The Society’s Annual Convention 2087: Speculative Flummery and Cosmic Co-becomings

We’re looking forward to catching up with our members at the upcoming 69th Annual Society Convention gathering around the theme of ‘Speculative Flummery and Cosmic Co-becomings’, January 27-29, 2087*

This year we’re delighted to be hosted by Linnaeus University, in Växjö, Sweden. The University is renown for the groundbreaking research that’s been conducted for many decades at its Centre for Intermedial and Multimodal Studies, in partnership with the Laboratory for Aesthetics and Ecology. This is a great opportunity to bring the lichen love to our Scandinavian neighbours, and hopefully catch a glimpse of the extremely rare Bitter wart lichen (Pertusaria amara) that we’ve all heard so much about lately.

The full program is now online. Registrations have officially closed, but please get in touch if you’d like to attend.

* Note: conference dates overlap with another symposium organised by our colleagues at Linnaeus University, ‘Multispecies Storytelling in Intermedial Practice’ (Jan 25-27). Special two-for-one registration packages are available.

Timing

There is a thing here about sundials. (Again see folder in Keybase Bibliothek)

There is an artist here setting one up at Nida.

One of the things we discussed at Massia was running a workshop that aligned with plant time, rather than the Gregorian calendar. (Also something that came up as I complete my ‘review’ of Trade Markings…almost there).

In terms of staging I remember being told about one of Zoe Scoglio’s pieces which took place in a rarely used car-racing course on the edge of Melbourne city, which she had choreographed and timed to coincide with a full moon rising. I thought this was an aspect we could work with if we continue to work with the idea of the ‘landscape as a score.’

Also, to more generally emphasising the liberating aspects of removing oneself from Apple-Atomic clock time and being more attentive to circadian rhythms / seasons.

Better Spectres

Today I read ‘The Fossils and The Bones,’ chapter 3 of Povinelli’s Geontologies (2016). Amazing! Related to the talk she gave at PAF, but more precise, sharply observed. It raises issues that seemed to me to resonate with your enigmatic term ‘Better Spectres,’ which I propose is a more suitable name for this project). She talks about how certain relations between life and non-life give rise to ‘manifestations’ in a world, that Povinelli argues contra to much of Speculative Realist thought which considers non-life as indifferent, is rather ‘intensely interested.’ Therefore when things are manifest or revealed, one is somehow compelled to be attentive, work out what it necessitates and act accordingly. For example, upon the revealing at low tide (karrabing) of a cave that contains a durlg bone:

The durlgmö may have buried itself as a statement of anger or jealousy … To avoid the malevolent effects of such jealousy one had to show one cared by going through the effort of visiting, talking about and interpreting the desires of things. One had to protect them from being unhinged and distended. Thus Bilawag told me not to tell any other white people where the bones were lest they come and dig them up, crate them up, and take them away. (p. 62)

Soon after, following an example of human bones being found in a mangrove Povinelli writes:

White people would be too quick to remove them, too numb to feel a non-human aboutness, towardness, wantness. They would instead rapidly isolate them, disrupting the coordination, orientation and obligation of existents that creates the in sutu. A double alienation threatened—in the sense of property law and the affective attachment of existents. (p. 69)

Povinelli threads through her observations a critique of Meillassoux’s trope of the arche-fossil. It’s good!

I coupled my reading with a trip to the amber museum, to see some of the local fossils. I was struck by some of the ‘jewelry’—amulets, ornaments, etc—of the local people from the neolithic period. The lady at the museum told me they were used for good luck, to ward off evil and also for their healing properties. They were also included in burial offerings.

 

Life vs Nonlife

Breathing (Carbon-based metabolism)

It is the larger, breathing drinking and perspiring public that is left out of the online chemistry lesson but is now an increasingly unavoidable factor in global life as every aspect of industrial based production and consumption is related back to the planetary carbon cycle … Indeed, the shift of scale entailed in the study of Anthropogenic climate change is what allows biologists to link the smallest unit of life and death to planetary life and death (the planetary carbon cycle). And this shift in scale allows the thought of extinction to scale up from the logic of species (species extinction) to planetary logic (planetary extinction).

(Povinelli 2016, pp. 42–43)

 

By way of toxicity in the smelting of mined Manganese, potentially sourced from the murder/desecration of Two Women Sitting Down.

Life and Nonlife breathe in and breathe out. Amd if Nonlife spawned Life, a current mode of Life may be returning the favour. (p. 44)

 

Spoiler alert!

The event of becoming might have been the claim that Two Women Sitting Down did not die, was not murdered and was not desecrated. What she did was turn her back on the world as it is being organised by becoming something that will potentially extinguish that world and the way we exist in it. (p, 56)

Thus, leading onto the politics of making such claims.

 

Mushroom as a ‘figure’ between Nonlife and Life.

