in the sea. But Clark also reveals the gradual realisation of the extent of the threat of sound pollution to marine life."

[Episode 2
"In episode two, the pioneering nature sound recordist Chris Watson and sound artist Jana Winderen meet a team from Norway’s Institute of Marine Research and climb aboard a research vessel setting sail around the Austevoll islands.

Like many countries, Norway benefits economically from oil and gas exploration and shipping. However, the threat of ocean noise pollution and its potential to harm fish stocks has instigated trailblazing research into the impact of sound pollution, in this case on spawning cod. On choppy North Sea waters Watson and Winderen meet scientists Nils Olav Handegard and Karen de Jong who, along with a team of international scientists, are using complex underwater recording techniques to try to capture the sound of reproducing cod.

As the sun sets, Watson and Winderen reflect on the relationship between scientists and sound artists, and ponder the role they can have in helping people understand and appreciate the underwater acoustic environment."

Episode 3
https://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2019/may/03/oceans-of-noise-episode-three-science-weekly-podcast

"As wildlife recordist Chris Watson looks for solutions to ocean noise pollution, he hears from Tim Gordon, whose long-awaited trip to the Great Barrier Reef became a devastating experience when he heard the eerie silence of a dying coral reef, caused in part by global warming.

But despite the pessimistic tone evident in many environment debates, reduction in ocean noise pollution is one area that could spark optimism. Action is being taken across the world – from policymakers to private companies – to address some of the causes of sonic assaults on the underwater acoustic environment. While more action is needed, the future of marine soundscapes is still very much in play.

Watson calls in Markus Reymann, whose organisation TBA21–Academy uses a state-of-the-art sound recording sea vessel to connect scientists and policymakers with the ocean. Watson also talks to Nicolas Entrup of Oceancare, an organisation attempting to build international consensus on how to address oceanic noise pollution.

Watson also calls again on scientists and ocean conservation advocates, including Asha de Vos and Prof Christopher Clark.

We would like to thank all of our contributors for the series, as well as: Carlos Duarte, Jana Winderen, Knut Korsbrekke at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research, Steve Simpson at the University of Exeter, Marianne Helene, Roger Payne, Michel Andre, Bob Dziak, Ray Fischer and Christ de Jong."]
sound  oceans  audio  chriswatson  ashadevos  animals  nature  2019  janawinderen  markusreymann  multispecies  morethanhuman  noisepollution  hydrophones 
may 2019 by robertogreco
The SOUND of Millions of Monarch Butterflies! - YouTube
"How many butterflies does it take to make a noise in the woods? A few million. Watch (and listen!) as these monarchs put on a show at their overwintering site in Mexico.

This was filmed while leading a trip to visit the monarch migration with Atlas Obscura."
sound  multispecies  morethanhuman  butterflies  monarchbutterflies  2019  audio  mexico  nature  insects 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Climavore
"CLIMAVORE is a long-term project initiated by Cooking Sections in 2015. It sets out to envision seasons of food production and consumption that react to man-induced climatic events and landscape alterations. Different from the now obsolete Eurocentric cycle of spring, summer, autumn and winter, CLIMAVORE rethinks the construction of space and infrastructure by focusing on how climate alterations offer a new set of clues to adapt our diet to them. Unexpected climatic phenomena, like subsidence, flash floods or drought, may span minutes, days, months, years or centuries. CLIMAVORE is then proposed as a form of devouring following their effects on anthropogenic landscapes. Unlike carnivore, omnivore, locavore, vegetarian or vegan, CLIMAVORE is not only about the origin of ingredients, but also about the agency that those ingredients have in providing spatial and infrastructural responses to man-induced climatic events for a certain period of time. At the core is to embrace a flexible form of eating, shifting for instance to drought resistant crops in a period of water scarcity or filter feeders during times of polluted or acidified waters. Framing our diet within a globally financialised landscape, and challenging large-scale agribusiness groups dictating what is to be produced and consumed, the notion of CLIMAVORE critically questions the geopolitical implications behind the making of climate alterations and the pressures they enforce on humans and nonhumans alike.

season@climavore.org

Collaborators: Jesse Connuck (2015), Tanya Kramer (2017), Harry Keene (2017-2018), Blanca Pujals (2017-2018), Matthew Darmour-Paul (2018)
Graphic Design: An Endless Supply"
climavore  climate  food  cooking  seasons  seasonal  climatechange  local  scarcity  multispecies  morethanhuman 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | Make America Graze Again - The New York Times
"Nashville’s Zach Richardson uses sustainable practices — and a flock of sheep — to clear overgrown landscapes."
landscape  sheep  multispecies  urban  animals  morethanhuman  2019  sustainability 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Un muro invisible se alza entre los buitres de España y Portugal | Ciencia | EL PAÍS
[via: https://twitter.com/TurbanMinor/status/1113352919301218304

"1/ A vulture can fly up to 400 kilometres each day in search of carrion. Little should it care whether this flight takes it from one country to another. The vultures of Spain, however, skirt around the Portuguese border with uncanny accuracy. [image: map showing the areas inhabited by to carrion birds]

2/ Eneko Arrondo (@BIOEAF), an ecologist at the Doñana Biological Station (@ebdonana), in Spain, was monitoring the distribution of 60 tagged griffon vultures (Gyps fulvus) and 11 cinereous vultures (Aegypius monachus) for his PhD project when he noticed the sharp pattern. [image: one photo with what seems to be an individual from each of the bird species]

3/ During a 2-year study period, only 13 birds visited Portugal, and they all quickly turned back, Arrondo and his colleagues reported last year in Bio. Conservation. Why the rest flew close to the neighbouring country, but never entered it, was a mystery. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320717315550

4/ The Portuguese-Spanish border follows river valleys and is not associated with abrupt changes in climate or land-use. What is different on either side, the team learned from Portuguese ornithologists, is the law. [image: map of watersheds on Iberian Peninsula]

5/ Spanish farmers don’t collect dead cattle, but in Portugal, they must bury or burn all carcasses. This leaves no food for vultures, who have learned that the grass is always greener on the eastern side. [photo of birds feasting on a carcass]

6/ A handful of nesting colonies remain in Portugal, says Joaquim Teodósio, a biologist working for the Portuguese Society for the Study of Birds (@spea_birdlife), but the vultures that occupy them spend the daylight hours abroad.

7/ The reasons for the mismatch are historical. In 2001, Europe’s answer to the mad-cow disease (BSE) crisis was banning the abandonment of dead livestock. Spanish vultures, which account for 95% of all scavenging birds in Europe, suffered especially.
https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/ES/TXT/?qid=1456745645114&uri=CELEX:02001R0999-20160203

8/ Conservationists at the time made a strong case against the ban, which convinced European Union 🇪🇺 legislators to delegate the choice to member states. Some countries, like Spain, resumed cattle abandonment under special conditions. Portugal never changed its laws. [photo of a dog and a cow amidst garbage]

9/ Representatives of BirdLife International, a nature conservation partnership, in both countries (@SEO_BirdLife 🇪🇸 / @spea_birdlife 🇵🇹) argue wildlife will benefit from the integration of sanitary policies across European borders.

10/ It's not just vultures at stake: the collection, transportation and disposal of dead animals is costly and polluting. [animated GIF of a smokestack]

11/ One study, published in Scientific Reports, calculated that taking these jobs from scavengers in Spain involved annual payments of around $50 million to insurance companies and the emission of 77,344 metric tons of equivalent carbon dioxide every year. https://www.nature.com/articles/srep07811

12/ Activists in Portugal are pushing for change. They ask for carrion abandonment permits for farmers, or at least for designated feeding stations where dead cattle may be allowed to rot. Until such measures are granted, an invisible ecological barrier hovers above the border. [GIF showing an old-time film "The End" marking]

13/ This story was published in Spanish for El País last year. Lo recordé hace poco por una conversación y quería compartir en inglés. Dejo aquí el enlace: https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/02/15/ciencia/1518707418_741915.html "
spain  portugal  españa  2018  animals  multispecies  borders  law  laws  vultures  carrion  birds  wildlife  nature  morethanhuman  cattle  farming  ranching  brunomartín 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Language Is Migrant - South Magazine Issue #8 [documenta 14 #3] - documenta 14
"Language is migrant. Words move from language to language, from culture to culture, from mouth to mouth. Our bodies are migrants; cells and bacteria are migrants too. Even galaxies migrate.

What is then this talk against migrants? It can only be talk against ourselves, against life itself.

Twenty years ago, I opened up the word “migrant,” seeing in it a dangerous mix of Latin and Germanic roots. I imagined “migrant” was probably composed of mei, Latin for “to change or move,” and gra, “heart” from the Germanic kerd. Thus, “migrant” became “changed heart,”
a heart in pain,
changing the heart of the earth.

The word “immigrant” says, “grant me life.”

“Grant” means “to allow, to have,” and is related to an ancient Proto-Indo-European root: dhe, the mother of “deed” and “law.” So too, sacerdos, performer of sacred rites.

