Life teeming, buzzing


Honey moon on the lips of the demented
Orchards and towns this night are greedy
The stars quite well represent the bees
Of this luminous honey which drips from the vines
For here is everything sweet and their falling from the sky
Each ray of the moon is a ray of honey
Gold hidden I conceive the very sweet adventure
I am afraid of the fire stinger of this Arcture bee
Who placed disappointing rays in my hands
And took his moon honey from the compass rose
— Guillaume Apollinaire, Alcohols, 1913

I know she is there because I can hear her. It is the buzzing of a honeybee, and she is panicked, running her furry body into the glass of the conservatory. No, there are two bees — their buzzing in counterpoint, one more worried than the other. I find a dry glass and take the paper I have been making notes on, fold it in half, and set about helping the bees out the window. They obligingly climb onto the paper and I lift them to the opening one by one so they can fly into the garden.

All the time the smell of hoyas in flower fills the room like gas in a jar. But only after the two bees flew in did it occur to me that the flowers blooming against the interior wall of the glazed box on the back of the house would draw them. The hoyas hang down, quite large now after years of being in the same place, and their waxy flowers in pink and in brown fall close together in clumps, curved like skullcaps. A sweet substance, a nectar, forms in drops that sometimes my son licks at, smiling at me through the window of the kitchen while I am at the sink.

I wonder how the bee’s consciousness registers fragrance, a source of nectar, an open door. I am told she collects both nectar and pollen. The nectar is concentrated to make honey, and then mixed with pollen to form a sort of protein porridge that is fed to the collective’s larvae.

Wild honeybee hives are pendulous, bag-like, and are made of flattish sections that point downwards, rounded as if they are seeping towards the ground. Their sections sit side by side like the bellows of an accordion. They make commercial beehives, with their rectilinear architecture, seem a sad literal projection of human socio-economic frames.

There are 28 species of ngaro huruhuru in Aotearoa. Their homes are little holes in the earth, and they are mostly solitary, producing no hives or honey, and they seldom sting.

The word conversatio was used in monasteries and convents to describe being in conversation with the universe — attentive listening to and observation of what is in and around us, to all the subtle layers of information. This requires commitment to a radically different temporality and other markers of success. There is a sound to the animation of our cells, a vibration that intensifies, on occasion, into a buzzing feeling in our hands, like a physical tinnitus, but not in any way an impediment — quite the opposite. I imagine it is what healers use (sense, receive, transmit, amplify, unfold, translate) in a wider spectrum, sometimes with voices, colours and images.

The bees I found in the sunroom looked bigger and darker than normal, and I thought it was because I was looking at them through reading glasses. But when I undressed my eyes, I could see they were very large — strong and healthy-looking, and a dark brown colour. I wondered if they were drones, looking for a queen to carry out their work. In the bee-world the sole function of the male is to provide genetic diversity when each mates with the queen. She flies up from her hive, vertically, higher and higher, and they gather around her in an erotic cloud. She may mate with as many as 20 of them, polyamorously, like a cat. Each of these drones dies after mating as their penis-flower breaks off. This occurrence is fatal — they fall from the sky, leaving half their bodies behind. The queen takes another and another, and the unchosen remainder are chased out of the hive before winter. I have since been told that drones have eyes that cover most of their heads, and wings the length of their bodies. And that they are hairier and have mantles like lions — they are leonine, these remote-control flying mating machines.

The hoya flowers seemed larger, too, and I put my glasses on and off to get a proper sense of scale. Things are flowering too early this year, and fruiting, and everything seems larger. And the bees are leaving. I think of a phrase, written down but not attributed — ‘no vertical song’ — its source possibly religious. A vertical song is an image of incense curling up, or prayer and song rising. No vertical song is an empty call, a song from a soul that has gone awry — no sound rising and no one to receive it. Simply, no bees / no prayers or song rising for them / no ears to hear.