 

  • also disappearing knowledges that correspond with disappearing species
  • No Utopia (a modernist dream) Towards survivance, but must think through this carefully – heterotropia (Foucault), ‘futurology of the present’ (Cuevas-Hewitt)
  • (Relates to history of PT, in that clinics would develop ‘socials’ that people were reluctant to leaveo

Political Therapy

Political Therapy (PT)

Treating politicians (LOL)

I went to a talk by Camille Robcis last week at the ICI , who outlined some of her work on the history Institutional Psychotherapy in the post-war period: https://www.ici-berlin.org/events/camille-robcis/  She focused on François Tosquelles at St Alban in France, and also touched on Fanon and Guattari. One of the ideas that seems consistent in all the ideas of PT that I have encountered is an aversion to finding a ‘cure’ and rather practitioners seem more concerned, in varying degrees, with socialising identified problems, and understanding these ‘conditions’ as being symptoms of systemic issues. ‘Disalienation’: https://www.ici-berlin.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/ICI_Programme_Radical-Psychiatry.pdf

Arguably some parallels to the ‘conscious raising’ exercises of Plan C and potential of Fisher’s ‘Acid Communism’— which is funnily enough supposedly about the plasticity of reality realized through the psychedelic experimentation of the 1960s.

Also interesting to note, although I’m not quite sure how it fits in here, but Guattari is supposed to have abandoned the idea of the individual, coming to understand it as a ‘fiction of psychoanalysis’ (cited in Preciadio?). Deleuze goes on to to propose the idea of the ’dividual at the onset of information society. Alienation becomes atomisation, a development that is arguably intensified in the current epoch of socialised surveillance and data-capitalism.

Draw parallels between the psychotherapeutic break(down) from the individual to the biological sciences, for eg moving towards notions of the ‘human biome’—an ‘array of bodies’ (Bennett)— and as Povinelli, Bennett, Thacker discuss how we cannot consider ourselves ‘closed systems.’ Also can think here with N. Katherine Hayles’ ‘cognitive worlds’ (Unthought).

 

Leans towards D&G’s assemblage and event.

 

Power

Operating in fields of power / power = performance + propaganda

Undoing power (Valentina?)

 

Rituals

What washes up on the shore? Gifts from the sea!

 

‘Churning of the Milky Ocean’ a tug-o-war between the devas and Asuras in Hinduism

‘Churning of the Plastic Ocean!’ LOL

 

Tea ceremonies / meditations

Singing

I’ve been thinking about singing as a rhetorical device for the SF presentation I’m to do at Be.Bop. (partly in response to seeing Kodwo use the same device of word deviation, word play for several years and trying to think of another way around it). I just came across this on a Karrabing blog post by Povinelli:

The ancestors of the Karrabing were renowned song-men, who composed songs about their country, many of which Karrabing members still compose and sing. But it isn’t merely the content of the song—its lyrical or musical composition—that is key to its ethical nature. It is act of singing. In hearing people sing the land feels recognized—attended to.
https://open.abc.net.au/explore/29831

 

Masks

http://africanah.org/dancing-kabra-mask/

 

Possession

What calls to you.
Re PT, what ‘forces’ your symptoms indicate. What you are open to and what comes into you.

Hospitality, Care, Tourism

 

Picnic

Staging
Is it a meal or dramaturgical gestures (Futurist cookbook)?

Props/Equipment/Utensils (plastics?)

Location/Site

Eating the Spit / invasive species

Plant medicines / Wellbeing/Folk Medicines/Local Knowledge

Salt
‘Toxins out and toxics in.’

Mushrooms (August–October) preserved?

Acacias: leaves (flavoring, teas, decoctions), seeds (wattle roasted, flour), gum (antiseptic balm, gum arabic), flowers (pancakes)

‘In Ayurvedic medicine, Acacia leaves, flowers, and pods have long been used to expel worms, to staunch bleeding, heal wounds, and suppress the coughing up of blood. Its strong astringent action is used to contract and toughen mucous membranes throughout the body in much the same way as witch hazel or oak bark.’ https://www.cloverleaffarmherbs.com/acacia/

Herbs

Lichen
Moss

Storytelling

Haraway:

Storytelling for Earthly Survival — ‘Survivance’ (Vizenor, TallBear, Todd, Povinelli) and the critiques of fetishizing of Indigenous techniques and strategies in contemporary art (O’Reilly)

Camille Stories, Children of Compost — Instructional. Multigenerational communities of intent. Queer, biotechnical

Elizabeth Povinelli

Rather we were to consider them dynamic personalities like any person or nonperson has a personality—they have a tendency to behave in certain ways but can also surprise a person. And so people sought out others they knew who had long experience with specific forms of existents like tjelbak or Bulgul; put their heads together in often competitive, status-enhancing, or diminishing conversations; and added up all the potential variables for why something might be doing something. This was then called a “joinimup story” in the local creole. (Geontologies 2016, p. 129)

Extinction Studies (2017)
Multiple temporalities and fruitful deaths. (p.10)

Michel Serres:

Biogia: Myth, folkstory, philosophy, autobiography, essay

Ursula K. Leguin:

Octavia Butler:

Queer, plant intelligence, other models of social behaviour

Michael Marder:

Plant intelligence ethics

Michael Pollen:

Botany of Desire – plant politics, how plants have shaped and controlled people

 

The Happening (Film)

 

Storying place

Having the story of a species etc

What is being attended to?/What is turning away?

