All posts by sina

Between Us and Nature – A Reading Club #33 / Going Back Into the Big Tree

From Lynn Margulis we have learnt that symbiogenesis is obligatory for evolution (and the origin of life). Her scientific findings propose other ways of viewing our living Earth and the tree of life than those of our traditional human-centered western perspective. With this knowledge, can we better embrace images and stories of the Yanomani culture?

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Change of Scenery

Remember those moments of careless strolling? An art known as Flâneuserie in literature1. I have enjoyed browsing through bookshops, bars or museums, practicing my collectioneuse habit of picking up postcards on my way2. Nowadays I am practicing #stayhome, and suddenly the image of people in plastic container pops to my mind. Foraging through my postcard collection, I find it. See. The motif attracted me around ten years ago, when I purchased the card at a Parisian bookshop. I’ve read into it criticism about urban office-bound lifestyles; humans spending most of the day in glass silos.
In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this setting takes on another dimension. Many of us were, or are, locked inside.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t believe that staying boxed up will keep us – or the planet – safe. On the contrary, I am worried about the separateness of all beings and the comparted knowledge that we have “cultivated”.
How to unbox ourselves and become earth-bound3? We could admit our fragility. Or as Puig suggests, we could embrace the idea that we are soil, celebrating soil aliveness4.
Let me take these thoughts to the kitchen and the balcony, I’ll soon share more on how it feels like to co-exist with my vegetables and plants.

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A Bird Routine

While making morning tea, I scan the sky through the kitchen window. I look at its blueness, the cloud shapes, I enjoy the light. Then I spot it. The heron’s morning route crosses my habitat. I squeak. A heron morning is a happy morning. My muesli tastes better while imagining the heron having breakfast at the zoo. Or did it head to the Landwehrkanal?
I stay home. I’ll ask it on the way back.
In the evening I hear the quaking sound. I am calling back: I had a good day, thanks, how was yours? I can still see the contours of its big wings. Though I cannot catch an answer. Maybe someone towards Rathaus Schöneberg received it. Tomorrow I’ll give it another try.
Dinner time, I say to my partner, the heron already passed. Oh, he says, lifting his eyes from the screen, adjusting them to the fading bird in the evening sky.

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Troubles

This morning a spider greeted me from the Tsing printout. I had gone to bed with her quote:

“We are stuck with the problem of living despite economic and ecological ruination. Neither tales of progress nor of ruin tell us how to think about collaborative survival. It is time to pay attention to mushroom picking. Not that this will save us – but it might open our imaginations1.”

Anna Tsing
Find more photo journal posts at Occulto.
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Between Us and Nature – A Reading Club #30 / Patterns of Collective Learning – Working on Ecological Struggles

During the last two sessions, reading together in the ‘Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet‘ anthology, we started our exchange on ecological loss and grief in general. Now, not only ecological but all kinds of societal changes are omnipresent due to Covid-19. With so many uncertainties and questions in mind, let’s turn to ecologies for inspirations in our thinking and doing:
“Although we have only just begun to understand collective behaviour in a few systems, we already see analogies in the forms of collective behavior used by neurons, other types of cells, and ant colonies. This suggests to me that the number of forms of collective behavior used in different systems is not infinite, and so there is some hope if we look at ecologies associated with the forms of collective behavior, we will see trends.” [Deborah M. Gordon]