There is a sense that something is slipping away. Things written in notebooks gather like leaves in a corner. In a photograph of bees swarming, light hits bees, making them metallic, stellar — in Apollinaire’s (a pollinator’s?) gilded reality.

Earlier in 2020 I had read Ursula Le Guin’s essay ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’ and it sticks with me as I think about Anne Noble’s body of work approaching bees. Le Guin writes that our history tends to be thought and told in terms of heroes and weapons, resolution and outcomes. She, however, is more interested in our history of gathering, the different narratives this engenders — diffuse, multiple, where subjectivities are distributed differently and processes continue — and how it is interwoven with our practice of fabulation and fantasy. The novel pertains to the earliest cultural inventions, Le Guin offers, which are most likely containers:

I would go as far to say that the natural, proper fitting shape of the novel might be that of a sack, a bag. A book holds words. Words hold things. They bear meanings. A novel is a medicine bundle, holding things in a particular, powerful relation to one another and to us. 1 

Fiction is not the opposite of fact, or reality; rather, it is how we imagine futures and desires, new realities — and sometimes it is the only way that we can. If the disappearance of bees seems like science fiction, so does the so-called Anthropocene in which we are suspended, helplessly. We need new realities, but often can’t make the bursting line of flight.

Noble’s work addresses the multitude of the bee — a multitude that is in majority female — but it is clear that to view bees solely as subject, as content, is to diminish her work’s scope. Over a long period she has undertaken a consideration of the bee within a wider study of ways of seeing, of attending, of the transformation that comes from observation, of where our desire comes from.

Our capacity for attention is called, if not into question, then into view; as is how we take part in language. Our ability to observe, to apprehend, is slipping, and the bees are literally leaving, as if mirroring our human diminishment. Introduced honeybees are abandoning the rectilinear architecture of their hives in death, or as they take flight and swarm far away, too fast and too far to be found.

Instrumentalised into exploitative monocultural agricultural practices, bees are dying in huge numbers from diseases that can be identified and also from a mysterious malaise (or plural) that can only be the subject of conjecture. An epigraphic phrase floats from a Sylvia Plath poem about beekeeping: ‘The box is only temporary.’ 2 

Shortly before she died in February’s winter, during one week in October’s autumn, Plath wrote five poems about her horrified attempt at beekeeping. ‘The Bee Meeting’, ‘The Arrival of the Bee Box’, ‘Stings’, The Swarm’ and ‘Wintering’ were published in 1965 in Ariel. At the time Plath was trying to live a wrecked existence in a hostile village after her husband left her with two tiny children. In one poem, she identifies with these other females:

… she is old,
Her wings torn shawls, her long body Rubbed of its plush
Poor and bare and unqueenly and even shameful.
I stand in a column
Of winged,
unmiraculous women,
I am no drudge
Though for years I have eaten dust
And dried plates with my dense hair. 3 

Noble’s photography does not make the bee an object to its subject. Rather, it suggests that bees are to be communed with, are understood to be of a reality we cannot always grasp. They can be indexed visually, and in some works their sound is drawn in, but they are not subsumed, pinned into a scopic regime that defines and classifies. They remain mysterious and complex — not made into discrete pieces of a human-centred jigsaw. When not fixed into an anthropocentric hierarchy bees remind us that we are part of the sphere in which we live, that intricate, merciless, readjusting, impersonal ecosystem we call Gaia. 4 

Noble has said she thinks people fall in love with bees when they start to keep them. What is it about bees as an embodied force that is so captivating? Their danger, their sound, their horror-beauty draws our attention, and holds it. This horror is akin to the way a monster in a film might appear as a whole being and then dissolve into the air as a cloud of tiny living parts. The bees’ buzzing mimics the sensation of desire that is transformation’s precursor. By desire I mean making love everywhere as an existential coupling in which the goals of the single-hero narrative collapse into a hum of multiplicity. 5  In this ‘sublime reverberation’ there are no constant, rigid objects distinct from each other, just a sea of life, matter and being co-mingling.

