I chose to sample a bird I had heard when I was in the Amazon, my friend Angelina Efua Karlsson and I would imitate this bird and it would respond, you can kind of hear it in this video below:
It’s called Oropendola and makes various water sounds such as an amplified droplet hitting water. I was in love with the different sounds it made. I couldn’t find my field recordings today unfortunately, but I found some online.
4 week exploration- 3 page excerpt
I wanted to attempt an embodiment of Posthumanist perspectives of specifically non-human creatures. I’m drawn to the idea of trying to break out of the very heightened human exceptionalism that we currently find ourselves in, although I think we can’t fully, as the embodied human experience we are in, see completely outside of ourselves. But there are levels of extremity – which can afford more harmony or more violence. Even though we are running on so many mind programs that were formed from nurture, society, genetics – we have seen countless times & places, that paradigm fluidity is possible, even though it can sometimes be slow & initially (or repeatedly) be met with hostility and violence.
A first exploration of putting this topic exploration into practice that I felt comfortable with, especially at the stage of research I’m in, is to make sound pieces including non-human perspective – an imagining of what I’d feel like as specific different species, with an inevitable infusion of myself – so maybe better put – duets with myself and my interpretation or impression of that particular creature.
This is also just a fun way to try to embody non-human creatures and i do think we are more than our conscious, so maybe part of the practice is more “successful” on other levels.
My constraints are:
Use my analog synth Prophet Rev2 – no layering (modern technology with ancient creatures)
Use words to write from perspective of creature or sample actual sounds
Find examples of a specific aspect of the creature to explore
So far in 5 day practice, I’ve made 2 songs:
1 – Bee Orchid singing to the bee that’s going extinct (from Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet example)
2 – Paired Gibbon monkey songs with synth, pitched down and over time up.
3 – I was researching interesting known symbiotic relationships and found the relationship between the Honeyguide and Yao people of Mozambique – where there is 2 way communication that results in the Honeyguide leading the people to bee hives, where the people smoke out the combs so the bees become calm, and the people can take out the comb without being stung. The people will leave parts on the ground for the birds. I have the birds calling the people “fire starters” – I was thinking if I was an animal, that would be a distinct intriguing human feature.
I have an existing song that inspired this project that’s called “DIEZOME” from a project I did with Sam Hains & Camilla Padgitt Coles. Camilla co-wrote the lyrics to the song. Concept of the project was made by all of us and is a game show screening process that leads to a utopian rhizomatic society.
Inspired by Anna Tsing’s “Unruly Edges: Mushroom as Companion Species” article, I wanted to have a mushroom spirit signing about monocrop invasion, but that was kind of hard to get the right tone. That night I had mushroom pizza to help with embodiment, but I guess the idea wasn’t ready to come through or maybe not meant to flower in that form.
I haven’t decided on today’s theme but am thinking maybe something with bacteria or stones.
I started an are.na site for resources around this project:
Dr. Francesca Ferrando, who has taught at NYU, is working on a book called “Posthuman and Transhuman Bodies in Religion and Spirituality” (working title) – so I will be adding her to my list of experts to contact.
Posthumanism vs. Transhumanism:
Some people make a distinction between “Posthuman” and “Posthumanism”, and some people, if there is a distinction between those 2, confuse it with “Transhumanism” – it’s not clear yet if they are actually 3 or 2 terms.
I’ve heard “Posthuman” is the idea of inserting human consciousness into machines somehow and “Posthumanist” emphasizes that humans are not singular ones, but part of larger humanity, it means to expand past an exclusive human exceptionalism to include non-human creatures and an attempt towards a non-dual perspective.
I’ve heard that Donna Haraway distanced herself from the term “Posthumanism” because of the relation to “Transhumanism” and prefers “Companion Species” – need to look into when that was distinguished etc. I do feel as though “Posthumanism” is sort of a name holder – and understand the confusion is incites – my impression of Posthuman thought so far is, its emphasis is not only on non-human consideration, but for a deeper human to human consideration, and approaching a paradigm that can’t have one without the other. It’s a recent term that I find is still knowing itself but draws from ancient cultures and current situations, or maybe there’s another term being born from “Posthumanism”.
