The Soil Food Web: Notes towards Cultivating "New" Alliances between Earthlings
How can we grasp our relationship to the Earth through the earth? In dealing with the human and its relationship to the soil food web, this lecture traces translations as they occur through the sense of smell and taste using Thomas A. Sebeok's concept of the chemical sign. What world do we share with nonhumans when we cultivate the soil? Employing Félix Guattari's "pseudo-narrative detour" through myth, ritual and science and Gilles Deleuze's elaboration of uncertainty in The Logic of Sense, the lecture criticizes subject-centred encounters with the soil food web and its complexity, aiming instead for an anexact science of Earth-earthling relations. It advances the notion that the mundane eating and defecating tendencies shared by all earthlings is the basis of a renewed material alliance with the Earth. Though the Earth and its earthlings share what may be called flesh (organic and nonorganic), it is what passes through and is exchanged by flesh that is of interest here. Moving from retracing the "new" assemblies of plants, animals, and microbes that are produced through cultivated efforts at rearranging the mundane (spatial questions), the lecture closes on an exploration of the differing layers of time (Chronos and Aion) bound up in the "new" assemblies.
Deleuze; Guattari; Sebeok; Stengers; soil; materiality; chemical sign
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University of Victoria