[-empyre-] Eating dirt vs. biting the dust.... (and the insect layer)

Melinda Rackham melinda at subtle.net
Mon Oct 9 16:44:53 AEDT 2017

thank you all for your thoughtful and deeply felt resonances — looking fwd to reading more

I saw a very moving spoken word performance on roadkill "Badger Dissonance" earlier this year at   "In Other Tongues"  a three-day creative summit and five day workshop at Dartington Hall in the UK in June with a similar thematic t this months empyre discussion , which may be of interest to many of you-

The Dark Mountain Project Blog has published some aspects of that conference---
" invited six contributors – artists, writers, academics, poets, performers – to explore the ways in which language and culture are influenced by the non-human, and more-than-human, voices that permeate and shape our world. We start with a piece by Dougie Strang, based on his unforgettable roadkill litany…"


I am also  very enamoured by Alison Halletts tale of migratory stones:


> On 9 Oct 2017, at 1:53 am, margaretha haughwout <margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> I was on roads in so many different ways this week -- it seemed somehow I'd fallen under an -empyre- spell woven by Lissette and Valentine. It made me less able to write in because rather than being behind a computer I was continually dealing with fixing my car and walking on roads that don't often host human pedestrians. At one point I decided to walk several miles of an oft-driven country road in upstate NY. It seemed like a really good way to get to know my new home, as I'm a recent transplant. Cars flew by. Occasionally a tractor trudged by. The smell of shit permeated the air -- this is a big cattle area.
> As I walked I saw so many casualties of the road in many stages of decay. Skunks, raccoons, snakes... Bones of other small animals -- perhaps weasels. Frogs also often get hit in this area at night. I saw monarchs who bit the dust presumably on their fall migration route, along with other insects. I remembered a project on grief I did with a collaborative, where we asked about how to grieve the loss of species in the Capitalocene. One participant recalled driving roads in England in 1970s, and how the layer of dead insects on his car was so much thicker than it is these days. A strange way to mark the change in insect numbers, but one that many participants resonated with. We began listing off names of insects, most of which I have a very fraught relationship with, relationships which I am often compelled to end. But somehow this was a moment where profound collective grief was palpable.
> I also noticed that amidst the kill of the road there was a lot of life, crickets and flies, sumac and chicory. I know Elaine in Week 4 will help us think through these dynamics; disturbances and death perpetrated by speedy roads and cars, pesticides, or toxic waste to name a few, enable what Deborah Bird Rose terms a "double death" -- a death we cannot grieve -- don't necessarily create spaces on non-living; there is still teeming life. As (I believe) Elaine would argue, it is however, life car drivers are out of sync with. I'm looking forward to thinking more about this because I don't think I'm articulating it accurately. I initially wanted to say that it is life "we" are out of sync with, but of course, who is this "we".
> I also thought about personhood and power and the necessity of exchanging personhood when entangling and enlivening. I wondered about the distinctions that could be drawn between the Man of the Enlightenment and a personhood that works across a matrix of human and non-human beings.
> My best,
> -M
> --
> beforebefore.net
> guerrillagrafters.org
> coastalreadinggroup.com
> --
> On Wed, Oct 4, 2017 at 9:25 PM, Lissette Olivares <liolivares at fulbrightmail.org> wrote:
> >
> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> > As I opened my facebook today I saw a post from Che Gossett, whose trans*activism and archival research, mediated in part through their facebook feed is an inspiring and constant source of engagement/entanglement with the Black Radical tradition; they posted this last night: "there's a way in which animal studies reflections on animal suffering make legible and intelligible and empathizable the zero degree of unimaginable suffering that is never acknowledged or thought of when it comes to Black suffering.”
> >
> > I’d like to try to knot this to Margaretha’s question about what it means to make a radical eco aesthetics, with Randall’s  “radicle” (having roots) and Valentine’s becoming with edaphon, and her demanding question about "how we live in myriad relations without losing our shit.” Shit, soil, pain, trauma, slavery, capitalism, neoliberalism, colonialism, fossil fuel economy, and plastic in our water. Hurricane Maria and half of Puerto Rico’s population (at least 1.5 million people) without water, even if it does have plastic in it. Trees ripped out of the soil, a beach named after dead dogs where all the rescued satos died, and a nearby Monkey island where Macaques survived. Incommensurate pains, incommensurate traumas, a struggle to translate disparate affects across a myriad of diversity in bodies and places and times in a myriad of ways that makes it impossible not to lose your shit. I try to remember that this is not just now. I try to remember that we are not in a teleological movement towards an end, that the past and the present and the future collide and entangle and knot together, and I remember reading about Cortázar and his men and how surprised they were when upon making contact with the multitudes of deer in Abya Yala they thought them to be stupid because they did not flee, for the deer had not yet learned to fear Man; Man who is different than the indigenous societies who lived with and ate the flesh of these creatures, for Man, the Man of rational Enlightenment thought, the Man identified by Sylvia Wynter, Man whose superiority would wage a war of contagion, whose extractive logic would prey upon the land, upon the radicle, upon the ephedra and its creatures, creatures who are different than humans, creatures who are not the same as the anthropos. And I receive a flash from an indio, from a healer whose videos my partner watches on youtube, who teaches viewers to eat dirt from different sites to stay healthy, just a little sprinkle of dirt in my mouth for my micro biome, and for my ancestors, for the eight to twelve souls that Mohan Rai explained were there in my body, not one, not two, eight to twelve, but sometimes one or two get lost, and you feel it, you feel sick, and you have to call them back. He and Parvati Rai and Donaxing showed me how. Did you know there are tecnological sensors that find mass graves in the dirt, they can map bodies in the earth with light and translate it into color? Will a device one day claim to map the unimaginable pain, of and in Black, that Che brings from the universe and onto my computer? I hope I will be able to grind it with a mortar and pestle, I hope I will be able to place it under my tongue, I hope that it will download to that code that we have not yet discovered, that most of us mistakenly call DNA, that we believe we carry somewhere in our shell or our bone, to transmit for the next generation, for those who survive, for the Macaques and the others who will know how to weather the storm.
> >
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