Roaming the verdant campus of University California-Davis, (UC Davis was instituted as an agricultural school called the University Farm ((farms being a specific mode of colonial-settler enterprise))), making acquaintances with non-human residents of that place was my focus at ASLE, as well as interpersonally connecting with Janice Lee in vibrant stretches of time-space. Janice and I embarked on a collaboration tracing the myriad interspecies embodiments that we experienced in real time, that took the form of inky flows on paper, the membrane of flora. An outstretching across identifications, frond to skin to rock. A dare to undo controlling human tendencies. A pledge to attend to the cosmopolitics of plants, animals, minerals. A symbiosis involved in co-participant worldings.
The experience of perambulating from building to building to each panel presentation required lengthy walks along circuitous garden pathways, groomed and curated in a highly structured manner. An effort to break through the architectural/conceptual conformity, and the rigid characterizations of species and genus involved reaching out to flora and fauna with spacious address and senses primed in active receptivity in an effort to recognize and acknowledge personhood in all its expressions. The figure-ground relationship changed, is always changing. “Human” is a composite of floral, faunal and mineral agency deceptively merged into a stand-alone subject position, as if exclusive from other forms of personhood. Every breath is an invitation to co-exist within an immersive interspecies holism.
“…A mutual describability between [ ] and [ ]worlds.” Alberto Corsín Jiménez.
The exchanges with Janice and others, floral, faunal and mineral exist in a notebook of sprawling handwritten text, and as a Google doc. Here is an outcropping of notes, diversified language transcribed from the presentations that took place within the classrooms. Collective memories.
Andrea Quaid. Amanda Ackerman: The Book of Feral Flora. Bio-emotional, chemical changes. Plant authorship. Scent-ingestible. Amanda imbued by iris. Radical receptivity. Intentional worldings. I being Iris to the Iris. Radical alterity. Mel Chin— alchemical magic. Adrian Marie Brown.
Yugon Kim. Plants grow in the dark. Eco-Buddhist-Feminism. Cease to be egological and become compassionate to the other, because all beings in the world, like the plant, ‘glow in the dark.’ Mei Mei Berssenbrugge. Vegetable body, excreting imagery. Parabiosis— living beside— the impossibility of avoiding being affected. Guanyin: the perceiver of the world’s sounds. The hearer of all the cries of the world. The bodhisattva’s gaze: an intimate, compassionate observer of the world. Time is intimate.
Toward a Vegetal Ethics: Listening for Plantness in Indigenous Women’s Writing. Mirja Lobnik. Generosity, gratitude, responsibility of reciprocity. Communal ethics. Efflorescence, beyond embodiment. Shared sensory field: sensory entanglement.
Salient creatures at the time of the conquest. Monk seals, extinct 1956. Last seen, 1952. Vanishing taxa. Colonial changes. 350,000, population of seals at the time of Columbus’ arrival. Plantation system heated by oil, grease the machinery: seal fat. Environmental history from the point of view of a species other than human. 11 million years of life on Earth. Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert.
Adrian T. Kan. Slow violence, gradually out of sight. Attritional violence, delayed effects. Mahogany forests.
Green imperialism. Jana Evans Braziel. Fragile ecosystem becomes garden. Biography of a parrot. Dara Crevera.
Melissa Kay Nelson. Turtle Mountain Chippewa. The raven steals the sun, controls life. Coyote lighting up the sky. Ritual sweat rocks/purifying. Fire— condolence. Ill will burn it. Ritual, sweat rocks. Sutter Buttes. Feathered ladder. Ambivalent powers. Singing landscapes. Landscape is book. Radical kinship with enemies. Indian Canyon. Someone’s songscape-storyscape. Fire: devil, hell. Christian projection: “savage” people of the forest. Fire: passion, emotion, rage, sexuality. Inner repression is driving the fires. Fire as a relative, kin. Willie Ermine: The Ethical Space.
What you intend is the kind of relations you’ll have. Incinerate back to primal ash. Cleanse and renew. Self: private property. Ancestral land.
George Gregory Rozsa. The Nevada Movement: Indigenous Trans-National Solidarity at the End of the Cold War. The Dancing Wu. Left to right timeline; wreckage piled upon. History-disaster can’t go back in time, piles up. How deterministic is history? Most environmental victories never seem like anything. The parking lot that never becomes a toxic dump. Every act is an act of faith because we don’t know what will happen.
Insanity as resistance. Rachel DiNitto. Nuclear fiction from Chernobyl to Fukushima. Discourse of allegation, not truth. Motley crew. Triple disaster.
Soil as narrative, soil as substance. Trans-historical layers. Matter/culture/time. Cyclical temporalities. Muck and mire. Queer subterranean. Eat flesh and soil. Decaying in the dirt. Transi tombs. Verminous. Fylthe. Alan S. Montrose. Shapeless material, dust, putrefaction, slime, restless of the earth.
Laura Wilson. Plant Them Upon the Soil: Booker T. Washington and the Earthy Economies of Tuskegee. Kimberly K. Smith, African American environment scholar: African American Environmental Thought. Planting creatively. Smell of soil, generative.
Palm oil, soap, lubricant for machinery. Industrial modernity. Middle class. Seeds of Valencia: the palm tree. Palm oil: roots in slave trade. Food stuff for Middle Passage. Basis of nation: soil, the things to be removed. Cleanliness: entrance into nation state. Matthew Rowney.
