Week 23 — wolves, foxes, salmon, babies, you, me

I’ve been thinkging a lot about how entangled we all are.

I enjoyed this lovely video How Wolves Change Rivers, about what happened when wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone National Park. The narrator is a bit annoying, it has that over-excited, wow tone the whole way through. Sounds like he’s patronising a child. Nevertheless, cool video.

Another fun thing that isn’t a reading is The Big Here. It asks a bunch of questions about where you live in relationship to the larger whole. I could barely answer any of the questions except for the sun and moon ones (astrology is the queer’s religion, after all).

You live in the big here. Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome.

More about environments as systems below.

Ch 4 ‘Fire: Fox’ in Being a beast
by Charles Foster

This is a magical chapter. It’s super weird and wonderful. It also made me realise that I carried this (unfair) fear of foxes. Some time when I was new to London, a fox hurt these babies that were left in a garden unattended and were subsequently maligned by the media. I think I adopted this fear of them then and it never left me, until I read this chapter. On Friday night I want for a walk to try and meet some foxes and see them with new eyes. Unsuccessful, this time.

We have acutely sensitive hands but handle the world with thick gloves and then, bored, blame it for lacking shape.

Foxes seem to enjoy being outrageous. The flaunt their thriving in conditions that are objectively wretched. … They are true citizens of the world.

Emoji summary: 🦊 🏙 🍃

Ch 6 ‘Domestication Gone Wild: Pacific Salmon and the Disruption of the Domus’ in Domestication Gone Wild
by Heather Anne Swanson

Another foray into the terrifying world that is industrial fishing. This one, differently, focuses on domestication, asking

How do we engage “domestication” in a time when we can no longer clearly recognize the boundaries of the domus?

The chapter explains the history of salmon fishing and hatchery and its global impact.

Scientists themselves rapidly became unsure about the edges of the domus: although they had previously relied on a categorical split between “wild” and “hatchery” fish, reality seemed too slippery for such a binary. … Yet even these fish at the edge of the world, scientists soon realized, have gotten caught up in the rippling effects of domestication projects.

And suggests a new way to think about domestication, from and with landscapes

But what if we place landscape changes at the heart of domestication stories, exploring how domestication itself is best understood not as a new relation between humans and a single kind of plant or animal but as a reconfiguration of multispecies assemblages?

Emoji summary: 🐟 🎣 🏞

The Environment is not a System
by Tega Brain

Not systems, but

open ended assemblages of non-humans, living and nonliving, entangled in ways of life

Fairly short, but interesting article about the limits of computation in environmental efforts. Tech alone will not save us.

If we are to believe the hype, and seriously consider if and how these technologies can reshape our relationship with environments, we must thoroughly examine what they amplify and what they edit out.

Emoji summary: 🦠 📊 🆘

Is it OK to have a child?
Meehan Crist

Magnificent essay on ‘who bears the moral responsibility for climate catastrophe & the need for radical imagination & structural change’ –sarah

Listen closely to rights-based strategies to reduce carbon emissions through increased access to contraception and family planning. These strategies almost always involve black and brown women in developing countries having fewer babies. There is, of course, an unmet need for reproductive care and birth control in these countries, but we should be deeply skeptical of climate solutions that place the burden of solving the problem on women’s bodies, particularly the bodies of poor black and brown women, while demanding very little of those who actually caused the problem.

I rather think the point is that no one should tell anyone else whether or not they should procreate.

Emoji summary: 🤱🏾 🌳 ⛽️

Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity
by José Esteban Muñoz

I adored this book. Quite in spite of myself. For one, utopia chat usually bothers me and then in the introduction, he talks about using Heidegger.

Fortunately, our lad H features only marginally and the idea of utopia Muñoz presents is something I can get behind.

Utopia is always about the not-quite-here or the notion that something is missing. … Queer utopian practice is about “building” and “doing” in response to that status of nothing assigned to us by the heteronormative world.

…it is a call to think about our lives and times differently, to look beyond a narrow version of the here and now on which so many around us who are bent on the normative count. Utopia in this book has been about an insistence on something else, something better, something dawning. … From shared critical dissatisfaction we arrive at collective potentiality.