A thought that has come up a lot lately is the name “Posthuman” sounds like an emphasis on non-human creatures (which is only one facet of it, as I understand), and glosses over all the people that are not treated as human as humans in positions of privilege. I then found this argument highlighted specially around race on the Posthuman wikipedia page:
Zakiyyah Iman Jackson
“Questions of race, some argue, are suspiciously elided within the “turn” to posthumanism. Noting that the terms “post” and “human” are already loaded with racial meaning, critical theorist Zakiyyah Iman Jackson argues that the impulse to move “beyond” the human within posthumanism too often ignores “praxes of humanity and critiques produced by black people”, including Frantz Fanon and Aime Cesaire to Hortense Spillers and Fred Moten. Interrogating the conceptual grounds in which such a mode of “beyond” is rendered legible and viable, Jackson argues that it is important to observe that “blackness conditions and constitutes the very nonhuman disruption and/or disruption” which posthumanists invite. In other words, given that race in general and blackness in particular constitutes the very terms through which human/nonhuman distinctions are made, for example in enduring legacies of scientific racism, a gesture toward a “beyond” actually “returns us to a Eurocentric transcendentalism long challenged”.
“Posthuman” when I first heard it was interesting to me because it sounded sci-fi and paradoxical. Continuing the tradition of using “Post” is very western academic, but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate aspects of it, I think. It implies a very linear history on the surface to use that word, and that something is dead maybe?
Timothy Morton – Paraphrasing ideas from 2 talks I listened to this week (will include citation)
“Nature as a human made construct”
“Best way to help ecology, fight racism”
Human beings are trembly chameleons
Who love to be seduced by sounds colors textures
We are caught in intersecting patterns of undulation
Isn’t the same as static silence
Art allows things to be still not static
Can be still and vibrating
B/c aesthetic dimension is the causal dimension
Things can only affect other things indirectly
A thing is an anarchist commune where parts are autonomous
Anna Tsing – “Our use of the term Anthropocene is to describe a time in which business as usual is likely to kill us.”
Jane Bennet –
“…both human and nonhuman entities (including inorganic matter) are composed of ‘vibrant matter’. In Bennett’s view, matter that we consider ‘dead’ such as fossils and stones is not actually dead but very much alive and is constituted by a lively and energetic play of forces. Following a long tradition of thinkers who have sought to decentre ‘the human’ (e.g. Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault), Bennett’s emphasis on non-human matter challenges the ontological privileging of ‘the human’. However, her notion of ‘distributive agency’ creatively affirms the necessity of human embodiment, understood as one site of agency within and across a multiplicity of other material bodies and formations.”
(POSTHUMANISM & ANTHROPOCENE, CAPITALOCENE, XTHLOCENE)
“Posthuman Glossary” – Rose Braidotti & Maria Hlavajova
“If art, science, and the humanities have shared one thing, it was their common engagement with constructions and representations of the human. Under the pressure of new contemporary concerns, however, we are experiencing a “posthuman condition+?; the combination of new developments-such as the neoliberal economics of global capitalism, migration, technological advances, environmental destruction on a mass scale, the perpetual war on terror and extensive security systems- with a troublesome reiteration of old, unresolved problems that mean the concept of the human as we had previously known it has undergone dramatic transformations. The Posthuman Glossary is a volume providing an outline of the critical terms of posthumanity in present-day artistic and intellectual work. It builds on the broad thematic topics of Anthropocene/Capitalocene, eco-sophies, digital activism, algorithmic cultures and security and the inhuman. It outlines potential artistic, intellectual, and activist itineraries of working through the complex reality of the ‘posthuman condition’, and creates an understanding of the altered meanings of art vis-� -vis critical present-day developments. It bridges missing links across disciplines, terminologies, constituencies and critical communities. This original work will unlock the terms of the posthuman for students and researchers alike.”
How can we embody a posthumanist perspective to cultivate care as a liberating force against post-colonialism? Can technology be re-appropriated from corporations to support this embodiment or aid in proliferation of care?