Saskia Cornes. Orbus theory, reformation of America. Language of the growing of food. Manure. Farmers “manured”. Imprecate themselves in the landscape. Manure: world making. Manure, the commons. Genre of the soil. Immobilized in the present. Georgic of care work. To plant a seed into the fissure of climate change.
The Neglected Lives of Micro-Matter. Moving from micro to macro. Karen Leona Anderson. Scale. Quick shifts of the mushroom apostate. From nothingness to mushroom. Fungi moves through forms. Personifying nature. Wild companion species: Anna Tsing.
Davina Hall. Macrobiotic intelligence. Fairy vs monster: monster soup, the Thames, polymorphic. Miasma, airy ghost-like. Personified otherness: ghosts, the repressed. Ghosts as microbes— omnipresent. Death is in every mouthful of air. Richard Huch.
Analogy and affinity. Gillian Osborne. Lichen writing. Can’t see its symbiosis. Lichen making analogy literal. Homosocial bonding— indirect intimacy. Affinity pass into each other. Everything is everything. Whether one thing can be two things at once. Decay is a gardener: Melville. Collaboration— humans seeking inhuman energy.
Microbial intimacy: digesting animal products in experimental fiction. The Bluest Eye. Hunger and nausea. Kelly Jean Sharp. Critical eating studies. Louise Erdrich, Han King, The Vegetarian, radical feminine rebellion. Violence is a part of being human. The Blazing World, Margaret Cavendish.
Agnes Malinowska. Membrane model— 3,000 years among the microbes. Imperial “I” vs microbial self-democracy. Proprietary. Animist, all pervasive individuality, penetrated by countless individuals.
Ethics Begins After Death: Lucille Clifton, Tracy K. Smith & Praxis for Coexistence in the Anthropocene. Sumita Chakrabarty. Clifton: communication/spiritual writing with the dead. Christina Sharpe: Attend to the deathly of the present. Wake work. Nesting dolls of death, that is the Anthropocene. Mourning vs. melancholy.
Cherríe Moraga’s Decolonial Feminist Care work. Angie Hume. Unbounded content, temporary form or shape. Not a whole collection. Positionality. Timeless state. Geo-non-life? Immaterialism. The living dead. Infrastructure of what’s intelligible. George Tinker. Shared point.
Mandy Bloomfield. Waves are unfolding sentences. The oceanic poetics of Craig Santos Perez. The role of the ocean as ancestor? Procession: ancestral legacies; becoming. Human corporeality. Space circumscribed by colonialism. Kamau Braithwaite: tidalectics, dialectics with different water’s movement, cyclic. Recede and return: history. Wave inflection. Human ecological enmeshment. Human embryo in ocean. Trans-corporeality. American militarism of the ocean. Organizing nature. Pursuit of power. Dialectical power. Territorialization of ocean. Web of economic appropriation. Chain of responsibility. “We shiver like generations of coral reef bleaching.” Perez. Human and coral witnessing.
Two or more ways vs content. Message is poetic. Contact calls. Addressee (emotive), context (referential), address (connotative), contact phatic, code, metalingual. Ted Chin, story. Can’t communicate without contact, being “with”. Joshua Schuster. Power differentials. Sarah G. Thomason. Contact, not content. The touch across time. Glissant, creolization. Rocks, trees, contact. Estrangement is a form of contact. Closeness, mixing languages before articulation. Literary communism.
Amanda Ackerman. Biofeedback, co-evolvement, hyper-sensitive communication. Ocular meditation. Navel is plant/where we are plant. Plant mobility, movement of plants. Co-motion. Plantain: cuts and scrapes, undo colonialism, remembering, time traveling, intergenerational pain, gifts and nightmares that you carry. Heals nodal, heals all times at once.
Sonnet L’Abbé. Blue nerve, blood, tree, finer tuning. “What is the ‘I’?” Light seeing itself, Ronald Johnson. Sensual recognition of plants. Streams of sight. A tender leafy power. Trunk through which your impressions flow. Impulse activity.
Janice Lee. 恨, han, Narrate traumas and wounds. Unresolved anger, injustice, revenge. 눈치, nuchi, eye, psychic energy, safeguarding against vulnerability. Constant trauma— identity. Invisible gesture— feel at a distance, telepathy. Internal transformation. Climate is cosmic unity, the life of plants. Be in the world— make world. State of immersion— everything is everything. Breath— all in one sphere— decategorize. Atmosphere animates. Inhale: world comes in us. Influences in all directions. Can only exist because sharing words/breath/air.
Wind farms coal plant Tyson chicken houses, traffic way through wetlands over graves, lakes and rivers remember, ancestral migration from ground to body and back again, who water gathers, picture: prairie grass pink orchid, Indian paintbrush, large-flowered coreopsis, prairie parsley, funnel-form beardtongue, pale purple coneflower, lead plant, prairie blazing star, snakeroot, goat’s rue, rigid goldenrod. Megan Kaminski
“In geese”— English. James Thomas Stevens. Know how they grow: plants. Play host to beauty. Cup plant. Transpiration. Plants as community. The Golden Book, unpublished manuscript. Rich Wolf Ceremony, Mohawk, ceremony of death. Strange winds bring strange seeds. Mind is the hardest to tend. Accepting what comes. Bald Cypress, Coreopsis, Catalpa, 3rd generation. Nettles.