What is the rite performed by millions of people displaced and seeking safe haven around the world? Letting us see our own indifference, our complicity in the ongoing wars?

Is their pain powerful enough to allow us to change our hearts? To see our part in it?

I “wounder,” said Margarita, my immigrant friend, mixing up wondering and wounding, a perfect embodiment of our true condition!

Vicente Huidobro said, “Open your mouth to receive the host of the wounded word.”

The wound is an eye. Can we look into its eyes?
my specialty is not feeling, just
looking, so I say:
(the word is a hard look.)
—Rosario Castellanos

I don’t see with my eyes: words
are my eyes.
—Octavio Paz

In l980, I was in exile in Bogotá, where I was working on my “Palabrarmas” project, a way of opening words to see what they have to say. My early life as a poet was guided by a line from Novalis: “Poetry is the original religion of mankind.” Living in the violent city of Bogotá, I wanted to see if anybody shared this view, so I set out with a camera and a team of volunteers to interview people in the street. I asked everybody I met, “What is Poetry to you?” and I got great answers from beggars, prostitutes, and policemen alike. But the best was, “Que prosiga,” “That it may go on”—how can I translate the subjunctive, the most beautiful tiempo verbal (time inside the verb) of the Spanish language? “Subjunctive” means “next to” but under the power of the unknown. It is a future potential subjected to unforeseen conditions, and that matches exactly the quantum definition of emergent properties.

If you google the subjunctive you will find it described as a “mood,” as if a verbal tense could feel: “The subjunctive mood is the verb form used to express a wish, a suggestion, a command, or a condition that is contrary to fact.” Or “the ‘present’ subjunctive is the bare form of a verb (that is, a verb with no ending).”

I loved that! A never-ending image of a naked verb! The man who passed by as a shadow in my film saying “Que prosiga” was on camera only for a second, yet he expressed in two words the utter precision of Indigenous oral culture.

People watching the film today can’t believe it was not scripted, because in thirty-six years we seem to have forgotten the art of complex conversation. In the film people in the street improvise responses on the spot, displaying an awareness of language that seems to be missing today. I wounder, how did it change? And my heart says it must be fear, the ocean of lies we live in, under a continuous stream of doublespeak by the violent powers that rule us. Living under dictatorship, the first thing that disappears is playful speech, the fun and freedom of saying what you really think. Complex public conversation goes extinct, and along with it, the many species we are causing to disappear as we speak.

The word “species” comes from the Latin speciēs, “a seeing.” Maybe we are losing species and languages, our joy, because we don’t wish to see what we are doing.

Not seeing the seeing in words, we numb our senses.

I hear a “low continuous humming sound” of “unmanned aerial vehicles,” the drones we send out into the world carrying our killing thoughts.

Drones are the ultimate expression of our disconnect with words, our ability to speak without feeling the effect or consequences of our words.

“Words are acts,” said Paz.

Our words are becoming drones, flying robots. Are we becoming desensitized by not feeling them as acts? I am thinking not just of the victims but also of the perpetrators, the drone operators. Tonje Hessen Schei, director of the film Drone, speaks of how children are being trained to kill by video games: “War is made to look fun, killing is made to look cool. ... I think this ‘militainment’ has a huge cost,” not just for the young soldiers who operate them but for society as a whole. Her trailer opens with these words by a former aide to Colin Powell in the Bush/Cheney administration:
OUR POTENTIAL COLLECTIVE FUTURE. WATCH IT AND WEEP FOR US. OR WATCH IT AND DETERMINE TO CHANGE THAT FUTURE
—Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel U.S. Army (retired)


In Astro Noise, the exhibition by Laura Poitras at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the language of surveillance migrates into poetry and art. We lie in a collective bed watching the night sky crisscrossed by drones. The search for matching patterns, the algorithms used to liquidate humanity with drones, is turned around to reveal the workings of the system. And, we are being surveyed as we survey the show! A new kind of visual poetry connecting our bodies to the real fight for the soul of this Earth emerges, and we come out woundering: Are we going to dehumanize ourselves to the point where Earth itself will dream our end?

The fight is on everywhere, and this may be the only beauty of our times. The Quechua speakers of Peru say, “beauty is the struggle.”

Maybe darkness will become the source of light. (Life regenerates in the dark.)

I see the poet/translator as the person who goes into the dark, seeking the “other” in him/herself, what we don’t wish to see, as if this act could reveal what the world keeps hidden.

Eduardo Kohn, in his book How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human notes the creation of a new verb by the Quichua speakers of Ecuador: riparana means “darse cuenta,” “to realize or to be aware.” The verb is a Quichuan transfiguration of the Spanish reparar, “to observe, sense, and repair.” As if awareness itself, the simple act of observing, had the power to heal.

I see the invention of such verbs as true poetry, as a possible path or a way out of the destruction we are causing.

When I am asked about the role of the poet in our times, I only question: Are we a “listening post,” composing an impossible “survival guide,” as Paul Chan has said? Or are we going silent in the face of our own destruction?

Subcomandante Marcos, the Zapatista guerrilla, transcribes the words of El Viejo Antonio, an Indian sage: “The gods went looking for silence to reorient themselves, but found it nowhere.” That nowhere is our place now, that’s why we need to translate language into itself so that IT sees our awareness.

Language is the translator. Could it translate us to a place within where we cease to tolerate injustice and the destruction of life?

Life is language. “When we speak, life speaks,” says the Kaushitaki Upanishad.

Awareness creates itself looking at itself.

It is transient and eternal at the same time.

Todo migra. Let’s migrate to the “wounderment” of our lives, to poetry itself."
ceciliavicuña  language  languages  words  migration  immigration  life  subcomandantemarcos  elviejoantonio  lawrencewilkerson  octaviopaz  exile  rosariocastellanos  poetry  spanish  español  subjunctive  oral  orality  conversation  complexity  seeing  species  joy  tonjehessenschei  war  colinpowell  laurapoitras  art  visual  translation  eduoardokohn  quechua  quichua  healing  repair  verbs  invention  listening  kaushitakiupanishad  awareness  noticing  wondering  vicentehuidobro  wounds  woundering  migrants  unknown  future  potential  unpredictability  emergent  drones  morethanhuman  multispecies  paulchan  destruction  displacement  refugees  extinction  others  tolerance  injustice  justice  transience  ephemerality  ephemeral  canon  eternal  surveillance  patterns  algorithms  earth  sustainability  environment  indifference  complicity  dictatorship  documenta14  2017  classideas 
march 2019 by robertogreco
An Essay by Miho Nonaka | Kenyon Review Online
[So good. There's really no good way to quote this one, so here are just a few sections.]

"Heavenly Worm

Mrs. Itō, our fourth-grade teacher, drew a new kanji character on the board: 蚕. “Worm from heaven,” she announced, “as you can see.” Heaven splits open like a curtain (天) and inside it dwells the worm (虫). For each student, she took out five worms from her basket and put them in a small paper box to take home. Having just hatched from their eggs, these worms were still covered in little black hairs. That’s why at this stage they are called kego (hairy baby), Mrs. Itō told us. To feed these dark babies, julienne your mulberry leaves first."



"Platinum Boy, 2006

After decades of research, Japanese silkworm breeders discovered a reliable method of hatching exclusively male silkworms. Female silkworms eat more, sleep more, take up more space, and are measurably less efficient in transforming mulberry leaves into silk. The verdict was clear: female silkworms are inferior for silk production.

Silk spinners and kimono weavers are unanimous in their praise of male silk: their thread is consistently finer, sturdier, glossier, whiter, and their cocoons are easier to harvest when boiled.

The birth site of Platinum Boy is literally black and white. When you look at a piece of paper where silkworm eggs are laid, white eggs are the empty shells from which male larvae have already hatched. They will thrive on the diet of tender mulberry shoot which, combined with their spit, will eventually turn into raw silk, translucent like frosted glass. The dark eggs contain female larvae that will never hatch and only keep darkening."



"Ten Thousand Leaves I

Compiled in the mideighth century, Man’yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) is the oldest Japanese anthology: more than forty-five hundred poems in twenty books. In the sweltering heat of the attic, I wasn’t looking for any particular motif when I happened on poem No. 2495, composed by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, a low rank courtier and one of the “Saints of Japanese Poetry”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
how can I see my love
who lives secluded at home?

Poem No. 2991 is almost the same poem by another poet, simply tagged “unknown”:
like my mother’s
silkworms confined
inside cocoons,
sadness clouds my heart
when I cannot see her

The motif of a silk cocoon as the inaccessible, lyrical interior goes back to the dawn of Japanese poetics. The cocoon encases the image of the beloved, the poet’s longing that keeps building inside, and in my poem it holds the mother as a mythical seamstress, stitching blue in each wrist of her unborn daughter."



"職人 I

I used to blame my grandmother on my father’s side, who was described to me as fierce, frantic, funny, a destructive visionary and unsuccessful business entrepreneur during the critical times of the Second World War. When I felt defeated by the radical pull of my own emotion, I would attach them to the face of the woman I had never met in person, only in a fading picture where she stands next to my young father without glasses, still a student with surprisingly gentle eyes.