Embodying posthumanist perspectives can act as a liberating tool against the post-colonial effects on humans, non-human beings, spirituality, sexuality and love. Technology can be a powerful tool to aid…… (?)
I’m still trying to narrow down the technological aspect of the hypothesis because, it’s vast.
Mind Map thus far:
LOVE & CARE
In Anna Tsing’s “Unruly Edges: Mushrooms as Companion Species”, she claims “Domination, domestication, and love are deeply entangled”. In plantation system she references the absence of human to human and human to interspecies love, ” …they invest everything in the superabundance of a single crop. But one ingredient is missing: They remove the love. Instead of the romance connecting people, plants, and places, European planters introduced cultivation through coercion.[xxvi] The plants were exotics; the labor was forced through slavery, indenture, and conquest. Only through extreme order and control could anything flourish in this way; but with hierarchy and managed antagonism in place, enormous profits (and complementary poverties) could be produced. Because plantations have shaped how contemporary agribusiness is organized, we tend to think of such arrangements as the only way to grow crops. But this arrangement had to be naturalized until we learned to take the alienation of people from their crops for granted.”
And on patriarchal family unit and love politics:
“The boundaries of the home became the expected boundaries of love. With the fetishization of the home as a space of purity and interdependence, extra-domestic intimacies, whether within or between species, seemed archaic fantasies (the community, the small farmer) or passing affairs (feminism, animal rights). Outside the home, the domain of economic rationality and conflicting individual interests reigned. Moreover, this kind of family fetish reappeared in mid-20th century U.S. mass culture—and once again in our times now—as the United States assumed a global leadership that allowed it to draw from older regimes of colonial culture. Here love is just not expected outside family walls. Within the family, other species can be accepted; pets are models for family devotion. But the model of the loving and beloved pet does not spread love; it holds it tight inside the family.
U.S. publics learn to imagine themselves as compassionate, moral people because they love their children and their pets. They learn that this love makes them “good people”—unlike terrorists, who only hate. They imagine that this love equips them to make decisions for the whole world; it creates a moral hierarchy in which American “goodness” is qualification for global leadership. Other peoples, and other species, are judged by their ability to live up to U.S. standards of domestic intimacy. If they are properly engaged with family love, they may deserve to live. Others risk becoming “collateral damage” in U.S. projects to improve the world; to eliminate them may be unfortunate but not “inhumane.” Under this tutelage, our species being is realigned to stop Others at home’s door.”
I saw Kim TallBear speak over the weekend as part of the Posthuman series with Donna Haraway – where she briefly presented her project “Making Love & Relations Beyond Settler Sexualities”
TIMES, TENSES & TECH?
There’s a way in which ideas of “love” are seen as non-intellectual and I really like when I see things that are deemed “non-academic” in academia – since that qualification is directly linked to Eurocentric colonial mindset. Which is also why I want to include magic and spirituality into my exploration — and by not including aspects of it, I’d be complicit in erasure – since I’m approaching this topic broadly.
A question within this that keeps popping up is “what are the non-linear possibilities of tech? vague but persistent – the closest thing I’ve found to addressing this, in the way I’m imagining it, is Ricardo Dominguez’ of The Electronic Disturbance Theater, below:
“The Electronic Disturbance Theater has referred to the Transborder Immigrant Tool (TBT) as an example of Science of the Oppressed, an approach that is informed by forms of knowledge production that are marginalized by the rational focus of digital.  The fundamental operations of digital technology, AND, OR and NOT, are derived from George Boole’s development of Boolean logic which was first described in the pamphlet Mathematical Analysis of Logic published in 1847.  While the Boolean logic that is the basis of digital technology is based in western systems of reason, Science of the Oppressed includes concepts such as Mayan Technology, proposed by Ricardo Dominguez to signify non-linear causalities and technologies such as the stick the little mayan boy waves at the Mexican army helicopter to make it go away.”
