Mapping Meaning, the Journal (Issue No. 1)

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2 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Who were <strong>the</strong>se women?<br />

What were <strong>the</strong>ir stories?<br />

Why <strong>the</strong> hearts?<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Content<br />

6<br />

Introduction<br />

14<br />

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

18<br />

Idaho Triptych<br />

Lynn Kilpatrick<br />

22<br />

On This Site<br />

Jeremy Dennis<br />

30<br />

The Breath Camera: a prototype for<br />

anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

40<br />

David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald,<br />

and <strong>the</strong> vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless,<br />

postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

50<br />

Survival Series<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

56<br />

Identity, Narrative, and Miseducation<br />

in a More-Than-Human World<br />

Toni Wynn and Rae Wynn-Grant<br />

4 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

64<br />

<strong>No</strong>tes on an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

74<br />

In Conversation with Consciousness:<br />

A Reflection On My Use of Metalogue<br />

to Make Sense of <strong>the</strong> Ecological<br />

Context of Mental Health<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

86<br />

Marker<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

94<br />

The Energy & Information<br />

Ecosystems of <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau:<br />

An Arts/Sciences Field Study<br />

Richard Lowenberg<br />

108<br />

Field Play<br />

Magdalena S. Donahue<br />

116<br />

Layers Exposed<br />

Brooke Larsen<br />

126<br />

bombus love<br />

Erin Halcomb<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Introduction to<br />

<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong><br />

Above, front cover, and back cover Minidoka Project Idaho 1918,<br />

Photo from <strong>the</strong> U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, of <strong>the</strong> U.S. Department of <strong>the</strong> Interior<br />

6 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, The <strong>Journal</strong><br />

Introduction<br />

"824 Min Surveying<br />

party of girls on<br />

<strong>the</strong> Minidoka project."<br />

Original caption,<br />

National Archives<br />

The History<br />

In 1918, an all-female survey crew posed for<br />

a photograph while working on <strong>the</strong> Minidoka<br />

Dam Project in Idaho, U.S.A. Almost a century<br />

later, Krista Caballero, founder of <strong>Mapping</strong><br />

<strong>Meaning</strong>, came across <strong>the</strong> photo while<br />

researching her masters of fine art. The image<br />

was accompanied by little archival information,<br />

but <strong>the</strong> close bounds of <strong>the</strong> composed<br />

frame contrasted sharply with o<strong>the</strong>r survey<br />

photographs of <strong>the</strong> time depicting men within<br />

vast, epic landscapes. The women’s smiles<br />

and <strong>the</strong> painted hearts on <strong>the</strong>ir leveling rods<br />

fur<strong>the</strong>r piqued Caballero’s interest. Who were<br />

<strong>the</strong>se women? What were <strong>the</strong>ir stories? Why<br />

<strong>the</strong> hearts?<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, The <strong>Journal</strong><br />

Introduction<br />

While poignant, <strong>the</strong> photograph also raises<br />

a number of complex issues. All <strong>the</strong> women<br />

appear to be white and all are participating in<br />

mapping resources for extractive purposes.<br />

These tensions pose critical questions.<br />

Who gets to “map” <strong>the</strong> landscape and why?<br />

If land is <strong>the</strong> “text”, how do we read our<br />

surroundings and create meaning around<br />

a place that is multidimensional? What<br />

histories are erased in <strong>the</strong> mapping of <strong>the</strong><br />

Americas? How can we assert our right to<br />

record <strong>the</strong> diversity of our lives personally<br />

and collectively?<br />

The photograph quickly became a motivating<br />

metaphor that inspired <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, a<br />

multi-generational collective that considers<br />

<strong>the</strong> broad transitions occurring in ecology,<br />

technology and culture. In a deeply<br />

fragmented and discipline-based world,<br />

Caballero urgently felt <strong>the</strong> need to create a<br />

space to encounter divergent approaches<br />

toward “surveying” human, ecological and<br />

technological landscapes.<br />

With <strong>the</strong> support and encouragement of<br />

artist, activist, and mentor S.A. Bachman,<br />

Caballero proceeded with her “uncharted”<br />

idea to convene a free, interdisciplinary, fiveday<br />

workshop for women. To her surprise,<br />

<strong>the</strong> “call,” accompanied by <strong>the</strong> Minidoka<br />

photo, generated an overwhelming number<br />

of applicants.<br />

The first workshop in 2010, brought toge<strong>the</strong>r<br />

sixteen women representing a wide range of<br />

perspectives, ages and disciplines to discuss<br />

diverse knowledge practices. Disciplines<br />

included visual art, American Indian Studies,<br />

entomology, film, ecology, architecture,<br />

American Studies, creative writing,<br />

ethnobotany, business, civil & environmental<br />

engineering, and folklore.<br />

“This intervention was crucial – it brought<br />

women toge<strong>the</strong>r to discuss seemingly<br />

at odds, yet organically knit ideas. Who<br />

knew climate change policies, activist art,<br />

a documentary about Swaziland, lifecycle<br />

assessments, business ethics, violent<br />

social protests and a single image of<br />

four women on top of a mountain with<br />

surveying equipment could have such a<br />

strong <strong>the</strong>me of change and flow running<br />

through <strong>the</strong>m?”<br />

Jennifer Richter (contributor to <strong>the</strong> 2010,<br />

2012, 2014, and 2016 workshops)<br />

After 2010, Caballero invited Sylvia Torti, an<br />

ecologist and creative writer who participated<br />

in <strong>the</strong> 2010 workshop, to join her as codirector<br />

in evolving <strong>the</strong> workshop <strong>the</strong>mes.<br />

Toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>y developed <strong>the</strong> mission to<br />

support <strong>the</strong> creative work and scholarship<br />

of women working at edges and ecotones,<br />

those pushing against traditional disciplinary<br />

boundaries.<br />

<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong> is now a multi-generational<br />

collective rooted in five-day, experimental<br />

workshops that take place biennially at field<br />

stations in <strong>the</strong> US American West. Workshops<br />

integrate ecological and cultural <strong>the</strong>mes,<br />

and ardently resist oversimplification.<br />

Women are supported at all stages of <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

work and <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong> is particularly<br />

committed to mentoring young thinkers and<br />

creators. Women respond by bringing <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

creative energy, critical minds and personal<br />

8 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, The <strong>Journal</strong><br />

Introduction<br />

projects to <strong>the</strong> discussion. <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong><br />

workshops have taken place in 2010, 2012,<br />

2014, 2016 and will be held again in 2018.<br />

“This initiative, <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, provides<br />

ground — productive, deconstructive<br />

ground — to argue for <strong>the</strong> inclusion of<br />

diversity, of liminal spaces, of <strong>the</strong> uncanny,<br />

and for new forms of sense and value. I<br />

think a challenge is to maintain a focus on<br />

impermanence in art, research, science,<br />

and women coming toge<strong>the</strong>r, to maintain<br />

<strong>the</strong> productive friction of disturbance, as a<br />

way to work outside of neoliberal market<br />

economies, outside of colonial inscriptions<br />

of a site.<br />

<strong>Mapping</strong> meaning’s ecotone is not just a<br />

site of transition, but to inhabit an ecotone<br />

is to bring toge<strong>the</strong>r competing forces: The<br />

energy of resistance.”<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

from <strong>the</strong> <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong> symposium<br />

held at Lafayette College, 2014<br />

But <strong>the</strong> workshops proved to be only <strong>the</strong><br />

beginning. Participants began to collaborate<br />

to create additional encounters through<br />

exhibitions, symposia, and educational<br />

exchanges. By <strong>the</strong> time of <strong>the</strong> 2016 workshop<br />

on Santa Cruz Island, California, <strong>the</strong> energy<br />

and interest in <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong> had grown<br />

considerably and participants decided to<br />

fur<strong>the</strong>r broaden <strong>the</strong> scope to include more<br />

voices and venues for discussion beyond<br />

what could be accommodated at <strong>the</strong> biennial<br />

workshops. Hence <strong>the</strong> creation of <strong>Mapping</strong><br />

<strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>.<br />

<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>, promotes<br />

conversations that encourage radical<br />

reconsiderations of <strong>the</strong> role that humanity<br />

plays in a more-than-human world. The<br />

<strong>Journal</strong> is a space for unheard voices where<br />

we can explore complexity, creativity, and<br />

connections.<br />

The <strong>Journal</strong> will be published two times per<br />

year. Each issue will be curated and edited<br />

by members of <strong>the</strong> founding editorial board,<br />

at times with outside collaborators, and will<br />

focus on a <strong>the</strong>me or question of interest<br />

to <strong>the</strong> editors. Solicitations are open to<br />

everyone.<br />

We look forward to broadening <strong>the</strong><br />

conversation. Diversity of perspectives<br />

through disciplinary knowledge and lived<br />

experience is part of <strong>the</strong> core values of this<br />

collaborative enterprise/project. We want<br />

to include <strong>the</strong> many people who are deeply<br />

committed to staying present, questioning<br />

and resisting <strong>the</strong> erasure which threatens<br />

us through <strong>the</strong> simplification of our physical,<br />

social and spiritual worlds. We want to resituate<br />

humans in a more-than-human world<br />

governed by ecological processes and finite<br />

limits.<br />

Our journal launch coincides with <strong>the</strong> 100-<br />

year anniversary of <strong>the</strong> 1918 all-female<br />

survey photo. It is sometimes surprising what<br />

one image can inspire.<br />

Sincerely,<br />

Krista, Sylvia and <strong>the</strong> editorial board<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, The <strong>Journal</strong><br />

Introduction<br />

<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong><br />

Video Archive<br />

vimeo.com/131539743<br />

10 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, The <strong>Journal</strong><br />

Introduction<br />

Founding<br />

Editorial Board<br />

Melanie Armstrong<br />

Krista Caballero<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

Sarah Kanouse<br />

Vasia Markides<br />

Jennifer Richter<br />

Carmina Sánchez-del-Valle<br />

Karina Aguilera Skvirsky<br />

Sree Sinha<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

Sylvia Torti<br />

Linda Wiener<br />

Toni Wynn<br />

The Honors College at <strong>the</strong><br />

University of Utah serves as<br />

<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>’s<br />

partner and initial fiscal sponsor.<br />

Consistent with <strong>Mapping</strong><br />

<strong>Meaning</strong>’s mentorship mission,<br />

<strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong> is committed to<br />

publishing at least one University<br />

of Utah Honors student per issue.<br />

Managing Editor: Sylvia Torti<br />

Artistic Director: Krista Caballero<br />

Visual Designer: Aliza Jensen<br />

<strong>Issue</strong>’s Editors: Krista Caballero and Sylvia Torti<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Introduction to<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />

Krista Caballero and Sylvia Torti<br />

Welcome to <strong>the</strong> inaugural issue of <strong>Mapping</strong><br />

<strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>. In this first issue, we have<br />

mirrored <strong>the</strong> first <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong> workshop<br />

(2010), which was wildly experimental, multigenerational,<br />

and free formed.<br />

Similar to <strong>the</strong> pilot workshop, this first issue, is<br />

grounded in <strong>the</strong> conceptual and philosophical<br />

work of Felix Guattari (1930-1992). In The<br />

Three Ecologies, Guattari discussed <strong>the</strong> need<br />

to integrate social and mental ecology into<br />

conversations and conceptions of our physical,<br />

ecological world. He wrote, “What I am arguing<br />

is simply that we should use our expanded<br />

understanding of <strong>the</strong> whole range of<br />

ecological components to set in place new<br />

systems of value.”<br />

Essentially, Guattari was arguing that we<br />

must address all “three ecological registers”<br />

and consider <strong>the</strong>m equal partners in <strong>the</strong><br />

conversation, in order to adequately address<br />

<strong>the</strong> many ecological, social or psychological<br />

issues that face us as individuals and as a<br />

society. At <strong>the</strong> core Guattari was linking <strong>the</strong><br />

crisis of <strong>the</strong> environment with <strong>the</strong> crisis<br />

present in social relationships and what he<br />

saw as a passive, infantile human subjectivity.<br />

12 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

<strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, The <strong>Journal</strong><br />

Introduction<br />

Guattari argues that what is needed is an<br />

ethico-aes<strong>the</strong>tic approach. He writes,<br />

“For its part, mental ecosophy will lead us<br />

to reinvent <strong>the</strong> relation of <strong>the</strong> subject to<br />

<strong>the</strong> body, to phantasm, to <strong>the</strong> passage of<br />

time, to <strong>the</strong> ‘myseteries’ of life and death.<br />

It will lead us to search for antidotes to<br />

mass-media and telematics standardization,<br />

<strong>the</strong> conformism of fashion, <strong>the</strong> manipulation<br />

of opinion by advertising, surveys, etc. Its<br />

ways of operating will be more like those of<br />

an artist.”<br />

In this spirit, our first issue encompasses a<br />

wide-range of perspectives on mental, social<br />

and environmental ecology from <strong>the</strong> arts,<br />

humanities, and sciences. Look closely and<br />

you’ll find tension between <strong>the</strong> gorgeous<br />

renderings of European honey bees by<br />

Rebecca Clark and <strong>the</strong> piece bombus love by<br />

Erin Halcomb. There are historical erasures<br />

made apparent in both Lynn Kilpatrick’s<br />

piece and that of Jeremy Dennis. <strong>No</strong>tice<br />

<strong>the</strong> collaborative piece by mo<strong>the</strong>r and<br />

daughter, Toni Wynn and Rae Wynn-Grant,<br />

that discusses <strong>the</strong> complexities of navigating<br />

through environments in terms of identity,<br />

social justice, species-centricity and “sea<br />

change.” And, exciting are <strong>the</strong> pieces written<br />

by young scholars—Brooke Larsen, Weston<br />

Wood and Clark Nielsen on <strong>the</strong> interactions<br />

between <strong>the</strong>ir internal ecological selves and<br />

that of <strong>the</strong> world in which <strong>the</strong>y are becoming<br />

adults. We hope this issue introduces you<br />

to new practitioners and allows you to rethink<br />

<strong>the</strong> values, privileges, and positions<br />

we inhabit while celebrating <strong>the</strong> aes<strong>the</strong>tic<br />

beauty of visual art and lyrical writing.<br />

Future issues of <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong><br />

will be more specific, taking up particular<br />

issues or <strong>the</strong>mes and will be edited by<br />

different teams of women curating each<br />

issue. All issues will include <strong>the</strong> broadest<br />

possible calls for submission; taking<br />

divergent approaches in order to examine<br />

<strong>the</strong> complexities of how we engage our<br />

environments and <strong>the</strong> resulting social,<br />

political and ecological implications of how<br />

one constructs meaning.<br />

Reference<br />

Social<br />

Guattari, F. (2008). The three ecologies (Continuum impacts).<br />

London: Continuum.<br />

Ecology<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 13

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

14 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Left | Rebecca Clark<br />

Bee 20 (The Real Work) Detail<br />

Graphite on paper<br />

30” x 22”, 2011<br />

Rebecca Clark is an American artist who works<br />

primarily in pencil on paper. She received her<br />

BA in Art History from Swarthmore College and<br />

studied painting and drawing at <strong>the</strong> Maryland<br />

Institute College of Art and at <strong>the</strong> Corcoran<br />

College of Art + Design.<br />

She has exhibited in numerous venues,<br />

including: Sam Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, CA;<br />

Hillyer Art Space, Washington, DC; Arlington Arts<br />

Center, VA; The Arsenal, New York, NY; Academy<br />

Art Museum, Easton, MD; Gertrude Herbert<br />

Institute of Art, Augusta, GA; and The Old Sorting<br />

Office, London, UK.<br />

Her work has been featured in publications<br />

such as: Alterity <strong>Journal</strong> (Centre for Alterity<br />

Studies), Zoomorphic, Elementum <strong>Journal</strong>,<br />

Works and Conversations, Dark Mountain,<br />

EarthLines, Orion Magazine, and The Learned<br />

Pig and was selected for <strong>the</strong> award-winning<br />

INDA 8, Manifest Gallery’s 2014 International<br />

Drawing Annual. Her drawings have also served<br />

as illustrations for poetry chapbooks published<br />

by Corbel Stone Press (Cumbria, UK) and Tavern<br />

Books (Portland, OR).<br />

rebeccaclarkart.com<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Statement<br />

I make drawings of <strong>the</strong> natural world,<br />

transient moments of grace and beauty<br />

in an age of disappearance. Inspired by<br />

plant and animal studies of <strong>the</strong> <strong>No</strong>r<strong>the</strong>rn<br />

Renaissance, Ne<strong>the</strong>rlandish devotional<br />

panel paintings, and nature mysticism<br />

as expressed through various forms<br />

of art, music, poetry and prose, my art<br />

acknowledges interconnectedness in<br />

nature and our loss of connection with<br />

<strong>the</strong> sacred.<br />

Our planet is broken because we’ve lost<br />

relationship with <strong>the</strong> earth, with our soul.<br />

My drawings serve as more than intimate<br />

portraits; <strong>the</strong>y are testaments to lives<br />

lived. They are memento mori, reminders<br />

in this age of ecocide that humans cannot<br />

live detached from nature. May <strong>the</strong>se<br />

quiet drawings remind us of our place on<br />

this planet and awaken our consciousness<br />

to <strong>the</strong> cosmos of which we are a part.<br />

Rebecca Clark’s work can be seen<br />

throughout this issue.<br />

16 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Rebecca Clark Bee 7 (Sway) Detail, graphite on paper, 30” x 22”<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Idaho Triptych<br />

Lynn Kilpatrick<br />

Lynn Kilpatrick grew up in Iowa and Idaho, <strong>the</strong>n<br />

moved to <strong>the</strong> Pacific <strong>No</strong>rthwest. She earned her<br />

MA in English from Western Washington University<br />

and her PhD in Fiction from <strong>the</strong> University of<br />

Utah. Her collection of stories, In <strong>the</strong> House,<br />

was published by FC2 (U of Alabama Press) in<br />

2010. Her essays have appeared in Creative<br />

<strong>No</strong>nfiction, Ninth Letter, and Brevity. She has lived<br />

in Salt Lake City for almost twenty years, with her<br />

husband. She teaches at Salt Lake Community<br />

College. She has one son, and a dog named Gus.<br />

Mental<br />

Ecology<br />

18 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Idaho Triptych<br />

Lynn Kilpatrick<br />

Fort Hall<br />

“Much confusion arises as to <strong>the</strong> exact<br />

site of Fort Hall...a number of places in<br />

<strong>the</strong> vicinity of <strong>the</strong> original old 1834 Fort<br />

Hall were designated by <strong>the</strong> same name.<br />

There have been at least four spots called<br />

‘Fort Hall’.”<br />

Thomas Payne West, 1924<br />

The nearby town is also known as Fort Hall.<br />

Today, Fort Hall includes a casino and hotel.<br />

The replica of Fort Hall is not in <strong>the</strong> same<br />

location as <strong>the</strong> original Fort Hall. The<br />

location of <strong>the</strong> original Fort Hall is lost to<br />

history, and is believed at this time to be<br />

under water.<br />

Fort Hall was <strong>the</strong> name given to <strong>the</strong> original<br />

trading post built by Nathaniel Wyeth<br />

in 1834. The area in which it is believed<br />

that <strong>the</strong> original Fort Hall was built had<br />

been known as “The Bottoms,” a popular<br />

ga<strong>the</strong>ring place for Native Americans in <strong>the</strong><br />

region. Fort Hall was located in a bend of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Snake River near <strong>the</strong> junctions of <strong>the</strong><br />

Blackfoot and Portneuf Rivers.<br />

Fort Hall was <strong>the</strong> name given to a stage<br />

station built near <strong>the</strong> original site in 1864.<br />

This replica, built in Pocatello, is based on<br />

<strong>the</strong> plan of <strong>the</strong> original trading post.<br />

For a time, <strong>the</strong> Fort Hall replica contained<br />

a multi-paneled illustration explaining <strong>the</strong><br />

Christian elements of <strong>the</strong> Sun Dance.<br />

The dance takes place around a tree meant<br />

to represent <strong>the</strong> Sun or an absent God with<br />

twelve poles radiating out from this center<br />

that have been said to represent <strong>the</strong> Twelve<br />

Apostles.<br />

Fort Hall was <strong>the</strong> name given to a<br />

reservation established in 1867. The<br />

Shoshoni and Bannock tribes were forced<br />

onto this reservation through a series of<br />

massacres, attacks, and treaties.<br />

This exhibit no longer exists.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Idaho Triptych<br />

Lynn Kilpatrick<br />

Invasive Species: Russian Olive<br />

The Russian Olive Tree, Elaeagnus angustifolia,<br />

is native to Western Asia. The exact date of<br />

introduction to Idaho is not known, but is<br />

estimated to be in <strong>the</strong> 1800s. Their bark is<br />

silvery, but can be thorny. Leaves are light<br />

green and oblong. In May and June, yellow<br />

flowers are seen. Russian Olives were planted<br />

by farmers as windbreaks along roads and<br />

streams. This tree is resistant to harsh<br />

conditions. It is able to thrive on little water<br />

and in sandy soil. The seeds, distributed<br />

by birds, are resilient. The Russian Olive<br />

is said to have “escaped cultivation” and<br />

become naturalized. It dominates streamside<br />

ecology and has facilitated <strong>the</strong> rise of<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r non-native species. It is considered a<br />

noxious weed. Many believe <strong>the</strong> dominance<br />

of <strong>the</strong> Russian Olive has contributed to <strong>the</strong><br />

disappearance of native species.<br />

20 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Idaho Triptych<br />

Lynn Kilpatrick<br />

Something about Idaho<br />

Something about driving into <strong>the</strong> brown,<br />

back in, <strong>the</strong> winding blacktop, fields, <strong>the</strong> sky<br />

like a gaping mouth.<br />

Something about driving, driving, driving, <strong>the</strong><br />

road is narrow, and so few cars. Something<br />

about <strong>the</strong> alfalfa fields, <strong>the</strong> green, <strong>the</strong> blue.<br />

The word home isn’t quite right.<br />

You step to <strong>the</strong> right, to <strong>the</strong> left, to <strong>the</strong><br />

center. Turn your back on <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>rs. Yes,<br />

this is familiar. This is where it starts, in a<br />

gym, your back turned to everyone else.<br />

Facing out.<br />

Something about streets, pavement, leading<br />

out, and <strong>the</strong>n <strong>the</strong> brown which goes fur<strong>the</strong>r,<br />

fur<strong>the</strong>r than you can walk, your legs are<br />

tired, you have to stop for a drink. The hills<br />

keep going.<br />

He takes your hand and you hop in unison<br />

and this is a dance too, but everyone is<br />

connected, snaking in a line and <strong>the</strong> music<br />

tells you what to do, and you turn in toward<br />

<strong>the</strong> circle, everyone is looking at you, and<br />

<strong>the</strong>y smile.<br />

Something about how <strong>the</strong> landscape<br />

embraces you, tightens your heart like a<br />

sorrow, an idea, constricting, a cloud swept<br />

into view. <strong>No</strong> rain, only <strong>the</strong> idea of rain, only<br />

<strong>the</strong> memories like an outstretched hand, a<br />

song, beckoning, a man’s voice, calling you<br />

from across a great, dark plain.<br />

Something about <strong>the</strong> river and <strong>the</strong> quiet<br />

and <strong>the</strong> echo of a now dead scream and <strong>the</strong><br />

green, <strong>the</strong> green and you can see why, yes.<br />

Something about <strong>the</strong> houses, stacked like<br />

blocks up <strong>the</strong> side of <strong>the</strong> hillside. Ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

house, ano<strong>the</strong>r house.<br />

Something about <strong>the</strong> way space used to be<br />

open and <strong>the</strong> brown everywhere and now<br />

you cannot see <strong>the</strong> top of <strong>the</strong> hill.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


On This Site<br />

Jeremy Dennis<br />

22 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

On This Site<br />

Jeremy Dennis<br />

Left | Manitou Hill, Plainsview NY<br />

Manitou Hill is a sacred hill located<br />

on what is now known as Manetto<br />

Hill in Plainview, New York. An oral<br />

story, recorded by historian Gabriel<br />

Furman in 1874, describes a legend<br />

during a great drought. The Manitou<br />

instructs a sachem through a dream<br />

to stand at <strong>the</strong> top of Manetto Hill<br />

and fire an arrow into <strong>the</strong> air, and<br />

on <strong>the</strong> spot where <strong>the</strong> arrow lands,<br />

people should dig until <strong>the</strong>y find<br />

water. The water spring that was<br />

found, called Mascopas, is now<br />

beneath a local high school athletic<br />

field. Manitou is known in traditional<br />

systems as <strong>the</strong> powerful and unseen<br />

power throughout <strong>the</strong> universe,<br />

being present during moments of<br />

<strong>the</strong> miraculous and mysterious.<br />

On This Site is an art-based research project<br />

by Shinnecock Nation tribe member and<br />

artist Jeremy Dennis intended to preserve<br />

and create awareness of sacred, culturally<br />

significant, and historical Native American<br />

landscapes on Long Island, New York. Native<br />

people existed throughout Long Island for<br />

more than ten thousand years. We are still<br />

present here today, and we will continue to<br />

be here. While historical sites remain, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

have been made invisible by colonial forces.<br />

Photography, as an entry point to history,<br />

invites curiosity. Both indigenous and nonindigenous<br />

viewers will likely be unfamiliar<br />

with both <strong>the</strong> landscapes and histories<br />

associated with each site documented in<br />

On This Site.<br />

Through curiosity about my own origin and<br />

ancestral history, I ga<strong>the</strong>red and combined<br />

archaeological, anthropological, historical,<br />

and oral stories to answer essential culturaldefining<br />

questions: Where did my ancestors<br />

live? Why did <strong>the</strong>y choose <strong>the</strong>se places?<br />

What happened to <strong>the</strong>m over time? Do <strong>the</strong>se<br />

places still exist?<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


On This Site<br />

Jeremy Dennis<br />

The work seeks to make <strong>the</strong> invisible, visible.<br />

To provide a way to reconnect memory<br />

and place, creating a new opportunity for<br />

self and communal reflection upon our<br />

assumptions and stereotypes regarding<br />

indigenous and colonial shared history on<br />

Long Island. I hope <strong>the</strong> project promotes<br />

communal awareness and cultural<br />

enlightenment and will lead to cultural<br />

critique, historical inquiry, and educational<br />

development.<br />

Tribe Communities Today<br />

Out of <strong>the</strong> thirteen original tribes on Long<br />

Island that occupied distinct territories, only<br />

two nations now hold reservation land; <strong>the</strong><br />

Unkechaug and <strong>the</strong> Shinnecock. According<br />

to <strong>the</strong> 2010 census, 22% of Native Americans<br />

live on reservation land nationwide.<br />

Besides Unkechaug and Shinnecock,<br />

descendants of o<strong>the</strong>r tribe groups also live<br />

in scattered communities throughout Long<br />

Island. They work locally and around <strong>the</strong><br />

world. For example, in Little Neck, <strong>the</strong>re is a<br />

community of Matinecock; throughout Long<br />

Island are Montaukett descendants. And in<br />

<strong>the</strong> Setauket area, <strong>the</strong>re is a community of<br />