My father recently told me during one of our late-night international calls from Tokyo: “Your grandfathers were both shokunin (craftsman), remember? It’s in your DNA, too.” His father had come from a large family of silk farmers. After he left home, adopting the newly introduced Singer sewing machines, he began manufacturing Japanese cloven-toed socks, the traditional kind that used to be hand-sewn, and during the war, he took the assignment to sew parachutes for the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. While he worked under dimmed light, my young father put up his primitive drawing of warplanes on the wall, covered in fine grains of sand."



"Small Things

They say (I love the convenience, but who are “they”?) that attention to detail is a characteristic of the Japanese. I am drawn to small things: tadpoles, silica beads, star sands in a vial, a notebook the size of a thumbnail, fish scales, a nativity scene inside half a walnut shell. I am terribly myopic like my father, and I like things that are near. Large things loom over and terrify: airports, Costco, churches in Texas, the Tokyo Skytree, Mount Rushmore (those granite faces I once believed had surfaced in response to the historic atomic bombing), and that elusive word “global.”"



"Komako

It didn’t occur to me until I tried translating a few passages from Snow Country that the young geisha’s name Komako (駒子) means Pony Child. What inspired the author Kawabata to portray his heroine as a woman of equine grace? We don’t know her family name. On the other hand, we don’t know the first name of Shimamura, who is referred to only by his last name.

I imagine if your family name is a gate to the house, your first name must be its interior. In the days when the first book of Man’yōshū was composed, asking a maiden’s first name was synonymous with proposing to her. Knowing it meant possessing the person.

Komako’s body is translucent like a silkworm, and an unearthly room encloses her fruitless passion like a white cocoon. While writing Snow Country, Kawabata says he distanced himself from Shimamura, who serves merely as a foil to Komako. “As an author, I entered deep inside the character of Komako, but casually turned my back to Shimamura,” he writes in the afterward. “Especially in terms of emotion—Komako’s sadness is nothing other than my own sadness. . . .” And so it is; his heart has become subsumed into her heart."



"Body

I find it impossible to talk about the body (mine and everyone else’s) without sounding embarrassed or oddly distant. I don’t mean to self-deprecate, but it has been almost too fashionable, too charged a topic for me to feel safe around. (A cowardly thing to say—the truth is, no one is safe.)

I won’t pretend my body is a plain blockhouse, or a slab of flesh aching with desire or lack thereof. Who could have taught me to stay at home in my own body all the while I traveled from one country to another, turning from the spontaneous, if careless, music of my mother tongue to the cautious economy of English, reaching out, in the hope of actually reaching and being reached?

For the subjects most critical to me, I find no teachers. Perhaps there is not enough demand? I believe I am badly behind everyone and that I missed an opportunity to ask questions long ago. People my age in this country sound fluent in the body, discussing it with just the right amount of sarcasm and laughter without revealing much, like they have been on intimate terms with it since they learned to speak. I suppose I should have listened to the body harder, without ulterior motives."
mihononaka  silk  essays  canon  howwewrite  2017  silkworms  multispecies  japan  japanese  language  gender  via:ayjay  poetry  writing  fabric  textiles  srg  glvo  insects  history  cocoons  craft  translation  languages  childhood  change  materials  process  form  details  weaving  texture  morethanhuman  shinto  bodies  body  small  slow 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Think Like a Scientist: Renewal on Vimeo
[via: "How the Elwha River Was Saved: The inside story of the largest dam removal project in US history."
http://tlas.nautil.us/video/291/how-the-elwha-river-was-saved

"I know firsthand what a hydroelectric dam can do to the environment. As a tribal member growing up on the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe’s reservation, the Elwha River and its two hydroelectric dams were in my backyard. Before the dams, whose construction began in 1910, the river was rich with several species of fish, including steelhead trout, and all five species of Pacific salmon. My great-grandfather and tribal elder, Edward Sampson, shared stories with me of catching 100-pound Chinook salmon, then watching the salmon populations decline when the dams came. Salmon have always been culturally and spiritually important to my tribe. They are treated reverently, and celebrated with ceremonies after the first catch of each year.

The Elwha dams were built without fish ladders, gently sloping structures that connect waters on either side of the dam. These ladders are important for anadromous fish, meaning stream-born fish that live part of their lives in the ocean and later return to their natal streams to spawn. Salmons are anadromous, and carry with them marine-derived nutrients that are important to the entire Elwha watershed ecosystem. Salmon carcasses provide nutrients for other wildlife and fertilizer for riparian vegetation.

My work has strengthened my ties to my home.

Without fish ladders, the dams blocked access by salmon to 90 percent of their historic spawning grounds, halted the flow of marine-derived nutrients into the ecosystem, and dramatically reduced salmon populations. They also negated agreements in the tribe’s 1855 Point No Point Treaty, which stated that it would have permanent fishing rights on the Elwha River.

The history of the dam was tightly woven in the history of my own family. My grandfather worked for the company that ran the dams for his entire career, while my grandmother was an activist working to remove the dams and restore the salmon populations. Then, on Sept. 17, 2011, the largest dam removal and river restoration project in United States history was set into motion. Both dams were removed, and the Elwha River began to flow freely again for the first time in 100 years.

My realization of the role people have in ecosystem health, brought about in part by watching my tribe fight for the removal of the dams and the restoration of the salmon, inspired me to pursue a career working in natural resources. I decided to return to my home on the reservation to pursue a degree in environmental science at Western Washington University, after attending the University of Hawaii at Mānoa for two years and studying marine biology. I was hired as an intern for the tribe’s wildlife program in 2014. Four months into my internship, I was hired for a part-time position by the tribe’s wildlife program manager, Kim Sager-Fradkin, while maintaining a full-time student schedule. In addition to a Columbian black-tailed deer mortality study, this program gave me an opportunity to study Elwha river otters and to be a part of an Elwha River Restoration wildlife monitoring project.

I am particularly proud of my involvement in the three-year, collaborative study monitoring Elwha wildlife recolonization. The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, the United States Geological Survey, the National Park Service, and Western Washington University were all involved. The study gave me the opportunity to survey beavers, songbirds, deer and elk, vegetation and large woody debris, and small mammal trapping surveys. The experiences I’ve had during this study observing wildlife interactions with the environment over time have reinforced my desire to further my education studying population ecology. Because of this, I will be starting graduate school at the University of Idaho with a newly-funded project to study cougar population size and structure on the Olympic Peninsula.

My work has strengthened my ties to my home. In the years since I’ve returned, I’ve become closer with my tribal and scientific communities, and have grown an even stronger appreciation for the Elwha River ecosystem. The river restoration has been a major success for the Klallam people, and proves the effectiveness of methods for ecosystem restoration that will hopefully be used as a model in other restoration efforts worldwide. And for me personally, the experience of working on this restoration project and seeing firsthand the regeneration of the former lakebeds and of the historic lands of my people has been incredibly reaffirming."]
elwah  elwahriver  washingtonstate  2018  cameronmacias  rivers  nature  conservation  ecosystems  ecology  wildlife  dams  salmon  multispecies  morethanhuman  fish  klallam  olympicpeninsula  clallamcounty  restoration 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Foxhunt by anomalina
"An atmospheric, Witness-like first person puzzle game based on clues left by the enigmatic Fox... are you clever enough to meet him and escape this deathless, dimensionless, cold white desert?"

[via: https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/6/18166692/foxhunt-the-witness-itch-io-short-play ]
games  gaming  videogames  edg  srg  multispecies  morethanhuman  2019  thewitness 
january 2019 by robertogreco
City Grazing
"City Grazing is a San Francisco-based goat landscaping non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable land management and fire risk reduction through outreach, education, and implementation of goat grazing. An environmentally beneficial solution to weed control, we rent out goats to clear public and private land. Whether you have an acre or an overgrown backyard, our goats would be eager to eat your weeds and aid in fire prevention naturally. When they are not out on the job our herd lives on pasture in San Francisco’s Bayview district between the SF Bay Railroad and Bay Natives Nursery.

Goat grazing is an ecologically sound practice that eliminates the need for toxic herbicides, chemicals, and gas-powered lawn mowers. They clear brush in areas that people or machines cannot easily reach, like steep slopes or ditches. Grazing reduces fuel loads that cause fires to escalate quickly. Managed annual grazing is an effective way to minimize poison oak and invasive seed-bearing weeds while promoting the health of native perennial species.

Grazing discourages invasive weeds propagated by seeds which are eaten and largely rendered sterile via ruminant digestion, and encourages regrowth of perennial native plants, promoting healthy, deep root development in these more desirable natives, which in turn leads to more water stored in the earth, which leads to better drought resistance, again aiding in reducing fire hazard.

City Grazing is doing something that’s largely unprecedented and dedicated to staunch environmentalism. Goats not only reduce the potential fuel load, they help restore soil fertility by providing organic fertilizer. Their digestion naturally converts unruly unwanted vegetation into little pellets of immediately bioavailable soil nutrients. No composting is required and the nutrients return directly to the topsoil. In terms of environmental stewardship and doing what’s best for our land and our planet’s atmosphere, goat grazing is of incredible value.

