“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Friday, May 3, 2013

Secret Life of Plants Liveblog: Cohabitation Q&A

Brooke: sympathy as a different paradigm, not as ground?

Jane: I have a pragmatic approach: how can we live this? These channels are already at work. It is happening. Anything that will prick me to pay more attention to what I'm already encountering. Shape. Sound. Whatever gets the job done. Now when I see water dripping I'm more attentive to it.

Jeff: Why would a plant be helpful with caffeine withdrawal? And so on? The lobe could be a culmination, tip of a leaf, but also a drop, ending, falling. Pendant.

Jane: An ontological imaginary of some kind of viscous fluid. Serres. Form drips out of things.

Q: On illustrations. Directionality of the drip. At least from C16 you illustrate the plant's entire lifespan in a single image. Practical: it may not be in bloom when you come to identify it.

Q: I'm curious about what gets the job done. What is the job? But before that: my version of political theory--the interest is how to constitute if not a monist account of relations, then some kind of field account or viscous something account. There is a vitalist way to do that. Or a sociological way. Some prepolitical account of stuff from which they are transformed.

Then I was confused by domination: it seemed at the same level.

A: I need a specific problem. How to induce greater will to engage in ecological practices that anyone with some intelligence recognizes as needed. Sensibility formation in response to a problem. Domination is a bit of a mistake in that list. There is antipathy but it is also webs of relations.

Q: Thank you. I'm struck by the level of giggles that arose at certain places. I also would have giggled before I gardened. But it's almost universal among gardeners that they talk to plants. I'd sort of like to ask why is it considered silly? As opposed to talking to God, for instance!? Form too. Fibonacci sequence. Used to determine fees for mutual funds! And ammonites and cauliflower.

Nils: When you bring plants into your everyday environment, it's a living thing you are negotiating. You just naturally start talking or communing. [Phenomenological sincerity: me.] It can expand your discussion of power, for instance. <> Paolo Freire's critical pedagogy.

Laura Marks: Nils, does having the plants influenced ideas about political structures? You mentioned the importance of anarchy. The mushrooms. Plants have a capacity to make anarchy. I think our indoor plants are slaves to us in some way--yes?

A: That became more relevant with composting. Our discussions are around organization in groups. Permaculture: the edge. If you have an edge between two different ecosystems, a meadow and a forest, that edge is the most biodiverse space. A way to think about how one could consider cultural production.

Jane: What about the lure of beauty? At a certain point you become enmeshed or addicted to them. It's not like you're doing a service to them alone.

Nils: There is also the guilt of it dying...

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