Setalcott tribal descendants.<br />

Descendants of <strong>the</strong>se tribal groups on<br />

Long Island maintain a link to <strong>the</strong> past<br />

through family lineage and <strong>the</strong> practice of<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir traditional culture with unique social<br />

ga<strong>the</strong>rings and historical preservation. In<br />

addition to sharing place-based indigenous<br />

culture and history, <strong>the</strong> protection of <strong>the</strong><br />

sites in this project is an important priority<br />

from a spiritual, environmental, and<br />

archaeological perspective.<br />

24 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

On This Site<br />

Jeremy Dennis<br />

Kitchaminchok Mastic NY<br />

Kitchaminchok is a sacred<br />

place to <strong>the</strong> Unkechaug<br />

people, known for its<br />

drift whaling. Historically,<br />

it is part of a boundary<br />

marker mentioned in a<br />

17th century agreement<br />

between Sachem<br />

Wyandanch and Lion<br />

Gardiner that permitted<br />

Gardiner to pay five<br />

pounds (potentially eight<br />

hundred pounds today)<br />

for every complete whale<br />

carcass that came ashore.<br />

Once a site is destroyed, it is lost forever.<br />

This project shares <strong>the</strong> unfortunate<br />

desecrations of Sugar Loaf Hill,<br />

Wegwagonock, and o<strong>the</strong>rs. These sites are<br />

within and near <strong>the</strong> affluent estates of “The<br />

Hamptons,” and are often overlooked for<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir historical and cultural significance<br />

by <strong>the</strong> weekend home inhabitants and<br />

vacationers who come and go.<br />

Although Long Island’s archaeological sites<br />

are unlike <strong>the</strong> western archaeological sites<br />

widely recognized and seen in popular<br />

culture, <strong>the</strong>y maintain <strong>the</strong> same reverence<br />

and academic value.<br />

Combining <strong>the</strong> fragility and ambiguity<br />

in recognizing Long Island’s indigenous<br />

archaeological landscapes, photography<br />

allows for <strong>the</strong> acknowledgement of <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

histories without putting <strong>the</strong>m in physical<br />

danger.<br />

The ambitious goal of this project is to<br />

document and represent all significant<br />

indigenous sites on Long Island for <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

physical and memorial preservation.<br />

The images chosen for this journal<br />

represent a handful of those that have been<br />

researched and photographed, largely on<br />

<strong>the</strong> Eastern End of Long Island in Suffolk<br />

County. For updates, corrections, and<br />

new photographs, please view <strong>the</strong> project<br />

website, which features an interactive map<br />

of <strong>the</strong> site locations at:<br />

jeremynative.com/onthissite/<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


On This Site<br />

Jeremy Dennis<br />

Council Rock, Montauk NY Situated on a bluff just west of Montauk<br />

Manor, <strong>the</strong> 30-acre cemetery overlooks Fort Pond and <strong>the</strong> Atlantic<br />

Ocean. Once a Montauk Indian fortification, it was <strong>the</strong> site of <strong>the</strong> tribe's<br />

crushing defeat by <strong>the</strong> Narragansetts in 1654. It was already <strong>the</strong> burial<br />

ground for hundreds of Montauks when <strong>the</strong> Smithsonian Institution<br />

shipped <strong>the</strong> bones of two Montauks to Fort Hill for burial last year. The<br />

large boulder in <strong>the</strong> center of <strong>the</strong> cemetery's driveway was known as<br />

council rock, where <strong>the</strong> tribe held meetings and ceremonies.<br />

Fowler House, East Hampton NY The Fowler House was moved from Indian Field in Montauk to <strong>the</strong> area <strong>the</strong>n known as<br />

Freetown in East Hampton. During <strong>the</strong> late 19th century, Arthur Benson, who owned and developed much of Montauk, offered<br />

deeds to plots of land in Freetown to Montauketts Indians who still lived in Indian Fields to entice <strong>the</strong>m to vacate <strong>the</strong>ir traditional<br />

tribal lands. The saltbox-style house, now owned by East Hampton Town, once belonged to Montaukett Indian George Lewis<br />

Fowler and his wife, Sarah Melissa Horton. George Fowler worked as a gondolier and gardener for <strong>the</strong> artist Thomas Moran,<br />

whose Main Street, East Hampton house and studio, a national historic landmark, is being restored. Fowler was also a caretaker<br />

at Home, Sweet Home. Freetown received its name as because former slaves of wealthy local families settled it. The Fowler House<br />

is <strong>the</strong> only one that remains. The house was moved to Freetown around 1890 from Indian Fields and “is possibly one of <strong>the</strong> most<br />

historically significant structures in <strong>the</strong> Town of East Hampton,” according to town documents. Freetown is now gone, but <strong>the</strong><br />

Fowler house is undergoing restoration in <strong>the</strong> historic district of East Hampton.<br />

26 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

On This Site<br />

Jeremy Dennis<br />

Fort Massapequa, Massapequa NY The Massapequa tribe had its principal settlement at Fort Neck, in South Oyster Bay, and<br />

extended eastward to <strong>the</strong> bounds of Islip and north to <strong>the</strong> middle of <strong>the</strong> island. Here were two Indian forts, <strong>the</strong> larger of which<br />

was stormed and massacred by Captain John Underhill, in <strong>the</strong> service of <strong>the</strong> Dutch, in 1653. The remains of <strong>the</strong> fort have been<br />

encroached upon and covered by <strong>the</strong> waters of <strong>the</strong> Great South Bay. Tackapousha was sachem of this tribe in 1656; also chief<br />

sachem of <strong>the</strong> western chieftaincies of <strong>the</strong> island, after <strong>the</strong> division between <strong>the</strong> Dutch and <strong>the</strong> English.<br />

See more at jeremynative.com/onthissite<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

28 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Bee 4 (Look)<br />

Graphite on paper,<br />

6” x 7 1/2”, 2009<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


The Breath Camera: a prototype for anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

30 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

The Breath Camera:<br />

a prototype for<br />

anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

Left | Figure 1<br />

2016 Burned Landscape,<br />

Oregon Desert Trail BLM<br />

Lands, USA (with Krista<br />

Caballero). Photographic<br />

documentation.<br />

I am an artist and anthropologist with an<br />

interdisciplinary PhD from University of<br />

Victoria, Canada. Over <strong>the</strong> past 15 years I have<br />

explored relationships between photography as<br />

object, image and event, through installation,<br />

performance, and in academic research and<br />

writing. My artistic and academic practices<br />

are platforms to address <strong>the</strong> significance<br />

of photography by breaking it down to its<br />

fundamental properties in order to propose new<br />

forms of collectivity. My work considers <strong>the</strong> way<br />

that places like National Parks are maintained<br />

through photography; <strong>the</strong> relationships between<br />

archives and photography; and <strong>the</strong> structure<br />

of artworlds as a complex of people, funding,<br />

studios and materials. My writing and photoessay<br />

work has been published in journals such<br />

as Cultural Anthropology, Visual Anthropology<br />

and Imaginations <strong>Journal</strong>. My artworks have<br />

been installed in place-specific locations across<br />

<strong>No</strong>rth America and in venues such as Open Space<br />

Gallery, The Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Alberta Art Gallery, and<br />

Arts Incubator. I am currently artist-in-residence<br />

in <strong>the</strong> Making Culture Lab at SFU investigating <strong>the</strong><br />

role of <strong>the</strong> anarchival materiality within archives.<br />

trudilynnsmith.com<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


The Breath Camera: a prototype for anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

The Breath Camera mixes <strong>the</strong> fleshy with<br />

<strong>the</strong> fleeting. It is a wearable form made<br />

to expand on capacities for noticing while<br />

immersed in/as camera. Bellows removed<br />

from a 4x5 large-format view camera<br />

were modified and attached to a soft front<br />

standard with simple lenses and a soft back<br />

standard holds a viewing screen. Users<br />

shroud <strong>the</strong>mselves in a long 1 x 4 metre<br />

darkcloth and supports <strong>the</strong> camera in <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

hands. Controlling <strong>the</strong> flexible bellows, air<br />

circulates through <strong>the</strong> camera, and images<br />

slip in and out of focus.<br />

In/As <strong>the</strong> Breath Camera, immersion<br />

under <strong>the</strong> darkcloth and <strong>the</strong> motion of <strong>the</strong><br />

bellows work toge<strong>the</strong>r as a reminder of<br />

ongoing movement of <strong>the</strong> breathing body<br />

and more-than human world. The Breath<br />

Camera cycles: a fluctuating field firms up<br />

(contracting) and drifts (expanding).<br />

Breathing is a process of expansion and of<br />

contraction, breathing provides an important<br />

base for speech, song, laughter, yawning,<br />

coughing, sneezing, and panting. Difficulty<br />

breathing can be an indicator of stress<br />

and disease.<br />

The camera invites embodied<br />

experimentation with <strong>the</strong> foundational<br />

properties of photography: lenses, light,<br />

and images, while immersed in <strong>the</strong> ongoing<br />

movement of embodied experience out of<br />

which still shots are extrapolated as events.<br />

The camera can be experienced individually<br />

Figure 2 2016 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>. Santa Cruz National Preserve, USA. Photographic documentation.<br />

32 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

The Breath Camera: a prototype for anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

Figure 3 2016 Breaking Timothy O’Sullivan’s (1868) archive. City of Rocks National Preserve, USA (with Krista Caballero)<br />

Photographic documentation.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


The Breath Camera: a prototype for anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

Working <strong>the</strong> breath<br />

camera, <strong>the</strong> user’s cycle<br />

of breath participates<br />

in <strong>the</strong> unarchivable<br />

experience of <strong>the</strong> world<br />

and provides a setting<br />

for noticing multiple<br />

agencies and timescales.<br />

34 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

The Breath Camera: a prototype for anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

Left | Figure 4<br />

2016 Breaking Timothy<br />

O’Sullivan’s (1868)<br />

archive. City of Rocks<br />

National Preserve, USA<br />

(with Krista Caballero)<br />

Photographic<br />

documentation.<br />

Following | Figure 5<br />

2016 Breaking Timothy<br />

O’Sullivan’s (1868)<br />

archive Part 2/<br />

Chrono-intermingling<br />

City of Rocks National<br />

Preserve, USA<br />

(with Krista Caballero)<br />

Photographic<br />

documentation.<br />

and collectively. Working <strong>the</strong> breath camera,<br />

<strong>the</strong> user’s cycle of breath participates in<br />

<strong>the</strong> unarchivable experience of <strong>the</strong> world<br />

and provides a setting for noticing multiple<br />

agencies and timescales.<br />

The misuse of cultural forms such as cameras<br />

and building divergent practices are central<br />

to my work with photography. <strong>No</strong>rmally in<br />

photography, a button is pushed and light<br />

rays are converted to numbers or patterns of<br />

light and dark. Cameras record information<br />

and in doing so, propose to arrest time.<br />

The Breath Camera is an intervention into<br />

<strong>the</strong>se habits, and is rooted in divergent<br />

relations with cameras, in creating forms<br />

that unfix images as a form of noticing. The<br />

breath camera severs relations with <strong>the</strong><br />

fixed image (and object) to address ongoing<br />

violences and injustices that fixed images can<br />

contribute to in <strong>No</strong>rth America.<br />

The Breath Camera is an anticapitalist<br />

camera. Anticapitalist cameras are not<br />

governed by corporate logics, profit,<br />

dominant systems or capitalist worlds. They<br />

oppose <strong>the</strong> hold that corporations have over<br />

photography and cameras, and challenge<br />

<strong>the</strong> idea that relations between humans and<br />

photography began with <strong>the</strong> “invention” of<br />

fixed images 200 years ago.<br />

The Breath Camera is rooted in divergent<br />

relations with cameras designed to encounter<br />

difficult conversations about photography,<br />

such as its relationship to extinction, racism,<br />

colonialism, climate change and catastrophe.<br />

The video documentation and images in this<br />

essay document <strong>the</strong> camera — a monstrous<br />

form — intervening into moments at <strong>Mapping</strong><br />

<strong>Meaning</strong> on Santa Cruz Island, experimental<br />

interventions during <strong>the</strong> centenary of parks<br />

and 50-year anniversary of public funding for<br />

<strong>the</strong> arts in <strong>the</strong> USA (with Krista Caballero) and<br />

pedagogical experimentation at University<br />

of Maryland.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


The Breath Camera: a prototype for anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

36 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

The Breath Camera: a prototype for anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


The Breath Camera: a prototype for anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

Figure 6 2017 Respiration. Pedagogical experimentation with students at University of Maryland in <strong>the</strong> Design Cultures &<br />

Creativity Program.<br />

Figure 7 Respiration. Pedagogical experimentation<br />

with students at University of Maryland in <strong>the</strong> Design<br />

Cultures & Creativity Program.<br />

Figure 8 Respiration. Pedagogical experimentation<br />

with students at University of Maryland in <strong>the</strong> Design<br />

Cultures & Creativity Program.<br />

38 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

The Breath Camera: a prototype for anticapitalist photography<br />

Trudi Lynn Smith<br />

Figure 9 2016 Video Documentation, Breaking Timothy O’Sullivan’s (1868)<br />

archive Part 2/Chrono-intermingling. City of Rocks National Preserve, USA<br />

(with Krista Caballero),<br />

https://vimeo.com/251201707<br />

Figure 10 2016 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>. Santa Cruz National Preserve, USA. Photographic documentation by Krista Caballero.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


David Foster Wallace,<br />

F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless,<br />

postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

Clark Nielson is a third-year student in <strong>the</strong> Honors<br />

College at <strong>the</strong> University of Utah, majoring in<br />

Materials Science & Engineering. He thanks Dr.<br />

Andy Hoffman for encouragement, intellectual<br />

direction and input on this paper. In 2017, he<br />

participated in <strong>the</strong> Honors Integrated Minor in<br />

Ecology & Legacy, which was “emphatically <strong>the</strong><br />

most impactful experience of my life thus far. I<br />

am not <strong>the</strong> only student who is less afraid to raise<br />

her hand in class now.” Clark loves to ski and<br />

skateboard, and would like you to know he and<br />

his friends have decided smoking is degenerate<br />

and are quitting. Clark wants to earn a creative<br />

writing minor before he graduates, and hopes to<br />

build skis with his materials science degree.<br />

40 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless, postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

"Whoever gives you pain reminds<br />

you of <strong>the</strong> homage that o<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

used to pay you. But still, you<br />

sob tragically and call upon your<br />

madness, and you would go so far<br />

as to have it removed—this thing,<br />

your last remaining privilege—as<br />

if it were a stone.”<br />

Alejandra Pizarnik, Extracting<br />

<strong>the</strong> Stone of Madness<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless, postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

1<br />

David Foster Wallace once told a reporter,<br />

“look, man, we’d probably most of us agree<br />

that <strong>the</strong>se are dark times, and stupid ones,<br />

but do we need fiction that does nothing but<br />

dramatize how dark and stupid everything<br />

is?” He stood against postmodern media that,<br />

at its most base, turned mass entertainment<br />

vapid, self-referential, and cynical. Wallace’s<br />

confrontationally au<strong>the</strong>ntic writing style<br />

leaves naked <strong>the</strong> tragedy surrounding his<br />

premature death. He never wrote a word<br />

about his own demons; he didn’t need<br />

to. When Wallace wrote of depression,<br />

he did so embarrassingly and knowingly,<br />

acknowledging it as an ultimately selfish<br />

addiction to self-centeredness. Wallace’s<br />

suicide left an unintentional blackness to his<br />

posthumous readers. However, do not add<br />

nihilism and certainly not cynicism to this<br />

equation. Davis Foster Wallace will not<br />

be misunderstood.<br />

limelight in <strong>the</strong> wake of his first novel, This<br />

Side of Paradise. However, his fame did not<br />

last during his lifetime, and Fitzgerald died a<br />

drunken Hollywood scriptwriter, debatably<br />

successful. Edmund Wilson, who outlived and<br />

was close to Fitzgerald thought it “absurd that<br />

his drunken, often silly college friend could<br />

become a dying-and-reviving god.” In this and<br />

similar cases, dying preceded <strong>the</strong> mythicizing<br />

of <strong>the</strong> prematurely deceased artist as a<br />

painfully simplified victim of his time. Think<br />

Shelley. Think Mozart.<br />

In this essay, I review how <strong>the</strong>se two authors<br />

overlap in a postmodern context. I’m<br />

interested in how <strong>the</strong>ir works deal with <strong>the</strong><br />

consequences of losing self to expectation,<br />

ironic living, and <strong>the</strong> inherent restrictions of<br />

thought as a portal to “happy.” I gesticulate<br />

towards <strong>the</strong> degrading and personal<br />

repercussions of irony and cynicism.<br />

2<br />

Wallace’s gift to explicitly depict <strong>the</strong> inner<br />

turmoil of <strong>the</strong> mind hints towards <strong>the</strong><br />

causation of his suicide. His pen could<br />

not keep up with <strong>the</strong> inspiration. The<br />

contradiction of Wallace, that he understood<br />

and could poignantly articulate <strong>the</strong> most<br />

complex failings of human thought while<br />

drowning in his own powerful truisms,<br />

surfaces in his coldly controlled honesty.<br />

Conversely, F. Scott Fitzgerald more directly<br />

inserted his well-publicized personal issues<br />

into <strong>the</strong> stories he composed; stories that<br />

are a perfect model of how fiction should<br />

be written. F. Scott Fitzgerald arrived in <strong>the</strong><br />

My parents turned me onto David Foster<br />

Wallace. We would listen to his tapes on<br />

road trips through <strong>the</strong> desert, and I would<br />

fall asleep with my face against fogging<br />

glass, hearing his voice, complete with <strong>the</strong><br />

footnotes, tell me about lobsters or tennis<br />

or porn. I woke up once to his voice reading<br />

“The View from Mrs. Thompson’s House,” and<br />

this is <strong>the</strong> essay that was my introduction to<br />

<strong>the</strong> terms “postmodern,” and “cynical.” In <strong>the</strong><br />

essay, he writes about <strong>the</strong> shameful thoughts<br />

and <strong>the</strong> guilt <strong>the</strong>se thoughts caused as he<br />

watched <strong>the</strong> twin towers come down again<br />

and again on September 11th, 2001, from <strong>the</strong><br />

living room of his neighbor’s home:<br />

42 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless, postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

There is what would strike many<br />

Americans as a marked, startling lack<br />

of cynicism… nobody’s near hip enough<br />

to lodge <strong>the</strong> sick and obvious po-mo<br />

complaint: We’ve Seen This Before… <strong>the</strong>re<br />

are any number of cynical, detached, and<br />

ironic observations that could be made<br />

about <strong>the</strong> situation unfolding.<br />

These are <strong>the</strong> thoughts that occur to U.S.<br />

Americans at <strong>the</strong> beginning of <strong>the</strong> 21st<br />

century, and <strong>the</strong>y undeniably occur in 2017<br />

as America’s repetitious stream of mass<br />

shootings and terrorism continues. Yes,<br />

we’ve seen it before. At this point in <strong>the</strong><br />

carnage, it would be unfair to say that most<br />

Americans are being hip in <strong>the</strong>ir cynicism.<br />

It seems like cynical justifications are now<br />

required to get through <strong>the</strong> days after a<br />

Sandy Hook or a Vegas.<br />

I remember where I was when I heard<br />

about Vegas. I was checking my phone<br />

when I swiped over and saw <strong>the</strong> news. I<br />

wanted to throw up. The depressing thing<br />

isn’t that I went to school and nobody even<br />

talked about it. Sometimes this is <strong>the</strong> only<br />

response. It’s just that <strong>the</strong> postmodern line<br />

is more resigned now: “Yes, I saw <strong>the</strong> same<br />

news, and it’s going to happen again.”<br />

Wallace ends “The View from Mrs.<br />

Thompson’s House” with an admission<br />

that he has lost his innocence to a worse<br />

god than that of violence or trauma. As<br />

Wallace stands in a prayer circle with <strong>the</strong><br />

type of people most empa<strong>the</strong>tically hurt<br />

by <strong>the</strong> (capital H) Horror, he articulates <strong>the</strong><br />

feeling of shame brought by being a cynic<br />

surrounded by unashamed earnestness: “It’s<br />

good to pray this way. It’s just a bit lonely to<br />

have to. Truly decent, innocent, people can<br />

be taxing to be around.”<br />

3<br />

I skipped all of my commitments for a<br />

few days this past autumn, for a variety of<br />

reasons. Primarily, I was depressed and<br />

didn’t want to go to school with <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r<br />

so romantic. Instead, I pedaled down to <strong>the</strong><br />

graveyard on my street, which overlooks <strong>the</strong><br />

city, and read a bunch of Fitzgerald short<br />

stories in <strong>the</strong> sun while chain-smoking.<br />

Naturally. Fitzgerald fit <strong>the</strong> wea<strong>the</strong>r, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> gloom.<br />

Throughout all of Fitzgerald’s writing <strong>the</strong>re<br />

exists this haunting atmospheric sense of<br />

immediate, looming decay in <strong>the</strong> midst of<br />

relentless beauty. Beauty always fades.<br />

Beauty begs an answer for <strong>the</strong> value of<br />

what cannot be kept. Fitzgerald’s characters<br />

fumble to make sense of <strong>the</strong> ungraspable,<br />

intangible and mockingly transitory<br />

graduations of light into absence. They fail<br />

attempting to preserve <strong>the</strong> now past-tense<br />

present, and in <strong>the</strong>ir grasping, <strong>the</strong>y fall<br />

victim to expectation. Think Gatsby floating<br />

in his pool.<br />

4<br />

In Infinite Jest, Wallace uses <strong>the</strong> only innocent<br />

character in <strong>the</strong> novel, Mario, to present<br />

a contrasting voice among <strong>the</strong> darkly selfaware<br />

students at Enfield Tennis Academy.<br />

Wallace describes Mario as a “cross between<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless, postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

a puppet and one of <strong>the</strong> big-headed<br />

disengages <strong>the</strong> mind from <strong>the</strong> present. Miller<br />

carnivores from Spielberg’s old specialeffects<br />

orgies about reptiles.” Because of or to express earnest emotionality has for<br />

identifies that to admit one’s own neediness<br />

Mario’s literally “reptilian” appearance,<br />

some reason become embarrassing in a<br />

he has no mask to hide behind. Mario’s setting where “humanness” gets laughed<br />

bro<strong>the</strong>r Hal tells us that Mario’s opinion is out of <strong>the</strong> room. Detached heads now<br />

<strong>the</strong> only opinion he is truly afraid of because watch bodies from <strong>the</strong> third person to avoid<br />

Mario’s absolute lack of pretentiousness involvement with <strong>the</strong> often-uncomfortable<br />

gives anything he has to say a painfully<br />

present, and this is irony:<br />

uncomfortable power:<br />

Being ironic, we can point at bodies<br />

The older Mario gets, <strong>the</strong> more confused and laugh without admitting our own<br />

he gets about <strong>the</strong> fact that everyone at<br />

embodiedness. We can treat life itself as<br />

E.T.A. [<strong>the</strong> tennis academy] over <strong>the</strong> age a spectacle staged for our entertainment<br />

of about Kent Blott finds stuff that is<br />

and <strong>the</strong>n roll our eyes when it insists on<br />

really real uncomfortable and <strong>the</strong>y get<br />

being ordinary and user-unfriendly.<br />

embarrassed. It’s like <strong>the</strong>re’s some rule<br />

that real stuff can only get mentioned if This is thinking as an addiction: no longer<br />

everybody rolls <strong>the</strong>ir eyes or laughs in a responding to stimuli but simply analyzing<br />

way that isn’t happy.<br />

from <strong>the</strong> outside. Ironic living results in a<br />

mental state of constantly narrating life<br />

Kent Block is ten years old. Students<br />

in <strong>the</strong> third person. Fictitious. The ironic<br />

become cynical right around <strong>the</strong> age of self lives fully in a state of perception<br />

ten. Mario is apparently unable to detect management. That is, managing and<br />

lies, <strong>the</strong> consequence of his uncorrupted analyzing full-time how <strong>the</strong> self appears to<br />

view of people. But Wallace emphasizes o<strong>the</strong>r bodies.<br />

that nobody thinks Mario is unintelligent.<br />

Mario’s naivety is a suggestion that <strong>the</strong> cold Ironic selves do not actually participate in<br />

intellectualism of postmodernism keeps life and circumstance; <strong>the</strong>y rarely dance.<br />

people from confronting <strong>the</strong> real. A constant Imagine dancing with someone at prom or<br />

need for entertainment facilitates this<br />

some o<strong>the</strong>r equally strange event. They are<br />

distracted avoidance.<br />

far better looking than you, and definitely<br />

and emphatically don’t purposely want to<br />

5<br />

be dancing with you. They roll <strong>the</strong>ir eyes.<br />

They would ra<strong>the</strong>r be anywhere than dancing<br />

In his book, The Gospel According to David with you in this precise moment. This is<br />

Environmental<br />

Foster Wallace, Adam S. Miller argues that dancing with irony: avoiding <strong>the</strong> awkward,<br />

a postmodern need for distraction alters sweaty, real parts of life from beneath an<br />

our very thinking patterns in a way that inhuman mask.<br />

Ecology<br />

44 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless, postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

6<br />

In Fitzgerald’s, This Side of Paradise,<br />

Monsignor Darcy explains <strong>the</strong> difference<br />

between a personality and personage to<br />

<strong>the</strong> protagonist Amory. Personalities serve<br />

as facades that “lower <strong>the</strong> people <strong>the</strong>y act<br />

on.” A personality is a pretense that covers<br />

<strong>the</strong> nakedness of a personage, or what a<br />

person actually is. A personage “ga<strong>the</strong>rs” and<br />

is never “thought of apart from what he’s<br />

done.”<br />

The lies <strong>the</strong> mind tells itself about its<br />

personality (or its actual self if you will),<br />

draws <strong>the</strong> caricature person, which <strong>the</strong><br />

ironic self insists on being. This conceptual<br />

definition of body, and self, measures <strong>the</strong><br />

displacement between where <strong>the</strong> body is,<br />

and where <strong>the</strong> mind abstractly exists. As<br />

Don Draper puts it in <strong>the</strong> show Mad Men,<br />

“We make people who we want <strong>the</strong>m to be.”<br />

And, I hear Alejandra Pizarnik call out, dead,<br />

from below <strong>the</strong> ground: “There I am, drunk<br />

on a thousand deaths, telling myself about<br />

me.” We stay stuck in our minds, dead, telling<br />

ourselves about ourselves upon a foundation<br />

of avoidant lies. Irony is that disconnected<br />

mind watching that caricature body have<br />

sex, sweat at a party, stare at a television set.<br />

Never fully participating in <strong>the</strong> event. This is<br />

self-voyeurism in <strong>the</strong> creepiest sense of <strong>the</strong><br />

word. The boring, embarrassingly human<br />

aspects of life that this personality must<br />

avoid, may measure this distance. Ultimately,<br />

this insidious denial of self adds up. A tab<br />

will be paid if one chooses to face down <strong>the</strong><br />

inherent fluorescence of existence. This will<br />

be uncomfortable. But if successful, <strong>the</strong> world<br />

might again take on that tangible, malleable<br />

and manageable quality of childhood.<br />

7<br />

I am being nudged awake. It is 7 a.m. It<br />

is time to go skateboarding. Someone is<br />

putting a cigarette in my mouth. Eight of us<br />

pile in a white tinted van. Nirvana’s “Rape<br />

Me” plays from a legitimate cassette player<br />

up front. Everyone is pretty hung-over. The<br />

van has actual ashtrays at every seat, so,<br />

cigs inside. My older bro<strong>the</strong>r left a bottle of<br />

amphetamines in <strong>the</strong> car <strong>the</strong> day before, and<br />

