Excerpts from "Involuntary Momentum: Affective Ecologies and the Sciences of Plant/Insect Encounters" by Carla Hustak & Natasha Myers

If Darwin described the brilliant range of colors, flexible forms, sensual textures, and sweet nectars that attracted pollinators to orchid flowers, today chemical ecologists approach plants with attentions and instruments attuned to the plumes of volatile chemical attractants that plants synthesize and release into the atmosphere.


This requires reading with our senses attuned to stories told in otherwise muted registers. Working athwart the reductive, mechanistic, and adaptationist logics that ground the ecological sciences, we offer a reading that amplifies accounts of the creative, improvisational, and fleeting practices through which plants and insects involve themselves in one another’s lives.


It is in encounters between orchids, insects, and scientists that we find openings for an ecology of interspecies intimacies and subtle propositions. What is at stake in this involutionary approach is a theory of ecological relationality that takes seriously organisms as inventive practitioners who experiment as they craft interspecies lives and worlds. This is an ecology inspired by a feminist ethic of “response-ability” in which questions of species difference are always conjugated with attentions to affect, entanglement, and rupture; it is an affective ecology in which creativity and curiosity characterize the experimental forms of life of all kinds of practitioners, not only the human ones. We will need this mode of ecological thinking in order to do more effective work in challenging the status quo of ecological irresponsibility.

vegetal dragon

Science can give us knowing, but caring comes from someplace else. (…) Science lets us see the dance of the chromosomes, the leaves of moss, and the farthest galaxy. (…) Does science allow us to perceive the sacred in the world, or does it bend light in such a way as to obscure it? (…) I dream of a world guided by a lens of stories rooted in the revelations of science and framed with an indigenous worldview—stories in which matter and spirit are both given voice. Robin Wall Kimerer, Braiding Sweetgrass

Dust and Shadow Reader Vol. 2. Previous: spell of the sensuous. Next: haunted landscapes

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  • Last modified: 2019-08-30 08:48
  • by maja