[-empyre-] empyre Digest, Vol 154, Issue 4

Brian Karl brianbkarl at gmail.com
Mon Oct 9 03:49:06 AEDT 2017

I've been dipping in and out of Charles Foster's "Being a Beast" of
late (sub-title: "Adventures Across the Species Divide"), in which he
rather literally tries to embody a phenomenological experience closer
to that of a badger, an otter, a fox, a deer and a swift by burrowing
in and snuffling about closer to the earth for days and weeks at a
time in the wild. He fully admits the absurdity as well as doomed
enterprise of this, but meanwhile gets in a lot of philosophizing
about human species' different relation to nature as well as lots of
good sensorial thinking about different ways of relating to the
complex and interactive physical world--what is framed and highlighted
(or high-smelled or -heard) by different species' sensory organs and
foraging needs...

Responding to Margaretha's last inquiry:

Well, my non-humans of late are pretty diverse: long, ongoing
relationship continues with Bando, my mostly outdoors Siamese cat, who
still sleeps with us humans most mornings after long nights
tree-climbing and...who knows what adventuring.

We have been together for going on six years, but it's changed and
deepened in new ways since moving to the edge of a big open space
trail last year where both he and I encounter different species every
day--perhaps most spectacularly of late when he led me down the
beginning of the trail one night a few weeks ago to discover the sound
of rustling in some bushes to be caused by a pretty good-sized
rattlesnake -- we got within five feet before my phone-light made out
the coiled shape just as it began to hum and buzz at us...I think
Bando got my intensely adverse response since he allowed me to scoop
him up and carry him back down the trail right quick, where often he
is a muscular wriggling objector...

Bando's mouse-hunting season seemed to have mostly ended a few weeks
back til last night we heard the tell-tale crunching of tiny bones
through our bedroom window (he was bringing back inside several mouse
bodies a week for quite a while there during late spring and summer,
and he consumed them pretty much entire -- save usually for the guts
-- munching them during the wee hours while we humans listen in the
dark in exasperated, embarrassed, brutalized, just-woken agony (I've
managed to save a couple that he brought in pre-kill, as well as a
couple lizards that he also doesn't seem to want to kill and consume
as quickly). We also have an occasional tussle around the catdoor, as
a raccoon tries to get in, and that triggers the cat into action, and
us into...a holding pattern of too-adrenalited helplessness at 2.am.
or whenever...

I've been learning to drive more slowly around the bends of our little
canyon road so I have better chances of not hitting any of the many
deer that stumble and nimble and amble around here. I startled a
resting one into lumbering up from a kneel the other morning out in
the yard -- little staghorn nubs on his just-past adolescent head
maybe ten feet away. They usually come in small families, of course,
but occasionally as solo ramblers.

And speaking of solo ramblers, the local coyotes move around too much
to get to know them as individuals, but, still, spotting them trotting
along even country roads, varying from the size of a large fox to a
large german shepherd  (three different times in the last week)
reminds that they must be constantly nearby, even when unseen (and of
course occasionally we hear the group howls from up in the hills

The madrones' and eucalyptus' different peeling bark patterns
(non-patterns?) never cease to fascinate, and I notice the big
California Buckeye bulbs are coming out on the trees again (looking
forward to the fat, long, aromatic blossom branches in the spring).
Occasional chittering of squirrels and raucous jay or crow calls from
a near distance. And more occasionally a solo owl hooing. Swells of
crickets near and far we can count on every night -- the frogs have
taken their mating calls somewhere else of late...

More than enough from me, for now. Enjoy your trip to the farther
northeast, Margaretha!


On Sat, Oct 7, 2017 at 6:00 PM,
<empyre-request at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> wrote:
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> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Today's Topics:
>    1. Re: Beginning Week 1: Radical Aesthetics, EcoAesthetic
>       Systems and Entanglements (Randall Szott)
>    2. short answer post :: all of -empyre-, what non-human
>       relationships are you cultivating? (margaretha haughwout)
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> Message: 1
> Date: Sat, 7 Oct 2017 14:18:43 +0000 (UTC)
> From: Randall Szott <placekraft at yahoo.com>
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
> Subject: Re: [-empyre-] Beginning Week 1: Radical Aesthetics,
>         EcoAesthetic Systems and Entanglements
> Message-ID: <402365668.3318888.1507385923606 at mail.yahoo.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
> I want to thank William and Norie for their thoughts and my fellow conversants for theirs as well. William - I read the article you suggested and it does resonate for me in many ways. One thing I will point out though, is that "sustainability" is not enough. The model of "sustainable" has been increasingly displaced in agricultural circles by "regenerative." Given the amount of damage being done in various domains (including the linguistic - thank you!), we need to do more than sustain, we must regenerate (heal, repair, improve).
> A last thought for the last part of the week's title. I find entanglement a powerful descriptive metaphor in describing systemic relationships, much more so than network/connection/node metaphors. However, I want to throw another term into the mix, one of a slightly larger descriptive frame - ENLIVENMENT. This concept comes from a feeling percolating for years that I couldn't quite name, it hovered near readings on pantheism, ecopsychology, and Kathleen Dean Moore's "Holdfast" or ?David Abram's "Spell of the Sensuous" among others. Finally, I stumbled across ?Andreas Weber's "Enlivenment" and the feeling had finally manifest in words, words which then coalesced into a framework that has shifted my thinking/feeling substantially. The essay is full of magic incantations - worldmaking, householding, poetic objectivity, empirical subjectivity, and the call to shift from the values of the Enlightenment (which Weber describes as an ideology of death) to Enlivenment. Briefly, he cha
>  racterizes it this way:
> "...a new stage of cultural evolution?that can safeguard our scientific (and democratic) ideals of common access to knowledge and the powers connected with it ? while at the same time validating personal?experience that is felt and subjective: the defining essence of embodied experience.?The Enlivenment that I envision includes other animate beings, which, after all, share?the same capacities for embodied experiences and ?worldmaking.?
> Enlivenment therefore is not just another naturalist account to describe?ourselves and our world that can then automatically dictate specific policies or?economic solutions...[it is]?a naturalism that is based on the idea of?nature as an unfolding process of ever-growing freedom and creativity paradoxically?linked to material and embodied processes. The biosphere is alive in the sense that it?does not only obey the rules of deterministic or stochastic interactions of particles,?molecules, atoms, fields and waves. The biosphere is also very much about producing?agency, expression, and meaning."
> Onward, then in enlivened entanglements with each other and our nonhuman poetic collaborators!
> -r
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> Date: Sat, 7 Oct 2017 13:41:03 -0400
> From: margaretha haughwout <margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com>
> To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
> Subject: [-empyre-] short answer post :: all of -empyre-, what
>         non-human relationships are you cultivating?
> Message-ID:
>         <CAP1-Q3YrMjQPOFDGzG4R4eFDG0rH8Ms_qrzcbaWA6q-ju=Ktmw at mail.gmail.com>
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> Hello all,
> I'm driving across the northeast today, watching trees head into dormancy,
> and thinking about the conversation that has begun this week. Lots to reply
> to. I look forward to catching up fully this evening and tomorrow --
> In the meantime, a question for all of -empyre-::
> What relations are you cultivating with on-humans at the moment? I have
> just moved, so my relationships are new and fragile:
> hawthorn tree at my studio
> crabapples, apples behind my house
> wild apples at colleagues house
> mouse behind my oven
> chamomile and brassicas in my greenhouse
> boneset in the trails
> joe pye weed in the marshes
> to name a few
> --
> beforebefore.net
> guerrillagrafters.org
> coastalreadinggroup.com
> --
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