But what of the initial horror, or phantasy? We — subject to recollection, dopamine anniversaries, trapped in an addictogenic frame — can see in the bee the plague that we are ourselves. That is possibly the biggest horror, a nasty inversion of something unacceptable — like fearing a snake because it is an externalisation of an interior space, our own infantile sensation of intestinal existence, of shitting, apprehended. 6  The basis of all fantastic fiction is the hesitation created by the strangeness of the encounter; and in the apprehension of the bee, the massed bee, we hesitate, unknowing, open. 7 

The initial horror is productive, attractive, and we watch as though we are digesting ourselves, feeding — amorous, floral. Bees are observable as the physical manifestation of the crowd form, the mass — their swarm the veritable image of increase. 8  In their buzzing vibrancy bees appear as a panacea, something that lifts and aids us while still being part of our fundamental problem: ‘My misfortune is present in all events, but also a splendour and brightness which dry up misfortune…’ 9  We live vibrating with intensities, and humming provides an aural representation of the hallucinatory quality of living and the disturbance of observation.

Gatherers take little pieces from here, there, and put them in bags. Garnering is not heroic work, but rather the work of makers of realities, of those who sustain life, of observers of significance and science fiction. Insect consciousness clearly sees what we do not, and a little understanding of what we do not know helps us to link things ‘supernaturally’, like telephony, spiritualism and suffrage. 10  There is great attractiveness in the inhumanity of the insect; it indicates utter difference and repels anthropomorphising projections — the bee has often been subject, erroneously, to patriarchal analogies for human democracy, harmony, industry and higher purpose.

I would rather see-hear bees as a symbol of the dissolution of subject and object at a point just inside the ear. 11  They are a sign of the failure of the idea that we are separate from each other, demarcated by virtue of the edges of our fleshy containers. The humming breaks us down, breaks that idea down. The bees’ buzzing insists we are inseparable from the matter around us. Life-filled, we come into scintillating, shimmering complicity with our environments. 12 

The body of photography gathered in this book urges me to not limit my perceived meaning of the work to the imagined singular experience of the artist’s experience of bees, but rather to consider our collective individuation — there is no I without we. Observing bees challenges aggressive human exceptionalism, and shows its (and certainty’s) weakness. It suggests an attraction to the power of the hive, an attraction to a female world, an inhuman world.

Emily Dickinson wrote many poems that consider, embrace, become one with bees. These were written among others that opened themselves to the garden in which she lived and the temporality of this sphere of attention.

Dickinson withdrew from the community she was expected to play a part in reproducing for diffuse reasons. These have been repeatedly read in pathological terms by blunt-instrument biographers: agoraphobia, liver illness, enervated fatigue. It is also possible that the poet chose an alternative to the patriarchal society in which she lived; in this conception each party — both Dickinson and social convention — found the other lacking. From her work, it seems that she wanted to sink into the garden to become plant, flower, perennial, butterfly, bee — to inhabit the consciousness of flora, fauna or their wider complex, the assemblage of the ecosystem. There are myriad lines of flight and reterritorialisations in each bee-being that comes forth, and many em/en dashes to indicate transversal vectors.

It is not clear Dickinson wrote with any wide audience in mind. Very few poems were published in her lifetime — seven, in fact, and these anonymously. Instead, they were carefully bundled by her into ‘fascicles’. Posthumously they were arranged, regrouped, had words changed, titles added by friends and family. Later still they were de-tidied by contemporary archive-burrowing editors who restored her wording, punctuation and formal shapes. There have been blessed facsimile publications of handwritten texts and digital archive access.

