HAPPENING, or retractability (undo, un-say) ¹ — Megan Jeanne Gette

Undoing completes the doing.
— Cecilia Vicuña 

Their connection is an event that matters in diverging ways for the wasp and for the orchid. Its achievement is not to lead the wasp and the orchid to accept a common aim or definition, but having the wasp and the orchid presuppose the existence of each other in order to produce themselves. 

—Isabelle Stengers 

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There was my ordinary harp & there was the aeolian harp.2 
(Today’s tender moon). 
A longue durée. 
There I was taking deep breaths where so close by, in the lake, a brain-eating amoeba lay in the water   It was 
the small joy of summer to be near the water although so many parasites & viruses
were so good at being quiet in the library of life innocuous as carbon monoxide 
& small joys of being quiet Small joys of life Innocuous small joys of hiding The leak of your toxicity 
“No you’re toxic,” she giggled as she licked her mercury finger & put it in my ear    So many of us were herded sheeply as a leak & excessive tumble dry turning in a machine whose brand was to make us fluffier & so we accreted our wool with impunity becoming-fluffy   & the fluffier we became the more we resembled the cotton Sprouting up out of the ground . whose
aeolian aunts swooped down to scoop the little blossoms out of their helmets 
& swept them shivering through the field in a dense, low-flying fog 
To lay them in a ditch, to be pillowed together like (as if we were) two arctic wooly bear moths whose transcorporeal surfaces had fused in a love pattern

One whose love was so true it was hidden, became innocuous as carbon monoxide & viruses.
“No you’re innocuous,” she cooed into my vitamin-deficient ear, as I read to her the epigraph in Lyotard’s “evil book,”  who knows not how to hide knows not how to love 
It’s evil because it frees up desire to scratch itself out of a toxic husk with impunity & i do not feel immune to anything
i do not feel immune to anything at all, the substrate of the innocuous life is a rare earth mineral that is not rare at all it’s in fact evenly spaced throughout the lithosphere
But the way borders work you’d have to negotiate 
so they’re called “rare” for their exchange value, their fusion with other kinds of minerals
You’d have to comb out the wooly transcorporeality & we just couldn’t make ourselves available to that (in a nice way)
We (i am a two-headed, fluffy animal) took account of the hum by internalizing it. 
Outside was the risk of dying at someone’s careless not-wearing a mask.
No one needed to see that!
Your face in the peppermill. 
Wooly antibodies coursing through [like i was pure vibes] & I washed the dishes for the fourth time that day, the sponge was full of ants

The scrubber my partner liked to use 1. became a point of contention as we moved into discussion about the brain-eating amoeba 
& 2. i told him if he felt sick he’d have to walk himself into the woods to die because he’s too heavy for me to drag & i’m otherwise alone out here            3. & What do i do about the dog? & What about the bills? & What about the family down in Antarctica? etc. etc.,  
4. during dinner, i told him my dad, a farmer, told me that he liked to watch baby bunnies run around in the wheatfields
But he noticed the hawks circling above his tractor, assholes, he said, swooping down to scoop up a rabbit supper
& he noticed that the hawks were using him & his tractor to track the rabbits.          When he turned the tractor in the field, the rabbits would scatter & this is how the hawks knew where to scoop……        they made me an accomplice! Dad said & he felt so bad & it felt more real than a dream in which 
the absolutely impenetrable faces an irrevocable change
Where the wooly animal looks at itself in the brain-eating lake & sees that the face is not its face, but rather the trace of a face, familiar because of its resemblance to the species but otherwise strange, 
One face superimposed on another as the composite in a dream the mind makes after having spent the day maneuvering among crowds, 
Like an algorithm picking up features & sculpting the probability of a human, but one who has no relation, nor voice because they have no history. 

The feral animal & the woman who is “a beast turning human” are “setting face, in sleep, toward itself in time, as an image & its reflection in a lake seem parted only by the hesitation in the hour.”3  
The caterpillar cannot eat enough during the short arctic summer to get big enough to become a moth, so it lays down in the ice to freeze until next year, then next year, then next……
There was the attempt to represent this epochal change over time in the book. 
It’s barbaric— 
1 or 2 true lines, like this one: “I think if I really loved ____________, I wouldn’t try to write about them.” 
Glass, soap bubbles, a camera lens offer transparency to the outside world & the reflection of the looker. 
Loving is a way of sensing or scrubbing. 
(Your face in a peppermill). 