<strong>the</strong> bottle gets tossed around <strong>the</strong> van too.<br />

We get to <strong>the</strong> skate park early before <strong>the</strong> gate<br />

is open. Skateboards are thrown over <strong>the</strong><br />

fence, followed by some “fucks” as each of us<br />

crashes down onto <strong>the</strong> lawn. It’s a tall fence.<br />

The pavement at <strong>the</strong> skate park has this<br />

ephemeral, almost intangible, viscous quality<br />

when <strong>the</strong> morning light hits <strong>the</strong> perfectly<br />

smooth cement. Stiff shivering bodies roll<br />

lazily out over <strong>the</strong> playing field. Warming up<br />

before o<strong>the</strong>r skaters show up when <strong>the</strong> park<br />

opens. Someone lights up ano<strong>the</strong>r cigarette,<br />

and like a black hole, <strong>the</strong> orbits of each skater<br />

pull closer and closer until collision.<br />

“That 99% of compulsive thinkers’ thinking is<br />

about <strong>the</strong>mselves,” Wallace tells us, and that<br />

this thinking, this unutterable neurosis of<br />

fictionalized self, simply consists of “scaring<br />

<strong>the</strong> ever living shit out of itself.” Large<br />

portions of Infinite Jest deal with thinking<br />

as an addiction, which is <strong>the</strong> first and only<br />

addiction. If, as Don Draper spits in <strong>the</strong><br />

show Mad Men, “happiness is <strong>the</strong> moment<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless, postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

before you need more happiness,” <strong>the</strong>n<br />

real addiction (physical dependence aside)<br />

occurs when that moment between expected<br />

contentment and relief from, “all <strong>the</strong> pain of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Losses your love of that relief caused,”<br />

shortens, and stems fur<strong>the</strong>r thought past this<br />

immediately pounding and, in every case,<br />

knowingly misled faith that <strong>the</strong>se always<br />

carefully performed rituals can brush off<br />

this unendurable moment until that next<br />

moment. Usually when <strong>the</strong> substance wears<br />

off. Chewing on old memories, overanalyzing<br />

<strong>the</strong> stimuli we receive, and perhaps even<br />

worrying about unchangeable things is<br />

just ano<strong>the</strong>r addiction. Thinking promises<br />

happiness, perhaps, but thoughts don’t<br />

change anything. Willing our world to change<br />

never works. And this process makes us feel<br />

empty, every time.<br />

8<br />

In This is Water, Wallace argues that <strong>the</strong><br />

“banal platitudes” of life carry real life-anddeath<br />

implications: “Think of <strong>the</strong> old cliché́<br />

about ‘<strong>the</strong> mind being an excellent servant<br />

but a terrible master. This, like many clichés,<br />

so lame and unexciting on <strong>the</strong> surface,<br />

actually expresses a great and terrible truth.<br />

It is not <strong>the</strong> least bit coincidental that adults<br />

who commit suicide with firearms almost<br />

always shoot <strong>the</strong>mselves in <strong>the</strong> head.”<br />

David Foster Wallace took his own life in<br />

2008. He did not use a firearm. He did not<br />

shoot himself in <strong>the</strong> head.<br />

Fitzgerald died four days before Christmas in<br />

1944. Few people attended his funeral. Years<br />

of affairs, trips to <strong>the</strong> hospital, car crashes,<br />

and general drunkenness ensured this. It<br />

took time for <strong>the</strong> glorifying of <strong>the</strong> saint to<br />

begin. It was <strong>the</strong>n that Zelda wrote:<br />

I feel that Scott’s greatest contribution was<br />

<strong>the</strong> dramatization of a heart-broken +<br />

despairing era, giving it a new raison-d’être<br />

in <strong>the</strong> sense of tragic courage with<br />

which he endowed it.<br />

“Winter Dreams,” published in 1926 while<br />

Fitzgerald was planning Gatsby, follows an<br />

ambitious boy, Dexter, in his idolatry of a<br />

rich aristocratic woman bred well above his<br />

own breed. The love falters, and <strong>the</strong> boy is<br />

gracelessly disposed of shortly before <strong>the</strong>y<br />

are to be engaged. A year later, a successful<br />

Dexter sits in a high-rise in New York City. A<br />

coworker casually mentions <strong>the</strong> name of his<br />

old lover and rumors of her abuse by her<br />

wealthy husband. And also, how much her<br />

beauty has faded. Something registers in<br />

Dexter. <strong>No</strong>t pangs of regret, but <strong>the</strong> absence<br />

of regret:<br />

He had thought that having nothing else<br />

to lose he was invulnerable at last—but<br />

he knew that he had just lost something<br />

more, as sure as he had married Judy<br />

Jones and seen her fade away before his<br />

eye. The dream was gone. Something had<br />

been taken from him…. For <strong>the</strong> first time<br />

in years he felt <strong>the</strong> tears were streaming<br />

down his face…. He wanted to care, but<br />

he could not care, and <strong>the</strong>re was no<br />

beauty but <strong>the</strong> gray beauty of steel that<br />

withstands all time.<br />

46 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless, postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

“Long ago, <strong>the</strong>re was something in me,” he<br />

said. “That thing will come back no more.”<br />

Dexter mourns <strong>the</strong> loss of <strong>the</strong> ability to<br />

mourn. The loss of innocence that registers<br />

with Wallace in “The View from Mrs.<br />

Thompson’s House.” The golden pedestal,<br />

so carefully crafted by Dexter, collapses<br />

beneath a fictitious love. This love story<br />

echoes Fitzgerald’s own relationship with his<br />

wife Zelda, a legitimate “Sou<strong>the</strong>rn Bell.” Zelda<br />

originally refused to marry <strong>the</strong> middle-class<br />

Fitzgerald. Like Gatsby, Fitzgerald buckled<br />

down and started to win fame and money<br />

with his writing. He won back his girl. Zelda<br />

eventually accepted <strong>the</strong> hand of <strong>the</strong> new and<br />

rising star; queue one of <strong>the</strong> most publicly<br />

distasteful and by all accounts deranged<br />

relationships of <strong>the</strong> 20th century. Fitzgerald<br />

got what he wanted, and was left with <strong>the</strong><br />

glitter:<br />

“Because desire just cheats you. It’s<br />

like a sunbeam skipping here and<br />

<strong>the</strong>re about a room. It stops and gilds<br />

some inconsequential object, and we<br />

poor fools try to grasp it—but when<br />

we do <strong>the</strong> sunbeam moves on to<br />

something else, and you’ve got <strong>the</strong><br />

inconsequential part, but <strong>the</strong> glitter<br />

that made you want it is gone.”<br />

9<br />

My aunt has every edition of <strong>the</strong> Best<br />

American Short Stories, series on a shelf in her<br />

basement. I picked up <strong>the</strong> 1988 edition at<br />

random a few weeks ago. The argumentative<br />

nature of <strong>the</strong> introduction contrasted<br />

<strong>the</strong> often neutral to boring level <strong>the</strong>se<br />

introductions uphold. This introduction,<br />

written by Mark Helprin, startled me in its<br />

relevance three decades later. Helprin attacks<br />

<strong>the</strong> minimalist school of fiction and effectively<br />

paints this enemy as “mice treading through<br />

lion territory” with an “unwillingness to deal<br />

with life o<strong>the</strong>r than obliquely” that is not<br />

subtlety but cowardice. These writers make<br />

an industry of ridicule, he claims, and he asks<br />

of <strong>the</strong>ir characters:<br />

Why do <strong>the</strong>y always live in filthy unkempt<br />

apartments filled with ugly bric-a-brac,<br />

where everyone smokes, drinks, stays up<br />

all night, and is addicted to coffee? Why<br />

do <strong>the</strong>y seem to exist as if <strong>the</strong>re were no<br />

landscape, as if <strong>the</strong>y lived in tunnels? Is<br />

this why <strong>the</strong>y are never sunburned?<br />

F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway<br />

traded correspondence throughout <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

careers. Hemingway adhered to <strong>the</strong> stoically<br />

masculine, “if you can cut a word or phrase,<br />

and still have a story, cut it,” policy that<br />

makes his writing easily recognizable. His<br />

writing is <strong>the</strong> definition of minimalism.<br />

Fitzgerald’s writing is a little less taut.<br />

But Helprin is not referring to Hemingway’s<br />

minimalism in his argument. Fitzgerald and<br />

Hemingway didn’t cut or reduce human<br />

conflicts in <strong>the</strong>ir stories <strong>the</strong> way that<br />

Helprin claims minimalist writing does.<br />

They wore <strong>the</strong>ir sufferings unashamed on<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir sleeves, and never danced around<br />

tragedy. Hemingway’s, Farewell to Arms, and<br />

Fitzgerald’s short stories terminate with a<br />

numbing note of loss after teasing beauty.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless, postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

But at least <strong>the</strong>y have something to say<br />

about <strong>the</strong> human experience, and <strong>the</strong>y don’t<br />

treat life “obliquely.” They do not revert<br />

to cheap nihilism, and <strong>the</strong> bleakness <strong>the</strong>y<br />

arrive at stems from <strong>the</strong> Horrors faced by<br />

<strong>the</strong> lost generation.<br />

of depression among bewildered patrons<br />

who need something more uplifting? When<br />

nothing human is challenged in media, <strong>the</strong><br />

point becomes obscure and consumers find<br />

<strong>the</strong>mselves continually asking, “What <strong>the</strong><br />

hell am I missing?”<br />

Fitzgerald <strong>the</strong>orized and explored <strong>the</strong> idea<br />

that each person has a limited emotional<br />

capacity, which once depleted, leaves a<br />

person unable to feel anything at all. In his<br />

fiction, beautiful girls with social status and<br />

every shallow glamor get everything <strong>the</strong>y<br />

ever asked for and find <strong>the</strong>mselves, like<br />

Daisy, sobbing in a cascade of <strong>the</strong> finest<br />

European shirts, or arrive at a deadening<br />

emotional stasis. But <strong>the</strong> point is that<br />

<strong>the</strong>re is a bloody reason and point to <strong>the</strong><br />

deadening. Gatsby dies with his eyes open.<br />

The next post-war generation bred <strong>the</strong><br />

deadbeats. Jack Kerouac, Hunter S.<br />

Thompson, and William S. Burroughs to<br />

name a few. They faced <strong>the</strong> atom bomb.<br />

Their writings don’t exactly advocate<br />

<strong>the</strong>, “getting fucked up because nothing<br />

matters,” mentality even though at times<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir characters definitely adhere to this line<br />

as <strong>the</strong>y drunkenly flee to <strong>the</strong> ends of <strong>the</strong><br />

continent. The reader can still squeeze light<br />

and character out of <strong>the</strong>ir stories.<br />

Contemporary media, on <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r hand,<br />

relies on a caustic mixture of clever selfreferencing<br />

that makes a cold satire of <strong>the</strong><br />

human emotion. When <strong>the</strong>re is no point<br />

in mass entertainment than to present<br />

nihilistic overtures, what else can be<br />

expected o<strong>the</strong>r than high rates<br />

Don’t worry; <strong>the</strong>re is nothing to miss.<br />

10<br />

Fitzgerald and Wallace showed us precisely<br />

how to be human. Wallace unforgettably<br />

dictated consciousness for <strong>the</strong> world and,<br />

finally, articulated <strong>the</strong> limits of introspection.<br />

Fitzgerald built worlds of impossible<br />

beauty, and <strong>the</strong>n stepped aside to paint <strong>the</strong><br />

collapse. Both suffered from <strong>the</strong> mental<br />

turbulence that accompanies a mind with<br />

something pressingly important to say.<br />

Please, forget <strong>the</strong> noose and <strong>the</strong> belt and<br />

<strong>the</strong> alcoholism. Forget <strong>the</strong>se black stains<br />

for now, however enjoyable you might find<br />

delving into that darkness. Lose <strong>the</strong> image<br />

of Fitzgerald hunched drunkenly over his<br />

typewriter, composing his escape. The<br />

funerals are already crowded with this type.<br />

This is too easy. Act like you don’t have <strong>the</strong><br />

natural desire to know what pushed <strong>the</strong>m<br />

over. And, of course, you want to know<br />

exactly how someone did it, I know. Read<br />

<strong>the</strong> transformational lucidity and crystalline<br />

gorgeousness before rushing in with <strong>the</strong> rest<br />

of <strong>the</strong> eager cluster-fucking necrophiliacs.<br />

11<br />

I, like all contemporary Americans, have<br />

48 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

David Foster Wallace, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and <strong>the</strong><br />

vapidity of <strong>the</strong> bottomless, postmodern machine.<br />

Clark Nielson<br />

seen <strong>the</strong> face of cynicism. Cynicism is sexy.<br />

Cynicism peers out from <strong>the</strong> back seat<br />

of a black Audi, next to <strong>the</strong> hot wife he<br />

probably cheats on. Cynicism convinces<br />

me, sometimes, that since nothing matters,<br />

anything earnest and real can be laughed<br />

at, that I can put on this ironic postmodern<br />

mask and avoid what it means to be a<br />

“fucking human being.” Wallace’s cage<br />

is safe:<br />

“Postmodern irony and cynicism’s<br />

become an end in itself, a measure of<br />

hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few<br />

artists dare to try to talk about ways of<br />

working toward redeeming what’s wrong,<br />

because <strong>the</strong>y’ll look sentimental and naive<br />

to all <strong>the</strong> weary ironists. Irony’s gone from<br />

liberating to enslaving. There’s some great<br />

essay somewhere that has a line about<br />

irony being <strong>the</strong> song of <strong>the</strong> prisoner who’s<br />

come to love his cage.”<br />

Earnestness triggers an undeniable degree<br />

of repulsion to us now. <strong>No</strong>body remains<br />

innocent in this way. We need ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Bradbury. I need Dandelion Wine. I need<br />

some starlit imagination.<br />

And what did we trade our innocence for?<br />

Black humor that can paw lightly over <strong>the</strong><br />

Horrors when <strong>the</strong>y occur, as if <strong>the</strong>y too,<br />

don’t mean anything? And when <strong>the</strong> ironic<br />

mask is stripped off and beady eyes are<br />

forced to adjust to disorienting levels of<br />

saturation… this will be an uncomfortable<br />

confession. And when Helprin’s minimalists<br />

find <strong>the</strong>mselves with <strong>the</strong>ir “heads shaved<br />

clean, in a prison camp,” <strong>the</strong> people <strong>the</strong>y love<br />

dead, if anything is left at all to be felt, it will<br />

be <strong>the</strong> shame of being a part of <strong>the</strong> fucking<br />

human race that <strong>the</strong>y originally needed <strong>the</strong><br />

masks for.<br />

12<br />

This will sound cheesy, but—no don’t fucking<br />

justify this. Things have been stupid and<br />

meaningless for god knows how long, and<br />

people need a break. Postmodernism is no<br />

longer edgy, but degrading and tolling. This<br />

lack of earnest human experience has turned<br />

out to be a far more insidious and un-tame<br />

creature than originally thought. Inhuman<br />

intellectualism will be emphatically rejected.<br />

I believe most US Americans are noticing<br />

<strong>the</strong> absence of light, and <strong>the</strong> necessity.<br />

We now stand at a party we did not intend<br />

on attending, surrounded by people talking<br />

shit on not only <strong>the</strong> party, but <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

people at <strong>the</strong> party. Only it’s no longer<br />

funny, it’s kind of sickening. And people are<br />

filing out. Suddenly everyone starts rushing<br />

towards <strong>the</strong> door to avoid being <strong>the</strong> last<br />

person in that room with that handsome<br />

man who arrived in a black Audi and whose<br />

grin is now acutely upsetting.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Survival Series<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

50 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Survival Series<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

Left | Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

Survival Seven - Binoculars<br />

Screenprint, 14” x 14”<br />

Ms. Schermerhorn is currently <strong>the</strong> Artistic Director<br />

at Pyramid Atlantic, an art center dedicated to <strong>the</strong><br />

creation and preservation of hand printmaking,<br />

papermaking and <strong>the</strong> art of <strong>the</strong> book, in Silver<br />

Spring, Maryland. She received her MFA in<br />

Printmaking from Arizona State University in 2004,<br />

and since <strong>the</strong>n has completed artist residencies at<br />

Women’s Studio Workshop in New York, Columbia<br />

College Center for Book and Paper in Chicago,<br />

Seacourt Print Workshop in <strong>No</strong>r<strong>the</strong>rn Ireland, and<br />

California State University. Her prints, installations<br />

and works on paper works have been exhibited<br />

in New York, Boston and Washington DC, and her<br />

work is in national and international collections.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Survival Series<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

Survival One - How to<br />

Make a Pair of Sunglasses<br />

Screenprint, 14” x 14”<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

Survival Three - Cashew<br />

Screenprint, 14” x 14”<br />

52 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Survival Series<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

Survival Five - How to Make Fishhooks<br />

Screenprint, 14” x 14”<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Survival Series<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

54 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Survival Series<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

Gretchen Schermerhorn<br />

Survival Two - Firestarter<br />

Screenprint, 14” x 14”<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Identity, Narrative,<br />

and Miseducation in a<br />

More-Than-Human World<br />

Toni Wynn and Rae Wynn-Grant<br />

Rae Wynn-Grant, PhD, is a wildlife ecologist at<br />

<strong>the</strong> Center for Biodiversity and Conservation<br />

at <strong>the</strong> American Museum of Natural History.<br />

Unapologetic about her love for studying<br />

charismatic megafauna, she spends a quarter<br />

of <strong>the</strong> year conducting fieldwork to measure <strong>the</strong><br />

impact humans have on <strong>the</strong> ecology and behavior<br />

of wildlife. Rae is a conservation biology educator<br />

at <strong>the</strong> graduate, undergraduate, and high school<br />

levels, as well as a science communicator with<br />

special interest in increasing awareness of and<br />

participation in conservation biology for people<br />

of color. When taking a break from <strong>the</strong> science<br />

world, Rae loves to practice yoga, travel for<br />

pleasure, and catch up with her inspiring friends.<br />

Rae lives in New York City with her husband,<br />

daughter, and mo<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Arts educator and museum consultant Toni Wynn<br />

writes creative nonfiction, museum exhibitions,<br />

essays, and poetry. Toni can be found where<br />

<strong>the</strong>re’s art, love, and wind.<br />

raewynngrant.com | toniwynn.com<br />

56 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Identity, Narrative, and Miseducation in a More-Than-Human World<br />

Toni Wynn and Rae Wynn-Grant<br />

We see <strong>the</strong> world and <strong>the</strong> way <strong>the</strong> world<br />

functions as perfect and complete, especially<br />

in <strong>the</strong> absence of humans and human<br />

modification.<br />

Rae Wynn-Grant and Toni Wynn<br />

Daughter and mo<strong>the</strong>r, environmental<br />

scientist and poet, educator and<br />

educator, nature enthusiast and nature<br />

enthusiast, museum worker and<br />

museum worker, write about <strong>the</strong> ways<br />

nature impacts <strong>the</strong>m as <strong>the</strong>y live and<br />

work — as interdisciplinary influencers<br />

and just as humans — in a “more than<br />

human world.”<br />

A through-line of flashpoints — identity,<br />

narrative, and miseducation — are<br />

amplified where <strong>the</strong> two voices intersect.<br />

Excerpts from Toni’s nature poetry<br />

balance and interrogate Rae’s deep dives<br />

into conservation science.<br />

Toni Wynn: Much of my connection to<br />

nature now that I’ve moved to New York<br />

City comes from memory, buffeting winds,<br />

grey skies, and infrequent travel to wilder,<br />

natural spaces.<br />

At home in coastal Virginia I grew vegetables<br />

and herbs in my giant backyard. Five years<br />

of arugula with flavor! Then Rae sent me<br />

video of <strong>the</strong> dire-climate-change address<br />

John Kerry delivered across <strong>the</strong> river at Old<br />

Dominion University when he was Secretary<br />

of State. Next, links to reports from Rae’s<br />

associates at <strong>the</strong> pre-45 EPA. My son Asa<br />

phoned in his entreaties. I visited a friend in<br />

<strong>No</strong>rfolk whose neighbors had raised <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

homes on stilts. I’d lost a Toyota to a flash<br />

flood in 2003, and was regularly bailing or<br />

pumping out water that seeped through <strong>the</strong><br />

floor of my basement during storms that<br />

coincided with high tides. There’s no denying<br />

water when you’re in it — in time, my house<br />

would be under it. I prepared to move.<br />

Rae Wynn-Grant: Nature was first<br />

introduced to me as in-crisis. Fear tactics<br />

exploded around this elementary-schooler<br />

in <strong>the</strong> early 1990s. I was equally terrified<br />

about being arrested for littering as I was<br />

about my Halloween candy being poisoned,<br />

or getting shot for wearing red in a blue<br />

gang zone. I have memories of crying<br />

hysterically over <strong>the</strong> extent of air and water<br />

pollution and not understanding why society<br />

would allow it to continue. The plight of<br />

endangered species was, apparently, too<br />

much to handle, and twenty years later I’ve<br />

found myself in a career dedicated to saving<br />

<strong>the</strong>m from extinction.<br />

jagged top-to-bottom scar of lightning<br />

over <strong>the</strong> river. sheets of rain, but<br />

before, that slate grey sky. pages of<br />

clouds turn from north to east. bright,<br />

cowed sou<strong>the</strong>rn sky helpless in its<br />

advance. severe now, wea<strong>the</strong>r and <strong>the</strong><br />

toppled expectation of yellow gingko or<br />

orange sugar maple leaves. now with<br />

warning labels.<br />

30 September 2011 from “Solo <strong>No</strong>vo<br />

122 days”<br />

Rae Wynn-Grant: Through academia, I<br />

studied nature, <strong>the</strong> natural world, and<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Identity, Narrative, and Miseducation in a More-Than-Human World<br />

Toni Wynn and Rae Wynn-Grant<br />

<strong>the</strong> science of conserving nature. My love<br />

for nature sprouted organically, but <strong>the</strong><br />

lens through which I operate and study is<br />

grounded in <strong>the</strong>oretical ecology. I’m glad I<br />

went <strong>the</strong> academic route, as it helped me<br />

realize that science is one of my strengths —<br />

and, ultimately, my career passion.<br />

Toni Wynn: There’s a false narrative — sold<br />

with urgency by commerce-driven American<br />

society — around how African American<br />

people aren’t terribly keen on nature. I<br />

bought that line as a new adult exercising<br />

her sudden ability to purchase her own<br />

things. But as I commuted across <strong>the</strong> Golden<br />

Gate Bridge, <strong>the</strong>re was, crucially, nothing<br />

to buy. <strong>No</strong>thing to see but natural beauty.<br />

My kids could watch horses on a hill from<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir bedroom window when <strong>the</strong>y were<br />

small — <strong>the</strong> same years when Rae became<br />

hyperaware of <strong>the</strong> state of <strong>the</strong> environment.<br />

At night <strong>the</strong> horses sleep. Come daybreak,<br />

a collie speeds around <strong>the</strong>m. To get <strong>the</strong>m<br />

running? Because <strong>the</strong>y’re pure that way?<br />

Saying what — my eyes can suffer<br />

more beauty?<br />

At night a telescope rings Saturn in, and<br />

four of Jupiter’s moons. Coyotes run, days<br />

later, at dusk, owning <strong>the</strong> canyon, barking<br />

vapor into air, a passage of fur, feet,<br />

and danger.<br />

from “A Brown Girl’s Nature Poem:<br />

Canyonlands”<br />

Rae Wynn-Grant: There is a critical<br />

intersection of identity, identity politics,<br />

social justice, and inclusivity that is lacking<br />

and yet essential for conservation to be<br />

effective. This was not something always<br />

clear to me.<br />

In summer 2014, I traveled to California<br />

to present my work for <strong>the</strong> first time at a<br />

prestigious ecology conference. I didn’t<br />

enter <strong>the</strong> journey confidently, knowing my<br />

performance needed to be particularly<br />

impressive as I would likely be one of <strong>the</strong><br />

few, if not only, black scientists presenting<br />

work and would thus stand out. As I always<br />

do, I first flew to <strong>the</strong> Bay Area to spend a few<br />

days with my family before embarking on<br />

<strong>the</strong> two-hour drive to Sacramento to finish<br />

last-minute editing of my presentation for<br />

<strong>the</strong> next day. I listened to NPR during my<br />

drive; <strong>the</strong> programming focused entirely on<br />

<strong>the</strong> riots and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri,<br />

following <strong>the</strong> shooting of Mike Brown only<br />

days earlier. I cried as I drove, cursed as I<br />

drove, grew weary as I drove. By <strong>the</strong> time I<br />

arrived in Sacramento, I was in a mentally<br />

difficult place. On one hand, <strong>the</strong> biggest<br />

scientific opportunity of my career thus far<br />

was <strong>the</strong> next morning, and my presentation<br />

needed practice and polishing. On <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

hand, my soul needed critical care and my<br />

grief was palpable.<br />

I was invited to present a study on <strong>the</strong> spatial<br />

distribution of human-induced mortality<br />

risk for black bears. And yet <strong>the</strong> entirety of<br />

my being was consumed with <strong>the</strong> realities<br />

of racially-motivated mortality risk for<br />

black men. I was pained to know that this<br />

conference of thousands of <strong>the</strong> world’s<br />

most elite ecologists would not, and possibly<br />

58 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Identity, Narrative, and Miseducation in a More-Than-Human World<br />

Toni Wynn and Rae Wynn-Grant<br />

There is a critical<br />

intersection of identity,<br />

identity politics, social<br />

justice, and inclusivity<br />

that is lacking and yet<br />

essential for conservation<br />

to be effective.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Identity, Narrative, and Miseducation in a More-Than-Human World<br />

