From 10-12 July we welcomed the new Myco-Lective cohort through a three day online programme designed by Feral Practice and Ama Josephine Budge, with guest contributors Queer Ecologies leading the programme on Saturday 11 July.

Below is an extract from Feral Practice’s introductory presentation on plant sentience, mycorrhizal association and attention to plants:

If you want to exploit a being, it is useful to deny their autonomy. So-called ‘passive’ and ‘sessile,’ plants were regarded by successive generations of thinkers as ‘natural slaves,’ created for the use of animals, who in turn were created for the use of humans. Dominion, not kinship, has for too long defined our attitude.

When thinking with plants, we might do worse than think with our skin, with our edges and surfaces. When humans seek meaning, profundity, the truth, we look into the depths of ourselves, but in plantlife, knowledge presses up against surfaces and tips. A plant’s thinking cells are not contained inside one bony box, but distributed right the way through her body, and are most profuse on her edges, where leaf, root or shoot presses up against the world.

The philosopher Michael Marder takes the fact that humans are accumulations of symbioses and intertwined bio-histories, biologically inseparable from other life forms, as grounds to suggest that a position of intersubjective engagement with radically different beings is possible: “The human body and subjectivity alike are not pure expressions of spirit but strange archives, surfaces of inscription for the vestiges of the inorganic world, of plant growth and of animality – all of which survive and lead a clandestine afterlife in us, as us.” (Marder, 2013, ‘Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life’, p.10).

Although the programme sessions are for participants only, we are compiling an evolving reading list, so that those that are interested in the themes explored through the programme, can connect with and follow it through the ideas that are being shared and discussed. You can access the reading list of texts, films, and sound files here.

Image credit: Feral Practice