Goats also benefit people by reducing our exposure to hazards we may encounter when attempting to do this work by traditional methods: Said San Francisco Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, speaking of City Grazing’s herd working to clear poison oak and other undesirable vegetation from Twin Peaks: “Thank God for goats. They can navigate the steep terrain nimbly and access areas that our employees would have a much harder time traversing safely to get the job done. Plus, goats are eco-friendly and really fun to see in the middle of San Francisco.”

We find that goats not only do an environmentally beneficial job of converting unwanted weeds into healthy soil, they also bring communities together, create compelling work for people, and inspire us all.

City Grazing supports and encourages sustainable land management, by providing goat grazing to local residents, schools, universities, community organizations, municipalities, businesses, and home owners’ associations to create fire safety and healthy soil through the use of goat grazing.

No other form of weed control comes with such a great character! Our herd is very friendly, lively, and great with children. As we work around the city, City Grazing teaches about animal husbandry and ecological stewardship of industrial land.

Our goats are entertainers! Some of them are natural stars who love cameras and attention. We have goats available for parties, educational visits, acting roles, documentaries, and special events of all kinds. We are happy to answer any inquiries and love finding creative opportunities to connect goats with the greater world."

[See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ai2OFY2wug ]
sanfrancisco  goats  multispecies  animals  classideas  urban  urbanism  cities  morethanhuman 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Pink Chicken Project
"Pink Chicken Project suggests using a “Gene Drive” to change the colour of the entire species Gallus Gallus Domesticus to pink.

Being the world's most common bird, the bones of the 60 billion chickens that are killed every year leave a distinct trace in the rock strata (the earth's crust), a marker for the new geological age - the Anthropocene.

To re-occupy this identifier of our age, the project suggests genetically modifying a chicken with pink bones and feathers, using a gene from the insect cochineal to produce a pigment that will be fossilized when combined with the calcium of the bone.

Spreading this gene with the recently invented Gene Drive technique, the species could be permanently altered, on a global scale, in just a few years.

Thereby modifying the future fossil record, colouring the geological trace of humankind, pink!

Pink, is a symbolic color, an opposition to the current global power dynamics, that enable and aggravate the anthropocentric violence forced upon the non-human world.

The pink chicken DNA also carries an encoded message, that calls for an ecological discourse that must include issues of social justice, in order to achieve the radical restructuring of society needed to break the death grip of the sixth extinction.

Lying somewhere between utopia and dystopia, the project attempts to redirect focus to the underlying ethical and political issues;

What future do we really want, and why?

And can we stay humble in facing what is unknowable?"
chicken  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  2018  dna  genetics  color  anthropocene 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Waiting for Happiness by Nomi Stone - Poems | Academy of American Poets
"Dog knows when friend will come home
because each hour friend’s smell pales,
air paring down the good smell
with its little diamond. It means I miss you
O I miss you, how hard it is to wait
for my happiness, and how good when
it arrives. Here we are in our bodies,
ripe as avocados, softer, brightening
with latencies like a hot, blue core
of electricity: our ankles knotted to our
calves by a thread, womb sparking
with watermelon seeds we swallowed
as children, the heart again badly hurt, trying
and failing. But it is almost five says
the dog. It is almost five."
poems  poetry  morethanhuman  multispecies  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  dogs  pets  nomistone  relationships 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Studying Humpback Whales to Better Communicate with Aliens
"In this video, a pair of scientists talk about their work in studying the communication patterns of humpback whales to learn more about how we might someday communicate with a possible extraterrestrial intelligence. No, this isn’t Star Trek IV. For one thing, whales have tailored their communication style to long distances, when it may take hours to received a reply, an analog of the length of possible interplanetary & interstellar communications. The scientists are also using Claude Shannon’s information theory to study the complexity of the whales’ language and eventually hope to use their findings to better detect the level of intelligence in alien messages and perhaps even the social structure of the alien civilization itself."

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CIcIZzz8B4 ]
animals  biology  communication  whales  2018  multispecies  morethanhuman  sound  audio  via:lukeneff  intelligence  informationtheory  seti  complexity  language  languages  structure  anthropology  social 
november 2018 by robertogreco
k'eguro on Twitter: "PERUVIAN PLANT ESCAPES BRITISH GARDEN CONFINEMENT!"
"I love this description

"Galinsoga parviflora was brought from Peru to Kew Gardens in 1796, and later escaped to the wild in Great Britain and Ireland"

#ANTICOLONIALPLANTS

PERUVIAN PLANT ESCAPES BRITISH GARDEN CONFINEMENT!

Aaron Boothby (@elipticalnight):
there MUST be a history of plants escaping colonial gardens to naturalize themselves & I really need to find it

k'eguro:
now I'm imagining a graphic novel: the great escape

Aaron Boothby:
[GIF]

k'eguro:
and then the little plant said to its friend, "there's a whole world out there, with soil for all of us"

Aaron Boothby:
some escaping in wind, others in rain, in the fur of cats, in bird's feathers, in bird's poop, by creeping past fences, by seducing human theft, by offering tasty fruits

Petero Kalulé (@nkoyenkoyenkoye):
ecological escape strategies"
plants  multispecies  colonialism  morethanhuman  keguromacharia  aaronboothby  peterokalulé  escape  confinement  liberation  anti-colonialism 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Comrade Animal: The habitat beyond anthropocentrism
"During the customary preliminary research phase of this project, we came across a meme which very soon became the starting point of the project itself. It immediately dawned on us that this meme was a condensation of the different themes we wanted to develop with the ‘Comrade Animal’ exhibition and its collection of contents.The diptych accompanied by its caption, seemed to contain all of the different aspects we have taken into consideration for this project.

The trolling meme, with a clearly xenophobic and racist intention, compares a photo of a wooden hut with the caption “Africans today” to the design of an architecture built by beavers with “beavers millions of years ago.” At the bottom: "who's the better architect?". The elements that we can extract are several. The racism of the western man towards the African continent is certainly the underlying goal; and in order to denigrate the African continent, man is compared to an animal.The second element: the animal is inferior to man, it is a being that occupies a lower level in the pyramidal structure in which mankind occupies the vertex, obviously in service to a vision of the world generated by us.

Since the beginning we have asked ourselves whether looking at the relationship between man and animal through their architectures could help us to reevaluate the extremely anthropocentric matrix with which we have shaped the global habitat. At the base we found a necessity: rethinking human creation, and in our specific case that would mean giving shape to artefacts, architectures and objects. It is from this point that the project for the 59th edition of the International Bugatti Segantini Award is born, the main objective of which is a critical re-reading of the events of May 1968 and its consequences, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. Several reflections concentrated in the Primitive Future Office publication (plug_in, 2014) acted as the foundations of this proposal. Specifically reflections on possible processes of emancipation when dealing with how we shape the habitat, and the traditional hierarchical structures that guide it.

In the publication, our research retraced a series of experiences, starting from the American counterculture movements with manuals such as the Whole Earth Catalog, and how their cross-contamination with movements such as that of May '68, have brought us to the present day, developing the debate on open design and the open source movements applied to the human habitat with makers and fablabs. Taking this line of investigation further, we wanted to go discover non-anthropocentric ways of shaping the habitat, which take into consideration all living organisms and that can perhaps place man back amongst the animals.Would it be possible nowdays to examine the spirit that guided the great changes of '68, and imagine a future in which we can oppose a certain form of culture which, through social, economic and colonial policies, by now hegemonic, appears as dominant? It was through design that ’68 observed a society in which the maker was transformed into a supplier of instruments and not of finished projects, and thus fighting the usual structures of power. Would it be possible in the same way today, to oppose a self-proclaimed supremacy of the human species over other species considered less important? In an era in which ancient conflicts between humans have returned, it could be that a vision of our habitat no longer based solely on the human being, might represent a real turning point.

The exhibit mixes three artists/designers with three professionals from the world of social sciences, pushing for an interdisciplinary reflection on the implications of anthropocentrism and our relationship with other living beings in the way we shape the space we inhabit."

[See also:
https://www.instagram.com/comradeanimal/
https://gluqbar.xyz/Editions ]
multispecies  animals  morethanhuman  interdisciplinary  anthropocene  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  leonardocaffo  sofiabelenky  hunterdoyle  leonardodellanoce  oliviergoethals  angelorenna  palazziclub  parasite2.0  stefanocolombo  eugeniocosentino  lucamarullo  architecture  art  design  albertowolfgango  amadeod'asaro 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Emergent Strategy, by adrienne maree brown | AK Press
"Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. Change is constant. The world is in a continual state of flux. It is a stream of ever-mutating, emergent patterns. Rather than steel ourselves against such change, this book invites us to feel, map, assess, and learn from the swirling patterns around us in order to better understand and influence them as they happen. This is a resolutely materialist “spirituality” based equally on science and science fiction, a visionary incantation to transform that which ultimately transforms us.