PEOPLE TO CONTACT:
Still compiling list:
SPIRITUALITY / MAGIC
Dr. Rupa Marya’s map of Colonization omits spirituality, but she references it in another place below. This idea I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, that somehow people don’t realize all cultures have an indigenous past and the systematic erasure of European pre-Christian spirituality – which, accompanied by whiteness’s default to appropriation, is another reason why white people have engaged in other culture’s spiritual praxis in ways that are extractive – in part because they are so unaware of their own spiritual history. (insert the book on witches here)
How can Reconnecting to “magic” that was systematically suppressed during Christian colonialism?
How can we connect to magic / spirituality and embody a posthumanist perspective to cultivate care as a liberating force against post-colonialism?
Healing by reclaiming stories and making new ones
GHOSTS & DEATH
The element of death in newness
The more destruction on earth of land people and all creatures – breeds more hungry ghosts
Ghosts of the Capitalocene
How we live with ghosts
What kind of communities could emerge post capitalist ruin
What kind of communities can exist now
Rhizome – implementations?
Should Utopía be a goal? Are idealist goals too binary?
Speculative narrative song cycle / collection
Embodying plants etc
Songs – Deep Listening
Autonomy under oppression
Queerness – softening hardlines
Wyrd web guide – strings of fate, weavings, stories as weavings and time threads
Commitment to neglect – Maria
Governance of bodies and borders specifically in posthumanism
going inwards to softness
Passive vs. deep presence – “deep listening”
When we are faced with demise – where can we find beauty?
Incomplete post TBC……….
- TONGLEN BREATHING AS AN ENTRY POINT TO SHADOW WORK / BODILY SENSES AS FILTERS FOR SHADOW WORK
- DESCRIPTION OF TONGLEN BREATHING & SHADOW WORK, FURTHER EXAMPLES
- HOW CAN SHADOW WORK BE AN ACT OF HEALING & THEREFORE RESISTANCE?
- ACTS FOR READER THAT INCLUDE: BREATHING / VISUALIZING MEDITATION, BODY MOVEMENT, SOUNDING (VOCALIZING), DRAWING SIGIL / MANDALA, GRIEF, PUBLIC ACTION
SYMBOL FOR ZINE:
- 5 pieces to represent 5 senses
- shapes alluding to a vertebra, but also a fluid quality to them
- circular shape – holding space, creating a container to work within, middle is empty
INSPIRATION & EXAMPLES:
Art that becomes more integrated in daily life – we are overly categorized as a byproduct of the dominance of Eurocentric thinking, whose foundation is individualism. Part of this idea is highlighted in “Art of Living on a Damaged Planet” that I read over the summer. Not only is science compartmentalized to a point of scientific inaccuracy, we are learning more and more, so have we divided many other aspects of life due to this particular lense.
Some ideas to also explore: “Object / Subject” “Non-dual Perception”
“The art/life institute handbook” – designed to make performance available to everyone
Each page contains a topic with preparation, possible events and room for personal comments.
SIGILS / HYPERSIGILS & PORTALS
“A common method of creating the sigils of certain spirits was to use kameas (magic squares) — the names of the spirits were converted to numbers, which were then located on the magic square. The locations were then connected by lines, forming an abstract figure.
The use of symbols for magical or cultic purposes has been widespread since at least the Neolithic era. Some examples from other cultures include the yantra from Hindu tantra, historical runic magic among the Germanic peoples, or the use of veves in Voudon.”
“In modern chaos magic, when a complex of thoughts, desires and intentions gains such a level of sophistication that it appears to operate autonomously from the magician’s consciousness, as if it were an independent being, then such a complex is referred to as a servitor. When such a being becomes large enough that it exists independently of any one individual, as a form of “group mind”, then it is referred to as an egregore.
Later chaos magicians have expanded on the basic sigilisation technique. Grant Morrison coined the term hypersigil to refer to an extended work of art with magical meaning and willpower, created using adapted processes of sigilization. His comic bookseries The Invisibles was intended as such a hypersigil. Morrison has also argued that modern corporate logos like “the McDonald’s Golden Arches, the Nike swoosh and the Virgin autograph” are a form of viral sigil:
Corporate sigils are super-breeders. They attack unbranded imaginative space. They invade Red Square, they infest the cranky streets of Tibet, they etch themselves into hairstyles. They breed across clothing, turning people into advertising hoardings… The logo or brand, like any sigil, is a condensation, a compressed, symbolic summoning up of the world of desire which the corporation intends to represent… Walt Disney died long ago but his sigil, that familiar, cartoonish signature, persists, carrying its own vast weight of meanings, associations, nostalgia and significance.“
The Book of Pleasure (Self-Love): Psychology of Ecstasy is a book written by Austin Osman Spare during 1909–1913 and self-published in 1913.
