Week 45 — friends and monsters

This week, after seeing a random tweet, I attended a deep reading club. tl;dr, read a text together aloud, make notes along the way, discuss at the end.

The text was a speech by Ursula K. Le Guin. It was interesting, not my fav thing she’s written. What was weird was reading it in a group of mostly men. There was one section when it was my turn to read (the ‘big daddy’ bit) and I think it was the most uncomfortable I’ve been in years, I thought I was going to be sick after. I guess that’s what tw are for.

Still, I’m intrigued and will probably join another one. I really, really like the format. I think I’d like it more if it wasn’t with strangers on the internet. Thinking about starting my own, maybe.


The Friends of my Friends
by Dominique Lestel

What does it mean to be friends with an animal? And for them to be friends back. Not about dogs or other pets.

…exposure to the animal requires the partial loss of his [the human] predatory and tactless humanity.

The level of interactions is that of courtesy – that of a certain benevolent duplicity, leaving a great degree of initiative to the animal. Approaching it signifies starting by making peace with it, in particular by agreeing to renounce some of our most unrealistic fantasies and in mastering at least in part our human corporeality.

Emoji summary: 🎶 🐳 🐬

Entering the Bardo
by Joanna Macy

Went down a bit of an Emergence Magazine splurge.

We are in a space without a map. With the likelihood of economic collapse and climate catastrophe looming, it feels like we are on shifting ground, where old habits and old scenarios no longer apply. In Tibetan Buddhism, such a space or gap between known worlds is called a bardo. It is frightening. It is also a place of potential transformation.

This is how I felt at the beginning of lockdown. I’m not sure now.

Emoji summary: 🌸 🦠 ⏸

When You Meet the Monster, Anoint Its Feet
by Bayo Akomolafe

This one is A LOT. Like, I had a lot of reactions to it. It would almost take a line-by-line read through to get them all down, but dw I won’t make you suffer through that.

My dream is an electric hymn sung by gut bacteria, as their tentacular activisms recast the (post-)human self no longer as an industrial-capitalist monad but as a shimmering crosshatched sculpture as vast as spacetime. My dream is of cell transfers that queer sources, unsettle originals, and disturb the idea that identity is coherent or articulable. My dream is of the Anthropocene, entangled bodies, and the pleasures of never arriving. I dream of Obatálá’s revolutionary chain; I dream of the monstrous.

Emoji summary: 🧬 🌫 🧘🏿‍♂️

Constituting an archive
by Stuart Hall

An old classic

Archives are not inert historical collections. They always stand in an active, dialogic, relation to the questions which the present puts to the past; and the present always puts its questions differently from one generation to another.

Emoji summary: 🏛 🕧 🗂

Also…

How one hour of slow breathing changed my life by James Nestor. Non-western people have been saying this for thousands of years (probably) and now this guy is like ‘oh there’s science behind it too, also I’m white so buy my book about it’. *cue eye roll* We, the western modern, are so dumb thinking we know it all.

Using neural-network soundscapes to protect natural environments by Bob Yirka
I loved the idea of a given area having its signature sound, but I find the implications of this to be a bit suspish. The whole practice of land management is too often problematic, and this…

They further suggest that such systems could be deployed around the globe as a means of assisting land managers with detecting illegal activities in real-time.

Well. There’s a really good chapter in The Wake of Crows about land management and conservation.