Toni Wynn and Rae Wynn-Grant<br />

will never, hold space for myself and my<br />

community, and acknowledge <strong>the</strong> magnitude<br />

of <strong>the</strong> events in Ferguson.<br />

It was at that moment, hours before my<br />

presentation, as I stared at my computer<br />

screen paralyzed with sadness and<br />

concerned for <strong>the</strong> fate of <strong>the</strong> Ferguson<br />

protestors as well as <strong>the</strong> black men in my life,<br />

that I realized what I needed from my natureloving<br />

peers to do <strong>the</strong> work I intended to do.<br />

I realized that <strong>the</strong>re is often no separating<br />

one’s identity from one’s profession, and<br />

to make an impact on effective black bear<br />

conservation —to do science as well as my<br />

peers — I require a space that acknowledges<br />

and supports me in my entirety.<br />

I have yet to find this space, yet my<br />

black conservationist peers and I are<br />

actively attempting to build one. In many<br />

ways, it is our own act of resistance, and<br />

simultaneously, is a necessary first step<br />

toward being able to tackle <strong>the</strong> challenges<br />

facing <strong>the</strong> natural world. This more-thanhuman<br />

world requires <strong>the</strong> world’s humans<br />

to restore it to balance. A color-blind onesize-fits<br />

all approach to facilitating this<br />

work is what has prevented us from<br />

achieving success.<br />

and am only fleetingly surprised when<br />

Philando Castile rises through <strong>the</strong> poem.<br />

Food shoots up from <strong>the</strong> soil, leaps into<br />

<strong>the</strong> kitchen.<br />

I can’t wait to feed you. Tricksters come<br />

two seasons late,<br />

imploded cauliflower <strong>the</strong> consistency<br />

of <strong>the</strong> molten core of <strong>the</strong> Earth.<br />

Sprout calls to heat: Here I am didja<br />

miss me?<br />

I don’t look for you in <strong>the</strong> scrum. I turn<br />

<strong>the</strong> dirt,<br />

dump handfuls of compost into hasty<br />

spaces I create for you.<br />

I do not clap <strong>the</strong> loose soil off my hands.<br />

I let it cling.<br />

I never finish. Still sleepy, before <strong>the</strong> dew<br />

burns off,<br />

before <strong>the</strong> rabbits disappear, I push<br />

myself outside,<br />

wary of <strong>the</strong> mystery that contains you.<br />

I don’t forget to thank you,<br />

<strong>the</strong> crabgrass, and vines that make my<br />

cuticles bleed<br />

from <strong>the</strong> endless pincer motion of<br />

my hands.<br />

Is this a substitute?<br />

Toni Wynn: This is <strong>the</strong> way it goes. Given<br />

time, <strong>the</strong> greatness, <strong>the</strong> grief, <strong>the</strong> day-to-day<br />

of being black in <strong>the</strong> United States bleeds<br />

through any task undertaken. A culture<br />

based on a pervasive, sinister mythology of<br />

<strong>the</strong> black body extends spiny tentacles, and<br />

no place is “unlikely.” I lean on my kitchen<br />

counter, breathing in <strong>the</strong> bounty of a harvest,<br />

For running an ice cream truck company,<br />

perhaps,<br />

keeping account of what’s selling, how<br />

fast, <strong>the</strong> jingles, what each neighborhood<br />

might yield?<br />

These ride-or-die images:<br />

rainbow pops, blue lips, red “He just shot<br />

his arm off”<br />

60 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Identity, Narrative, and Miseducation in a More-Than-Human World<br />

Toni Wynn and Rae Wynn-Grant<br />

declarative statements Diamond<br />

Reynolds said<br />

into her phone, narrating her man’s<br />

demise.<br />

Should I write despair on a ledger<br />

and tear it until it disappears?<br />

Text comes in R U OK four emojis three<br />

question marks.<br />

Today <strong>the</strong> tomatillos look like tiny<br />

chartreuse lanterns<br />

And as joy would have it, fireflies light<br />

<strong>the</strong>m as I slumber.<br />

I do not clap <strong>the</strong> soil off my hands.<br />

from “You”<br />

often work against our goals.<br />

Toni Wynn: Humans are good for studying<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r humans. Outside of that — and art —<br />

I’m chronically skeptical of what benefits our<br />

species provides.<br />

TO: Students: Medicine II, Dentistry I,<br />

Occupational Therapy<br />

Grad I, Physical Therapy Grad I<br />

FROM: Xxxxx Xxxxx PhD<br />

Associate Professor<br />

Department of Anatomy and<br />

Neurobiology<br />

Director, Gross Anatomical<br />

Laboratory Facilities<br />

Rae Wynn-Grant: Traditionally, conservation<br />

science is taught using a more-than-human<br />

approach to nature. But at <strong>the</strong> same time, we<br />

have a difficult time escaping conversations<br />

about ourselves and our differences. An early<br />

debate in conservation classes surrounds<br />

<strong>the</strong> question “do we fight for species because<br />

<strong>the</strong>y are inherently valuable (to <strong>the</strong> world), or<br />

because <strong>the</strong>y provide services (to people)?”<br />

Making a business case for <strong>the</strong> conservation<br />

of living things and places is uncomfortable<br />

for every conservationist I know, as we<br />

generally see <strong>the</strong> world and <strong>the</strong> way <strong>the</strong><br />

world functions as perfect and complete,<br />

especially in <strong>the</strong> absence of humans and<br />

human modification. However, <strong>the</strong>re is<br />

a need to incentivize conservation — a<br />

need to sell it for conservation to maintain<br />

relevancy and to continue garnering support.<br />

This is especially true in <strong>the</strong> face of rapid<br />

globalization and capitalist markets that<br />

The annual ceremony for <strong>the</strong> interment of<br />

cadaveric ashes from <strong>the</strong> gross anatomy<br />

teaching laboratory will be held on<br />

Wednesday, <strong>No</strong>vember 9, 2011 at 3:30 PM<br />

at <strong>the</strong> MCV Memorial Garden, Forest Lawn<br />

Cemetery (400 Alma Avenue), Richmond,<br />

Virginia. A map is attached. Everyone is<br />

invited to attend. Xxxxxx Xxxxxx, of <strong>the</strong><br />

Department of Patient Counseling, will<br />

officiate.<br />

Kindly announce this occasion to your<br />

classmates who may not have heard or<br />

checked <strong>the</strong>ir e mail. Your attendance<br />

at <strong>the</strong> moving and inspirational event is<br />

encouraged; students who have attended<br />

this service in <strong>the</strong> past have attested to a<br />

profoundly moving spiritual experience.<br />

We have many possessions in life but only<br />

one- our body- is truly our own. To share<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Identity, Narrative, and Miseducation in a More-Than-Human World<br />

Toni Wynn and Rae Wynn-Grant<br />

this intimate possession is a tremendous<br />

gift, and <strong>the</strong> interment ceremony honors<br />

those who have given this gift, which<br />

enables students to gain <strong>the</strong> knowledge to<br />

serve o<strong>the</strong>rs in <strong>the</strong>ir chosen profession. If<br />

any student feels moved to speak briefly<br />

at this ceremony, he/she would be most<br />

welcome. If a class representative would<br />

like to make a more formal presentation<br />

as part of <strong>the</strong> ceremony, he or she may<br />

contact Chaplain Xxxxxx directly:<br />

Xxxxx xxxxxx<br />

Patient Counseling<br />

xxx-xxxx or fax xxx-xxxx<br />

xxxxx@vcu.edu<br />

With best wishes to all of you as your<br />

pursue your education here at VCU.<br />

This is a found poem. --TW<br />

Rae Wynn-Grant: A refocusing on <strong>the</strong><br />

identity of scientists who do conservation<br />

science, or people who do conservation work,<br />

and an inherent valuation of <strong>the</strong> protection,<br />

safety, opportunities, and futures of <strong>the</strong>se<br />

individuals and <strong>the</strong>ir communities will<br />

transform <strong>the</strong> effectiveness and relevance<br />

of conservation. It is arguably <strong>the</strong> only way<br />

for this field to move forward. Listening to<br />

and centering <strong>the</strong> perspectives of those<br />

historically underrepresented in this field<br />

is critical for <strong>the</strong> sea change this planet<br />

aches for. Even more importantly, we need<br />

to transform understanding into action,<br />

especially from allies and those with decisionmaking<br />

power. A healthy, functioning, morethan-human<br />

world is achievable if we make<br />

equity and inclusion foundations of our work.<br />

Toni Wynn:<br />

We know little about <strong>the</strong> lives of Africans<br />

In 17th century Virginia, <strong>the</strong> video guide<br />

tells.<br />

And this is how some of <strong>the</strong>m lived<br />

Here on Jamestown Island.<br />

We know more every hour.<br />

Even <strong>the</strong> name of <strong>the</strong> first black boy<br />

Bir<strong>the</strong>d on bloody Virginia soil. This,<br />

Perhaps, is his skull.<br />

Dig.<br />

We surely know <strong>the</strong> boy.<br />

from “William, What He Saw”<br />

Poetry by Toni Wynn from <strong>the</strong> following<br />

publications:<br />

<strong>the</strong> place within where <strong>the</strong> universe resides (chapbook),<br />

Shakespeare Press Museum, 1993.<br />

Color, Voices, Place (with John Sousa and Carla Martinez),<br />

Shakespeare Press Museum and SeaMoon Press, 1997.<br />

Reckoning (with Barry Ebner), Editions BaD, 1997.<br />

Ground, Shakespeare Press Museum, 2007<br />

62 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Rebecca Clark Bee 20 (The Real Work), Graphite on paper, 30” x 22”, 2011<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


<strong>No</strong>tes on<br />

an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

Left | Mexico Excavations<br />

Workers from Mexico’s<br />

National Institute of<br />

Anthropology look over a<br />

complete skeleton found<br />

during construction of a<br />

subway line in Mexico City,<br />

June 12, 1995. Finds such<br />

as <strong>the</strong>se are common in<br />

Mexico City, which was<br />

built on a lake bed and was<br />

already one of <strong>the</strong> largest<br />

cities in <strong>the</strong> world when<br />

Hernán de Cortés arrived<br />

in 1519. The archaeologists<br />

are attempting to determine<br />

from what period <strong>the</strong><br />

skeletons date. (AP Photo/<br />

Guillermo Gutierrez)<br />

Nat Castañeda is an interdisciplinary visual<br />

artist based in Brooklyn, New York. Castañeda<br />

works primarily in video and collage, with an<br />

emphasis on tactile intimacy with her materials<br />

remaining an important aspect of all her projects.<br />

Common issues in Castañeda’s work are <strong>the</strong> role<br />

of technology within personal narratives and<br />

exploring unknown and underrepresented stories<br />

within <strong>the</strong> historical record.<br />

She received her MFA from <strong>the</strong> School of Visual<br />

Arts and has shown at venues such as El Museo<br />

del Barrio and Electronic Arts Intermix. In<br />

addition to her art practice, Castañeda works<br />

at The Associated Press where she curates<br />

AP’s photographic archive of historical and<br />

contemporary photojournalism. Castañeda’s<br />

photography has appeared in <strong>the</strong> New York<br />

Times, U.S. News & World Report and USA Today.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


<strong>No</strong>tes on an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

It is an extraordinary thing to interact with an<br />

archive, let alone one of <strong>the</strong> most important<br />

news archives in <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

When you spend hours in an archive, you<br />

experience a sort of shift between time and<br />

space. It can be disorienting. Skin tones are<br />

turned inside out and subjects take up an<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rworldly countenance. I discovered black<br />

and white negatives humming with lavender<br />

accents, a remnant of <strong>the</strong> chemical bath that<br />

brought <strong>the</strong>m to life. In 35mm negatives, I<br />

often came across colors so unnatural and<br />

unexpected that <strong>the</strong> images seemed more<br />

suited for a museum wall.<br />

In 2007, I was hired by The Associated Press<br />

to work in <strong>the</strong>ir photo library. My role was to<br />

help with <strong>the</strong> digitization of over five million<br />

negatives and prints housed in <strong>the</strong> archive.<br />

The AP’s archive spans <strong>the</strong> age of film—from<br />

glass plate negatives to 35mm, <strong>the</strong> preferred<br />

medium for photographers before <strong>the</strong><br />

introduction of digital photography.<br />

The negatives are kept in aging beige<br />

envelopes with typewritten summaries that<br />

provide contextual information to be used<br />

in a corresponding news report. With a light<br />

table and a magnifying loupe, my job was to<br />

examine negative after negative for anything<br />

that might be deemed “newsworthy” and<br />

visually strong enough to justify <strong>the</strong> tedious<br />

process of digitization.<br />

My experience as an archivist lasted four<br />

years and I am convinced that I will look back<br />

at that time as one of <strong>the</strong> most formative<br />

experiences in my visual and intellectual life.<br />

The process of editing news photos not<br />

only shaped my understanding of how <strong>the</strong><br />

historical record is maintained but shifted <strong>the</strong><br />

way I understood photographic film. I now<br />

understand that negatives are objects which<br />

contain a liveliness of <strong>the</strong>ir own, independent<br />

of context or worth within <strong>the</strong> news industry.<br />

All negatives are in a state of decomposition,<br />

a reminder of <strong>the</strong> fleshy nature of film, but<br />

we intervene, extending <strong>the</strong>ir life as we scan<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir corporeal self into a digital one.<br />

The following series of images were made<br />

during my time as an archivist and taken<br />

with my iPhone camera. They are from my<br />

own personal archive and aren’t particularly<br />

important as news photos. Instead, because<br />

of <strong>the</strong>ir ambiguity, <strong>the</strong>se images find<br />

<strong>the</strong>mselves in <strong>the</strong> outer boundaries of <strong>the</strong><br />

archive; too odd, too beautiful, too quiet to<br />

fit into <strong>the</strong> established news narrative. Yet,<br />

I’ve discovered <strong>the</strong> outer boundaries of <strong>the</strong><br />

archive to be full of imaginative possibilities.<br />

66 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

<strong>No</strong>tes on an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

Left | Egypt 1 Ten kilometers <strong>No</strong>rth of Cairo, not far from <strong>the</strong> Pyramids, is a small village called Abu Rawash in March 1982.<br />

Located on <strong>the</strong> outskirts of <strong>the</strong> desert <strong>the</strong> villagers share <strong>the</strong>ir environment with snakes, scorpions and o<strong>the</strong>r reptiles. (AP Photo)<br />

Above | Emulsion Neg 1 A damaged negative from <strong>the</strong> Associated Press photo library is shown. (AP Photo)<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


<strong>No</strong>tes on an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

Map A United States Air Force Soldier looks over map in Libya, <strong>No</strong>v. 24, 1951. (AP Photo)<br />

68 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

<strong>No</strong>tes on an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

When you spend hours in an<br />

archive, you experience a<br />

sort of shift between time<br />

and space.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


<strong>No</strong>tes on an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

Egypt 2 Women in Upper Egypt village walk, next to Luxor, Egypt in April 1984. (AP Photo/Paola Crociani)<br />

70 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

<strong>No</strong>tes on an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


<strong>No</strong>tes on an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

Civil Rights 2 Civil Rights Meredith March - A black man wearing a handkerchief as a mask against tear gas helps a white man<br />

and woman out schoolyard in Canton, Mississippi, June 10, 1966, after police used <strong>the</strong> tear gas to disperse a crowd of Meredith<br />

Marchers and several hundred townspeople who had set up tents for <strong>the</strong> marchers. O<strong>the</strong>rs sit in <strong>the</strong> choking gas at right. Partially<br />

collapsed tent is in right background. White frame in center background is rear of marchers’ tent truck. (AP Photo/Charles Kelly)<br />

72 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

<strong>No</strong>tes on an archive<br />

Nat Castañeda<br />

Japan Earthquake A building crumbles in <strong>the</strong> aftermath of an earthquake, date unknown. (AP Photo)<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


In Conversation with<br />

Consciousness: A Reflection<br />

On My Use of Metalogue to<br />

Make Sense of <strong>the</strong> Ecological<br />

Context of Mental Health<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

Weston Wood graduated from <strong>the</strong> University of<br />

Utah with an Honors B.S. in Communication and<br />

participated in <strong>the</strong> Honors College Integrated<br />

Minor in Ecology & Legacy. He currently lives in<br />

Salt Lake City, working odd jobs in education,<br />

research and advocacy. He spends <strong>the</strong> time he<br />

can spare escaping into Utah’s conifers, canyons<br />

and caring for his elderly cat.<br />

74 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

In Conversation with Consciousness<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

“Rivulets run down this patterned<br />

landscape of ridges and ravines, smelling<br />

sharp of sap and soaked earth. Course,<br />

meandering but inextricably linked. As I<br />

listen to a breeze of various pitches course<br />

through <strong>the</strong> budding oak and stubborn<br />

conifers, I remove my hand from this<br />

bark and notice <strong>the</strong> stark similarities<br />

between it and <strong>the</strong> larger lay of <strong>the</strong> land –<br />

homonymous but far from monotonous.<br />

It required being alone in this space, far<br />

more than spectacle, to realize sensuously<br />

that I am not alone. As humans, we never<br />

have been, and hopefully never will be,<br />

alone in natural spaces. I suspect that I,<br />

among many, have been a poor listener.”<br />

So goes <strong>the</strong> introductory paragraph<br />

of my Honors Thesis for my H.B.S. in<br />

Communication at <strong>the</strong> University of Utah,<br />

Consciousness is a Conversation: Towards<br />

an Eco-Dialogical Theory of Communication<br />

(Wood, 2017, p. 1). My <strong>the</strong>sis meandered<br />

between many <strong>the</strong>mes, topics, problems<br />

and perspectives, but was motivated by<br />

<strong>the</strong> pathos that I located in <strong>the</strong> Wasatch<br />

Mountains as described above. In <strong>the</strong> paper<br />

you now read, I will share <strong>the</strong> metalogue<br />

methodology that I used to explore<br />

my relationship to myself and to larger<br />

ecosystems. I hope to assume <strong>the</strong> role of<br />

storyteller ra<strong>the</strong>r than researcher and convey<br />

<strong>the</strong> significance of this methodological<br />

experiment as I experienced it.<br />

This outward oriented inner-work originated<br />

in a coalescence of various ecological<br />

<strong>the</strong>ories and my work on interpersonal<br />

dialogue with Dr. Leonard Hawes, my<br />

<strong>the</strong>sis supervisor. This resulted in a series<br />

of transcribed and analyzed conversations,<br />

or metalogues, in which I studied both <strong>the</strong><br />

process and text. Of particular importance<br />

to this piece, and indeed myself, is <strong>the</strong><br />

potential for this method to lend awareness<br />

to how larger ecosystems and socio/<br />

economic/political/etc. structures flow<br />

through us, how <strong>the</strong>se lines of contact may<br />

manifest discursively, and <strong>the</strong> implications<br />

for mental health.<br />

Metalogue can reveal <strong>the</strong> relationality which I<br />

argue is intrinsic to <strong>the</strong> self. Whe<strong>the</strong>r spoken,<br />

written, or thought, our conscious existence<br />

is conversational and our relationships with<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs, systems and structures leave spoken<br />

traces that can be etched and analyzed. I<br />

think metalogue can activate our inherent<br />

agency to improve our collective wellbeing<br />

by acknowledging <strong>the</strong>se voices and “editing”<br />

<strong>the</strong>se conversations that are always already<br />

occurring. I will include selections from <strong>the</strong><br />

<strong>the</strong>sis that I think are most relevant, and<br />

frame <strong>the</strong>m with paragraphs of reflection.<br />

A Coalescence of Theory and Very<br />

Personal Praxis<br />

My <strong>the</strong>sis was motivated by my desire<br />

to interrogate mental health from an<br />

environmental humanities lens. I took<br />

Dr. Hawes’ class Culture & Dialogue in<br />

which he uses critical <strong>the</strong>ory to construct<br />

a non-hierarchal space where students<br />

are encouraged to examine <strong>the</strong>ir own<br />

communication (as opposed to abstract<br />

analysis of communication). In this space,<br />

students are empowered to speak truth<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


In Conversation with Consciousness<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

in <strong>the</strong>ir relationships. This class proved<br />

revolutionary for my mental health because<br />

it prompted a radical shift in my relationship<br />

with myself.<br />

For <strong>the</strong> keystone assignment of <strong>the</strong> class,<br />

<strong>the</strong> student transcribes and performs a close<br />

textual analysis of an honest conversation<br />

with someone important about problems<br />

in <strong>the</strong>ir relationship. I realized that my most<br />

problematic relationship was with myself,<br />

that I spoke to and treated myself poorly.<br />

So, I transcribed and analyzed a spoken<br />

conversation with myself to tease out <strong>the</strong><br />

discursive manifestations of my anxiety and<br />

depression. While I initially thought that I<br />

was cheating, Dr. Hawes encouraged me<br />

to continue along this line of questioning.<br />

Using this dialogic method, usually applied to<br />

an interpersonal relationship, I was able to<br />

destabilize monolithic notions of subjectivity<br />

in a profoundly productive manner.<br />

The method was deeply informed by Bakhtin,<br />

as “Any understanding of live speech, a<br />

live utterance, is inherently responsive...<br />

and necessarily elicits it in one form or<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r: <strong>the</strong> listener becomes <strong>the</strong> speaker”<br />

(1986, p. 68). I elaborated that “The act<br />

of [listening] makes dialogue distinct [as<br />

opposed to dominant adversarial forms<br />

of communication in our culture]… It is a<br />

productive exchange between voices, as a<br />

result of often deliberate turn-taking” (Wood,<br />

2017, pp. 4-5). Through slowing down my<br />

inner monologue (as a spoken dialogue)<br />

and honestly listening to myself, I identified<br />

recurring patterns of anxious thought<br />

and “edited” <strong>the</strong>se abusive conversations.<br />

I overcame crippling anxieties, which in<br />

turn has had a profound effect on my<br />

relationships with o<strong>the</strong>rs.<br />

It soon became clear that this dialogic<br />

method provided an avenue by which to<br />

explore <strong>the</strong> interpersonal dynamics of<br />

larger systems, especially human<br />

relationships with <strong>the</strong> more-than-human<br />

world. I located my studies around <strong>the</strong><br />

systems <strong>the</strong>ory of Gregory Bateson, Mladen<br />

Dolar’s psychoanalysis of <strong>the</strong> voice, and<br />

later, David Abram’s deep ecology. What<br />

follows is an abbreviated syn<strong>the</strong>sis from my<br />

methodology section:<br />

Bateson’s systems perspective articulates<br />

mind as immanent in <strong>the</strong> variety of<br />

systems within which we are embedded,<br />

and blurs commonly held distinctions<br />

between <strong>the</strong> biological organism (including<br />

<strong>the</strong> thinking self) and <strong>the</strong> environment<br />

(1972, pp. 454-71) ‘Mind’ is “immanent” in<br />

all mental activity, which Bateson argues<br />

is a system or “loop” that transforms<br />

information and results in <strong>the</strong> alterations<br />

of variables within <strong>the</strong> system (1972, p.<br />

315-320). Additionally, he argued for <strong>the</strong><br />

“[correction of] <strong>the</strong> Darwinian unit of<br />

survival to include <strong>the</strong> environment and<br />

<strong>the</strong> interaction between organism and<br />

environment…<strong>the</strong> unit of evolutionary<br />

survival turns out to be identical with <strong>the</strong> unit<br />

of mind” (1972, p. 491). That <strong>the</strong> legacy of<br />

Cartesian dualism holds <strong>the</strong> “self” to be<br />

both transcendent and operating through<br />

<strong>the</strong> human body is a grave error that<br />

results in malady.<br />

76 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

In Conversation with Consciousness<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

Within this framework voice can <strong>the</strong>refore<br />

be understood as our relationality in<br />

action. Mladen Dolar’s psychoanalytical<br />

<strong>the</strong>ory of <strong>the</strong> voice in A Voice and <strong>No</strong>thing<br />

More demonstrates voice as essential to<br />

<strong>the</strong> thinking self. He argues that voice<br />

“can perhaps also be seen as <strong>the</strong> lever<br />

of thought” instead of <strong>the</strong> “vehicle of<br />

meaning” or “fetish object” (2006, pp.<br />

4-11)...and that voice can be better<br />

understood as an enabler of thought,<br />

bound with thought, or even being<br />

thought itself (Dolar, 2006, pp. 1-11). Dolar<br />

also discusses <strong>the</strong> voice as inherently a call<br />

to <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r at length throughout his book<br />

(2006). Therefore, “voice” or vocalization<br />

is information at points of interaction and<br />

transformation between various human<br />

and more-than-human “systems,” whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

<strong>the</strong>y be orcas or old-growth stands of oak<br />

(Wood, 2017, 8).<br />

David Abram’s deep ecology lends insight<br />

into what conversations are always<br />

occurring and what voices may be better<br />

heard. The phenomenology Abrams<br />

grounds in ecology reveals that we are<br />

beings perpetually perceiving <strong>the</strong> larger<br />

world around us in an active, dynamic<br />

process that shapes both perceiver and<br />

perceived. (Abram, 1996, p. 31-72). This<br />

occurs within “fields of flesh” from which<br />

we can never truly remove ourselves to<br />

an impartial objectivity – we are always<br />

already interacting with our environments<br />

(Abram, 1996, p. 66). One crucial insight<br />

is that language itself is material, of <strong>the</strong><br />

“flesh,” arising out of “living speech” that<br />

originated spontaneously in conversation<br />

with <strong>the</strong> living field. (73-92). Reciprocal<br />

perception occurs through vocalizations,<br />

both narrowly and broadly defined.<br />

Additionally, many in <strong>the</strong> industrialized<br />

world have lost <strong>the</strong> ability to “speak to”<br />

<strong>the</strong> larger biosphere and instead speak<br />

merely “about” it (Abram, 1996, p. 22). Like<br />

Bateson, Abram points out that very real<br />

maladies of health have been a function<br />

of imbalance with <strong>the</strong> more-than-human<br />

world in a multitude of cultures, and<br />

<strong>the</strong>y have been cured by restoring this<br />

balance (Abram, 1996, p. 22). This idea<br />

invites exploration as to how our modern<br />

voices remain ecological processes and<br />

what nonhuman voices are waiting to be<br />

engaged in a very material, “real” sensory<br />

experience, and how <strong>the</strong>se relationships<br />

might play into our mental health.<br />

This background framed <strong>the</strong> metalogues<br />

I conducted in which I attempted to<br />

trace <strong>the</strong> voices that function as points<br />

of conversational contact between self,<br />

human and more-than-human o<strong>the</strong>rs and<br />

demonstrate how we exist systemically. I<br />

hoped it would prove useful for folks who<br />

live under dominant assumptions about <strong>the</strong><br />

self as primarily individual and <strong>the</strong> merit<br />

of personal gain over community, when<br />

our own evolutionary history and ecology<br />

suggests <strong>the</strong> opposite to be far healthier.<br />

Bateson defines metalogue as “a<br />

conversation about some problematic<br />

subject…[in which] not only do <strong>the</strong><br />

participants discuss <strong>the</strong> problem but <strong>the</strong><br />

structure of <strong>the</strong> conversation as a whole<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


In Conversation with Consciousness<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