“Necessary, vital, and timely.” —Ayana Jamieson, Octavia E. Butler Legacy Network

“Adrienne leads us on a passionate, purposeful, intimate ride into this Universe where relationships spawn new possibilities. Her years of dedication to facilitating change by partnering with life invite us to also join with life to create the changes so desperately needed now.” —Margaret Wheatley, author of Leadership and the New Science

“Adrienne has challenged me, enlightened me and reminded me that transformation happens in our natural world every day and we can borrow from it strategies to transform ourselves, our organizations, and our society.” —Denise Perry, Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD)

“A word/heart sojourn through the hard questions.” — Makani Themba, facilitator for the Movement for Black Lives

“Emergent Strategy…reminds us, directly and by example, that wonder (which at its heart is love), is the foundation of our ability to shape change and create the world we want.” —Alta Starr, leadership development trainer at Generative Somatics

“Drawing on sources as varied as poetry, science fiction, forests, ancestors, and a desired future, Emergent Strategy speaks with ease about what is hard and brings us into that ease without losing its way. Savor and enjoy!” —Elissa Perry, Management Assistance Group

adrienne maree brown, co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements, is a social justice facilitator, healer, and doula living in Detroit.:
books  toread  adriennemareebrown  via:pauisanoun  emergent  octaviabutler  self-help  change  flux  morethanhuman  forests  sciencefiction  scifi  ancestors  futures  future 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Warnings Along the Drought Line – BLDGBLOG
"Elise Hunchuck, whose project “An Incomplete Atlas of Stones” sought to document warning stones placed along the Japanese coast to indicate safe building limits in case of tsunamis, has called my attention to a somewhat related phenomena in Central Europe.

So-called “hunger stones” have been uncovered by the low-flowing, drought-reduced waters of Czech Republic’s Elbe River, NPR reports. Hunger stones are “carved boulders… that have been used for centuries to commemorate historic droughts—and warn of their consequences.” One stone, we read, has been carved with the phrase, Wenn du mich siehst, dann weine, or “If you see me, weep.”

Although there are apparently extenuating circumstances for the rocks’ newfound visibility—including a modern-day dam constructed on the Elbe River which has affected water levels—I nonetheless remain haunted by the idea of uncovering buried or submerged warnings from our own ancestors stating that, in a sense, if you are reading this, you are already doomed.

Read a bit more over at NPR."
bldgblog  stones  multispecies  morethanhuman  warnings  drought  czechrepublic  elisehunchuck  climatechange  climate  memory  legacy  communication  rivers  europe  2018  history 
october 2018 by robertogreco
elisehunchuck [Elise Misao Hunchuck]
[via: https://twitter.com/lowlowtide/status/1052233654074654720

"what a rare pleasure, listening 2 @elisehunchuck presenting her research on an incomplete atlas of stones: ‘Trangressions & Regressions’ @tudelft #ULWeek2018

“stones help us understand how the earth moves”—@elisehunchuck"]

"Elise Hunchuck (b. Toronto) is a Berlin based researcher and designer with degrees in landscape architecture, philosophy, and geography whose work focuses on bringing together fieldwork and design through collaborative practices of observation, care, and coordination. Facilitating multidisciplinary exchanges between teaching and representational methods as a way to further develop landscape-oriented research methodologies at multiple scales, her research develops cartographic, photographic, and text-based practices to explore and communicate the agency of disasters through the continual configuring and reconfiguring of infrastructures of risk, including memorials, monuments, and coastal defense structures.

A University Olmsted Scholar, Elise was recently a finalist for the 2017 Maeder-York Landscape Fellowship at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Cambridge, US) and a research fellow with the Landscape Architecture Foundation (Washington DC, US). Her writing has appeared in The Funambulist and her research has been featured on BLDGBLOG. She has taught representational history and methods in the graduate architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto (Toronto, CA) and has been an invited critic in the undergraduate and graduate programs at the architecture, landscape, and urban design departments at the Daniels Faculty and the School of Architecture at Waterloo.

Elise is also a member of the editorial board of Scapegoat Journal: Architecture / Landscape / Political Economy.

For general enquiries, commissions, or collaborations, please contact directly via email at elisehunchuck [at] gmail [dot] com."

[See also:

"An Incomplete Atlas of Stones"
https://elisehunchuck.com/2015-2017-An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones
https://cargocollective.com/elisehunchuck/An-Incomplete-Atlas-of-Stones-1
https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2018/02/21/elise-hunchuck-mla-2016-presents-incomplete-atlas-stones-aa-london
https://thefunambulist.net/articles/incomplete-atlas-stones-cartography-tsunami-stones-japanese-shoreline-elise-misao-hunchuck
https://thefunambulist.net/contributors/elise-hunchuck

"Warnings Along the Inundation Line"
http://www.bldgblog.com/2017/06/warnings-along-the-inundation-line/

"Century Old Warnings Against Tsunamis Dot Japan's Coastline"
https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/century-old-warnings-against-tsunamis-dot-japans-coastline-180956448/

"How Century Old Tsunami Stones Saved Lives in the Tohoku Earthquake of 2011"
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2018/03/11/how-century-old-tsunami-stones-saved-lives-in-the-tohoku-earthquake-of-2011/#18355a8244fd

https://www.daniels.utoronto.ca/news/2017/06/28/bldgblog-features-incomplete-atlas-stones-elise-hunchuck-mla-2016

https://issuu.com/danielsfacultyuoft/docs/2016.04.11_-_2016_winter_thesis_rev ]
elisehunchuck  landscape  multispecies  morethanhuman  japan  iceland  tsunamis  design  fieldwork  srg  multidisciplinary  teaching  place  time  memory  disasters  risk  memorials  monuments  coasts  oceans  maps  mapping  photography  canon  scale  observation  care  caring  coordination  markers 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Christi Belcourt on Twitter: "Education in schools is not the only form of education. The land has been my teacher for 25 years. I will never graduate and will always be an apprentice to her. The animals educate. The stars educate. Not everything can be t
"Education in schools is not the only form of education. The land has been my teacher for 25 years. I will never graduate and will always be an apprentice to her. The animals educate. The stars educate. Not everything can be taught in a brick box. Not everything should be.

Education from and on the land is needed for children. We need the next generation to be free thinkers. Unintentionally, the structures within the current education system are contributing in assimilating all children into a form of thinking that teaches them to conform.

Education in schools is affecting Indigenous nations. It’s not all positive. Hardly any of our kids knows the lands like the back of their hands any more. Hardly any knows animal traditional laws, protocols. Hardly any can survive on the land. And almost all are taught in English

Without intending it, by sending ALL our children to school, we are creating a society of dependence. Because unable to survive on the land means a dependence on goods and services. It also means a continued decline in our languages as the day is spent in English.

Even communities once entirely fluent not long ago are noticing their young people conversing in English. I was just in a community where the teenagers were fluent. But pre-teens weren’t. How can communities compete w/ English when their children are emmersed in it all day?

I don’t want to offend educators. Educators are some of the most selfless and kind people I’ve met. They go above and beyond for kids every day. My observations are about some of the long term boarder effects re: institution of education and its detrimental effects on our nations

The late Elder Wilfred Peltier once wrote that the education system harms children in a few ways. He was speaking specifically about Indigenous kids but his thoughts could be applied to all I suppose. He said it sets kids up with a skewed sense of self. (Con’t)

Elder Wilfred Peltier said children are taught early in school to be graded. He said the harm isn’t only in the child who gets low grades and is made to feel less than. The worse harm is to kids who get higher grades and are made to feel better than others.

He also said the structure of the classroom is problematic. It implies the teacher knows everything and the student knows nothing. In Indigenous communities we talk about how children are teachers and each one has unique gifts. But schools don’t nurture those gifts.

A child might be gifted in reading the stars or knowing traditional medicines. Schools eliminate that as a possibility to be apprenticed in those things. And they take up so much time in a child’s life there is no time left over for language and apprenticing in their gifts.

We will need scientists and people who have gone through school. But we also need medicine apprentices, land knowledge, language keepers and star readers. We need experts of the lakes and animals. This come from apprentiships w/ kokums and moshoms. It comes from the land itself.

In this time of climate change the world needs Indigenous knowledge more than ever. It’s in our lands and langusges. It can’t come from school. So we have to question this. And really look at it to suss out the good and the bad in a non emotional and non judgemental way.

Is there a way to have half of all Indigenous kids apprenticed full time with kokums or moshoms in land/water based education? Is there a way to identify what gifts kids will have early on and give them the life long training to nurture those gifts?