As Susan Howe explains in The Gorgeous Nothings, a compendium of facsimilies of Dickinson’s poems written on envelopes, their ‘visual and acoustic aspects’ were ignored in earlier collections of her work. 13  Is there, she asks, something in the trace of the hand that records the surprise that the writer experiences as the writing emerges in the present? ‘Can a mark on paper surprise itself at the moment of writing?’ 14  Dickinson’s poems are not static — her writing destabilises with suggestion and ambiguity, existing as scraps of hallucinatory, generative, affirmative experience. A fragment is a ‘morsel of time in its pure state’, Howe says; ‘it hovers between a present that is immediate and a past that had once been present’. 15 

From one version of her collected works I counted 40 poems in which Dickinson approaches bees. (I found one more in the gatherings of her poems written on envelopes that had been ignored in earlier collections of her work. I am / we are gathering scraps, always.) In these poems — a statistical set of sorts, clumsily excised from a greater whole — Dickinson whispers that she does not just relate to the bee, drunk on the sun, a noon inebriate. She is one too, one who has desired (‘Oh for a bee’s experience of clovers and of noon!’) to be one of the ‘summer’s armies’ (‘From some old fortress on the sun’). 16  She has communed to the extent that she has achieved a transversal post-humanity (‘And I’m a rose!’); and she tells us of her complicity with creatures and plants as a home-girl (‘The bee is not afraid of me’) who knows we have to check our exhausted fear at the door (‘The foreigner before he knocks / Must thrust the tears away’). 17  We must find our negentropy — our ability to reverse-engineer entropy, loss of energy, desire, motivation — with an affirmative ethic that is tantamount to magic:

The Murmur of a Bee
A Witchcraft — yieldeth me — If any ask me why —
’Twere easier to die —
Than tell —  18 

Looking at Dickinson’s work drawn on envelopes, rulings out are present. Different episodes of thought are visible in a less-sharp pencil, an angle; and the trace of more or less energy in firmness, scale, spacing and slope of hand; and of how tightly or loosely the letters come. Magic, of course, has its own timeframe:

Long Years apart — can make no
Breach a second cannot fill —
The absence of the witch does not
Invalidate the spell —  19 

The bee has black marks all around her body, especially at the tip of her abdomen, over the dirty golden fur. Le Guin relays to us a point that women, the gatherers, are not uncivilised — as Freud contended — but just show a ‘lack of loyalty to civilization’. 20  As I read Rosi Braidotti’s Posthuman Knowledge, I am chastened, mustered away from the idea that there is anything flawed in being a-heroic.

Standing under an enormous linden tree in flower, its fragrance carried in the air tens of metres away, listening to the chorus of who-knows-how-many bees, I am aware of Dickinson being one with the bee. I am aware, as I collect the flowers for tea — carefully picking them between the work of the bees, a fantail in attendance and a shining cuckoo close by, the pollen dusting off the clusters of flowers in little puffs as I move — that I am gathering not just the flowers but also the trace of the bees they have become one with. The tea will impart not just the essence of linden, but also of a shared plant-insect force, and I will take that with me for the winter.

Braidotti’s thesis is that the way forward is to realise (by praxis, not miracle) a virtual post-human condition that could appear out of a swelling resolve to leave behind universalist human myths and anthropocentrisms. Here, we can realise our relational, transversal natures whereby we are at one with and interdependent with all life and matter. Human/non-human distinctions dissolve, and bios and zoe (the life of humans and non-humans) interplay in a radical inclusion that is spurred on by collective exhaustion. We can use our fatigue, Braidotti says, to open ourselves to this sort of becoming. Hers is an affirmative ethic, and on this she is clear: ‘Despair is not a project’. 21 

Braidotti writes that we must relearn the work of the Stoics to rework pain and suffering in the terrifying accelerationism of cognitive capitalism and climate change — here, between the fourth industrial revolution and the sixth extinction. Our very exhaustion decelerates advanced capitalism’s deterritorialisations and thanatopolitics. We humans are, as in Dickinson’s poems, ‘transversal vectors of becoming’. 22  We can regenerate collectively on a platform of ‘friendship with impersonal death’ and assume ‘alternative subject positions beyond individualism’. 23  We are exhausted, but ‘What is inexhaustible is the potential that all living organisms share for multiple actualizations or as yet unexplored interconnections, across and with humans and non-humans.’ 24 

This is the significance I see in Dickinson’s bee poems and Noble’s lens-based bee-works: in the interconnections of approaching the bee, an other, there is another language. It is definite post-human business in the purposeful sense that Braidotti brings us:

Subjectivity is thus both post-personal and pre-individual, relational and hence in constant negotiation with multiple others and immersed in the conditions that it is trying to understand and modify, if not overturn.