I realized that my most<br />

problematic relationship was<br />

with myself, that I spoke to<br />

and treated myself poorly.<br />

So, I transcribed and analyzed<br />

a spoken conversation with<br />

myself to tease out <strong>the</strong><br />

discursive manifestations of<br />

my anxiety and depression.<br />

78 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

In Conversation with Consciousness<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

is also relevant to <strong>the</strong> same subject”<br />

(Bateson, 1972, p. 1). Metalogue was <strong>the</strong><br />

keystone of <strong>the</strong> dialogic transcription analysis<br />

used in my <strong>the</strong>sis as it “allows analysis not<br />

only of discussion of <strong>the</strong> topic of interest,<br />

say, our relationship with <strong>the</strong> natural world,<br />

but <strong>the</strong> relationship itself as we live it. The<br />

phenomena that is <strong>the</strong> topic of discussion<br />

is also intended to be occurring in <strong>the</strong><br />

discussion.” (Wood, 2017, pp. 7-8). Thus, I<br />

enacted metalogues with myself and o<strong>the</strong>rs<br />

and conducted dialogic transcription analysis<br />

of <strong>the</strong>m as an experimental method.<br />

I will now share a few selections of metalogue<br />

that demonstrate its potential significance<br />

for exploring our relationality outwards<br />

and interrogating systemic dynamics of<br />

mental health. What follows first is from my<br />

conversation with myself that demonstrates<br />

how this method allows me to slow down<br />

and unpack problematic self-discourse. The<br />

numbers in paren<strong>the</strong>sis signify <strong>the</strong> duration<br />

of pauses in seconds:<br />

Utterance: 33. even now (3) you were<br />

being a dick to me, you were saying <strong>the</strong>se<br />

two days off were really bad for me, and<br />

this is always what you do (2) 34. and I’m<br />

like fair, to an extent, but that’s partially<br />

because of <strong>the</strong> way you treat me (4)and,<br />

we’re trying to work on that, but we’ve<br />

really regressed and we have a lot of ways<br />

to go, and it comes down to more than<br />

just (1) a ok you not being as much of a<br />

dick and acknowledging, but you no more<br />

cop outs 12:46<br />

35. and ano<strong>the</strong>r part of me real is being<br />

honest, eye we’ve done some good but we<br />

also (2) I also xhhhh<br />

36. I also haven’t worked as hard as I<br />

(1) should<br />

37. I say should, but that’s a bit (unin)<br />

38. I haven’t worked as hard as I would like<br />

myself to, Hence ((circles with hand)) <strong>the</strong><br />

start of me being an asshole to you<br />

39. It’s on me, and this perpetual<br />

disagreement we’re having (4) doesn’t<br />

help (3) what I have done, I acknowledge,<br />

and that’s awesome good job you ((clicks<br />

mouth)) good job.<br />

40. I also (2) acknowledge that I had<br />

expectations that have not been met<br />

(2)13:41<br />

41. That’s ok, I have been through a lot<br />

42. You’ve been through a lot (2)<br />

43. You’ve been through a lot, and that’s<br />

ok 13:49<br />

(5)<br />

44.That’s (.5) totally fine<br />

xhhhhh<br />

45. You’ll get <strong>the</strong>re (3) you’re doing well (3)<br />

Metalogue: An example of <strong>the</strong> value of<br />

dialogic turn-taking for me. I often set<br />

expectations for myself that I do not<br />

meet, and am very harsh with myself<br />

in response. This is what ano<strong>the</strong>r voice,<br />

less heard in my day-to-day inner<br />

conversations, is referring to as “what<br />

you always do.” These expectations are<br />

imposed by a domineering voice that<br />

feels external pressures to perform. I<br />

have internalized <strong>the</strong> value of perpetually<br />

increasing my productivity in order to<br />

prove my dominance over <strong>the</strong> work I am<br />

doing, re-enacting patriarchy. Through this<br />

reflexivity, I am able to reveal patriarchy<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


In Conversation with Consciousness<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

as it lives in me, and reject my problematic<br />

performances of masculinity and replace<br />

<strong>the</strong>m with radical self-care.<br />

Through slowing down my thought as<br />

spoken discourse, I was able to work out<br />

my problems with myself in a manner<br />

akin to how I would with ano<strong>the</strong>r person.<br />

Additionally, I was able to uncover what I’ve<br />

now interpreted to be learned practices of<br />

patriarchal capitalism. In o<strong>the</strong>r words, how<br />

patricarchial capitalism is implicated in my<br />

problems and challenge this system “as it<br />

lives in me” via my voice. It is difficult for me<br />

to describe how this felt, but after completing<br />

this conversation I felt focus and peace unlike<br />

anything since my original self-dialogue.<br />

Next, I will sample metalogues with human<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs, Basil and Aldo, on nonhuman voices<br />

and mental health. They reveal ourselves<br />

as innately interwoven with <strong>the</strong> more-thanhuman<br />

and a direct connection between<br />

our experiences of mental health issues and<br />

sensory contact with said voices.<br />

Conversation with Basil about being outside<br />

of human constructed spaces:<br />

Utterance: W: yeah, but -<br />

37:21 B: Cause I definitely feel like a<br />

different energy when I’m in those<br />

spaces, and=<br />

W: oh god me too<br />

B:=clarity<br />

W: it’s so, I keep coming back to <strong>the</strong> word<br />

nourishing for <strong>the</strong>se things, cause whe<strong>the</strong>r<br />

it’s (2) a real diverse community, human<br />

or non, even if I’m like - an imposter, and<br />

predatory, even - I still feel better<br />

37:50 B: mhmmm<br />

W: cause it’s still so much richer than <strong>the</strong><br />

world I live in day to day<br />

B: day to day<br />

W: which is a fucking, I don’t want to say<br />

desert, because <strong>the</strong> desert’s much better<br />

38:12 B: I mean I think (2) I don’t know, like<br />

in those spaces I feel a level of connection<br />

and I guess that’s like <strong>the</strong> root of <strong>the</strong><br />

collective is you need connection of people<br />

and whatever <strong>the</strong> issue or cause is and (2)<br />

38:37 B: I don’t know, I have issue with<br />

people that are like we just need to get<br />

kids out in nature and <strong>the</strong>n we’ll solve <strong>the</strong><br />

issue and it’s like well (1) people can’t like<br />

brea<strong>the</strong> in <strong>the</strong>ir homes so let’s like, how<br />

bout we clean up <strong>the</strong> air <strong>the</strong>re first<br />

38:51 W: right yeah yeah totally<br />

B: but I guess like <strong>the</strong> one thing that I think<br />

can be well <strong>the</strong>re’s various things but I do<br />

think like (.5) at <strong>the</strong> root of like what I’ve<br />

learned being in more wild places is what<br />

connection means=<br />

W:mhmmm<br />

39:16 B: which is like ironic because<br />

sometimes you equate wildness with<br />

solitude=<br />

W: right<br />

B: but I think that’s extremely problematic<br />

W: extremely<br />

B: ummm<br />

W: it’s solitude after you kill everyone that<br />

lived <strong>the</strong>re<br />

B: ((laughs)) (2) yeah and likee I think<br />

community in places like <strong>the</strong> west is pretty<br />

wild in itself, and (2)<br />

Metalogue: B <strong>the</strong>n provides a remarkably<br />

80 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

In Conversation with Consciousness<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

insightful response to <strong>the</strong> tendency to<br />

locate one’s emotional relationship with<br />

nonhuman nature as exclusively within <strong>the</strong><br />

boundaries of <strong>the</strong> individual body, which<br />

resonates for me. “The human mind is not<br />

some o<strong>the</strong>rworldly essence that comes to<br />

house itself inside our physiology. Ra<strong>the</strong>r<br />

it is instilled and provoked by <strong>the</strong><br />

sensorial field itself, induced by <strong>the</strong><br />

tensions and participations between <strong>the</strong><br />

human body and <strong>the</strong> animate earth…<br />

Each place its own mind, its own psyche!”<br />

(Abram, 1996, p. 262).<br />

Basil and I have both had profound<br />

emotional experiences in wilder, less<br />

urbanized spaces with which we have<br />

developed relationships. The nuances<br />

of <strong>the</strong>se experience often escape our<br />

ability to describe <strong>the</strong>m in individualistic<br />

language, but our embodied presence<br />

permits both B and myself to be immersed<br />

and take an active part in <strong>the</strong>se places.<br />

This “different energy,” “clarity,” and “root<br />

of <strong>the</strong> collective” is clear textual support<br />

to Abram’s claim to our conviviality<br />

with <strong>the</strong> more than human world that<br />

is due to our senses (1996), including<br />

what we hear while out <strong>the</strong>re, and that<br />

community of human and nonhuman is<br />

deeply interrelated. I am struck by <strong>the</strong><br />

profundity of <strong>the</strong>ir articulation “what I’ve<br />

learned being in more wild places is what<br />

connection means.” Exposure, and <strong>the</strong><br />

ability to be open to hearing <strong>the</strong> many<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs that compose <strong>the</strong>se environments,<br />

in turn nourish and teach <strong>the</strong> human self<br />

as a moment of dialogue.<br />

Basil and I shared common experiences<br />

of emotive relationships with more than<br />

human spaces, which had a material effect<br />

on our wellbeing. Community is a common<br />

<strong>the</strong>me applying to all forms of life, our<br />

shared existence sustained by sensory<br />

entanglement. Additionally, we enacted<br />

<strong>the</strong>se <strong>the</strong>mes in our conversation as we<br />

discussed <strong>the</strong>m. The following selection of<br />

my conversation with Aldo speaks to<br />

similar experiences:<br />

Utterance: 12:22 W: it’s interesting-its (.5)<br />

it’s quieter in regard to human noises, all<br />

<strong>the</strong> bullshit that’s, ya know gonna make<br />

this a pain to transcribe cause I’ll have to<br />

hear us over it<br />

A: mhmmm<br />

W:((laughs))<br />

A: exactly<br />

W: But uh (1) yeah, and uh I mean you can<br />

use this storm or just being in pine trees<br />

in general as an example but what do you<br />

like, what to you hear when it’s quieter and<br />

what does that mean to ya?<br />

12:47 A: (4) wind going through trees,<br />

even just like a gentle breeze, and you can<br />

hear it rustling everything and it’s just so<br />

much more clear than (2) when <strong>the</strong>re’s a<br />

lot going on you tune out so many things<br />

because<br />

W: yeah<br />

13:08 A: I mean, you just that would be<br />

input overload if you heard every fucking<br />

sound which sometimes I do ADD comes<br />

out but uh when it’s that quiet those<br />

simple beautiful noises are <strong>the</strong> one<br />

things that you can you-you can focus on<br />

everything around you (1) without it being<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


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Weston G. W. Wood<br />

overwhelming and you can, I feel like I<br />

can take it all in ra<strong>the</strong>r than ya know like<br />

cancelling out that shitty music in that car<br />

over <strong>the</strong>re<br />

((Music plays in car outside house))<br />

13:32 W: yeah yeah yeah<br />

A: I don’t need to like block anything, I can<br />

take it all in, and it’s-it’s fucking enjoyable<br />

((whistles to dog)) Blue come here (1)<br />

come here<br />

W: So it’s like, yeah it’s like (1) even though<br />

that’s a song that I love, Run <strong>the</strong> Jewells<br />

13:50A: I didn’t even hear it ((laughs))<br />

13:50 W: But right now it’s like, yeah<br />

putting effort into blocking it so I can<br />

focus on you and this conversation, it’s<br />

interesting how (1) ya know<br />

((car races down 700 east))<br />

Metalogue: A describes in sensory detail<br />

<strong>the</strong> more-than-human voices that he<br />

characterizes as soul-nourishing, and once<br />

more compares <strong>the</strong>m to those heard in<br />

built spaces where similar nonhuman<br />

sounds have been silenced. The choice to<br />

listen to and acknowledge every sound<br />

he is in contact with in <strong>the</strong> latter would<br />

serve as a trigger for his diagnosed and<br />

pathologized Attention Deficit Disorder;<br />

yet granting that same attention to his<br />

perceptions of <strong>the</strong> former is <strong>the</strong> opposite.<br />

He has to “block out” <strong>the</strong> various urban<br />

voices, while he thrives on <strong>the</strong> speech<br />

of winds racing through trees. Also<br />

interesting is both are present in this<br />

particular conversational moment, both<br />

Social<br />

<strong>the</strong> blaring music on <strong>the</strong> street near our<br />

conversation and his interaction with<br />

his dog.<br />

Like Basil and myself, Aldo has a qualitatively<br />

different experience with his mental health<br />

in ecologically rich spaces as compared<br />

to built environments where <strong>the</strong>se voices<br />

have been silenced. For us, <strong>the</strong>se morethan-human<br />

voices have had a role in<br />

our growth, sustained our wellbeing and<br />

informed our interactions with o<strong>the</strong>rs in<br />

turn. Understandably, <strong>the</strong>ir loss is implicated<br />

explicitly in our own issues of mental health.<br />

The awareness lent by this process has<br />

indeed revealed <strong>the</strong> conversation role of<br />

<strong>the</strong> nonhuman o<strong>the</strong>r in <strong>the</strong> development of<br />

<strong>the</strong> self and <strong>the</strong> benefits of listening to and<br />

engaging <strong>the</strong>se voices.<br />

Fur<strong>the</strong>r Questions<br />

This work has certainly problematized<br />

traditional notions of what an individual<br />

subject is and how <strong>the</strong>se ideas about <strong>the</strong> self<br />

live within me. I think that hearing <strong>the</strong> voices<br />

of human and nonhuman o<strong>the</strong>rs as we grow<br />

plays an a priori role in our development,<br />

and conversation can indeed be productively<br />

understood as a conversation (Wood, 2017,<br />

p. 94). While I have intuitively agreed with<br />

<strong>the</strong> notions of relational ontology for some<br />

time, I think <strong>the</strong> eco-dialogic method has<br />

successfully revealed that our relationality<br />

can be understood discursively. That<br />

I was able to achieve a more nuanced<br />

understanding of my own relationality, in<br />

conviviality with my human and nonhuman<br />

communities alike, was deeply rewarding and<br />

helpful in negotiating <strong>the</strong>se relationships.<br />

This process provoked childhood memories<br />

of growing up with a maple tree who was<br />

Ecology<br />

82 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

In Conversation with Consciousness<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

“mine,” one with whom I had a profound<br />

sensory and emotional relationship. Through<br />

this project, I unpacked <strong>the</strong> significance of<br />

this connection and was able to connect<br />

with o<strong>the</strong>r participants through similar<br />

experiences. Given <strong>the</strong> opportunity to grow<br />

with nonhuman o<strong>the</strong>rs as a child, I was<br />

quite seriously formed by <strong>the</strong>m, and in turn,<br />

remained open to emotional bonds with<br />

beings both similar and radically different<br />

than myself. This experience has rippled<br />

through and remade my spoken, felt<br />

relationships with many o<strong>the</strong>rs. I am excited<br />

by <strong>the</strong> possibility to explore relationality<br />

outwards from <strong>the</strong> self in greater depth and<br />

for more people.<br />

I am convinced that self-dialogue can be<br />

a productive avenue to resolve anxieties<br />

that riddle our relationships with ourselves<br />

and o<strong>the</strong>rs. By changing <strong>the</strong> discursive<br />

form to spoken conversation, one is able<br />

to recognize multiple voices and come to<br />

understand multiple truths as <strong>the</strong>y exist<br />

within one traditionally-bounded human<br />

subject. Recognition and understanding<br />

can help resolve <strong>the</strong>se differences through<br />

a deliberate choice to listen to all. To what<br />

extent can mental health be examined, how<br />

meaningfully can more people heal ourselves<br />

through this method?<br />

The true power of this method to heal<br />

seems to lie in its ecologically-grounded<br />

understanding of voice, relationships and<br />

mental health. These metalogues recognize<br />

our utterances as true and legitimate, and<br />

couple <strong>the</strong>m with an understanding of<br />

human voice as a material process that<br />

has co-evolved with a multitude of human<br />

and nonhuman communities. Through our<br />

voices, my conversational partners and I<br />

were able to uncover and reflect upon <strong>the</strong>se<br />

relationships and locate ourselves in larger<br />

systems. For example, I lost <strong>the</strong> maple tree<br />

because of market forces, and Basil and<br />

Aldo had experienced similar pains. This<br />

project successfully teased out <strong>the</strong> intimate<br />

connection between <strong>the</strong> loss of nonhuman<br />

voices and pervasive maladies which seem<br />

to emanate from those individual and<br />

collective losses.<br />

I am grateful that most of my struggles have<br />

been personal, given my current privilege and<br />

comfortable petite bourgeoisie background.<br />

I hope that this dialogic method can help us<br />

be better to o<strong>the</strong>rs and ourselves, and learn<br />

to live healthier lives within <strong>the</strong> imperialist<br />

white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy<br />

(hooks, 2013, p. 1) that teaches us <strong>the</strong><br />

only worthwhile way to live is to dominate,<br />

commodify and isolate ourselves from our<br />

communities. Oppression is systemic and<br />

must be diagnosed and treated as such, and<br />

change is <strong>the</strong> realm of organizing, direct<br />

action, and policy that improves material<br />

conditions for those struggling and (I hope)<br />

transforms our society before cascading<br />

ecological collapse makes our Earth<br />

unlivable. However, at <strong>the</strong> risk of falling into<br />

<strong>the</strong> neoliberal trap of thinking exclusively<br />

in terms of individual actions, I insist that<br />

exploring our relationality outwards from<br />

<strong>the</strong> individuated self to <strong>the</strong> more-thanhuman<br />

should play a valuable role in doing<br />

so. I invite criticism as to how to do this<br />

work better.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


In Conversation with Consciousness<br />

Weston G. W. Wood<br />

This intimate view of discourse, grounded<br />

in ecology, invites us to think of ourselves<br />

as <strong>the</strong> conversational components and<br />

composers of larger systems. Dependent<br />

on each o<strong>the</strong>r as we are, we may use<br />

<strong>the</strong>se transcribed texts to transform<br />

how we live our relationships touched by<br />

systemic exploitation. Gradually we might<br />

shift our notions of self, from those of <strong>the</strong><br />

domineering individual who understands<br />

most o<strong>the</strong>r life as inferior and exploitable,<br />

towards one that coevolved conversationally<br />

with a multitude of voices, one that is part<br />

of a nurturing community. For <strong>the</strong> inherently<br />

more powerful, I believe listening grounded<br />

in this method can continue to prove to be<br />

a provocative political and ecological act.<br />

References<br />

Abram, D. (1996). The spell of <strong>the</strong> sensuous: Perception and<br />

language in <strong>the</strong> more-than-human world. New York:<br />

Pan<strong>the</strong>on Books.<br />

Abram, D. (2005). Between <strong>the</strong> body and <strong>the</strong> breathing earth:<br />

A reply to Ted Toadvine. Environmental Ethics, 27 (2), 171-<br />

190.<br />

Bakhtin, M., McGee, V. (trans). (1986). Speech Genres and O<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Late Essays. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.<br />

Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Chicago:<br />

University of Chicago Press.<br />

Bateson, G. (1979). Mind and nature: A necessary unity. London:<br />

Wildwood House.<br />

Dolar, M. (2006). A Voice and <strong>No</strong>thing More. Cambridge, MA: The<br />

MIT Press.<br />

Foucault, M., & Pearson, J. (2001). Fearless speech (p. 12). Los<br />

Angeles: Semiotext (e).<br />

hooks, b. (2013). Understanding patriarchy. Louisville Anarchist<br />

Federation. Louisville Lending Library.<br />

Springer, S., & Gahman, L. (2016). Fuck Neoliberalism… And Then<br />

Some!.<br />

Sytaffel. (2008). Bateson – Steps to An Ecology of Mind. Media<br />

ecologies and digital activism: Thoughts about change for a<br />

changing world. Retrieved from https://mediaecologies.<br />

wordpress.com/2008/05/21/bateson-steps-to-an-ecologyof-mind/<br />

on April 6th, 2017.<br />

Wildman, W. J. (2010). An introduction to relational ontology.<br />

The Trinity and an entangled world: Relationality in physical<br />

science and <strong>the</strong>ology, 55-73.<br />



COMMUNICATION. Undergraduate Research <strong>Journal</strong>.<br />

Retrieved from http://epubs.utah.edu/index.php/URJ/<br />

article/view/3874<br />

Wood, W. (2016). The Ecology of Empowerment: A<br />

Particular Politics for an Astounding (Anxiety Inducing)<br />

Anthropocene. Impact: Ecology and legacy integrated minor.<br />

Salt Lake City, UT: The University of Utah Honors College.<br />

84 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Rebecca Clark Bee 7 (Sway), Graphite on paper, 30 x 22 in., 2009<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Markers<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

86 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Marker<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

Left | Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

Marker #4<br />

silverpoint and acrylic<br />

on prepared paper<br />

29.5” x 31”, 2012<br />

Arizona-born and Baltimore-based artist<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans has a practice<br />

founded in drawing, painting, sculpture, and<br />

performance. Her work aims to complicate<br />

<strong>the</strong> idea of nature and explores <strong>the</strong> division<br />

between <strong>the</strong> human and natural world. Evans<br />

received a BFA in painting from Arizona State<br />

University, and MFA from <strong>the</strong> School of <strong>the</strong><br />

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/Tufts University.<br />

She is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural<br />

Council Artist Fellowship in Drawing, St.<br />

Botolph Club Foundation Emerging Artist<br />

Award, and Blanche E. Colman Award. Select<br />

exhibitions include Onloaded: Andrea<br />

Sherrill Evans, phICA (Phoenix, AZ), Where<br />

Nature Ends, The Cluster Gallery (Brooklyn,<br />

NY), Passing, Left, The Dorado Project at<br />

<strong>the</strong> Buggy Factory (Brooklyn, NY), Clear-Cut,<br />

Emmanuel College (Boston, MA), and Mean<br />

Girls at SPACE Gallery (Pittsburgh, PA). Evans<br />

currently teaches in <strong>the</strong> Drawing Department<br />

at <strong>the</strong> Maryland Institute College of Art.<br />

andreasherrillevans.com<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Markers<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

Woven throughout my art practice is <strong>the</strong><br />

aim to complicate <strong>the</strong> idea of nature and<br />

<strong>the</strong> often didactic division between <strong>the</strong><br />

human and <strong>the</strong> natural world. The use of<br />

drawing to investigate <strong>the</strong> subject of nature<br />

recalls <strong>the</strong> picturesque landscape sketches<br />

of <strong>the</strong> Romantic painters, but <strong>the</strong>ir focus on<br />

sublime scenery with mythic proportions is<br />

transposed onto new forms of nature that<br />

reveal <strong>the</strong> active, and irreversible, impact of<br />

<strong>the</strong> human hand.<br />

The human mark on <strong>the</strong> landscape is<br />

present both literally and figuratively<br />

throughout <strong>the</strong> Marker series. This group<br />

of drawings explores <strong>the</strong> human impact on<br />

<strong>the</strong> land alongside <strong>the</strong> human desire for<br />

a connection with nature. These brightly<br />

colored trail blazes rupture an o<strong>the</strong>rwise<br />

seemingly untouched wilderness, clearly<br />

marking <strong>the</strong> points where <strong>the</strong> human and<br />

natural world collide.<br />

In <strong>the</strong>ir use in natural spaces, trail<br />

blazes designate a particular path. They<br />

must intentionally stand out from <strong>the</strong><br />

surrounding environment, and require<br />

repetition and specific placement in order<br />

to guide one through an unknown space.<br />

While <strong>the</strong>se markers may disrupt <strong>the</strong><br />

notion of a true wilderness, <strong>the</strong>y provide<br />

an access point to a direct experience with<br />

<strong>the</strong> natural world. As <strong>the</strong>y lead human<br />

movement through <strong>the</strong> landscape, keeping<br />

one on <strong>the</strong> trail, <strong>the</strong>y simultaneously protect<br />

<strong>the</strong> surrounding ecosystems from fur<strong>the</strong>r<br />

destructive human impact.<br />

As <strong>the</strong> images of <strong>the</strong>se trail markers<br />

are translated through <strong>the</strong> process of<br />

drawing, <strong>the</strong>y are removed from <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

specific context. These signs are thus<br />

decentered and disconnected from serving<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir particular purpose. With <strong>the</strong> lack of<br />

geographical specificity, <strong>the</strong>se markers no<br />

longer point us toward <strong>the</strong> trail ahead, but<br />

ra<strong>the</strong>r, toward larger questions about our<br />

role in shaping <strong>the</strong> future of a more-thanhuman<br />

world. While <strong>the</strong>se markers may be<br />

a reminder of <strong>the</strong> crushing and irreversible<br />

human impact on <strong>the</strong> natural world, <strong>the</strong>y<br />

may also provide a glimpse of <strong>the</strong> potential<br />

for <strong>the</strong> touch of human hand to be one of<br />

preservation and conservation of <strong>the</strong> forms<br />

of nature that still remain.<br />

88 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Markers<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans Marker #3, silverpoint and walnut ink on prepared paper, 29.5” x 23”, 2012<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Markers<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

90 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Markers<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

Marker #2<br />

silverpoint and acrylic<br />

on prepared paper<br />

29.5” x 33”, 2012<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


Markers<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

Marker #5<br />

silverpoint and acrylic<br />

on prepared paper<br />

29.5” x 36”, 2013<br />

92 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Markers<br />

Andrea Sherrill Evans<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


94 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

The Energy & Information<br />

Ecosystems of <strong>the</strong> Colorado<br />

Plateau: An Arts/Sciences<br />

Field Study<br />

Richard Lowenberg<br />

Richard Lowenberg, 1st-Mile Institute founding<br />

director, has spent nearly 50 years creatively<br />

integrating critical understandings and grounded<br />

involvements in non-profit organizational<br />

development, architecture, ecosystems design,<br />

rural community tele-network planning, <strong>the</strong>ater,<br />

new media arts, photography, writing, teaching<br />

and grounded eco-social arts/sciences practices.<br />

1st-mile.org/contact<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


The Energy & Information Ecosystems of <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau<br />

Richard Lowenberg<br />

Residencies + Research Collaborations +<br />

Exhibitions + Performances + Workshops +<br />

Education + Book + Web<br />

Field Study”, being initiated as a project of<br />

1st-Mile Institute’s SARC Program, proposes<br />

to complement o<strong>the</strong>r regional research,<br />

resource studies, decision-support processes<br />

and cultural actions. Framed by creation of<br />

field-fur<strong>the</strong>ring, interdisciplinary, innovative<br />

arts/sciences collaborations, this multi-year<br />

project proposes to establish research thinkand-do<br />

residencies, while cooperating with<br />

national parks, wilderness areas, tribal and<br />

rural communities, government agencies,<br />

educational and cultural institutions and<br />

many creative individuals, to inventory, map,<br />

assess, story-tell, exhibit, publish and most<br />

creatively present enhanced understandings<br />

of <strong>the</strong> complex human and non-human<br />

‘energy and information ecosystems’ of <strong>the</strong><br />

Four-Corner States Colorado Plateau.<br />

“The Energy & Information Ecosystems of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau: An Arts/Sciences Field<br />