My concluding thought is the tendency will be towards “improving” or “fixing” schools to allow for more Indigenous languages or teachings etc without fundamentally changing anything. My point is the kind of education I’m talking about cannot be within the school system."
education  unschooling  deschooling  indigeneity  schooling  wilfredpeltier  christibelcourt  2018  inequality  children  authority  experience  apprenticeships  kokums  moshoms  multispecies  land  morethanhuman  canon  climatechange  experientiallearning  gifted  language  languages  landscape  colonialism  heterogeneity 
october 2018 by robertogreco
We met the world’s first domesticated foxes - YouTube
"This week, we meet the very cute and very bizarre result of an almost 60-year-long experiment: they’re foxes that have been specially bred for their dog-like friendliness toward people. We do a little behavior research of our own, and discover what scientists continue to learn from the world’s most famous experiment in domestication. The fox experiment continues under the supervision of Lyudmila Trut at the Institute of Cytology and Genetics. Her book “How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog)”, co-authored by Lee Alan Dugatkin, details the history and science behind the experiment."
foxes  animals  domestication  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  2018  pets  morethanhuman  multispecies  wildlife 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Watch Plants Light Up When They Get Attacked - The New York Times
"Scientists showed that plants are much less passive than they seem by revealing the secret workings of their threat communication systems."
plants  multispecies  morethanhuman  2018  communication 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Spiders blamed after broken siren played creepy nursery rhymes randomly at night to UK townsfolk / Boing Boing
"Floating in on the wind, yet again, the sound of It's Raining, It's Pouring being sung by a child on the creepiest siren in Britain.


The Ipswich Star reports on what one local described as "something from a horror movie." I've embedded a recording made by one alarmed local at the top of this post so you know what they were hearing.
A tormented mother living in Bramford Road with her two young children has been woken on an almost nightly basis by a tinny, distant rendition of ‘It’s Raining, It’s Pouring’. She said the threatening undertone of the song had left her frightened and questioning whether she was imagining things. After months of torment, she finally reported the unusual complaint to Ipswich Borough Council.


The next time it happened, they scrambled workers to her address and she helped them track down the unnerving music to a loudspeaker installed at "an industrial premises on the neighbouring Farthing Road estate [business park]." The council subsequently issued a press statement, which follows.
“This is unique in our experience – it was difficult to believe a nursery rhyme would be playing in the middle of the night.

“But we do take all complaints extremely seriously and asked the residents who contacted us to let us know when it was actually playing so we could investigate properly.

“We took a call around midnight and immediately went to the Bramford Road area to find out more - we did hear the nursery rhyme playing from an industrial premises and it sounded very eerie at that time of night. We appreciate that people living nearby would find it quite spooky.”


The premises' operators blamed spiders.
[image]

“The sound is only supposed to act as a deterrent for opportunistic thieves that come onto our property, and it’s designed only to be heard by people on our private land. We are now aware of the problem - the motion sensors were being triggered by spiders crawling across the lenses of our cameras and it looks like we’ve had it turned up too loudly. We’ve spoken to the resident who brought it to our attention and adjusted it so this shouldn’t happen again.”

The BBC adds that it had gone on for months.

For several months she would hear the rhyme, which would go away only to come again another day.

The woman, who did not wish to be named, said: "The first time I heard it it was the most terrifying thing ever, I went cold and felt sick, and thought 'what on earth was that?'"
"
spiders  morethanhuman  multispecies  entanglement  music  2018  hauntology 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Toronto built a better green bin and — oops — maybe a smarter raccoon | The Star
"After the city unveiled its ‘raccoon-resistant’ bins, some feared the animals would be starved out. Journalist Amy Dempsey was examining just that when her reporting took an unexpected path — down her own garbage-strewn laneway. Had raccoons finally figured out how to defeat the greatest human effort in our “war” against their kind? An accidental investigation finds answers amid the scraps."
animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  intelligence  toronto  2018  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  raccoons  wildlife  nature 
september 2018 by robertogreco
How to Be A Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals - Sy Montgomery
"National Book Award finalist Sy Montgomery reflects on the personalities and quirks of 13 animals—her friends—who have profoundly affected her in this stunning, poetic, and life-affirming memoir featuring illustrations by Rebecca Green.

Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet’s rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy’s life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets.

This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals—Sy’s friends—and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world."
books  toread  symontogomery  multispecies  morethanhuman  2018  entanglement  relationships  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  animals 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Did a fig tree grow out of the remains of a Turkish Cypriot man missing since 1974? - Cyprus Mail
"News was spreading fast on social media and foreign media over the weekend that a missing Turkish Cypriot man’s remains from 1974 were uncovered after a fig tree grew out of a seed in his stomach.

The story initially published in Turkish newspaper Hurriyet last week has been picked up by the British tabloids, MSN and other outlets. According to the MSN account, Ahmet Hergune was killed in 1974 but his body was not discovered for decades until the fig tree connection.

“It was eventually discovered because the tree which grew from him was unusual for the area. Incredibly, the dead man had been taken into a cave with two others and both of them had been killed by dynamite that was then thrown in after them,” the report said.

“Yet the dynamite also blew a hole in the side of the cave, allowing light to flood into the darkened interior which in turn allowed the fig tree to grow from the man’s body.”

It goes on to say the tree was spotted in 2011 by a researcher who was curious as to how the tree had ended up in the cave and especially in a mountainous area where it was not usually found.

“While carrying out his research and digging around the tree, he was then horrified to find a human body underneath and raised the alarm. On digging further, police recovered a total of three bodies.”

The tale is fascinating but not quite an accurate description, according to Cyprus Mail sources close to the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) on both sides of the divide.

But there is also much more to the story than was gleaned either from the short news reports, or the information obtained by the Cyprus Mail from the CMP sources.

According to the CMP sources, the case dates back to 2006 when the committee received information that there were Turkish Cypriot remains – three people – in a cave close to the sea and they went to excavate in accordance with their mandate.

The Cyprus Mail sources said it involved cave close to a beach in Limassol, and indeed there was a fig tree that had grown out of the cave. Over the years the tree had grown to the point where it caused the roof of the cave to collapse.

The entrance to the cave itself was underwater and blocked off due to the dynamite blast but the roots of the tree were inside the cave – some three metres down – and the tree had grown there for decades.

The remains of the three Turkish Cypriots, the sources said, were found several metres away from the tree roots during the excavations, suggesting it did not grow from a seed inside the deceased man. “There were similar news reports at the time that the tree had grown from the remains,” said one source.

Sources in the north close to the CMP also concurred that the remains were found away from the tree, adding that scientifically it was not possible that it happened the way it was related by the family. “It’s their belief,” the sources said. They added that sources said Hergune’s family wanted to believe that it happened that way. “It helped them with finding closure.”

Hergune’s sister Munur Herguner, 87, said, according to the MSN account: “We used to live in a village with a population of 4,000, half Greek, half Turkish. In 1974, the disturbances began. My brother Ahmet joined the Turkish Resistance Organisation (TMT). On 10th June, the Greeks took him away.”

She added: “For years we searched for my brother in vain.”

But she said that unknown to her, the grave had ended up being marked by the fig tree that grew from the seed in his stomach.

“The tree was spotted in 2011 by a researcher who was curious as to how the tree had ended up in the cave and especially in a mountainous area where it was not usually found,” the report goes on.

“While carrying out his research and digging around the tree, he was then horrified to find a human body underneath and raised the alarm. On digging further, police recovered a total of three bodies,” it added.

Munur Herguner said her brother was believed to have been the one that had eaten the fig, and blood samples from her family matched DNA fragments which confirmed it was her brother’s final resting place.

“As detectives investigated the killing, they discovered that the brother Ahmet and the other two had been killed by dynamite in the cave, and the blast had made a hole in the cave that let in light. He had apparently eaten the fig shortly before he died,” the report added.

His sister said: “The fig remnants in my brother’s stomach grew into a tree as the sun crept into the cave through the hole made by the explosion. They found my brother thanks to that fig tree.”

But there is even more to the story.

Turkish Cypriot journalist, author and peace activist Sevgul Uludag recounted the tale in 2008, two years after the find and just before the funeral of the three Turkish Cypriots whose remains had since been identified by the CMP.

Uludag was visiting by chance the same beach without making the connection between the ‘fig tree’ story from 2006 and the location she was currently at, Ayios Georgios Alamanos, until someone mentioned the connection.

According to her account, back in 1974, Ahmet Cemal was taken by three Greek Cypriots from the coffeeshop of the village Episkopi and was taken here to be killed together with Erdogan Enver and Unal Adil who were taken from the Chiftlik area of Limassol. According to Uludag, there was no entrance to the cave inside the rocks from land, so the three must have been brought by boat.

“The last thing Ahmet Cemal ate that day on the 10th of August 1974, was figs from his garden. But these were `Anadolidiga` type of figs, growing in his garden. This type of fig did not grow anywhere – it could grow in Episkopi and it only grew if it liked its soil… So the fig tree growing with hundreds of roots from the cave and coming out at the top of the cave and showing where the `missing` Turkish Cypriots were, this type of a fig tree called `Anadolidiga`,” she says.

Uludag observes that an ordinary person would not notice the significance of that fig tree on the beach but the beach was also a favourite beach for Xenophon Kallis, a Greek Cypriot, and head of the foreign ministry’s humanitarian affairs directorate who was deeply involved in missing persons issue, so in essence not some random person as related by the media over the weekend.