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Our domestication over Zoom in the society of control has proffered a look into the mirrorworld of tiny others staring at you while you also stare at you         Her swooping aeolian aunts dip down to scatter cotton blossoms & bunny blood all over Texas highways
where you can see they have been wrapped up in pink tubing     sit fat in the fields sliced up like factory licorice 

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I become strange to myself in my own home (depersonalization).         Like listening to the sound of my own voice.              The cruelty of carrying the mirror in order to exist. 
that if something should have a face it might be exempt from being killed, it is rather a “third face”4
it differs from the scopophilic face found in archival footage, that meant to lend something to the “truth” in time, 
& it is not the face in a mask invented to pass by unnoticed, 
or Noticed in the way of maintaining public health protocol, 
nor like the Iron Mask, which wears out its punishment in public, 
nor the infinite mirrors of surveillance Technology that purport to be of service to the public when really they are out to control. 

No no no no no no no no no no no, my face appears as an echo to itself in “ever-ramifying patterns,” (no no no no no no no no no) indicates the irrevocable change in the interior of someone “belonging to a different species.”5 
This metamorphosis is not performative (they could not flee) but I write my estrangement: “there is neither an inside nor an outside world…but the monster does manage to weave a cocoon. A cocoon which slowly becomes a text.”      

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A cocoon is what an arctic wooly bear moth (here is more than a two-headed but rather a three-headed species)
Needs if it makes it to the 14-year point7 of its gestation (bc 75% of caterpillars get killed by parasites8

It is too cold to be alive, guess we’ll just have to sit & wait, sit tight….!

                     “no you rot in abeyance!” she coos to me

ITS ORGANS ARE SHOWING (there! something has ripped open its belly [this is archetypal, probably all of the recurring images have become archetypal] as it is freezing & thawing, freezing & thawing, freezing & thawing) 
Am I a monster?  i coo back, my droplets escaping the N-95 over my mouth in ever-ramifying patterns. I regret everything I’ve ever said, except some things. I don’t want to write anymore.
there is a string of silk coming out of my butt & i am making it a home (all in an attempt to keep warm) 

i grow fur
i grow so much fur it warms my ghosts 
i grow so much fur my ghosts become sweaty & beg me to turn on the air conditioner 
i grow so much fur i shed & the air conditioner sucks up the hairs & now my ghosts have lice & suffer other diseases from the particulate matter blowing around my parasites & inadvertent droplets 
i grow so much fur it diffracts into entropic equilibrium, describes patterns of relationship—“map[ping] where the effects of differences appear” & endures these effects by “producing altered & indefinite arrangements of knowledge, perception & experience.”9
(But we won’t know if it’s fur or wool if we don’t touch it first to learn its texture). 

Relationships are informed by the shape things take.
Something that bends, warps, punctuates & is punctured by interruptive membranes, 
that might overlap & meld together, peel apart & shift into autonomous, hexagonal entities 
whose edges may be indistinguishable 
If not for the presence or understanding of just one bubble, drifting off from a sink full of suds. 
Just one cocoon, stuck for years in the corner of a backside of a windowpane (broken through). 
A philosopher’s world is where every species is encased in a bubble or is spun by the silk from one’s anus. 
When the bubbles mush, they become suds. When they spin they propagate their territorial edges with prismatic effect, a soapy surface carried along the whims of an atmosphere much bigger than itself, blown about by meteorological forces, zapped by the sun, popped in a moment of elemental fragility. 

Relationships are misinformed by the assumption of a longue durée. 
She informs me that the first time we met, I said my father (who is alive) died when I was 13. I do not remember this, nor can think why I’d say that,
“…the way you sometimes amplify things all out of proportion, then sometimes they’re smaller than proportion, expanding, contracting, etc. etc.. To me, that’s your way of telling the truth– things are never in the ho-hum ‘normal’ or ‘correct’ proportion most would insist on, and to me, your way, your traffic in grotesqueries feels more true to the world.”10 
An incommensurate world accepts a heartbeat & echolocation as articulate. 
Coherence is “a life so touched by world events.” 
(Your face in a peppermill). 

Events cohere like a silk cocoon around something flying dumbly into the web. 
A hand stuck in the cattails. 
A caterpillar freezing itself until the right conditions. 
(Before becoming) an arctic moth, it freezes cyclically at temperatures of -70 degrees C.        It results from cryoprotectants & mitochondria breaking down in the cells that come alive again in the sun.
Photosynthesis traces a shape around fragilities; a kind of history, a story that is not reduced to testimony. 
(The female moths grow wings but do not fly). 
Composing from the relations that arise from a cut gives relation a reproducible form (sewing machine).
The fragile point becomes an aeolian home, a cut to organize “chaos,” where wind becomes a word. 