Study” is a grounded environmental arts/<br />

sciences initiative, now being designed to<br />

complement o<strong>the</strong>r regional eco-research,<br />

cultural works and community decisionsupport<br />

processes, with collaborative<br />

residencies to inventory, map, assess<br />

and most creatively present enhanced<br />

understandings of <strong>the</strong> complex human<br />

and non-human ‘energy and information<br />

ecosystems’ of this four states region. This<br />

initiative emerges from a deep love of this<br />

most special place.<br />

Introduction<br />

“The Energy & Information Ecosystems of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau: An Arts/Sciences<br />

At <strong>the</strong> creative, intellectual, educational<br />

and public communications heart of this<br />

project is <strong>the</strong> precept that while many of<br />

us espouse a need for improved ecological<br />

understandings and dedicated actions, few<br />

of us understand ecology as a dynamic,<br />

integrated whole systems science. Given<br />

<strong>the</strong> daunting complexity of our real-world<br />

condition, researchers, policy-makers,<br />

activists and <strong>the</strong> rest of us, usually think and<br />

work along narrow, single-issue paths (water,<br />

population, air, climate, land use, tech.),<br />

largely ignoring <strong>the</strong> intangible, immaterial<br />

nature and processes that physics generally<br />

refers to as ‘energy and information’. The<br />

nodes and flows that bind and direct all<br />

matter, have no less significance than our<br />

more widely studied material ecosystems.<br />

We are now learning that understanding<br />

<strong>the</strong>se mostly invisible forces makes all <strong>the</strong><br />

96 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

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Richard Lowenberg<br />

difference, if we are to act humanely and with<br />

nurturing care for our local-global selves<br />

and surrounds.<br />

The arts and <strong>the</strong> sciences are each o<strong>the</strong>r’s<br />

best friends; two sides of <strong>the</strong> same coin;<br />

a primary currency in <strong>the</strong> 21st century.<br />

They offer a convergent path to an ecounderstanding<br />

of our world and our place<br />

<strong>the</strong>rein. SARC is an onramp to that path<br />

forward, here to spark our imaginations, and<br />

to challenge our creative spirit and resolve.<br />

In this four state region, <strong>the</strong> convergent arts<br />

and sciences can be cornerstones of our<br />

economic and cultural future.<br />

“We are at a transition point where we<br />

are questioning our disciplinary habits<br />

and looking for ways to integrate findings<br />

from numerous fields of knowledge. One<br />

possible solution is to encourage <strong>the</strong> fusion<br />

of <strong>the</strong> scientific and artistic imagination<br />

in education, civil society, and scientific<br />

institutions. By encouraging significant<br />

collaborations between scientists and<br />

artists, science becomes rooted in and<br />

more responsive to <strong>the</strong> new and emerging<br />

cultures that are actively developing new<br />

ways to reach out to <strong>the</strong> public. This will<br />

ultimately help insure that our institutions<br />

reflect our interdependence.”<br />

The Colorado Plateau<br />

The Colorado Plateau is a roughly 130,000<br />

square mile geo-physically described ecoregion,<br />

within <strong>the</strong> Four-Corner states: Arizona,<br />

Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. Most of<br />

<strong>the</strong> area is drained by <strong>the</strong> Colorado River<br />

and its main tributaries: <strong>the</strong> Green, San<br />

Juan, and Little Colorado Rivers, plus <strong>the</strong> Rio<br />

Grande and its tributaries. This magical yet<br />

fragile place is one of <strong>the</strong> most extensively<br />

researched eco-regions in <strong>the</strong> world.<br />

Longtime home to many indigenous peoples,<br />

<strong>the</strong> region has <strong>the</strong> greatest concentration of<br />

National Parks, monuments + public lands in<br />

<strong>the</strong> U.S.<br />

Andrea Polli, Ph.D, Mesa Del Sol Chair,<br />

Assoc. Prof., Fine Arts and Engineering,<br />

UNM<br />

Its richness in energy resources is <strong>the</strong><br />

basis for economic vitality plus contentious<br />

exploitation.<br />

The Colorado Plateau has many stories to tell,<br />

some of which this initiative hopes to explore.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


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Richard Lowenberg<br />

and of our need to think differently, by<br />

taking “steps toward an ecology of mind”.<br />

Grand Challenges<br />

Our greatest local-global ‘Grand Challenge’<br />

is to develop ‘a unified ecological field<br />

<strong>the</strong>ory’, integrating physical, biological,<br />

environmental, information, social<br />

and economic processes, to move our<br />

understandings, intents and actions towards<br />

<strong>the</strong> most challenging, yet ultimately most<br />

important humane goals of our networked<br />

contemporary society: ‘demosophia’<br />

(people wisdom).<br />

The Earth and all upon it, is ba<strong>the</strong>d in,<br />

permeated by and all-involved in a universal<br />

flow and flux of electromagnetic radiated<br />

energy and information. We cannot address<br />

<strong>the</strong> critical issues of changing climate, water,<br />

energy, food, health, population, economics,<br />

politics or security, without a better<br />

understanding of our dynamically integrated<br />

matter-energy-information environment,<br />

“The Energy & Information Ecosystems of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau: An Arts/Sciences Field<br />

Study” is a proposed multi-year project,<br />

intending to develop more creatively<br />

informed processes as basis for applied<br />

regional ecological understanding and<br />

decision-making. Information, like water, <strong>the</strong><br />

air we brea<strong>the</strong> and community health,<br />

is considered an ‘intangible and externality’<br />

by our dominant political-economic systems.<br />

Yet we should know that such immaterial<br />

‘common pool resources’ are <strong>the</strong> true<br />

determinants of quality of life. The interdynamic<br />

states of matter, energy and of<br />

information are fundamental constituents of<br />

our evolutionary ecological existence.<br />

This cross-disciplinary “Arts/Sciences Field<br />

Study” will take a scaled look at select<br />

energy and information ecosystems, from<br />

human social-scale telecommunications<br />

infrastructure and services (broadcast and<br />

broadband), to mapping and documenting<br />

<strong>the</strong> many coal, gas, oil, uranium, hydro,<br />

solar and wind energy sites, systems<br />

and distribution networks in <strong>the</strong> region.<br />

It will study and present <strong>the</strong> infrared<br />

signatures of diverse regional plants and<br />

o<strong>the</strong>r organisms, will record and analyze<br />

insect communications, will document<br />

atmospheric electro-phenomena, will sonify<br />

<strong>the</strong> quakings of <strong>the</strong> Earth, will compose new<br />

bird songs and will shine a creative light on<br />

<strong>the</strong> region’s wealth of eco-cultural stories,<br />

languages, imaginations, dreams and<br />

world-views.<br />

98 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

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Richard Lowenberg<br />

“The Energy & Information Ecosystems of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau: An Arts/Sciences<br />

Field Study” is intended to augment o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Four Corners regional ecosystem research,<br />

assessments, mappings, learning and<br />

decision-support initiatives, integrating<br />

emergent patterns for ‘whole systems’<br />

interactions and interventions, with<br />

collaborative, highly creative processes<br />

and outcomes.<br />

Arts/Sciences Residencies Proposal<br />

outreach programs, museum exhibitions, a<br />

beautiful book and interactive web site.<br />

An initial two-year period (2018 –2020)<br />

will be used to institutionally structure <strong>the</strong><br />

program, apply for start-up and long-term<br />

program funding, nurture existing and<br />

establish new regional partnerships, create<br />

educational materials and best-practices and<br />

extend applied ecosystems understandings<br />

to improve regional economic, cultural and<br />

social processes and outcomes.<br />

1st-Mile Institute and its SARC (Scientists/<br />

Artists Research Collaborations) Initiative<br />

proposes <strong>the</strong> creation of an Arts/Sciences<br />

Residency and Research Program.<br />

This project is intended to make a small<br />

difference; to propagate greater<br />

‘eco-mindedness’ and an ecological worldview,<br />

with <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau as <strong>the</strong> richly<br />

inspiring eco-physical setting.<br />

“For too long we’ve been looking at each<br />

of <strong>the</strong>se problems in isolation, or at most,<br />

trying to understand how two systems<br />

interact with one ano<strong>the</strong>r. The historical<br />

structure of research reflects a belief in<br />

restricted, ‘disciplinary solutions.’ But<br />

times, <strong>the</strong>y are a-changing. What we<br />

need to investigate now is how multiple<br />

By its very nature, this ambitious project<br />

must attempt to be inclusive of <strong>the</strong> many<br />

communities, institutions, people and deeply<br />

motivated work and ways of <strong>the</strong> Colorado<br />

Plateau and surrounds. Partnerships and<br />

working relationships are being explored,<br />

joined and established.<br />

The proposed Arts/Sciences Residency and<br />

Research Program will result in selected<br />

artists and scientists collaborations,<br />

interdisciplinary research studies, scientific<br />

papers/writings, geospatial mapping and<br />

modeling, site-specific performances, digital<br />

media stories and artworks, educational<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1<br />


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Richard Lowenberg<br />

systems evolve and adapt in response to<br />

one ano<strong>the</strong>r, and explore <strong>the</strong> common<br />

properties of <strong>the</strong>se systems.”<br />

“It all sounds highly improbable until you<br />

realize that it is not that large problems<br />

are intractable, but that <strong>the</strong>y require<br />

audacious imagination, a willingness to<br />

take risks, convening <strong>the</strong> right groups of<br />

collaborators, and asking very challenging<br />

and seemingly far-out questions. After<br />

all, who would have suspected that <strong>the</strong>re<br />

could be such things as space-time,<br />

quantum entanglement, Turing machines,<br />

and natural selection? These are wonders<br />

of <strong>the</strong> imagination that also facilitate<br />

interactions with our environments.”<br />

David Krakauer, President, Santa Fe<br />

Institute, 2015<br />

Information, be it embodied in organisms,<br />

<strong>the</strong> mind, or <strong>the</strong> culture, is part of a larger<br />

selective system that determines through<br />

successful competition or cooperation<br />

what information survives. Information<br />

can be encoded in genes, nerve nets,<br />

or institutions, but <strong>the</strong> selective system<br />

that promotes survival remains similar.<br />

A selective system is a pattern producing<br />

and recognizing system, be it <strong>the</strong> pattern<br />

of life on earth, <strong>the</strong> symbolic order of <strong>the</strong><br />

mind, or <strong>the</strong> pattern of culture. A selective<br />

system manages complexity. ...<br />

Heinz Pagels, The Dreams of Reason<br />

Potential Four-State Artist Invitees<br />

The Colorado Plateau has long attracted<br />

creative individuals, and this four-state region<br />

is home to many artists of all disciplines,<br />

including some remarkable creators already<br />

deeply involved in interdisciplinary, ecominded<br />

art/science practices, as writers,<br />

poets, performers, musicians, new media<br />

makers, land artists, photographers,<br />

conceptualists and more. An extensive pool<br />

of such artists from <strong>the</strong> four states will be<br />

developed for arts/sciences residencies,<br />

collaborations and presentations, as<br />

programs become formalized.<br />

100 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

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Richard Lowenberg<br />

“Just as <strong>the</strong> physical environment<br />

determines what <strong>the</strong> source of food<br />

and exertions of labor shall be, <strong>the</strong><br />

information environment gives specific<br />

direction to <strong>the</strong> kinds of ideas, social<br />

attitudes, definitions of knowledge and<br />

intellectual capacities that will emerge....<br />

When <strong>the</strong>re occurs a radical shift in<br />

<strong>the</strong> structure of that environment, this<br />

must be followed by changes in social<br />

organization, intellectual predispositions<br />

and a sense of what is real and valuable....<br />

Towards an Ecological Understanding of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Energy-Information Environment<br />

When speaking of ‘<strong>the</strong> environment’, most<br />

people still think only of <strong>the</strong> tangible,<br />

physical environment of air, earth, fire,<br />

water and life. But <strong>the</strong>se material systems<br />

We might say that <strong>the</strong> most potent<br />

revolutionaries are those people who<br />

invent new media of communication,<br />

although typically <strong>the</strong>y are not aware<br />

of what <strong>the</strong>y are doing.”<br />

Neil Postman<br />

The Nature of Information<br />

“Complex systems in nature and<br />

society make use of information for <strong>the</strong><br />

development of <strong>the</strong>ir internal organization<br />

and <strong>the</strong> control of <strong>the</strong>ir functional<br />

mechanisms. Alongside technical aspects<br />

of storing, transmitting and processing<br />

information, <strong>the</strong> various semantic aspects<br />

of information, such as meaning, sense,<br />

reference and function, play a decisive<br />

part in <strong>the</strong> analysis of such systems.”<br />

Bernd-Olaf Küppers, Professor Emeritus<br />

of Natural Philosophy, University of Jena,<br />

Germany, author, Information and <strong>the</strong><br />

Origins of Life, MIT Press, 1990<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 101

The Energy & Information Ecosystems of <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau<br />

Richard Lowenberg<br />

Information Ecology<br />

The Nature of Information<br />

Information, like matter and energy, is a<br />

primary ecological constituent.<br />

Information requires life, and it endows life.<br />

Information is universal, with qualities and<br />

properties varying according to scale.<br />

Information is <strong>the</strong> difference in a state of<br />

being resulting from any interaction, macro<br />

to micro, between two or more systems.<br />

Information at human-earth scale may<br />

be thought of as constituting a complex<br />

dynamic environment, with which all of<br />

life interacts.<br />

The dynamic flow of information tends<br />

to reorganize all living systems and<br />

social constructs.<br />

The human brain and nervous system have<br />

evolved through cumulative genetically<br />

coded experience, unique self-referencing<br />

processes, and a seeming tendency to be<br />

all knowing.<br />

Human senses evolved to sense narrow<br />

visible and auditory ranges of spectral<br />

information, though we invisibly and<br />

intangibly continually interact with<br />

all information.<br />

Human technological developments, as<br />

sensory aids, allow us to tune in to, ride<br />

upon and manipulate large parts of <strong>the</strong><br />

information environment.<br />

Information has value. It may be free, cheap<br />

or expensive, based on its availability and<br />

demand, processing requirements, and<br />

ability to make a difference.<br />

In human terms, pollution and waste in <strong>the</strong><br />

information environment are qualitative:<br />

ignorance, confusion, deception; as well<br />

as quantitative: sensory overload and high<br />

noise to signal ratio.<br />

Information is a verb, not a noun.<br />

are bound toge<strong>the</strong>r in an emergent flow<br />

of sustaining energy and information; <strong>the</strong><br />

Earth-Sun-Universe connection. It is this<br />

<strong>the</strong>rmodynamic life force, this radiant<br />

electromagnetic environment, and its<br />

impacts on <strong>the</strong> human body and mind, and<br />

on all life, to which a sense of ecology must<br />

be acknowledged.<br />

We have long known that <strong>the</strong> environment<br />

is much more, with contemporary physics<br />

and ecosystems sciences showing that<br />

‘<strong>the</strong> environment’ exists in <strong>the</strong> elementary,<br />

complex, inter-dynamic and co-evolutionary<br />

states of matter, energy and information.<br />

While we understand a great deal about<br />

material ecosystems, and are now including<br />

entropy and energy flows in our equations,<br />

we have barely applied understandings of<br />

ecology to information, and <strong>the</strong>refore to an<br />

integrated, whole-systems understanding<br />

of ecology. This will have evermore<br />

troubling consequences as local-global<br />

societies increasingly tune into, develop,<br />

pollute, manipulate and live in <strong>the</strong><br />

information environment.<br />

Human use and manipulation of<br />

<strong>the</strong> electromagnetic spectrum for<br />

communications, and <strong>the</strong> production<br />

and evermore saturating flow of energy<br />

for power, are having direct effect upon<br />

all living organisms, in ways barely<br />

understood. This energy-information<br />

environment; <strong>the</strong> flows and concentrations<br />

of cause and effect in this invisible, dynamic<br />

ecosystem; and <strong>the</strong> symbiotic relationship<br />

between <strong>the</strong> production of communications<br />

technology, with <strong>the</strong> co-evolution of<br />

102 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

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Richard Lowenberg<br />

<strong>the</strong> human psycho-sensory system, is<br />

considered too esoteric and unfathomable<br />

a subject for most people to involve<br />

<strong>the</strong>mselves in. <strong>No</strong>ne<strong>the</strong>less, it is<br />

becoming clear that energy-information<br />

processes determine <strong>the</strong> dynamic course<br />

of social evolution.<br />

Colorado Plateau <strong>Mapping</strong><br />

An historically major element and mode<br />

of arts/sciences integration, now rich with<br />

relational digital data, is mapping and<br />

modeling. How do we map intangible and<br />

invisible dynamics over time?<br />

The overpowering chaos of <strong>the</strong> universe<br />

is miraculously awesome. The continuous,<br />

delicate balancing act between order and<br />

disorder involves us entirely, from molecule<br />

to mind. High entropy (chaos) matter-energy<br />

displays resistance and inflexibility. It is <strong>the</strong><br />

quality of low entropy (order) that makes<br />

matter-energy receptive to <strong>the</strong> imprint of<br />

human knowledge and purpose. We can<br />

nei<strong>the</strong>r create nor destroy matter, energy<br />

or information. We live on <strong>the</strong> qualitative<br />

difference between <strong>the</strong>se natural resources<br />

and waste; <strong>the</strong> increase in entropy.<br />

High entropy; noise in <strong>the</strong> information<br />

environment, is constituted by ignorance,<br />

confusion, deception and obfuscation. To<br />

ignore <strong>the</strong> simple and elemental truths of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Entropy Law, is undoubtedly to promote<br />

more undesired disorder over time.<br />

Life’s delicate balance requires greater<br />

sensitivity and perception. An ecology<br />

of <strong>the</strong> information environment; ‘an<br />

ecology of mind’; would foster intelligence,<br />

creativity and inspiration as our most<br />

valued resources. Within this conceptual<br />

framework, <strong>the</strong> arts, sciences and lifelong<br />

learning in pursuit of truth and beauty,<br />

ought to be <strong>the</strong> ultimate exemplars of a<br />

culturally rich, sustainable society. This<br />

would be a real Information Revolution.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> short end are <strong>the</strong> gamma waves, so tightly packed<br />

that a billion strung toge<strong>the</strong>r would barely cover a fingernail.<br />

At <strong>the</strong> o<strong>the</strong>r end of <strong>the</strong> electromagnetic spectrum are<br />

enormously long waves. Most waves are measured in cycles<br />

per second, but <strong>the</strong>se are so huge that <strong>the</strong>y take more than<br />

a second to pass by, which makes <strong>the</strong>m more than 186,000<br />

miles long, or more than twenty times <strong>the</strong> diameter of <strong>the</strong><br />

Earth. There are indications of some waves as much as forty<br />

seconds, or seven million miles in length. At <strong>the</strong> moment we<br />

cannot begin to guess at <strong>the</strong> significance of <strong>the</strong>se signals.<br />

All we can do is record that <strong>the</strong>y exist, that <strong>the</strong>y traverse<br />

galaxies, that despite <strong>the</strong>ir very low field strength, life is<br />

sensitive to <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

See more at 1st-mile.org<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 103

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Richard Lowenberg<br />

Resources & References<br />

The International Map Year: 2015-2016, International<br />

Cartographic Assoc. + UN Initiative for Global<br />

Geospatial Information Management ((UN-GGIM) http://<br />

internationalmapyear.org www.icaci.org<br />

A World that Counts: Mobilising <strong>the</strong> Data Revolution for<br />

Sustainable Development, Report prepared at <strong>the</strong><br />

request of <strong>the</strong> United Nations Secretary-General, by<br />

<strong>the</strong> Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data<br />

Revolution for Sustainable Development, <strong>No</strong>vember<br />

2014.<br />


PLATEAU: An Ecoregional Assessment of Biocultural<br />

Diversity, 2002, Center for Sustainable Environments,<br />

<strong>No</strong>r<strong>the</strong>rn Arizona U.; Grand Canyon Wildlands Council<br />

and Terralingua: Partnerships for Linguistic and<br />

Biological Diversity.<br />

The “Clean Power Plan” and <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau, Taylor<br />

McKinnon, August 7, 2014<br />

http://www.grandcanyontrust.org/news/2014/08/cleanpower-plan-colorado-plateau-part-1/<br />

Sojourns Magazine, Sedona, AZ www.sojournsmagazine.org<br />

Land Arts of <strong>the</strong> American West, UNM, http://landarts.unm.<br />

edu/index.html<br />

ARID: A <strong>Journal</strong> of Desert Art, Design and Ecology, http://<br />

aridjournal.org/<br />

Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), www.clui.org<br />

“Cybercartography – <strong>Mapping</strong> out <strong>the</strong> Mystery”, By: Fraser<br />

Taylor, June 8, 2014<br />

http://scitechconnect.elsevier.com/cybercartography/5<br />

Archaeoacoustics https://sites.google.com/site/<br />

rockartacoustics/<br />

Perceptual Worlds and Sensory Ecology, Stephen Burnett,<br />

PhD (Dept. of Natural Sciences, Clayton State University)<br />

© 2012 Nature Education<br />

www.nature.com/scitable/knowledge/library/perceptualworlds-and-sensory-ecology-22141730<br />

Towards Understanding Plant Bioacoustics, Monica Gagliano,<br />

Stefano Mancuso + Daniel Robert, Cell Press.<br />

Impacts of Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Field (RF-<br />

EMF) from Cell Phone Towers and Wireless Devices<br />

on Biosystems and Ecosystems – A Review, S Sivani, D<br />

Sudarsanam, Department of Advanced Zoology and<br />

Biotechnology, Loyola College, Chennai, Tamil Nadu,<br />

India, Biology and Medicine, 4 (4): 202–216, 2012.<br />

Immersed in a New Media Environment: Visualizing <strong>the</strong><br />

Electromagnetic Space, Susana Jorgina,<br />

April 20, 2010 https://susanajorgina.wordpress.<br />

com/2010/04/20/visualizing-<strong>the</strong>-electromagnetic-space/<br />

Information Ecology (section for <strong>the</strong> Recommendations<br />

for Actions and Commitments at Earth Summit II: NGO<br />

background paper), 1997, www.infohabitat.org/csd-97<br />

Information and <strong>the</strong> Origins of Life, Bernd-Olaf Küppers<br />

(Professor Emeritus of Natural Philosophy, University of<br />

Jena, Germany), MIT Press, 1990.<br />

Energy and Information, Myron Tribus & Edward C. McIrvine,<br />

Scientific American, Sept. 1971.<br />

Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language and Life,<br />

J. Campbell, Simon & Schuster, 1982.<br />

The Poetry of Thermodynamics: Energy, entropy/exergy and<br />

quality, Silvio 0. Funtowicz and Jerome R. Ravetz, 1997,<br />

Elsevier.<br />

104 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

The Energy & Information Ecosystems of <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau<br />

Richard Lowenberg<br />

The Passage from Entropy to Thermodynamic Indeterminacy:<br />

Long-term Principles for Sustainability, Silvio Funtowicz,<br />

EC-JRC, ISIS + Martin O’Connor, C3ED, UVSQ, Bioeconomics<br />

and Sustainability: Essays in honour of Nicholas<br />

Georgescu-Roegen, Kozo Mayumi + John Gowdy (editors)<br />

The Entropy Law and <strong>the</strong> Economic Process, Nicholas<br />

Georgescu-Roegen, Harvard U. Press, 1971.<br />

The Economy as an Evolving Complex System II, Santa Fe<br />

Institute, W. Brian Arthur, Steven N. Durlauf, David A.<br />

Lane, Eds., Addison-Wesley, 1997.<br />

1st-Mile Institute<br />

1st-Mile Institute, founded<br />

in Santa Fe in 2006, is<br />

a think-and-do-tank<br />

currently stewarding<br />

two programs: The New<br />

Mexico “Broadband for<br />

All” Initiative, and SARC<br />

(Scientists/Artists Research<br />

Collaborations).<br />

The Value of <strong>the</strong> World’s Ecosystem Services and Natural<br />

Capital, Robert Costanza, et. al., Nature, Vol. 387, May<br />

15, 1997; + Changes in <strong>the</strong> Global Value of Ecosystem<br />

Services, 2014, Elsevier Ltd.<br />

Toward a Sustainable World Economy, William E. Rees,<br />

Institute for New Economic Thinking, 2011 annual<br />

conference, Crisis and Renewal: International Political<br />

Economy at <strong>the</strong> Crossroads.<br />

The Way: An Ecological World View (Appendix 2: What<br />

is Information?), Edward Goldsmith, U. of GA Press,<br />

1992/1998.<br />

From Energy to Information: Representation in Science<br />

and Technology, Art, and Literature, edited by Bruce<br />

Clarke and Linda Dalrymple Henderson, 2002, Stanford<br />

University Press.<br />

Perspectives: Examining Complex Ecological Dynamics<br />

through Arts, Humanities and Science Integration, Nevada<br />

Museum of Art Center for Art + Environment (CA+E), Reno,<br />

Nev., June 2015.<br />

Ecosystem Informatics, Oregon State U., Ecoinformatics<br />

Education + Ecoinformatics Collaboratory<br />

Steps to an Ecology of Networked Knowledge and Innovation:<br />

Enabling New Forms of Collaboration among Sciences,<br />

Engineering, Arts, and Design, Roger F. Malina, Carol<br />

Strohecker, and Carol LaFayette on behalf of SEAD<br />

network contributors, Leonardo MIT Press Ebook, 2015.<br />

(see: SARC, pg. 53) http://www.mitpressjournals.org/<br />

page/NSF_SEAD<br />

National Parks Arts Foundation, Tanya Ortega, http://www.<br />

nationalparksartsfoundation.org<br />

SARC (Scientists/Artists Research<br />

Collaborations)<br />

SARC (Scientists/Artists Research Collaborations), was<br />

successfully piloted as a featured program of ISEA2012,<br />

and is now structuring long-term eco-cultural initiatives.<br />

Initial education, science research, cultural institutions and<br />

supporters have included <strong>the</strong> New Mexico Consortium, Los<br />

Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, University of New<br />

Mexico, Santa Fe Institute, Institute of American Indian Arts,<br />

Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Art, Santa Fe Art Institute,<br />

and City of Santa Fe. SARC has produced ‘Arts/Sciences’<br />

programs for <strong>the</strong> CURRENTS: International New Media<br />

Festival, annually since 2012.<br />

While developing its regional cultural and educational<br />

initiatives, SARC is also participating in networked national<br />

and global interactions. SARC is co-producer, with Cabine<br />

Voltaire (NL), of an online Google Hangout series on Astro-<br />

Arts/Sciences. Invited SARC presentations were given at <strong>the</strong><br />

XVIII ISA World Congress of Sociology, ‘Facing an Unequal<br />

World: Challenges for Global Society’, July 2014, Yokohama,<br />

Japan, and at Balance/Unbalance, at ASU, Tempe, AZ, March<br />

2015. SARC collaborated on and is featured in “Steps to an<br />

Ecology of Networked Knowledge and Innovation: Enabling<br />

New Forms of Collaboration among Sciences, Engineering,<br />

Arts, and Design”, a 2015 Leonardo MIT Press Ebook.<br />

“ECOS”<br />

The SARC “ECOS” initiative is being structured upon<br />

intent to address local-global “Grand Challenge” issues of<br />

climate, communications, energy, information, ecology and<br />

economics, with greater eco-minded intelligence, creativity,<br />

multi-sector cooperation and sustaining outcomes. “ECOS”<br />

seeks eco-cultural co-conspirators.<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 105