Emoji summary: 🏳️‍🌈 ✨ 👭

When Bodies Think
by Martin Savransky

I’ve got that dissertation coming up. Queer bodies, etc. Martin is my tutor, and he recommended this article because we were talking about biopower. While the actual ideas discussed in the paper are not directly relevant – I’m not looking at medical humanities – the way of playing with ideas is useful. Also, Martin’s approach to language is quite something.

What is at stake in these questions is the need to craft and experiment with a speculative proposition, a gesture that proposes a generative and experimental response to the biopolitical problematic, allowing us to envisage other ways of encountering and relating to bodies and their health, as well as other ways of understanding what might be at stake in the question of what means to participate, how, and in the name of what.

Emoji summary: ⛓ 🩺 🖕

Preparing for Coronavirus to Strike the U.S.
by Zeynep Tufekci

Having experienced Y2K with ‘Doomsday Preppers’, the entire idea of stocking food or whatever elicits a visceral rejection in me. This article got me over that. It’s a good, short summary of what youngun’ healthy folk like myself should do as civic duty. I’ve been washing my hands fourteenhundredmoretimes than usual.

Also, smol reminder: don’t be racist.

Emoji summary: 🤧 😷 🧼

Mother Country
by Catherine Hall

This country was built on racism and god it’s pervasive. Unless we (I) are actively anti-racists, we (I) will just continue to be quite racist. It’s an unlearning that will take my whole life, probably.

Black people knew that ‘we are here because you were there,’ but very few Britons had any idea of the long history of colonialism.

Freed men and women were denied their rights as British subjects to economic opportunity, self-determination and justice. They claimed those rights over generations, fashioning their own meanings of freedom and black citizenship. They fought as imperial subjects in two world wars and, faced with continuing economic hardship, came to the ‘mother country’ with hopes of a better life, hopes that in many cases were bitterly disappointed. As the reparations activist Bert Samuels puts it, ‘it is widely accepted in Jamaica that Britain has used us and refused us.’

Emoji summary: ☠️ 🎋 🇯🇲

Teaching to transgress: education as the practice of freedom
by bell hooks

I only read the introduction and scanned a few sections of this book, as someone recommended it as relevant to some of my other research. This quote jumped out and slapped me in the face.

I came to theory because I was hurting – the pain within me was so intense that I could not go on living. I came to theory desperate, wanting to comprehend – to grasp what as happening around me and within me. Most importantly, I wanted to make the hurt go away. I saw in theory then a location for healing.

I kind of said a related thing in my first newsletter about Lowborn and Educated. I remember when I first started my undergrad and the door opened to theory and all the things I never knew I never knew. It was truly magic and I still feel its tingle.

Emoji summary: 📚 👩🏻‍🎓 💝


Resisting surveillance through face paint / makeup or sculptural jewelery. There is something about the pluralist potentialities that can come from this trashfire world.

A newsletter that is short and pretty and sometimes heartbreaking. boundless by Night Heron

you are here and i am here. the world is boundless; there is room for all of us to exist within it.

On expat vs migrant by Fuck Theory. I support him on Patreon and you have to pay $1 to access. Some free stuff there to see if you like it, but I find it well worth my contribution. And unlike corporate publishing, I won’t share for free because this is literally paying for someone’s precarious life. You can have a little quote, as a treat.

We should definitely find another word than “expat.” Americans with money don't live abroad because they have somehow lost their innate and self-evident patriotism. They’re living abroad because their own country is a fucking mess and they don't want to live in the conditions that their fellow citizens and their own institutions have created. But we’ll come back to that. Nonetheless, there are in fact differences between what we’ll call “immigrants” and what we’ll call “expats.”

The simplest way I can define the difference is this: unlike immigrants, expats don’t suffer hardship, deprivation, or violence because of their immigration or documentation status. 

A review of a book I have on my shelf and have yet to read (Lewis) and an elaboration of the ideas in a book that I have on my shelf and have read (Haraway). It’s got nothing on the Crist article, in terms of theoretical exploration of the over-population thing.

Another LRB arrived on Friday night, giving me a push to finish the one I had in progress. I’m very behind.

I have accepted that I am not an LRB person. I don’t understand how people have time to read them and read books.


Emoji summary is 100% nicked off my favourite art critics The White Pube. They said they don’t mind.