Where the hawks used the tractor to stakeout their meal                        i remember 
putting my hand in the cattails for the caterpillars to suction my fingertips 
Leaving caterpillar pee in the rivulets of my palms 
Later dad tells me that there’s been lately a phenomena, or rather this happens every winter, of old farmers going into the grain bins to chop up the grain that had become a crust because of the sun. 
All the grains mush together in a transcorporeal love pattern because of the sun. 
You’re not supposed to go in there because you can fall through the crust to suffocate in the slippage of the grain [i think of that scene in Amelie, where it describes a Small Joy of putting her hand in a sack of grain] or burn to death. 

But they go in anyway because how else to get the grain to make a saleable bushel 
(my partner goes in to buy groceries etc. etc.,)
A mirrorworld of tiny others stare at you while you also stare at you. 
Over a dozen died this way this year, he says, two just this past week, your uncle, he says to me, was working in there with his hired man & stepped out for some air
& a big chunk of scorching hot corn fell on top of the man & the man burned to death in the bin
My uncle had to drag him out 
there’s no doctor out there nor here 
A longue durée.
what happens if 75% of us die alone with parasites frozen in the snow                i play the tune on my ordinary harp made with silk strings pulled out from my anus 
While the arctic wooly bear moth “lives at the edge of what is possible.” 
(no no no no no no nonno nono no no no) 


footnotes:

1 See Allan Kaprow: https://www.guggenheim.org/blogs/findings/how-allan-kaprow-helped-create-happenings

2 See Marx: “The world confronting a philosophy total in itself is therefore a world torn apart…But one must not let oneself be misled by this storm which follows a great philosophy, a world philosophy. Ordinary harps play under any fingers, Aeolian harps only when struck by the storm.”

3 See Djuna Barnes Nightwood (1936:62).

4 see Bolton 2010.

5 see Hayward 2012.

6 see Freccero 2017.

7 We will say 14 years although new data suggests that the gestation period of this moth is more like 7 years. Because this estimate is a drastic difference, a range seems sufficient for figurative purposes.

8 Namely the tachinid fly exorista thula & the ichneumonid wasp hyposoter diechmanni.

9 Hayward 2012.

10 Said friend.


thoughts thought-with:

“Arctic Wooly Bear Moth Facts and Adaptations  – Gynaephora groenlandica.”

https://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/wildlife/Arctic_animals/arctic_woolly_bear_moth.php

Video of arctic wooly bear moth life (from which screenshots were taken): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHzEOrtKA1Q

Berssenbrugge, Mei-mei. 2020. “Listening.” A Treatise on Stars. New Directions.

Bolton, Linda. 2010. Facing the Other: Ethical Disruption and the American Mind. Baton Rouge: Louisiana University Press. 

Freccero, Carla. 2017. “Wolf, or Homo homini lupus.” Tsing et al eds. Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. Minneapolis: University of Minesotta Press.

Hayward, Eva. “Sensational Jellyfish: Aquarium Affects and the Matter of Immersion.” Differences. 23.3 (2012): 161-96. 

Levinas, Emmanuel. Totality and Infinity. Trans. Alfonso Lingus. Pittsburgh: Duqesque University Press, 1969. 

Lyotard, Jean-francois, and Iain Hamilton Grant. 2015. Libidinal Economy. Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Marx, Karl, and T. B. Bottomore. 1964. “To Make the World Philosophical.” Karl Marx: Early Writings. McGraw-Hill.

“Octahedron” and “Metaphysical Octahedron.” 2009. Crystalwind.ca. http://www.crystalwind.ca/eureka-amazing/meta-science/sacred-geometry/metaphysical-octahedron http://www.crystalwind.ca/eureka-amazing/meta-science/sacred-geometry/octahedron

Sloterdijk, Peter. 2011. Bubbles: Spheres Volume I: Microspherology. Semiotext(e) / Foreign Agents

Stengers, Isabelle. 2005. “A Cosmopolitical Proposal.” In Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy, edited by Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, 994–1003. Cambridge: MIT Press. 

Stengers, Isabelle. 2008. History Through the Middle.” Inflexions. Senselab: Concordia University.  http://www.inflexions.org/n3_stengershtml.htmlUexkull, Jakob von. A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans. Joseph D. O’Neill trans. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010


Megan Jeanne Gette is a poet and anthropologist currently based in Texas, USA.

Image: Chrysalis, Amy Templeman, Creative Commons