2018. Counter-Desecration


I am honored to be included in Counter-Desecration: A Glossary for Writing Within The Anthropocene. The late Marthe Reed and Linda Russo collected 126 terms and definitions articulated by a diverse international group of poets. The anthology promises new vocabulary for “a world on the brink.”

My entry, “animacy,” is part of an ongoing conversation with Meredith Stricker, author of Our Animal. Our walks and talks inhabit California’s Central Coast — site of the 2016 Soberanes Fire and the 2017 bombogenesis pundits called Lucifer. Our shared reading practice seeks solace, kinship, alienation, abeyance, breath, space and light, so says Meredith in "Why Not The Forest.”

animacy: I hunt in Eduardo Kohn’s How Forests Think:An Anthropology Beyond the Human for the word “animacy” while two mutts sleep at my feet. They bark. We go outside. I see the morning glory has finally bloomed; a white butterfly I do not “identify” visits it too. “Situated, intimate engagement.” That’s how I sum up these pages from the chapter entitled “The Living Thought” which begins with barking dogs followed by a silence. In Quechua: hau’ hau’ hau’ then chun.The dogs are dead. Prey to a puma. Kohn unfolds a complex argument: “If thoughts exist beyond the human, then we humans are not the only selves in this world. We, in short, are not the only kinds of we. Animism, the attribution of enchantment to these other-than-human loci, is more than belief, an embodied practice, or a foil for our critiques of Western mechanistic representations of nature.” I read and take notes so as not to count days: Day 32 of the Soberanes Fire; 7 days, says the vet, until my oldest dog will die — food itself a toxin for her now. As an always already we, we remain a toxin for this planet? I read on, taking notes because Kohn’s animacy (or at least his articulation of it) offers possibility.