Keeping Faith with Rocks

This project has more than a little discourse with phenomenology. When we speak about perception and entanglement, apprehending the self in the world, and embodiment, we necessarily connect with the ideas of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, among many others (Gregory Bateson, Jacob Von Uexküll, Vicki Kirby, Kate Wright, Lynn Margulis, Mary Beth Dempster et al).

We are collecting some resonant quotes, and this is the repository for their collection.

Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it is one of them. It is caught in the fabric of the world, and its cohesion is that of a thing. But because it sees and moves itself, it holds things in a circle around itself. Things are an annex or prolongation of my body; they are incrusted in its flesh, they are part of its full definition; the world is made of the very stuff of the body. These reversals, these antinomies, are different ways of saying that vision is caught or is made in the middle of things, where something visible undertakes to see, becomes visible for itself and through the vision of all things, where the indivision of the sensing and the sensed persists, like the original fluid within the crystal.”

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Eye and Mind, The Primacy of Perception. Evanston, USA: Northwestern University Press. pp. 159-190 (1964)

Here, Kate Wright, a writer, academic and maker, discusses Ponty’s idea of “flesh” in her essay “An Ethics of Entanglement for the Anthropocene”:
“Maurice Merleau-Ponty built on von Uexküll’s work to describe the way organisms are interlaced with their surrounds. He used the term “Flesh” to describe the open and permeable embodiment that allows us to make contact with others and with the world. For Merleau-Ponty, the boundaries of the living body are like membranes that open possibilities for metamorphosis and exchange (Abram 1996: 46). The body in this sense is an “open circuit” that is complete only in contact with others and with the earth, with the world, with things, with animals, with other bodies” (Abram 1996: 46).

By “Flesh”, Merleau-Ponty is referring to both the flesh of the body and the flesh of the world. He writes (1968: 248):

[M]y body is made of the same flesh as world… and moreover that this flesh of my body is shared by the world, the world reflects it, encroaches upon it and it encroached upon the world.

Flesh is not skin, but an extra dimension to the elements of life on earth. Flesh “is the element that makes being possible” (Buchanan 2008: 140). Glen Mazis applies Merleau-Ponty’s ontology of Flesh to help understand the cause of speciocide. He argues that processes of anthropodenial, like the denial of the lived experience of rabbits, detach human beings from the flesh of the world. Mazis writes “If we are part of the flesh of the world, then our interconnection with other species is part of the depth of our perception” (Mazis 2008: 75), and “anthropodenial” ( De Waal, 1997), the cutting off of interspecies ties which reverberate with us” (Mazis 2008: 77) detaches us from our emplacement in a multispecies world.”

And here, in her short read “A Manifesto for Creature Languages”, she discusses modes of attunement and relational becoming:

As a conceptual frame and an embodied political tactic, ‘weathering’ is a mode of attunement that attends to this relational becoming. In this immanent, affective, viscous approach to the living world, the more-than-human kin that surround us are part of a semiotic ecology – their own affective and responsive bodies reverberating with difference as they communicate shifts in time and place. Nonhuman bodies are both signals and agents because everything in the world “is a kind of immanent process of mediation or… communication,” and an active participant in the world’s becoming (Murphie, 19).
A manifesto for creature languages

She has a book out which I am keen to get a hold of called:
Transdisciplinary Journeys in the Anthropocene: More-than-human Encounters from the Routledge Environmental Humanities Series (2017)

One more note, a podcast!
Called For the Wild, this podcast discusses the critical ideas of our time and parlays them into action for the defense and regeneration of natural communities. Key topics include the rediscovery of wild nature, ecological renewal and resistance, and healing from the trauma of individualistic society.

This one is particularly great:
Marcia Bjornerud on finding humility in our geological past

That’s all for now!


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