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

Elaine Gan eganuc at gmail.com
Tue Oct 10 04:32:57 AEDT 2017

Dear M and all,

I inadvertently, but perhaps more interestingly, triggered something by
saying "I don't want to grieve." As Margaretha and Lissette wisely point
out, it wasn't really my main point, but maybe worth a few sentences now to
clarify. Yes, grief (along with love and rage) is at the heart of my
practice. But it is not my practice, not today, not yet. I don't want to
keep burying the slaughtered, raped, maimed, run over, dispossessed. That's
become a fulltime job in the Capitalocene and I don't want it. I'd like to
work to change infrastructures and technologies that I/we have inherited,
that are now doing more harm than good. One way is to make new things
thinkable, to propose new imaginaries that might open up more livable
socialities—*within* the terrible toxic dumps that industry has made.
Randall posted that sustaining is not enough; I agree. We live in a dump
and we can't stay here.

The main point of my earlier post was critical practice, or agency. What
becomes the work of art when we seek to recognize and enable multispecies
worlding within industrialized, globalized dumps? No one planned for Echo
Park lake to be a habitat for red-eared slider turtles. Nevertheless, here
"we" are: non-native naturecultures, contingent beings of historical
ruptures and long evolutionary lines. Entangled somehow, where lies agency?

...ahhh Columbus day,

On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 6:46 AM, margaretha haughwout <
margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Elaine, and all --
> Of course, who wants to grieve? But also, how can we make kin in the
> absence of grief? I can't help but think that if we don't grieve we are
> trapped in anxiety that keeps us away from the present and away from
> others. Otherwise I can't see a way out of "managing" but not
> "entangling"...
> I'm not talking about despair, or some over performative acting out, or
> even sadness. I don't want to make too much of it, but I do think grief is
> something else -- a kind of radical presence with the trouble, as Haraway
> puts it, and as Lissette echoes. I think of it as a way of being outside of
> time, of recognizing the past in the present.
> But yes to the work of art and a way of making with kin....
> The turtles are such a good way of locating this issue of the urge for a
> totalizing view of how to manage a population and predict its impacts, and
> also the desire to have indeterminate kin (is that a thing?) Sometimes it
> is easy for me to flow between these two ways of being, and other times I
> think they are very much at odds.
> -M
> --
> beforebefore.net
> guerrillagrafters.org
> coastalreadinggroup.com
> --
> On Sun, Oct 8, 2017 at 3:28 PM, Elaine Gan <eganuc at gmail.com> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Thanks so much, Margaretha, for bringing us together around these great
>> (and hard) themes. Everyone's posts this week has me thinking about many
>> things—thank you!—but particularly the work of art in what Isabelle
>> Stengers calls "catastrophic times." I don't want to grieve. No, not yet. I
>> want to learn how to live again and again: we are still here and that
>> recognition demands that we make kin, kin through which and with which "we"
>> are being remade. Maybe that's what Margaretha calls "personhood"?— the
>> ability to make kin and keep each other alive when a hurricane, earthquake,
>> or plague of human exceptionalism obliterates "us."
>> I'm interested in radicalities, work(s) of art, that aren't defined
>> entirely by refusal against or critique of the Capitalocene, but by
>> capacities to make kin. I learn this from Donna Haraway: making kin comes
>> before, after, and in between the cracks and crap of capitalism and
>> bourgeois liberalism. I'm looking for propositions for more-than-human
>> worlding, for Haraway's Chthulucene, the "not yet finished, ongoing,
>> abyssal and dreadful ones that are generative *and *destructive..." I
>> don't want to grieve the road kill. I don't want to care for invasive
>> species and toxic waste. I follow weeds, but I also fear them. I want to
>> learn how we can bend our roads, design our cities and stomachs—so that
>> they do not collide with migration routes of monarch butterflies, breeding
>> grounds of giant catfish, life cycles of too many companions. If capitalism
>> is a way of organizing things, as Jason Moore theorizes, then what is a way
>> of making, making-with, kin? How might we map this double internality?
>> I met a non-native yesterday, hanging out in Echo Park lake (one of the
>> oldest and likely most haunted) in LA. I met several non-natives, in fact,
>> but one that made me stop was a red-eared slider turtle who swam up to me,
>> likely trained to equate people with easy food. These turtles are common,
>> listed on many websites as "cute" little things that make "great household
>> pets." Hundreds live in the lake; most likely, abandoned by owners who
>> decided they just weren't so cute anymore. From what I could find online
>> last night, this group of turtles has only been around since the lake's
>> overhaul in 2012. Of course, my first question was: hey, what happened to
>> the turtles that lived in the lake when it was drained completely for a
>> two-year renovation? The next few questions were harder: are these turtles
>> kin? Are they nature or culture in the Capitalocene or the Chthulucene?
>> What is my/our responsibility to species that we've domesticated,
>> displaced, mutated, and rendered disposable, when they've gone feral and
>> survive outside of human control? Some become road kill. Some become new
>> companions. But others are taking over, creating new indeterminacies
>> (generative *and* destructive naturecultures). What then is the work of
>> art in attending to these that are changing what it means to be human (and
>> nonhuman)?
>> xElaine
>> On Sun, Oct 8, 2017 at 9:49 AM, Brian Karl <brianbkarl at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> 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
>>> somewhere).
>>> 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!
>>> B.
>>> 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 c
>>>  ha
>>> >  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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>>> > ------------------------------
>>> >
>>> > Message: 2
>>> > 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.g
>>> mail.com>
>>> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>>> >
>>> > 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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>>> > ------------------------------
>>> >
>>> > _______________________________________________
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>>> > empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>>> > http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
>>> >
>>> >
>>> > End of empyre Digest, Vol 154, Issue 4
>>> > **************************************
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