Rakete implies that abjection comes with separation from nature; it is a manifestation of the cognitive dissonance when the myth of individualism and the ego it stokes is shattered. The parasite metaphor collapses the myth of individualism by transgressing boundaries groomed to appear impermeable. The idea then of the self as part and parcel to ecology is itself a posthuman understanding. Humans are parasites. As an empire-facing person, I can acknowledge that some of our distant fore parents knew this deeply and fought to remain land people. They fought our direct fore parents who had the hubris to believe they could subdue the land and rise above – an understanding of progress that now reveal them to be the parasites they ultimately proved themselves to be in the form of their descendants: we.
How do Federici’s and Rakete’s ideas help you think about any of those works of art?
Andre Pierre’s paintings in Folio 6 and the Navajo weaving traditions that formed the design of early electronic manufacture represented in Folio 7 are compelling with respect to relating syncretism as survival. Both Federici and Rakete conceive of metaphors to help readers consider history and hidden cultures of resistance in order to affirm othered perspectives not only possible but more viable than those dominant empire cultures we lean on.
Technocracy does not have too many Navajo people at the helm; yet, it is their weaving traditions that empire-facing engineers turned to. It was Navajo weavers who uniquely adapted their knowledge and defty packaged the multitude of wires into a motherboard. In relation to self determinism and pressures of cultural survival in capitalism – even possible labor exploitation given the engineers worked with a people dependent on reservation economy – what does this kind of syncretism mean? Is having some evidence of a culture threatened by genocide enough? Is it the in human political act of a human actant Rakete refers to by a people dehumanized?
Othered worlds – whole and resilient – with their own coded languages and patterns and symbols representing amalgamations of human cultures disrupted, policed, terrorized, exploited. In Pierre’s paintings, people are always meeting and gathering, communicating and making sense of the latest machinations of a domineering state. They may do it in ritual, but they are ultimately defying oppression. This is reflected in Federici’s historical accounts of people finding ways to live when the state becomes unbearably heavy-handed. To bear it anyways. To bear it together. To bear it in joy.
ASIDE It is curious that Pierre served as mentor to Maya Deren. Here in this still from a film she captured are the same genre of markings related by Pierre in his paintings. Ritual is cyclical not linear.
Do Federici’s and Rakete’s ideas illuminate any aspects of your own work?
Federici relates how indigenous women organize movements for self determinism – relying on mutual aid models. In anticipation of my future, I have been problem-solving, applying the expressive arts as tools for accountable community models for economic liberation – the root of ecological health and reintegration of the whole from systemically fragmented parts (per Rakete’s analysis of the Papatuanuku paradox.) I am seeking help from like-minded femme people to re-imagine and rebuild the mycelium of forests – a community of people who are considering if it is possible to create and work on manifesting a self-sustaining community now and not waiting till crisis. It may be argued that crisis perhaps hasn’t touched me owed to all the protections I sit on due to US imperialism and my own class positionality. Not the least of which that it may indeed be impossible to enact such directional change as human organisms – as we are responsive and might only seek change when compelled by our environment. Rakete relatedly poses the idea of parasitism as intimately human, especially when considering humans as an ecological unit unto themselves. In order to create a local economic model that is accountable to community, people need to realize that the empire way of life is fundamentally parasitic and that those who fought empire for millenia had the wisdom to know that this kind of aggressive parasitism with no natural predators would change the ecology so not only can humans not be sustained but that human survival is reliant on other ecological elements surviving.
ASIDE Relatedly, albeit a personal understanding of empire forces on my body, I earlier this year reflected in hashtag poetry and movement the alchemy of anger into compassion – relating the parasitic relationship of a leaf and the caterpillar – what is named metamorphosis – in the emergence of the moth or butterfly in order to understand and make peace with the assimilatory forces on my person.
I was moved by the Maori perspective that allows for agency of in human actants as a political exercise. I recall a poem I wrote recently that relates how large sea mammals beaching themselves is akin to political acts. Perhaps they have no choice, but it is a wonder they go to beaches en masse – their family pods intact – instead of suffocating to their deaths to ocean bottoms unseen.
In Struggle to Change the World: Women, Reproduction, and Resistance in Latin America – Silvia Federici
In Human: Parasites, Posthumanism, and Papatuanuku – Emilie Rakete