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

106 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Bee 19 (Hum),<br />

graphite on paper,<br />

13 3/4” x 13 1/2”, 2011<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 107

Field Play<br />

Magdalena S. Donahue<br />

Dr. Magdalena Sandoval Donahue is interested in<br />

increasing science accessibility and applicability.<br />

She combines her background in geoscience, mobile<br />

technology, and art to create data visualization<br />

tools and science outreach and education<br />

efforts. She co-founded Think Ubiquitous, LLC, an<br />

environmental reporting software development<br />

company. Her work specializes in report<br />

automation, interactive data visualizations, and<br />

(geo)science education. Dr. Donahue also utilizes<br />

her art background to create visualizations from<br />

actual Earth datasets which she prints on fabric and<br />

<strong>the</strong>n creates apparel. Dr. Donahue is a consulting<br />

geologist, part-time lecturer at <strong>the</strong> University<br />

of New Mexico, and is authoring books on <strong>the</strong><br />

geology of Colorado and New Mexico. She is also<br />

a 2-time Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier and<br />

personal running coach. A native of nor<strong>the</strong>rn New<br />

Mexico, Dr. Donahue spent her youth in Truchas<br />

and Los Alamos, NM. Growing up in <strong>the</strong>se rugged<br />

landscapes was <strong>the</strong> basis for much of her curiosity<br />

about and appreciation of Earth processes; her<br />

family ties also ground her interest in increasing<br />

science usability for rural and diverse populations.<br />

think-ubiquitous.com<br />

108 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Field Play<br />

Magdalena S. Donahue<br />

Introduction<br />

The original idea for Field Play – or a digitally<br />

immersive field trip – grew out of <strong>the</strong> desire<br />

to avoid carsickness I often experienced on<br />

geologic field trips. When perusing an array<br />

of materials, often driving on small or dirt<br />

roads, it is difficult to integrate information<br />

from a variety of sources and in different<br />

mediums to grow a comprehensive view<br />

of a location. My original thought was to<br />

assimilate maps, data, and photos/sketches<br />

into a digital booklet; <strong>the</strong> idea grew to be<br />

much more complex and interesting.<br />

I have always been interested in <strong>the</strong><br />

integration of technology into field sciences.<br />

Geoscientists must think in a complex,<br />

4-dimensional space-time framework,<br />

working with timescales ranging to billions<br />

of years – much beyond <strong>the</strong> human<br />

timescale, and spaces and environments<br />

that are no longer in existence, or took place<br />

on different parts of <strong>the</strong> globe. Much of this<br />

complexity can be teased out and displayed<br />

using interactive digital tools, allowing for a<br />

personal, curiosity-driven exploration of a<br />

topic, location, or time period.<br />

explore a way to allow users, regardless of<br />

background, drive <strong>the</strong>ir own educational<br />

experiences because I believed that by<br />

placing education in a personal context,<br />

a user would <strong>the</strong>n be more likely to learn<br />

relevant material.<br />

I feel that it is critical to place education –<br />

particularly science education – in a context<br />

that is familiar to <strong>the</strong> learner, thus reducing<br />

potential points for alienation or intimidation,<br />

and increasing <strong>the</strong> relevance and application<br />

of science. I grew up in rural nor<strong>the</strong>rn New<br />

Mexico, a place of enormous inherited and<br />

cultural knowledge, but one that is also<br />

poor and traditionally skeptical of science<br />

education. The people of <strong>the</strong>se educationally<br />

underserved regions are excellent learners,<br />

teachers, and scientists – but are rarely given<br />

any choice or control over <strong>the</strong> direction or<br />

application of <strong>the</strong>ir educations. I believe that<br />

by allowing users to drive <strong>the</strong>ir educational<br />

experiences (formal and informal), <strong>the</strong>y<br />

are more likely to learn relevant material,<br />

expand upon that base, and create a selfdriven,<br />

efficient education that allows for <strong>the</strong><br />

powerful application of relevant knowledge<br />

to real-life problems.<br />

Field Play began in <strong>the</strong> year following <strong>the</strong><br />

birth of my elder daughter. I took leave<br />

from graduate study as I had a newborn<br />

and was working through postpartum<br />

depression. This was a time of great creative<br />

energy, as I permitted myself to fully take<br />

leave from graduate work and focus on <strong>the</strong><br />

parts of geoscience that really drew me:<br />

education, data visualization, and technology<br />

integration. During this year, I wanted to<br />

Background<br />

Digital technologies – web-based, mobile<br />

and wearable – are becoming increasingly<br />

used in geoscience education. Increased<br />

access to technology and computing power<br />

are paired with a growing recognition of<br />

<strong>the</strong> need to diversify methods of teaching,<br />

research, data collection and management,<br />

and scientific communication both within<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 109

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Magdalena S. Donahue<br />

geoscience communities and world<br />

populations. As digital tools and student<br />

populations evolve and diversify, traditional<br />

educational methods need to be updated.<br />

Digital technology is making inroads into<br />

<strong>the</strong> geosciences. As topics such as climate<br />

change, natural resources exploration, and<br />

funding cuts to research and educational<br />

institutions become increasingly part<br />

of our national discourse, <strong>the</strong> need to<br />

communicate with and educate <strong>the</strong><br />

communities that support geoscience and<br />

environmental research is increasingly<br />

critical.<br />

The ongoing Field Play mobile device<br />

application seeks to create a data-rich,<br />

location-sensitive educational tool<br />

suitable for use by an audience that ranges<br />

widely in skill. Such a tool requires <strong>the</strong><br />

collection and streamlining of data from<br />

many sources and in many formats including<br />

maps, data tables, annotated photographs,<br />

etc. Field Play works to streamline <strong>the</strong> access<br />

to this range of tools using location, topic,<br />

and keyword search functions to direct a<br />

user through <strong>the</strong>ir educational experience.<br />

Field Play enhances <strong>the</strong> traditional field<br />

experience by enfolding tools such as<br />

location-triggered audio content, augmented<br />

reality-enhanced landscapes, multiple types<br />

of layered basemaps and location-specific<br />

data and references.<br />

Field Play was originally deployed in <strong>the</strong><br />

Albuquerque, NM, area. The application<br />

Mental<br />

was also featured in <strong>the</strong> 2014 New Mexico<br />

Geological Society Fall Field Conference<br />

(NMGS FFC), located in <strong>the</strong> Sacramento<br />

Mountains of sou<strong>the</strong>rn New Mexico.<br />

Demonstration trips have been created<br />

throughout <strong>the</strong> western US and Canada.<br />

Role of Technology in Field Education<br />

Advances<br />

Technology is often seen as a virtual<br />

world completely separate from our own<br />

human world, an environment in which we<br />

engage once we have removed ourselves<br />

from <strong>the</strong> “real” physical world. This bias<br />

presents a unique challenge when it comes<br />

to introducing technology into education<br />

in <strong>the</strong> geosciences. Students believe <strong>the</strong>y<br />

must make <strong>the</strong> decision to engage <strong>the</strong>ir<br />

technological device – where information<br />

lives and is accessible - or else <strong>the</strong>y choose<br />

to engage <strong>the</strong> world around <strong>the</strong>m – <strong>the</strong><br />

world that has inspired <strong>the</strong> collected digital<br />

knowledge. This daunting divide turns out<br />

to be a solvable user interface (UI) problem<br />

that works to minimize <strong>the</strong> gap between<br />

integration with <strong>the</strong> real world and digital<br />

content. Mark Rolston, chief creative officer<br />

at Frog, talks of taking <strong>the</strong> computers out<br />

of computing so that we users do not have<br />

to stop our lives to operate a computer<br />

terminal (Rolston, 2011). Field Play brings<br />

powerful content into <strong>the</strong> field without<br />

sacrificing <strong>the</strong> attention of <strong>the</strong> participants,<br />

by embedding knowledge and device use<br />

into <strong>the</strong> environment.<br />

Many attempts to bring digital data into<br />

<strong>the</strong> field have relied on <strong>the</strong> user to discern,<br />

navigate, and relate pertinent content into<br />

<strong>the</strong> context of <strong>the</strong> field experience. This<br />

requires <strong>the</strong> user to maintain a mental map<br />

Ecology<br />

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Magdalena S. Donahue<br />

of both <strong>the</strong> physical environment as well as<br />

<strong>the</strong> content layout.<br />

For example, if students are standing<br />

at a scenic viewpoint with typical digital<br />

information access, <strong>the</strong>y first have to know<br />

where <strong>the</strong>y are standing; next <strong>the</strong>y must<br />

pull up <strong>the</strong> appropriate map or diagram to<br />

relate <strong>the</strong>ir vantage point to <strong>the</strong> available<br />

data <strong>the</strong>y wish to retrieve. Throughout this<br />

entire experience, students expend needless<br />

mental energy and time simply trying to<br />

access information. Many beginning geology<br />

students are intimated and feel unqualified<br />

to pursue fur<strong>the</strong>r study because <strong>the</strong>y do not<br />

understand how <strong>the</strong> content is arranged.<br />

Because <strong>the</strong>y do not comprehend this<br />

organizational data structure, <strong>the</strong>y become<br />

frustrated and feel <strong>the</strong>y cannot understand<br />

geology. It is key to realize that in <strong>the</strong>se<br />

situations, <strong>the</strong> stumbling point lies not<br />

with <strong>the</strong> student, but ra<strong>the</strong>r in faults of <strong>the</strong><br />

technology and its human interface. Donald<br />

<strong>No</strong>rman, author of Design of Everyday Things<br />

(<strong>No</strong>rman, 1988), puts it this way: When you<br />

have trouble with things, whe<strong>the</strong>r it’s figuring<br />

out whe<strong>the</strong>r to push or pull a door or <strong>the</strong><br />

arbitrary vagaries of <strong>the</strong> modern computer<br />

and electronics industries, it’s not your fault.<br />

Don’t blame yourself: blame <strong>the</strong> designer.”<br />

The Field Play experience differs dramatically<br />

from <strong>the</strong> laborious process of data<br />

navigation. By pulling location and device<br />

orientation from a myriad of sensors, Field<br />

Play can deliver <strong>the</strong> necessary content when<br />

and where it is needed. As a user approaches<br />

a location, an audio file is played back that<br />

recites some of <strong>the</strong> more relevant feature(s)<br />

without user intervention. If <strong>the</strong> student<br />

wishes to view a map, <strong>the</strong>y simply open<br />

<strong>the</strong> application where a map, automatically<br />

centered on <strong>the</strong>ir current location, is<br />

displayed. When <strong>the</strong> student spots a physical<br />

feature that <strong>the</strong>y wish to know more about,<br />

<strong>the</strong> student points <strong>the</strong>ir phone camper<br />

at <strong>the</strong> feature in question and labels are<br />

superimposed on <strong>the</strong> moving camera feed.<br />

In Field Play, <strong>the</strong> variable data sources a<br />

geologist uses, which may have previously<br />

distracted from <strong>the</strong> new students’ field<br />

experience, are now smoothly embedded<br />

into <strong>the</strong> environment, making content<br />

available as <strong>the</strong> students’ needs change.<br />

Ra<strong>the</strong>r than a virtual experience separate<br />

from reality, <strong>the</strong> student now experiences<br />

what is known as augmented reality.<br />

While augmented reality (AR) is not new,<br />

<strong>the</strong> solutions are often difficult to use and<br />

content generation is typically geared<br />

toward a more computer science oriented<br />

audience. In order for AR to be utilized for<br />

educational purposes, both <strong>the</strong> end user<br />

experience and <strong>the</strong> content generation must<br />

be simple and straight-forward. The goal of<br />

Field Play is to employ <strong>the</strong> AR experience to<br />

enhance field geology, ra<strong>the</strong>r than to distract<br />

from <strong>the</strong> environment, <strong>the</strong> questions at hand,<br />

or <strong>the</strong> discussions that may be occurring<br />

between colleagues.<br />

Field Deployment<br />

The end goal of Field Play is to create a<br />

personally-scalable educational experience.<br />

In practice, <strong>the</strong> embedded GPS within mobile<br />

devices triggers location-aware interactive<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 111

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Magdalena S. Donahue<br />

content to become available when <strong>the</strong><br />

user is within a set proximity of <strong>the</strong> feature<br />

(e.g., audio alert when approaching a fault<br />

zone). Additionally, users are given <strong>the</strong><br />

option to interactively explore topical and<br />

location-based sub-modules that include<br />

AR binoculars, informational text, audio,<br />

topographic and geologic maps, and short<br />

YouTube lessons while in <strong>the</strong> field.<br />

Field Play content is both trip-specific and<br />

stand-alone. Content exists within <strong>the</strong><br />

Field Play ecosystem at two levels: curated,<br />

scientific content created by Field Play, and<br />

crowd sourced data originated by users. Both<br />

of <strong>the</strong>se data types are fully “mashable,” and<br />

can be combined by users to create personal<br />

topical or location-based trips using our trip<br />

creation tool.<br />

Field Play content can be accessed online as<br />

well as via mobile device. We are working<br />

to expand our curated and crowd-sourced<br />

content to provide an up-to-date, easily<br />

accessible resource of reliable geologic<br />

and scientific information for recreational,<br />

educational or professional use.<br />

Conclusions<br />

Field Play is an augmented reality educational<br />

and experiential tool that integrates<br />

geoscience educational content with <strong>the</strong><br />

physical world. Built to run on Android<br />

mobile devices, <strong>the</strong> Field Play system is based<br />

around <strong>the</strong> creation of a data-rich landscape<br />

through which users engage in locationaware<br />

content to explore <strong>the</strong>ir environment<br />

through geologic field trips. Field Play has<br />

two goals: 1) Improving access to abundant<br />

scientific information while in <strong>the</strong> field, and<br />

2) Promoting scientific education on a large<br />

scale, in a way that is personal, relevant, and<br />

interest-driven.<br />

Field Play was incorporated into <strong>the</strong><br />

New Mexico Geological Society Fall Field<br />

Conference (Donahue and Donahue, 2014).<br />

This three-day trip in sou<strong>the</strong>rn New Mexico<br />

included AR stops, annotated photographs,<br />

audio content of critical features, and<br />

links to guidebook and o<strong>the</strong>r pertinent<br />

scientific publications. For this trip, Field Play<br />

created predetermined routes based on<br />

conference road logs, as well as free-standing<br />

supplementary content.<br />

As formal geoscience education grapples with<br />

<strong>the</strong> relevance and feasibility of field methods<br />

courses, and as communication within and<br />

across progressively specific geoscience<br />

branches becomes increasingly critical in <strong>the</strong><br />

world of large data sets and interdisciplinary<br />

science experiments, tools such as Field<br />

Play that facilitate exploration, learning, and<br />

communication are of vital importance. Field<br />

Play is one attempt to bring evolving digital<br />

tools into a field-based science, and to do so<br />

in a way that benefits a range of audiences.<br />

Field Play is currently (Fall 2017) offline,<br />

undergoing major revision and update.<br />

112 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

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<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 113

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Magdalena S. Donahue<br />

114 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

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References<br />

Donahue, M.S. and Donahue, J.P., 2014. Field Play and <strong>the</strong><br />

2014 New Mexico Geological Society Fall Field Conference:<br />

Incorporating augmented reality and location sensitive<br />

content to create an interactive, data-rich landscape:<br />

Geological Society of America Abstracts with programs,<br />

v. 46, no. 6, p.739.<br />

Chen, X., Choi, J., 2010. Designing Online Collaborative<br />

Location-aware Platform for History Learning: <strong>Journal</strong> of<br />

Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 3(1),<br />

13-26.<br />

Rolston, Mark, 2011. http://www.zdnet.com/article/frogcreative-chief-think-outside-<strong>the</strong>-computer-box<br />

<strong>No</strong>rman, D. 1988. The Design of Everyday Things. London,<br />

MIT Press<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 115

Layers Exposed<br />

Brooke Larsen<br />

Brooke Larsen is a writer and climate organizer<br />

from Salt Lake City. As a current student in <strong>the</strong><br />

University of Utah’s Environmental Humanities<br />

Graduate Program, she explores <strong>the</strong> role of story<br />

in <strong>the</strong> climate justice movement. She is a Rio Mesa<br />

Young Scholar and spent <strong>the</strong> summer of 2017<br />

cycling across <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau listening to<br />

stories from people on <strong>the</strong> frontlines of climate<br />

change and environmental injustice. She works<br />

for Torrey House Press and organizes with<br />

groups such as Wasatch Rising Tide, Uplift, and<br />

SustainUS. She recently won <strong>the</strong> High Country<br />

News Bell Prize for her essay “What are We<br />

Fighting For?” and was published in <strong>the</strong> anthology<br />

Red Rock Stories. Brooke graduated from<br />

Colorado College with a degree in environmental<br />

policy and researched land and water issues in<br />

<strong>the</strong> American West with <strong>the</strong> college’s State of <strong>the</strong><br />

Rockies Project.<br />

116 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Layers Exposed<br />

Brooke Larsen<br />

Few can draw <strong>the</strong> boundaries of <strong>the</strong> Colorado<br />

Plateau on a map, but <strong>the</strong> senses provide<br />

direction. You know you’re in this bioregion<br />

by <strong>the</strong> feeling of rust-colored sandstone<br />

sticking to your feet. When people first<br />

walk on <strong>the</strong> iconic red rock of <strong>the</strong> Colorado<br />

Plateau, <strong>the</strong>y often don’t trust <strong>the</strong>ir footing,<br />

not knowing that <strong>the</strong> sticky solidified sand<br />

will grip <strong>the</strong>ir soles. The layers of uplifted<br />

sandstone reveal <strong>the</strong> earth’s deep time<br />

in hues of salmon and burnt orange.<br />

Sandy washes, which only see water when<br />

thunderstorms bring flash floods, contrast<br />

<strong>the</strong> appearing certainty of <strong>the</strong> surrounding<br />

cliffs. Whiffs of sage picked up by howling<br />

wind remind visitors that life abounds in this<br />

high desert.<br />

Visitors flock to red rock country from across<br />

<strong>the</strong> world to see some of <strong>the</strong> United States’<br />

most loved national parks—from Arches<br />

in sou<strong>the</strong>rn Utah to <strong>the</strong> Grand Canyon in<br />

nor<strong>the</strong>rn Arizona. Over 60% of <strong>the</strong> region<br />

is federally-owned public land and 25% is<br />

sovereign Native land. The patchwork of land<br />

ownership between <strong>the</strong> federal government,<br />

tribes, <strong>the</strong> state, and private land owners<br />

rarely follows ecosystems or geology, but<br />

ra<strong>the</strong>r politics. Straight lines marking <strong>the</strong><br />

boundaries of reservations and national<br />

parks juxtapose winding topography. State<br />

trust lands allocated during statehood leave<br />

perfect squares in a checkerboard fashion.<br />

Private land is scarce and urban areas are<br />

small. Flagstaff, <strong>the</strong> region’s largest city, is<br />

home to just over 71,000 people.<br />

My ancestors were <strong>the</strong> Mormon pioneers<br />

who colonized what is now <strong>the</strong> state of<br />

Utah six generations ago. Identifying as a<br />

sixth-generation Utahn gets one far in rural<br />

Utah, but I feel no pride in my ancestors’<br />

genocidal acts and brutal attempts at cultural<br />

erasure. Ra<strong>the</strong>r, I identify my ancestry to<br />

say <strong>the</strong> politics written on <strong>the</strong> land also<br />

run in my blood. To uncover <strong>the</strong> Colorado<br />

Plateau’s layered stories, stories not in my<br />

family history, I biked 1,500 miles across<br />

<strong>the</strong> region for eight weeks in <strong>the</strong> summer<br />

of 2017, listening to stories from those<br />

on <strong>the</strong> frontlines of climate change and<br />

environmental injustice.<br />

The political boundaries on <strong>the</strong> land create<br />

narratives of contradiction that layer on<br />

top of one ano<strong>the</strong>r, burying uncomfortable<br />

histories and perpetuating myths to appease<br />

special interests and political agendas.<br />

On <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau <strong>the</strong> dominant story<br />

is wild—whe<strong>the</strong>r that’s wilderness or <strong>the</strong><br />

Wild West. The region’s vastness and stark<br />

beauty easily invites protectors, but <strong>the</strong><br />

myth of pristine and romanticized cowboys<br />

also erase Native histories and ignore <strong>the</strong><br />

horrors of settler colonialism. The forced<br />

removal of Havasupai People to protect <strong>the</strong><br />

Grand Canyon is no more innocent than my<br />

ancestors’ attempt to squash Native culture<br />

and supplant it with <strong>the</strong>ir own.<br />

Beyond <strong>the</strong> wild, <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau faces<br />

a hidden struggle of sacrifice. I didn’t bike to<br />

protected places but ra<strong>the</strong>r, <strong>the</strong> forgotten<br />

ones. I didn’t map my route around national<br />

parks or wilderness areas but ra<strong>the</strong>r hubs<br />

of resistance and sacrifice zones. Under <strong>the</strong><br />

iconic red rock, prospectors find tar sands,<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 117

Layers Exposed<br />

Brooke Larsen<br />

oil shale, uranium, coal, oil, natural gas and<br />

a sweep of o<strong>the</strong>r minerals. The region’s<br />

geology and low population density lead to<br />

silenced injustices in remote corners most<br />

often nearest to <strong>the</strong> poor and people of color,<br />

especially Native people. In Washington, D.C.<br />

and regional Bureau of Land Management<br />

offices, sacrifice is technical; on <strong>the</strong> ground,<br />

sacrifice is personal.<br />

P.R. Spring is one of many sacrifice zones.<br />

The Environmental Impact Statement for <strong>the</strong><br />

mine says, “Visual resources are generally of<br />

low quality.”<br />

In early June, I met a small group of climate<br />

activist friends near <strong>the</strong> mine. My friend,<br />

Kailey, joined me for <strong>the</strong> bike ride from<br />

Vernal, Utah to PR Spring across <strong>the</strong> heart<br />

of <strong>the</strong> Uintah Basin. A few miles into our<br />

ride, Kailey asked me how many oil rigs I’d<br />

counted. Thirteen, I said. Counting started<br />

as a game, a distraction from our burning<br />

thighs, but eventually, counting turned<br />

into hysteria. The machinery showed up as<br />

pawns on <strong>the</strong> checkerboard of Ute land, state<br />

land, and private land most likely owned<br />

by descendants of Mormon settlers. The<br />

rigs blended into <strong>the</strong> politics but stand out<br />

against <strong>the</strong> snowcapped Uinta Mountains<br />

rising behind us to <strong>the</strong> north. I stopped<br />

thinking about <strong>the</strong> disturbance on <strong>the</strong> land<br />

today, and instead <strong>the</strong> climate projections<br />

for this region ran through my head on<br />

repeat. 99% chance of megadrought. As early<br />

as 2050. 20% of <strong>the</strong> Colorado River will dry<br />

up. 3.2- million-acre shortfall of water. 99%<br />

chance of megadrought. Unless we keep all<br />

remaining fossil fuels in <strong>the</strong> ground.<br />

We pedaled uphill all day. We were in a<br />

desert of double desecration. The earth was<br />

barren from historic overgrazing. We biked<br />

past frack pad on frack pad on frack pad.<br />

Some well sites contained massive crane<br />

machinery that moved up and down as it<br />

pulled oil from <strong>the</strong> earth. O<strong>the</strong>r spots were<br />

less obvious with just a small tank and a<br />

few pressure gauges connected to pipelines<br />

that discreetly ran along <strong>the</strong> side of <strong>the</strong> road<br />

beneath sage and rabbit brush. The tailing<br />

ponds and mix of chemicals flared with<br />

odorless methane making <strong>the</strong> air smell putrid<br />

and sour, like rotten eggs mixed with that<br />

gas station scent. While biking through <strong>the</strong><br />

Uintah and Ouray Ute Reservation, a herd of<br />

wild horses blocked <strong>the</strong> road, forcing us to<br />

stop and wait while <strong>the</strong> fifty horses decide to<br />

trot past.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> early evening, we summited <strong>the</strong><br />

last hill. The pavement ended, and we<br />

approached <strong>the</strong> biggest monstrosity yet—<br />

<strong>the</strong> PR Spring tar sands mine. Situated on<br />

<strong>the</strong> Tavaputs Plateau in <strong>the</strong> Book Cliffs, <strong>the</strong><br />

P.R. Spring tar sands mine threatens <strong>the</strong><br />

surrounding watershed. The mine occupies<br />

<strong>the</strong> dividing line between Uintah and Grand<br />

County. The Uinta Mountains that rise in <strong>the</strong><br />

north near Vernal and <strong>the</strong> La Sals that jut in<br />

<strong>the</strong> south outside of Moab emphasize <strong>the</strong><br />

scale of <strong>the</strong> surrounding watershed.<br />

The White and Green Rivers run nearby,<br />

both tributaries to <strong>the</strong> hardest working<br />

river, <strong>the</strong> Colorado.<br />

Fences decorated in no trespassing signs<br />

lined <strong>the</strong> side of <strong>the</strong> road, shining in <strong>the</strong><br />

fading sunlight. Giant black piles of land torn<br />

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to pieces rose beside <strong>the</strong> scraped earth. So<br />

far, U.S. Oil Sands has failed to prove <strong>the</strong><br />

economic viability of <strong>the</strong> mine. As I biked<br />

past, I raised my middle finger, a pa<strong>the</strong>tic<br />

expression of my rage.<br />

For eight years, resisters, agitators, land and<br />

water protectors have engaged in direct<br />

action and camp outs, protesting <strong>the</strong> mine<br />

and raising awareness. Last year organizers<br />

held an action camp at <strong>the</strong> mine, reclaiming<br />

land with seed bombs and large banners.<br />

Twenty people were arrested. This year<br />

friends ga<strong>the</strong>red to reconnect with <strong>the</strong> place<br />

and one ano<strong>the</strong>r, not engaging in direct<br />

action but ra<strong>the</strong>r writing, singing, and sharing<br />

meals toge<strong>the</strong>r.<br />

Kate Savage, my friend and co-organizer<br />

of Wasatch Rising Tide in Salt Lake City,<br />

disagrees with <strong>the</strong> State’s claim that P.R.<br />

Spring is of low scenic value. Kate helped<br />

organize <strong>the</strong> action camp at <strong>the</strong> mine last<br />

year, but has known about <strong>the</strong> Book Cliffs<br />

since she was five-years-old. Her conservative<br />

fa<strong>the</strong>r had a “Save <strong>the</strong> Book Cliffs” sticker on<br />

his Mormon Bishop’s binder. He was not an<br />

environmentalist, but a hunter who loved<br />

<strong>the</strong> place.<br />

During our recent visit to <strong>the</strong> Tavaputs<br />

Plateau, Kate and I rode in <strong>the</strong> back of an<br />

old pick-up truck to see nearby petroglyphs.<br />

After negotiating with cows who wouldn’t<br />

leave <strong>the</strong> small unpaved road, I asked Kate<br />

what <strong>the</strong> area meant to her. She responded,<br />

“This isn’t Arches or <strong>the</strong> Uinta Mountains.<br />

But just look how special it is—<strong>the</strong>se aspen<br />

groves, and Douglas fir trees, and <strong>the</strong> cliff<br />

structures. The wildlife is off <strong>the</strong> charts. We<br />

saw forty elk yesterday.”<br />

In <strong>the</strong> high desert, only <strong>the</strong> most aes<strong>the</strong>tic<br />

earns protection, and often not even that if<br />

profitable minerals lay in <strong>the</strong> ground. The<br />

standard of aes<strong>the</strong>tics is not only employed<br />

by industry or land agencies, but also<br />

conservationists. The federal government<br />

traded <strong>the</strong> land that <strong>the</strong> tar sands mine rests<br />

on, and much of <strong>the</strong> fracking fields in <strong>the</strong><br />