“Gradually as the fig tree grew, Kallis noticed the change in the scenery on the beach. What was that fig tree doing there? Kallis checked old photos he had of this beach – he drove for kilometres on this coast but there was no sign of another fig tree. And there was no place for the birds to perch on to poo inside the cave – the whole area was rocks and shinya,” wrote Uludag.

She said he discovered the fig tree was of the type `Anadolidiga` and as he deepened his research, he found out that the three Turkish Cypriot `missing`, among them Ahmet Cemal from Episkopi, was killed and buried in that cave.

“When the dynamite exploded [at the time], the UN had heard and had made a report about it. And Kallis discovered that the last thing Ahmet Cemal ate was `Anadolidiga` figs from his garden,” added Uludag.

“Maybe this `Anadolidiga` fig tree grew because of the last meal of Ahmet Cemal – maybe the bats had eaten this type of fig and came to the cave or maybe there is another explanation. But whatever the explanation, what was important was that this fig tree led Kallis to finding these `missing persons`. The fig tree had shown him the way…”

Uludag’s full account here:

https://www.stwing.upenn.edu/~durduran/hamambocu/authors/svg/svg2_13_2008.html "
plants  trees  figs  entanglement  2018  cyprus  1974  conflict  archaeology  morethanhuman  multispecies  fruit  closure  turkey 
september 2018 by robertogreco
First Day of Class, by Michael Hettich
"First Day of Class

I was thinking of starting a forest, he says,
when I ask what he plans to do with his life
after he graduates. If I did that,
he explains, I would have to learn self-reliance
and I’d understand the animals. I wonder how many
trees I’d have to grow to become
a forest, a real one. The other students listen silently
and some even nod, as if what he said
was something they’d considered too. But they’ve all told me
lawyer or physical therapist, nurse
or businessperson. There have been no dancers
or even English majors. But this young man is serious,
sitting there in tee-shirt and baseball cap, straight-backed
and speaking with a deferential nod, as though
I could help him--as I’ve been explaining I’m here
to do, their professor. We’ll form a small community
I’ve told them, or I hope we will, and we’ll discuss the world.
It seems to be raining this morning, though I’m not sure
since this classroom doesn’t have windows. It was raining
when I drove in at first light, splashing through the streets:
Some of the students wear slickers; others carry
brightly-colored umbrellas. And now another young man
raises his hand and says that, on second thought,
he wants to be a farm, an organic farm with many bees
and maybe even cows and pigs no one will ever eat
that live like pets. I love fresh milk, he says.
Then someone else tells us she’s always secretly
yearned to be a lake somewhere up north in the woods—
let’s say in Maine, since I love seasons
and I wonder how it feels to freeze tight, not move
for months, how it feels to open up again
in the spring; and I’ve always wondered how fish would feel
swimming through my body, how that might make me shiver
like love. And she laughs then. And thus the room grows wild."

[via: https://twitter.com/earnestdrollery/status/1034827420120096769 ]
michaelhettich  unschooling  schooling  deschooling  schools  education  life  living  multispecies  morethanhuman  careers  poems  poetry 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Should Rivers Have Rights? A Growing Movement Says It’s About Time - Yale E360
"Inspired by indigenous views of nature, a movement to grant a form of legal “personhood” to rivers is gaining some ground — a key step, advocates say, in reversing centuries of damage inflicted upon the world’s waterways."
rivers  rights  nature  multispecies  morethanhuman  2018  personhood  chile  ecosystems  law  legal  jensbenöhr  patricklynch  indigeneity 
august 2018 by robertogreco
EVERYBODY NEEDS A ROCK - ENGLISH : BYRD BAYLOR : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
[See also: https://books.google.com/books?id=EWH-IfBQ-B0C ]

"RULE NUMBER 2

When you are looking
at rocks
don’t let

mothers or fathers
or sisters or brothers
or even best friends
talk
to you.

You should choose
a rock

when everything
is quiet.

Don’t let dogs bark
at you

or bees buzz
at you.

But if they do,

DON'T WORRY.

(The worst thing you can do is go
rock hunting when you are worried.)"

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmRN3JFBySIAAG5R52aZZNqwRDHkkCHd_PXdLk0/ ]
morethanhuman  rocks  poems  poetry  objects  multispecies  byrdbaylor 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Kitsune - Wikipedia
"Kitsune (狐, キツネ, IPA: [kitsɯne] (About this sound listen)) is the Japanese word for the fox. Foxes are a common subject of Japanese folklore; in English, kitsune refers to them in this context. Stories depict them as intelligent beings and as possessing paranormal abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. According to Yōkai folklore, all foxes have the ability to shapeshift into human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this ability to trick others—as foxes in folklore often do—other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes and humans lived close together in ancient Japan; this companionship gave rise to legends about the creatures. Kitsune have become closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as its messengers. This role has reinforced the fox's supernatural significance. The more tails a kitsune has—they may have as many as nine—the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people make sacrifices to them as to a deity.

Conversely foxes were often seen as "witch animals", especially during the superstitious Edo period (1603–1867), and were goblins who could not be trusted (similar to some badgers and cats).[1]"
foxes  japan  sestracat  myth  myths  mythology  shinto  trickster  folklore  cats  badgers  shapeshifting  companionship  multispecies  morethanhuman  inari  kami  spirits 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Skoffín | A Book of Creatures
"Variations: Skoffin; Skuggabaldur, Finngalkn, Fingal; Urdarköttur, Naköttur; Modyrmi

Skoffin

The Skoffín is one of a complex of Icelandic fox-cat hybrids with a lethal gaze, combining the cunning of the fox with the cruelty of the cat. This group also includes the Skuggabaldur, Urdarköttur, and Modyrmi, all of which are variations on the same theme; they are also linked to the “demon harriers”, foxes sent by sorcerers to maul livestock.

A skoffín is born from the union of a male Arctic fox and a female tabby cat, and resembles both of them. Its gaze is so deadly that everything it looks at dies immediately, without needing to see it. Its exact appearance varies; it may even change color with the seasons like the Arctic fox does. Reports suggest that skoffíns are short-haired, with bald patches of skin throughout.

Skoffín kittens are born with their eyes wide open. If not destroyed immediately, they sink into the ground and emerge after 3 years of maturation. It is therefore imperative to kill sighted kittens before they can disappear into the ground. When a litter of three sighted kittens was born at a farm in Súluholt, they were placed in a tub of urine to prevent their descent into the earth, and were drowned by placing turf on top of them. The entire tub was then tossed onto a pile of manure and hay and set on fire. The mother cat was also killed.

Skoffíns are irredeemably vile and malicious, and satisfy their appetite for destruction by killing humans and livestock alike. They are best shot from a safe distance, ideally with a silver bullet and after having made the sign of the cross in front of the barrel, or having a human knucklebone on the barrel. Hardened sheep dung makes equally effective bullets.

Thankfully, skoffíns are not immune to their own gaze. An encounter between two skoffíns will lead to the death of both of them. As with basilisks, mirrors are their bane. Once a skoffín stationed itself on the roof of a church, and the parishioners started dropping dead as they left the building. The deacon understood what was going on, and had the rest of the congregation wait inside while he tied a mirror to a long pole and extended it outside to the roof. After a few minutes he gave the all-clear, and they were able to leave the church safely, as the skoffín had perished immediately upon seeing its reflection.

Eventually, confusion with the basilisk of the mainland muddled the skoffín’s image, leading to some accounts claiming it was hatched from a rooster’s egg.

The skuggabaldur (“shadow baldur”) or finngalkn has the same parentage as the skoffín, but is born of a tomcat and a vixen. It has very dark fur shading to black, sometimes has a deadly gaze, and preys on livestock. It may be killed in the same way as the skoffín. One particularly destructive skuggabaldur in Húnavatnssýslur was tracked down and killed in a canyon; with its last breath, it exhorted its killers to inform the cat at Bollastadir of its death. When a man repeated that incident at a Bollastadir farm, a tomcat – no doubt the skuggabaldur’s father – jumped at him and sank its teeth and claws into his throat. It had to be decapitated to release its hold, but by then the man was dead.

The urdarköttur (“ghoul cat”) or naköttur (“corpse cat”) is of less certain parentage. It may be a hybrid, but other accounts state that any cat that goes feral in Iceland eventually becomes an urdarköttur, and all-white kittens born with their eyes open will sink into the ground and re-emerge after three years in this form. Shaggy, white or black furred, growing up to the size of an ox, these felines kill indiscriminately and dig up corpses in graveyards. It may be killed in the same way, and is attached to the same story as the Bollastadir cat. Gryla’s pet, the Yule Cat, is most likely an urdarköttur.

The modyrmi (“hay wormling”) is a canine variant, created when puppies born with their eyes open sink into the ground and reappear after three years as wretched, virulent monsters. The specifics are the same as with the skoffín.

References

Boucher, A. (1994) Elves and Stories of Trolls and Elemental Beings. Iceland Review, Reykjavik.

Hermansson, H. (1924) Jon Gudmundsson and his Natural History of Iceland. Islandica, Cornell University Library, Ithaca.