PAUL LAFFOLEY “Mr. Laffoley thought of his “architectonic thought forms” as portals allowing the viewer to enter, transcend time and space, and achieve an expanded state of consciousness.”
MOVEMENT / SOUNDING
From artist Peter Sciscioli’s sound & movement practice and workshop “Sounding Body: Voice as Movement”
Tonglen Breathing is a Tibetan breathing technique, where one breathes in the suffering of oneself or others and breathes out comfort, safety, happiness.
Pema Chödrön gives tonglen instruction as follows:
“On the in-breath, you breathe in whatever particular area, group of people, country, or even one particular person… maybe it’s not this more global situation, maybe it’s breathing in the physical discomfort and mental anguish of chemotherapy; of all the people who are undergoing chemotherapy. And if you’ve undergone chemotherapy and come out the other side, it’s very real to you. Or maybe it’s the pain of those who have lost loved ones; suddenly, or recently, unexpectedly or over a long period of time, some dying. But the in-breath is… you find some place on the planet in your personal life or something you know about, and you breathe in with the wish that those human beings or those mistreated animals or whoever it is, that they could be free of that suffering, and you breathe in with the longing to remove their suffering.
And then you send out – just relax out… send enough space so that peoples’ hearts and minds feel big enough to live with their discomfort, their fear, their anger or their despair, or their physical or mental anguish. But you can also breathe out for those who have no food and drink, you can breathe out food and drink. For those who are homeless, you can breathe out/send them shelter. For those who are suffering in any way, you can send out safety, comfort.
So in the in-breath you breathe in with the wish to take away the suffering, and breathe out with the wish to send comfort and happiness to the same people, animals, nations, or whatever it is you decide.
Do this for an individual, or do this for large areas, and if you do this with more than one subject in mind, that’s fine… breathing in as fully as you can, radiating out as widely as you can.”
I initially thought to map this practice within a larger Buddhist Breathing tradition, and then a more global breathing tradition that cultivates compassion. I then realized that this is also situated within a larger map some refer to as “Shadow Work”. Where we find the medicine in the poison, instead of avoiding the painful feelings or shadow side of things or ourselves, we give it space and thereby can transform it. The “Shadow” as described by Carl Jung is:
“…the unknown ‘‘dark side’’ of our personality –-dark both because it tends to consist predominantly of the primitive, negative, socially or religiously depreciated human emotions and impulses like sexual lust, power strivings, selfishness, greed, envy, anger, or rage, and due to its unenlightened nature, completely obscured from consciousness. Whatever we deem evil, inferior or unacceptable and deny in ourselves becomes part of the shadow, the counterpoint to what Jung called the persona or conscious ego personality. According to Jungian analyst Aniela Jaffe, the shadow is the ‘‘sum of all personal and collective psychic elements which, because of their incompatibility with the chosen conscious attitude, are denied expression in life’’
Under the Shadow Work system, I included:
- Chöd Nun Practices – working with “evil” energies, visualizing their own bodies as food for these “demons” as transformational fuel
- Brahmavahara Cultivation
- Entheogen / Psychedelic Medicine Ceremonies where healers hold space as you do an underworld Journey
- Kambo frog poison for mental, physical, spiritual energy disharmony
- Underworld stories in Mythology
- Sound Therapies
- Grieving practices
- Death & Birth Doulas
In our culture in the U.S., everything is monetized so deeply that even our emotional processing and how we view emotions are effected. Shadow work isn’t seen as productive, and the community rituals that can be found historically & virtually worldwide aren’t very present in our culture. I’ll also be mapping the social political context of shadow work as well.