Uintah Basin that I biked through, after <strong>the</strong><br />

designation of Grand Staircase-Escalante<br />

National Monument. The protection of Grand<br />

Staircase kept millions of tons of coal in <strong>the</strong><br />

ground in one of <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau’s most<br />

scenic areas, but at <strong>the</strong> expense of more<br />

emissions elsewhere. Land protection rarely<br />

factors parts per million, and for too long <strong>the</strong><br />

conservation movement advocated for <strong>the</strong><br />

protection of certain areas at <strong>the</strong> expense of<br />

o<strong>the</strong>rs, including our climate. Land exchanges<br />

don’t include <strong>the</strong> cost of climate chaos. How<br />

do we price our future?<br />

Kate came to <strong>the</strong> climate movement<br />

reluctantly. “I was into protecting land and<br />

living differently,” she said. “Climate seemed<br />

so abstract to me. I was like, ‘how can you<br />

care about parts per million, you can only<br />

care about land, right?’ I had to go through<br />

social justice movements to get to climate.<br />

It came full circle with <strong>the</strong> Keep it in <strong>the</strong><br />

Ground movement, because it was about<br />

land defense, which is originally where my<br />

heart was.”<br />

The vastness and stark beauty of <strong>the</strong><br />

Colorado Plateau easily invites protectors.<br />

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Climate change makes <strong>the</strong> importance<br />

of protecting <strong>the</strong> region’s land and water<br />

twofold. The oil rigs and tar sands mine<br />

pollute <strong>the</strong> land and water today, but <strong>the</strong>y<br />

also contribute to climate chaos, which on<br />

<strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau means potentially<br />

unlivable drought. The previous Secretary of<br />

<strong>the</strong> Interior Sally Jewell once called <strong>the</strong> Keep<br />

it in <strong>the</strong> Ground movement naïve. Is it naïve<br />

to demand a livable future?<br />

During our last evening camping near <strong>the</strong><br />

mine, Kailey and I organized our gear to<br />

get ready for our bike ride early <strong>the</strong> next<br />

morning. As we stuffed our panniers, we<br />

overheard our friends singing, “Daddy won’t<br />

you take me back to Muhlenberg County,<br />

down by <strong>the</strong> Green River where Paradise<br />

lay?” They sat a couple hundred yards away<br />

under <strong>the</strong> shelter of aspen, cushioned by<br />

tall grasses. Kailey and I leaned our bikes<br />

against a car, set aside our gear, and ran<br />

over to <strong>the</strong>m. We often sing “Paradise” by<br />

John Prine, sometimes changing <strong>the</strong> lyrics<br />

from Muhlenberg County to Uintah County,<br />

making our own ode to <strong>the</strong> Green River that<br />

flows through our home region. I laid down<br />

in <strong>the</strong> grass and quietly sang <strong>the</strong> chorus with<br />

my friends, resting in my paradise.<br />

Throughout <strong>the</strong> summer as I biked across<br />

<strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau, I consistently found<br />

land converted to energy extraction<br />

zones and early signs of climate change.<br />

The resistance at P.R. Spring connects to<br />

communities across <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau<br />

through a shared watershed, but also a<br />

shared experience of sacrifice.<br />

Eighty miles south of Moab sits <strong>the</strong> last active<br />

uranium mill in <strong>the</strong> country, just three miles<br />

north of <strong>the</strong> Ute Mountain Ute town of White<br />

Mesa. The mill processes uranium mined<br />

across <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau and radioactive<br />

waste from all corners of <strong>the</strong> country. I met<br />

with Thelma Whiskers, an elder in White<br />

Mesa who has resisted <strong>the</strong> mill since <strong>the</strong><br />

‘90s. When I biked up to her house, I found<br />

puppies huddled under <strong>the</strong> shade of <strong>the</strong><br />

front porch. She joked that she wanted to<br />

get rid of <strong>the</strong> puppies, but her grandchildren<br />

loved <strong>the</strong>m. She invited me inside her home<br />

and <strong>the</strong>n sat down on a couch under a wall<br />

covered in family photos.<br />

Thelma quietly told me about <strong>the</strong> injustices<br />

her community faces. “This place is<br />

dangerous for us,” she said. “The young ones<br />

have allergies, diabetes, and asthma. The<br />

water doesn’t taste good. We don’t drink it.”<br />

The herbs that Thelma’s mom collected<br />

no longer grow near <strong>the</strong> mill, and <strong>the</strong> mill<br />

has been in violation of <strong>the</strong> Clean Air Act<br />

for radon emissions, a radioactive, cancercausing<br />

gas.<br />

For decades, White Mesa has been ignored,<br />

but in May, 2017 <strong>the</strong> community led a<br />

spiritual walk to <strong>the</strong> mill and over one<br />

hundred people joined <strong>the</strong>m in solidarity.<br />

Those that showed up ranged from o<strong>the</strong>r<br />

Ute Mountain Ute tribal members from<br />

Towaoc, Colorado and Diné people who have<br />

suffered from uranium mining on <strong>the</strong> Navajo<br />

Nation, to activists from Moab and Salt Lake<br />

City. I asked Thelma how she felt that day.<br />

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Injustice births from<br />

silenced stories. Hope<br />

lives in deep listening<br />

that sparks action.<br />

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A smile overcame her face and she said,<br />

“We were strong.”<br />

Injustice births from silenced stories. Hope<br />

lives in deep listening that sparks action.<br />

From White Mesa I biked south to Bluff<br />

and met up with my friend Montana, who<br />

would bike with me over <strong>the</strong> steep hills in<br />

southwest Colorado. Friends made <strong>the</strong><br />

biking easier, not necessarily distracting<br />

me from <strong>the</strong> heat and steep climbs, but<br />

at least giving me companionship in <strong>the</strong><br />

somewhat absurd journey. From Bluff, we<br />

followed <strong>the</strong> San Juan River east to <strong>the</strong> town<br />

of Cortez, Colorado. It was unbearably hot.<br />

The sun beat down so strongly and <strong>the</strong> air<br />

was so dry that sweat instantly evaporated,<br />

leaving a layer of salt on my burnt arms.<br />

Everything around us appeared rusted red.<br />

The red rock inspires passion and awe, but<br />

in temperatures abnormally hot for mid-<br />

June, <strong>the</strong> fiery appearance of <strong>the</strong> earth<br />

matched <strong>the</strong> stark heat that challenged my<br />

sanity. Continuing on required focus. Often<br />

I just thought about getting over each hill,<br />

but <strong>the</strong> human impact on <strong>the</strong> landscape also<br />

consumed my mind. While biking along <strong>the</strong><br />

San Juan River, I passed oil and gas wells on<br />

<strong>the</strong> river’s edge. I thought of those signs in<br />

national forests telling visitors to not camp<br />

within a few hundred feet of water. How do<br />

we define harm?<br />

As <strong>the</strong> temperatures began to cool with<br />

<strong>the</strong> setting sun, we reached Cortez and <strong>the</strong><br />

home where Bill Anderegg, a young climate<br />

scientist at <strong>the</strong> University of Utah, grew up.<br />

He spends his summers at his parents’ home<br />

to study <strong>the</strong> aspen die-off in <strong>the</strong> nearby San<br />

Juan National Forest where he adventured<br />

as a child. Bill has scruffy blonde hair and<br />

a casual demeanor, and it quickly became<br />

clear that he chose his research not just<br />

because of an interest in climate science, but<br />

also a love for <strong>the</strong> outdoors. Shortly after we<br />

arrived, Bill took his two-year-old twin girls to<br />

bed and <strong>the</strong>n we ate a home-cooked meal of<br />

bison burgers and green chilies grown from<br />

his parents’ garden.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> morning, we drove into higher<br />

elevations and thankfully cooler<br />

temperatures. Every few miles we’d pull<br />

over on <strong>the</strong> forest service road and walk into<br />

one of Bill’s many research plots, looking<br />

for <strong>the</strong> metal numbered tags nailed into his<br />

research subjects. Bill told us that aspen<br />

support more biodiversity than any forest<br />

type in <strong>the</strong> Mountain West. Each tree in a<br />

stand of aspens is connected, sprouting from<br />

<strong>the</strong> same lateral roots. They’re also dying<br />

and stand no chance of adapting to climate<br />

change. Bill’s plots ranged from healthy,<br />

dense stands shading a diversity of colorful<br />

wildflowers to a sea of dead stumps. To <strong>the</strong><br />

dead plots Bill responded, “I guess I don’t<br />

have to come back here.” As we walked<br />

away, each step felt heavier.<br />

A drought in <strong>the</strong> early 2000s caused <strong>the</strong><br />

aspen die-off still unfolding. The drought<br />

was significant not because of precipitation<br />

levels but temperature; it was two to three<br />

degrees centigrade hotter than previous<br />

droughts. This year was a wet year, but <strong>the</strong><br />

aspen are still dying. Bill said, “Aspen death<br />

is somewhat fascinating because it’s sort of<br />

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a slow motion crash and it tends to play out<br />

over a decade or so.”<br />

Climate change also feels like a slow motion<br />

crash, including <strong>the</strong> continual attempts to<br />

turn rock into money. When talking about<br />

<strong>the</strong> P.R. Spring tar sands mine, my friend<br />

Easton Smith said, “It’s a particularly strange<br />

example because this mine actually never<br />

starts. It starts and stops and starts and<br />

stops. Which feels like a broader, microcosm<br />

of <strong>the</strong> whole issue of climate change. It’s<br />

always looming, and it’s always approaching,<br />

and it’s always here, but I don’t always feel it.<br />

It just kind of feels like a myth, but clearly, it’s<br />

so real. And I wonder if that’s how crisis feels<br />

until it’s upon you in a more visceral way.”<br />

The aspen-die off makes climate change<br />

personal for Bill. During his first summer of<br />

graduate school, he returned to <strong>the</strong> forest<br />

where he grew up and found a lot of dead<br />

aspen trees. “Even some of <strong>the</strong> campsites<br />

where we took family pictures were just<br />

completely dead,” Bill said. “That was one<br />

of <strong>the</strong> biggest triggering points—realizing,<br />

wow, <strong>the</strong>re’s something big going on here,<br />

it’s visible and it’s visceral and it’s during<br />

my lifetime.”<br />

When I asked Bill how he copes with<br />

measuring <strong>the</strong> death of his childhood forest,<br />

he shared a term used among climate<br />

scientists: Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder.<br />

“It feels a bit like <strong>the</strong> plot in a Hollywood<br />

movie where <strong>the</strong>re’s a scientist that sees<br />

something coming towards earth or<br />

knows that something is going to happen<br />

and is trying <strong>the</strong>ir best to scream it to <strong>the</strong><br />

government officials and nobody is listening.<br />

The climate change story feels like that, but<br />

<strong>the</strong>re’s tens of thousands of scientists trying<br />

to make <strong>the</strong> case.”<br />

He copes by focusing on what he can do,<br />

taking measurements, throwing himself<br />

into his work, and trying to avoid thinking<br />

about how depressing <strong>the</strong> big picture is. He<br />

has dedicated himself to a place and tries to<br />

know it as well as he can, not too unlike my<br />

friends camping near <strong>the</strong> tar sands mine.<br />

Bill also holds onto hope. He said, “I think<br />

of climate change as an opportunity story.<br />

There’s a lot of bad things happening but<br />

that means we have a huge agency on <strong>the</strong><br />

world and we have a responsibility and<br />

opportunity to fix this. Having that hope<br />

and that inspiration is probably much more<br />

important than feeling concerned or worried<br />

or depressed. We can certainly fuck it up, but<br />

we can also try our hardest and end up with<br />

a lot better world at <strong>the</strong> end of it.”<br />

As I biked away from Cortez <strong>the</strong> next day, <strong>the</strong><br />

image of <strong>the</strong> dead aspen stumps consumed<br />

my thoughts. The oil rigs seemed to rise<br />

up exponentially with each sacrifice zone I<br />

entered, and I kept seeing aspen fall. From<br />

southwest Colorado, I went fur<strong>the</strong>r south<br />

to northwest New Mexico. Shortly after<br />

crossing <strong>the</strong> state line, I went into a grocery<br />

store to use <strong>the</strong> bathroom and splash cold<br />

water on my face. Outside <strong>the</strong> bathroom<br />

door, I found a sign that read, “Attention<br />

Customers: We are sorry but <strong>the</strong>re is no<br />

cold water going to <strong>the</strong> sinks so if you wash<br />

your hands be very careful it is very hot<br />

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water. Thank you, Safeway Management.”<br />

Everything is very hot.<br />

The Bureau of Land Management has<br />

leased 91% of public lands in <strong>the</strong> Greater<br />

Chaco region of northwest New Mexico,<br />

and <strong>the</strong>y continue to try to lease away <strong>the</strong><br />

remaining 9%. Much like <strong>the</strong> land I biked<br />

through in <strong>the</strong> Uintah Basin, Greater Chaco<br />

is also a checkerboard of tribal, state, and<br />

federal land. Satellite images of <strong>the</strong> region<br />

show a bright red methane hot spot. On <strong>the</strong><br />

ground, land managers try to blend in <strong>the</strong><br />

wells with <strong>the</strong> surrounding environment by<br />

painting <strong>the</strong>m a color officially called “juniper<br />

green.” <strong>No</strong> matter how hard <strong>the</strong>y try to<br />

hide <strong>the</strong>ir impact on <strong>the</strong> land, though, <strong>the</strong><br />

environmental injustices are still apparent.<br />

One well I biked past was right across <strong>the</strong><br />

street from an elementary school for <strong>the</strong><br />

local Navajo children.<br />

From <strong>the</strong> Greater Chaco area, I made my<br />

way west. I biked through Navajo and Hopi<br />

land, at times feeling like I was in ano<strong>the</strong>r<br />

country as I passed gas stations specific<br />

to <strong>the</strong> reservations and signs in languages<br />

I didn’t understand. And legally, I was in<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r nation, a sovereign nation. However,<br />

as I biked through <strong>the</strong> Black Mesa area, a<br />

stunning plateau of pale orange and desert<br />

shrubs, I was reminded of <strong>the</strong> ways <strong>the</strong> same<br />

forces desecrating <strong>the</strong> Tavaputs Plateau<br />

are also threatening indigenous livelihoods.<br />

Peabody has mined <strong>the</strong> coal in <strong>the</strong> Black<br />

Mesa area and depleted <strong>the</strong> groundwater,<br />

threatening sheep herding families in <strong>the</strong><br />

region. As I biked across <strong>the</strong> land, I couldn’t<br />

necessarily see <strong>the</strong> depleted ground water,<br />

but I felt <strong>the</strong> concern as I passed “Water is<br />

Life” signs and listened to stories of loss and<br />

contamination from <strong>the</strong> elder who sold me a<br />

lime popsicle to cool me down in <strong>the</strong> middle<br />

of a ninety-mile day.<br />

After reaching Flagstaff, a border town to<br />

many southwest reservations and <strong>the</strong> largest<br />

city on <strong>the</strong> Colorado Plateau, I headed north,<br />

back towards home. My family would meet<br />

me when I reached Utah, biking and driving a<br />

support vehicle for <strong>the</strong> last week of my ride.<br />

For most of my journey, friends biking or<br />

driving provided me company and support.<br />

When I departed Flagstaff, though, I was<br />

alone. 106 degrees. 80 miles. Zero shade.<br />

In <strong>the</strong> middle of my ride, I reached <strong>the</strong> sole<br />

gas station and filled one water bottle with<br />

ice, mistakenly not filling all four. I bought a<br />

piece of pizza that probably would normally<br />

have tasted half as good. After eating under<br />

<strong>the</strong> shade of <strong>the</strong> gas station, I hopped back<br />

on my bike and a few miles later took a drink<br />

from my once icy water bottle. It already<br />

tasted hot. I poured <strong>the</strong> water on my hand. It<br />

felt like I scooped it out of a hot tub. I wanted<br />

to sit down, but <strong>the</strong> ground burnt. I took a<br />

deep breath. Just ten more miles and I can<br />

pour ice all over me, I told myself. Five miles<br />

later I barely inch up <strong>the</strong> hill. A man driving in<br />

<strong>the</strong> opposite direction yelled across, “Are you<br />

OK?” I waved and said yeah, even though I<br />

felt like I might fall over any second. A couple<br />

minutes later <strong>the</strong> same man drove next to<br />

me and was more direct this time, “Do you<br />

want a ride?” Yes, yes I do. I threw my bike in<br />

<strong>the</strong> back of his truck. I opened <strong>the</strong> passenger<br />

door and was greeted by three huskies laying<br />

across <strong>the</strong> backseat. He was a musician and<br />

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he gave me his card. I thought he was some<br />

kind of miracle.<br />

In Hope in <strong>the</strong> Dark, Rebecca Solnit says,<br />

“Power comes from <strong>the</strong> shadows and <strong>the</strong><br />

margins, our hope is in <strong>the</strong> dark around <strong>the</strong><br />

edges, not <strong>the</strong> limelight of center stage. Our<br />

hope and often our power.”<br />

The actions with <strong>the</strong> power to generate new<br />

ways of living will rise from <strong>the</strong> communities<br />

who most clearly understand <strong>the</strong> failures<br />

of our current systems. The politics that<br />

divide up <strong>the</strong> land will shift when stories<br />

from sacrifice zones project louder than<br />

narratives claiming unsacred places exist. As<br />

Wendell Berry says, “There are no unsacred<br />

places; <strong>the</strong>re are only sacred places and<br />

desecrated places.”<br />

A few days after <strong>the</strong> end of my bike tour I<br />

reunited with my friends with whom I’d sung<br />

with on <strong>the</strong> Tavaputs Plateau eight weeks<br />

prior. We sat in a circle under moonlight<br />

in <strong>the</strong> backyard of <strong>the</strong> Beaver Bottom<br />

Bungalow, a home more commonly referred<br />

to as <strong>the</strong> BBB where organizers of Wasatch<br />

Rising Tide live and host poetry readings,<br />

convene organizing meetings, and make<br />

music. We started singing “Paradise” and<br />

my body teleported back to P.R. Spring. In<br />

<strong>the</strong> second line of <strong>the</strong> chorus <strong>the</strong> fa<strong>the</strong>r<br />

responds, “I’m sorry my son but you’re too<br />

late in asking, Mr. Peabody’s coal train has<br />

hauled it away.” I hear <strong>the</strong> lyrics as a call<br />

to action.<br />

The politics inscribed in <strong>the</strong> land and<br />

flowing in our veins evoke grief and rage.<br />

But Rebecca Solnit has ano<strong>the</strong>r lesson for<br />

us in Hope in <strong>the</strong> Dark: “Joy doesn’t betray<br />

but sustains activism. And when you face<br />

a politics that aspires to make you fearful,<br />

alienated, and isolated, joy is a fine initial act<br />

of insurrection.”<br />

My friends and I sing not because we believe<br />

U.S. Oil Sands will stop mining when <strong>the</strong>y<br />

hear our harmonies. We sing to imagine<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r story. We sing for <strong>the</strong> joy of it.<br />

Environmental<br />

Ecology<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 125

ombus love<br />

Erin Halcomb<br />

Erin Halcomb loves everything nature. She has<br />

experience staffing a U.S. Forest Service fire<br />

lookout and working in fire suppression. She<br />

has also surveyed for wildlife, namely fishers<br />

and flying squirrels. She currently works in<br />

environmental education but enjoys freelance<br />

writing. She likes days spent walking.<br />

126 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

ombus love<br />

Erin Halcomb<br />

This past spring, I fell in love with bees.<br />

There was some nuance to it; it wasn’t like I<br />

fell for every single thing that had four wings.<br />

I fell for <strong>the</strong> biggest, Bombus, those within<br />

<strong>the</strong> bumble bee genus. Their morphology<br />

resembles gnocchi. They have gold and black<br />

shag across <strong>the</strong>ir backsides, fringe all down<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir legs, and fur on <strong>the</strong>ir cheeks.<br />

Perhaps it was because <strong>the</strong>y weren’t<br />

whizzing past, or half-deep in an<strong>the</strong>rs, that<br />

my attention gained such traction. And<br />

nei<strong>the</strong>r was I, so to speak. I was on a foray<br />

for mushrooms but at best I was browsing.<br />

The woods were gilded in pollen. They<br />

echoed with thrush song. I bent down to<br />

pick up a castaway can and caught sight of a<br />

bumble on <strong>the</strong> ground. First, I was taken by<br />

her heft and her hair, and <strong>the</strong>n by <strong>the</strong> way<br />

she carried herself. She was velveteen and<br />

bulbous. She crawled – marched, flounced<br />

– across <strong>the</strong> forest floor. Nearby, I heard<br />

ano<strong>the</strong>r. I found her hovering low, also intent<br />

with survey.<br />

These were <strong>the</strong> Spring Queens, <strong>the</strong> lone<br />

survivors of last year’s colony. They, too,<br />

were hunting not for quarry but for home.<br />

They were searching for a bunker, for<br />

some abandoned burrow, to finish in<br />

waxen chambers.<br />

I began watching, I mean really seeing things,<br />

years ago. I’d been hired to do so, to sit on<br />

a mountaintop and look-out. I worked for<br />

<strong>the</strong> Forest Service. I watched for fires. I soon<br />

took notice of smaller beings. I began to hear<br />

<strong>the</strong> quiet types, humming. In <strong>the</strong> subalpine<br />

meadows surrounding <strong>the</strong> lookout, I<br />

remember watching a bee land and latchon<br />

to a bloomed obelisk. Its added weight<br />

had caused a sway and I’d smiled in simple<br />

pleasure. I knew little else about <strong>the</strong> bee’s<br />

labor than its byproduct, a name, pollination.<br />

Oh, but now I know. Only bits and bobs,<br />

but still: Bees are wasps that went vegan.<br />

Bumbles specialized fur<strong>the</strong>r by becoming<br />

fleeced and all that fuzz enables <strong>the</strong>m to fly<br />

in cold wea<strong>the</strong>r and on cloudy days. They<br />

summit peaks of 10,000 feet.<br />

They have stinky feet. They dig and spit<br />

and whirr; hitch toge<strong>the</strong>r <strong>the</strong>ir film-thin<br />

wings; and heave <strong>the</strong>ir not-so-svelte selves<br />

to and fro swatches of color. For most of<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir lives, Bombus mine flowers. They pack<br />

loaves of protein into paneers on <strong>the</strong>ir hind<br />

thighs and, vamoose, <strong>the</strong>y take to <strong>the</strong> aerial<br />

interstate. Flight speeds can reach 10 miles<br />

per hour.<br />

We arrange bumbles according to stripes,<br />

and by <strong>the</strong> length of <strong>the</strong>ir tongues. We study<br />

<strong>the</strong>ir flower fidelity. One scientist tied tinsel<br />

to <strong>the</strong> leg of a queen and chased after her in<br />

a quest to discover her lair.* Hives are hard<br />

to find.<br />

The largest bumbles in <strong>the</strong> world -- ginger<br />

ping-pong balls in Patagonia – are on <strong>the</strong><br />

cusp of extinction. Parasites, habitat loss,<br />

and poison: we have not done right by <strong>the</strong>m.<br />

Bombus franklini used to fly <strong>the</strong> meadows<br />

that I once strolled but none have been<br />

found for a decade. That’s about <strong>the</strong> same<br />

amount of time that has elapsed since I<br />

worked on <strong>the</strong> lookout, and it’s passed<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 127

ombus love<br />

Erin Halcomb<br />

by as easy as a bag of flour being sieved.<br />

I’d be spooked by that if those mountains<br />

hadn’t held me so tight.<br />

Over <strong>the</strong> years I’ve fancied a number of<br />

things: bog orchids, sugar pines, porcupines<br />

and bison. There’s a litany of birds. And,<br />

sure, <strong>the</strong>re’s been people too. I’ve swooned<br />

for poets and sculptors, but in those<br />

relationships, I can’t seem to canoodle<br />

without complication. We live by choice.<br />

I prefer mountain time and clean forms<br />

of adulation.<br />

I’ve come to consider Bombus as bison<br />

of <strong>the</strong> sky. Their cousins, <strong>the</strong> honeybees,<br />

are like cattle. We brought <strong>the</strong>m here. We<br />

shuttle <strong>the</strong>m in tens of thousands, in trailers,<br />

and set <strong>the</strong>m out in pastures. European<br />

honeybees are commodities. In <strong>the</strong> fall,<br />

when flowers dwindle, <strong>the</strong>y compete with<br />

native bees for food.**<br />

Honeybees have perennial societies.<br />

Whereas, every bumble dies at <strong>the</strong> end of<br />

<strong>the</strong> season except <strong>the</strong> newborn queens.<br />

The queens overwinter solo, in <strong>the</strong><br />

subterranean, surviving on <strong>the</strong>ir reserves.<br />

We measure Bombus lifespans in weeks.<br />

But in <strong>the</strong> darkness of winter, I find myself<br />

wanting to know something more relevant,<br />

like ‘total wingbeats,’ something that tells<br />

more about <strong>the</strong>ir will, and <strong>the</strong> effort it takes<br />

to stay warm.<br />

*Dave Goulson reports doing this in his charming book: A<br />

Sting in <strong>the</strong> Tale.<br />

** Cane, James H., and Vincent J. Tepedino. “Gauging<br />

<strong>the</strong> Effect of Honey Bee Pollen Collection on Native Bee<br />

Communites.” Conservation Letters, vol. 10, no. 2, 2016, pp<br />

205-210.<br />

128 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Bee 33 (Evening)<br />

Graphite on paper<br />

21 1/4” x 10 3/4”, 2012<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 129

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

130 <strong>Mapping</strong> <strong>Meaning</strong>, <strong>the</strong> <strong>Journal</strong>

Pollinate<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Rebecca Clark<br />

Bee 27 (Drone Comb)<br />

Graphite and<br />

watercolor on paper,<br />

18” x 15”, 2011<br />

<strong>Issue</strong> N o 1 131

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