Nepantla [1]

“fashion worlds of pleasure, joy, disruption, and refusal organized by the social desire for transformation.”[2]

Red Mars, golden Saturn, bright Jupiter. The moon in mystical rings before the rain. All of it moving our electrons across 2500 miles and decades. Or Friday, 8 miles down the road. We let our hearts feel the connections. We let ourselves live on silken bridges between.

Part of what we needed to do was envision our world.

We did not need to start from scratch. There was a lot to read. There were friends all around the globe. Reaching into the past, to traditions resilient within this: the toxic form of power now heavy on us. Now restricting us. Now coming to our homes and disappearing us. Now burning us in effigy. Now sheltering us from the pandemic.

In our studies, we came home to the sharp, sweet, new old regimes of identity, in places and times on our own planet. Some had been nearly forgotten, others never fantasized, or seen only on stage and in art. In a snippet of film by a visionary who had been taken from us by AIDS. Sometimes we lacked language to describe and so, we learned languages, until we could design in tongues new to us.

It took courage to recognize. To reiterate. To build from the remnants.

You see, we were leaving, but we would return one day. To Earth. In more than a millennium. We would hope to bring a new way with us when we did.  

But first, we would have to go. And so, we walked in the woods. Breathed in rain. Put bare feet on the ground. Slipped our clothes and walked into the waves, into the current of river, the stillness of lake. We savored.

The sun we noticed lit up our lashes, as in lazy spring days in college, lounging on a lawn with friends.

And those friends were the ones we first dreamed with. In the arrogance of youth, still shocked at what we were learning, at how much was wrong. We leaned over small tables and scones and cappuccinos, to expound. Or leaned back against the greased smooth wood of benches, to listen.

We noticed each other’s eyes. The lines now on our faces, from smiling and kindness and thought. Deep in our sockets we looked into one another and saw histories’ sorrow. We saw one another as brave.

So consider: what do you need for a transfeminist, post white supremacist, decolonized utopia? If you could make a cuir planet—What are the new values? Who do you look like? How do you refuse and disrupt and please and enjoy and transform? How do you “shift from one world to another”?

We took care about these things. We took garbage so we did not need to extract. And we spent all the golden women’s pentacles on this, to churn a new wealth for the future, to feed mycelium, to build our crafts.

In the tarot, The Star is a card identified with Aquarius, the weirdo, the visionary, the star being. It is the card of healing. Of reaching beyond what is. Of envisioning. And of meeting one another under the same moon. For now while we fashion worlds.

And one day, from the multiversities, who satellite near the same far sun.

[1] “I use the word nepantla to theorize liminality and to talk about those who facilitate passages between worlds, whom I’ve named nepantleras. I associate nepantla with states of mind that question old ideas and beliefs, acquire new perspectives, change worldviews, and shift from one world to another.” Gloria Anzaldua, this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation (2002), 2.

[2] Macarena Gómez-Barris, Beyond the Pink Tide (2019). This entry and the cuir-er than queer aspiration in it is humbly inspired by the work of this college friend.

Mycelium Tech

Mushroom specialist Paul Stamets: “we need to have a paradigm shift in our consciousness. If we don’t get our act together and come in commonality and understanding with the organisms that sustain us today, not only will we destroy those organisms, but we will destroy ourselves.[*]

In the early 1990s a close-knit group of geniuses, the Synergists, built and tested the first biosphere in the desert of Arizona. It was to be the first of many, designed with the goal of collecting data and of troubleshooting—so that one day they could create a spaceship or an extra-terrestrial colony on which to preserve earth.

They traveled the planet collecting species for their mini jungle and their mini ocean, their mini forest, their mini meadow. “Do you know how many flowers it takes to feed a hummingbird?” one asked. They made a mystical home, a mini earth, wherein they knew every living being and felt their interconnectedness with all life.

But when they tried to to live off that land, they suffocated and starved. They went insane on carbon dioxide poisoning, fighting and spinning conspiracy theories against one another. The animals suffered helplessly. In the end, the synergists had to bring in oxygen from outside in order to survive the full two years of their experiment.[†]

The SIA had learned two things since then. One, maintain secrecy. Two, depend on the Great Mycelium.

Throughout the earth. the vegetative part of a fungus, consisting of a network of fine white filaments, called the mycelia, link into root systems of trees, plants, and other mycelial webs and transfer information and nutrition.

The synergists had cut their world off from the source of life beneath.

The intelligence of plants, laughed off by some scientists, grew from the complex mind of the mycelium, which grows like neurons or the nerve cells in our minds, like the dark matter of space, like the network of the internet.

According to the research of Suzanne Simard, a forest ecologist at the University of British Columbia, “trees in a forest organize themselves into far-flung networks” and use the mycelium, which “connects their roots to exchange information and even goods.” Trees communicate, “convey warnings of insect attacks, and also to deliver carbon, nitrogen, and water to trees in need.”

Says Stamets, the “mycelium is the neurological network of nature. Interlacing mosaics of mycelium infuse habitats with information-sharing membranes. These membranes are aware, react to change, and collectively have the long-term health of the host environment in mind. The mycelium stays in constant molecular communication with its environment, devising diverse enzymatic and chemical responses to complex challenges.”

Sagebrush warns its fellows of a pest intrusion.

In a 2013 article, “The Intelligent Plant,” New Yorker contributer, Michael Pollan imagined the scent of sage as an “invisible chemical chatter, including the calls of distress, going on all around.” He described the air as “powerfully aromatic, with a scent closer to aftershave than to perfume.”[‡]

A forest will even work across species to share food.

According to Simard, “fir trees were using the fungal web to trade nutrients with paper-bark birch trees over the course of the season. The evergreen species will tide over the deciduous one when it has sugars to spare, and then call in the debt later in the season. For the forest community, the value of this coöperative underground economy appears to be better over-all health, more total photosynthesis, and greater resilience in the face of disturbance.”

Western scientists were naïve to the knowledge of people 10,000 years ago or that of African, Asian, and Indigenous societies, who depended on fungi and the inventions of mycelium to preserve fire, as antibiotics, as anti-inflammatories. And much, much more.

All the while humans were transforming the planet with art and technology and war and pollution, the mycelium had also been at work, resolving the devastations of our time.

“Let your imagination go wild,” said Stamets.

With the leadership of Indigenous scientists who were also members, the SIA had learned to work with the mycelium, to communicate a vision with the intelligence of slime molds and polypores.

The mycelium tech in my mask (and in the recycling centers we delivered garbage to and in the ones that were soon propagated on satellites twinkling in our night skies from 2025-2040) was based in traditional Indigenous knowledge kept by friends and members of SIA that was being put to multiple purposes by the Arks and Islands of the Multiversity.

[*] Paul Stamets is real too. Also

[†] A great new documentary recently came out on this group.