Hlidberg, J. B. and Aegisson, S.; McQueen, F. J. M. and Kjartansson, R., trans. (2011) Meeting with Monsters. JPV utgafa, Reykjavik.

Stefánsson, V. (1906) Icelandic Beast and Bird Lore. The Journal of American Folklore, vol. 19, no. 75, pp. 300-308."
cats  foxes  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  sestracat  iceland  hybrids  skoffín  skuggabaldur 
august 2018 by robertogreco
Fylgja - Wikipedia
"In Norse mythology, a fylgja (plural fylgjur) is a spirit who accompanies a person in connection to their fate or fortune. The word fylgja means "to accompany" similar to that of the Irish Fetch. It can also mean "afterbirth of a child"[1] meaning that the afterbirth and the fylgja are connected. In some instances, the fylgja can take on the form of the animal that shows itself when a baby is born or as the creature that eats the afterbirth. In some literature and sagas, the fylgjur can take the form of mice, dogs, foxes, cats, birds of prey, or carrion eaters because these were animals that would typically eat such afterbirths.[1] Other ideas of fylgjur are that the animals reflect the character of the person they represent. Men who were viewed as a leader would often have fylgja to show their true character. This means that if they had a "tame nature", their fylgja would typically be an ox, goat, or boar. If they had an "untame nature" they would have fylgjur such as a fox, wolf, deer, bear, eagle, falcon, leopard, lion, or a serpent.[2] In "Dreams in Icelandic Tradition" by Turville-Petre, it discussed commonalities between the various animals such as an evil wizard or sorcerer's fylgja would be a fox because they are sly and hiding something, or an enemy is depicted as a wolf.[1] Particularly in The Story of Howard the Halt otherwise known as Hárvarðar saga Ísfirðings, the character Atli has a dream about eighteen wolves running towards him with a vixen as their leader, predicting that he would be attacked by an army with a sorcerer at the front.[3]

Fylgjur may also "mark transformations between human and animal"[2] or shape shifting. In Egil's Saga, there are references to both Egil and Skallagrim transforming into wolves or bears, and there are examples of shape shifting in the Saga of King Hrolf Kraki, where Bodvar Bjarki turns into a bear during a battle as a last stand. These transformations are possibly implied in the saga descriptions of berserkers who transform into animals or display bestial abilities.

Fylgjur usually appear in the form of an animal or a human and commonly appear during sleep, but the sagas relate that they could appear while a person is awake as well, and that seeing one's fylgja is an omen of one's impending death. However, when fylgjur appear in the form of women, they are then supposedly guardian spirits for people or clans (ættir). According to Else Mundal, the women fylgja could also be considered a dís, a ghost or goddess that is attached to fate.[4] Both Andy Orchard and Rudolf Simek note parallels between the concept of the hamingja—a personification of a family's or individual's fortune—and the fylgja. An example of such an occurrence would be in Gisli Surrson's Saga where the main character, Gisli, is visited by two beautiful women, one who is trying to bring good fortune and one that is trying to edge him towards violence. These two women could represent the women ancestors of Gisli's family ties, such as the ties between his wife Aud and his sister Thordis, relating to the idea of the hamingja and dís."
myth  myths  mythology  norse  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  spirits  daemons  fylgja  shapeshifting  sestracat 
august 2018 by robertogreco
A Color of the Sky by Tony Hoagland | Poetry Foundation
"Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work.
There are the dark parts on the road
when you pass through clumps of wood
and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,
but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.

I should call Marie and apologize
for being so boring at dinner last night,
but can I really promise not to be that way again?
And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing
in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.

Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
are full of infant chlorophyll,
the very tint of inexperience.

Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,
and on the highway overpass,
the only metaphysical vandal in America has written
MEMORY LOVES TIME
in big black spraypaint letters,

which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.

Last night I dreamed of X again.
She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
I never got her out,
but now I’m glad.

What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.

Outside the youth center, between the liquor store
and the police station,
a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;

overflowing with blossomfoam,
like a sudsy mug of beer;
like a bride ripping off her clothes,

dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,

so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more."
poems  poetry  morethanhuman  multispecies  tonyhoagland  2003  plants  trees  wastefulness  making  spring  everyday  ephemeral 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Birds Art Life - Kyo Maclear
"In Birds Art Life, writer Kyo Maclear embarks on a yearlong, big city adventure chasing after birds, and along the way offers a luminous meditation on the nature of creativity and the quest for a good and meaningful life.

For Vladimir Nabokov, it was butterflies. For John Cage, it was mushrooms. For Sylvia Plath, it was bees. Each of these artists took time away from their work to become observers of natural phenomena. In 2012, Kyo Maclear met a local Toronto musician with an equally captivating side passion—he had recently lost his heart to birds. Curious about what prompted this young urban artist to suddenly embrace nature, Kyo decides to follow him for a year and find out.

Birds Art Life explores the particular madness of loving and chasing after birds in a big city. Intimate and philosophical, moving with ease between the granular and the grand view, it celebrates the creative and liberating effects of keeping your eyes and ears wide open, and explores what happens when you apply the core lessons of birding to other aspects of life. On a deeper level, it takes up the questions of how we are shaped and nurtured by our parallel passions, and how we might come to cherish not only the world’s pristine natural places but also the blemished urban spaces where most of us live."
books  toread  kyomaclear  2018  birds  birding  nture  life  creativity  writing  art  urban  cities  observation  wildlife  animals  multispecies  morethanhuman  vladimirnabokov  johncage  butterflies  mushrooms 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Tree That Owns Itself - Wikipedia
"The Tree That Owns Itself is a white oak tree that has, according to legend, legal ownership of itself and of all land within eight feet (2.4 m) of its base. The tree, also called the Jackson Oak, is located at the corner of South Finley and Dearing Streets in Athens, Georgia, United States. The original tree, thought to have started life between the mid-16th and late 18th century, fell in 1942, but a new tree was grown from one of its acorns, and planted in the same location. The current tree is sometimes referred to as the Son of The Tree That Owns Itself. Both trees have appeared in numerous national publications, and the site is a local landmark."
multispecies  posthumanism  trees  transhumanism  morethanhuman 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Thread by @ecomentario: "p.31 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… p.49 ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A… ecoed.wikispaces.co […]"
[on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ecomentario/status/1007269183317512192 ]

[many of the captures come from: "From A Pedagogy for Liberation to Liberation from Pedagogy" by Gustavo Esteva, Madhu S. Prakash, and Dana L. Stuchul, which is no longer available online as a standalone PDF (thus the UTexas broken link), but is inside the following document, also linked to in the thread.]

[“Rethinking Freire: Globalization and the Environmental Crisis" edited by C.A.Bowers and Frédérique Apffel-Marglin
https://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/C.+A.+Bowers,+Frdrique+Apffel-Marglin,+Frederique+Apffel-Marglin,+Chet+A.+Bowers+Re-Thinking+Freire+Globalization+and+the+Environmental+Crisis+Sociocultural,+Political,+and+Historical+Studies+in+Educatio+2004.pdf ]
isabelrodíguez  paulofreire  ivanillich  wendellberry  subcomandantemarcos  gandhi  2018  gustavoesteva  madhuprakash  danastuchul  deschooling  colonialism  future  environment  sustainability  cabowers  frédériqueapffel-marglin  education  campesinos  bolivia  perú  pedagogyoftheoppressed  globalization  marinaarratia  power  authority  hierarchy  horizontality  socialjustice  justice  economics  society  community  cooperation  collaboration  politics  progress  growth  rural  urban  altruism  oppression  participation  marginality  marginalization  karlmarx  socialism  autonomy  local  slow  small  capitalism  consumerism  life  living  well-being  consumption  production  productivity  gustavoterán  indigeneity  work  labor  knowledge  experience  culture  joannamacy  spirituality  buddhism  entanglement  interdependence  interbeing  interexistence  philosophy  being  individualism  chiefseattle  lutherstandingbear  johngrim  ethics  morethanhuman  multispecies  humans  human  posthumnism  transhumanism  competition  marxism  liberation  simplicity  poverty  civilization  greed  p 
june 2018 by robertogreco
David George Haskell on Twitter: "Time is context dependent. For the Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine, a needle is fifteen summers, a sapling a century. For every species, a tempo, a velocity. Wood from over 50 human generations ago, on a Precambrian mount
"Time is context dependent. For the Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine, a needle is fifteen summers, a sapling a century. For every species, a tempo, a velocity.
Wood from over 50 human generations ago, on a Precambrian mountain."

[via: https://twitter.com/timoslimo/status/1007738124053577729

""“time is a tree (this life one leaf)
but love is the sky and i am for you
just so long and long enough”
- e.e. cummings "
time  context  nature  life  velocity  trees  eecummings  poems  poetry  multispecies  morethanhuman 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Russian Subway Dogs — Spooky Squid Games
"Every morning dozens of stray dogs make the commute by train from the Moscow suburbs to the downtown core in search of food and fortune."

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPi2PeKxCh8 ]
games  videogames  gaming  dogs  russia  multispecies  morethanhuman  animals 
june 2018 by robertogreco
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