 

Assemblages

Word cloud (Groys) / Democratising words (Marinetti)

 

Two Women Sitting Down, ‘turning away’

 

‘The drama of extinction’ as reflected in infrastructural projects

The National Park as national monument

UNESCO World Heritage as a museum

 

‘Critical tourism’
http://www.nidacolony.lt/images/log05.pdf

(Also in Keybase)

 

The spit as a political tool / instrument

weathercocks

See folder in Keybase Bibliothek

Ok a first thought and not at all developed but the local weathercocks are striking and unique. In an explanatory sign on the promenade it mentioned something about how local mysticism is founded on the unpredictability of the lagoon’s currents or weather. I thought this might be one possible starting gesture for the Society, to design our own weathercocks as a kind of mascot or icon. There is also a lasercutter here, which would be interesting to utilise, enabling us to do some complex designs. Might be something to think about for the Crystal Pavilion?

Plastics

Plastic smog in the ocean
Watch Heather Davis here: https://vimeo.com/158044006

And also ‘Davis_ToxicProgeny_philoSOPHIA_2015’ in the Keybase Bibliothek

Re plastics entering the food chain. I think in the video Davis mentions the presence of micro-plastics in sea salt. Yesterday as I was setting up supplies, I forgot to buy salt. I found a little in the kitchen, but also thought…well we’re on a lagoon, I’ll try to extract some. Perhaps this can be put to use in the picnic, as a means to confront this form of toxicity? I tried extracting some today, it will take a fair bit more water than the litre or so I collected at ‘Terminal Beach’

I found a technique for extracting salt from seawater on a preppers’ blog about survival techniques for when ‘the shit hits the fan’ (TSHTF). LOL: Salt and Preppers.

Irony: I’m not sure if this is something Anna Tsing recalled, but around the time of her talk at HKW I heard anecdote about a family who lived near the forest in Ukraine. They would forage for mushrooms and berries to eat, except for one of the children who would only eat McDonalds or something similar. He was the only member of the family that did not develop cancer from consuming radioactive food.

Humour: Povinelli also mentions Aboriginal peoples’ use of humour to mediate horrific experiences. Something I learned of also in Mexico where it was confirmed to me that the narcos were crass, but also creative and often funny.

  • Catherine Malabou on Plasticity

* Also think about Povinelli’s discussion of ‘Toxic sovereignty’.

Pinar Yoldas, An Ecosystem of Excess:

So I asked: What would happen if life started in the ocean now? Which of course is happening anyway, since new life-forms are added to the world every day. What if new creatures emerged that could live off of plastics? I challenged myself to design a new ecosystem of plastics. Clearly I’m interested in synthetic biology as a methodology, and in where biology is headed. I see biology as ideology.

Through that device, I was able to talk about the fact that bottle caps are thought to kill 100,000 birds a month, or something like that. They are birds’ number-one enemy. I designed a turtle that eats balloons to talk about this phenomenon of balloon pollution in the Pacific, since it turns out turtles prefer to eat balloons. Each creature had a framework for talking about how organisms today are being affected by the plastisphere. So there’s a stomach that can digest sixteen types of plastics, and a kidney to talk about BPAs that leech into the sea.

I’m looking at these extremities where life is challenged in unforeseen ways thanks to the emergence of mankind. (vis-á-vis Life producing Life, Nonlife producing Nonlife re Povenelli)

The definition of design has to change. We need subversive objects to create a discourse, not to solve a problem.

https://www.guernicamag.com/the-afterlife-of-waste/

Plastisphere:

http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/feature/behold-the-plastisphere

Toxic Ecologies / Toxic Sovereignties:

cokecanreefdreaming Karrabing

 

Amber / Plastiglomerate

“As petroleum came to the relief of the whale,” stated one pamphlet advertising celluloid in the 1870s, so “has celluloid given the elephant, the tortoise, and the coral insect a respite in their native haunts; and it will no longer be necessary to ransack the earth in pursuit of substances which are constantly growing scarcer.”

The few minutes or days in which it might be used as a takeaway container, a lighter, or a toothpaste tube belies both the multimillion-year process of its making, and the tens of thousands of years it is expected to last before breaking down, finally, into its molecular compounds.

‘Mermaids tears’

‘Strange attractor’

…perhaps we can find in the chemical chains of synthetic polymers melded with the craggy scraps of sand a useful theoretical model of the molecular, in line with that of the plant-life rhizome (Deleuze and Guattari) that so dominated Anglo scholarship in the 1990s and 2000s.

http://www.e-flux.com/journal/78/82878/plastiglomerate/

Lichen?

Mushrooms
According to Tsing, ‘eviscerated stomachs’ that break down minerals and enabled plants to migrate from water to land!