A philosophy of immanence, or of situated perspectives, implies an epistemological obligation to reach adequate understandings of the conditions of one’s existence. This entails, in turn, the ethical duty to be worthy of one’s own times so as to account for, and interact affirmatively with them, in response to changing circumstances. 25 

Hito Steyerl wrote in ‘The Language of Things’ that, from this point of view, ‘a thing is never just something, but a fossil in which a constellation of forces is petrified’. In this way, ‘things are never just inert objects, passive items or lifeless shucks at the disposal of the documentary gaze, but they consist of tensions, forces, hidden powers, which keep getting exchanged’. 26  We are veritably shot through, riddled, infested, bewitched, ensorcelled with each other’s languages, the unmediated chatter of bees and objects. The photographic document is no inert index but ‘connects its audience to a universal circulation of energies’. 27 

There are multitudes and multitudes. Swarms and packs. In Elias Canetti’s Crowds and Power, the crowd form is theorised in myriad ways, making its own riotous legion. The swarm of insects — here, locusts soaking up an ancient Chinese song — are ‘praiseworthy in their exemplary power of increase’. 28  Canetti distinguishes between different kinds of packs — smaller units than the swarm, ur-units, crowd crystals: packs of hunting, war, lamentation, increase — and sees in their reason for being reciprocal stimulation in order to pass a threshold, to vitalise and mobilise a species. 29  A pack ‘can only be understood in conjunction with the processes of transformation’. 30  Is this the desire of bee-works — to summon an increase energy? It was the bees’ potential that seemed to disturb Sylvia Plath; the angry clambering of a crowd of tiny teeming hands:

It is the noise that appalls me most of all,
The unintelligible syllables.
It is like a Roman mob,
Small, taken one by one, but my god, together!
I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs. 31 

The prunus, the pōhutukawa, the echium, humming with bees. The lime tree, linden tree, the biggest of all. I let the lawn grow for the daisies and clover. The daisies close at night. The bees prefer the raspberries, and have come from the elder, the flowering currant, the Chinese gooseberry — all have grown by themselves — and will go from the roses to the courgettes and pumpkin after the lilies.

The bee was in the sunroom, flying against the glass, trying to get out. We tried opening the windows but this made no sense to the fearful insect. So my coltish son got a glass and a piece of paper to try to catch the bee and take her outside. He was worried that she would fly into a spider-corner and get gummed up with cobweb. He had not done this before, and lost confidence in the thinness of the paper. I showed him how to fold it over to make it more rigid and he contained the bee in the glass, sliding the paper between her and the window, careful of her fragile legs. Her buzzing was captured, distorted in the glass, which also magnified her so that her legs, heavy with pollen, were emphasised.

Later that afternoon we were in the kitchen, and he said that he had been thinking about video games, about the red-and-white mushrooms from Super Mario. It reminded him that someone had said that the type of mushroom (fly agaric, Amanita muscaria) used as houses by Smurfs in real life makes people hallucinate small blue people. I said that I didn’t think substances make you hallucinate particular things, and he said maybe they can tend to make you see small, teeming things? There is more I could have said but did not. Perhaps they make us see our own corpuscles? The mass of bees reminds us that we are functioning organisms made up of millions of cells, atoms; an assemblage with our environment and its technical retentions. Our thoughts become insects, are insects already. We are a swarm inside and out, and our skin is no limit. This is a humming reality that is called madness. We are not containers for everything we are or need.

Perhaps the sound of these insects — the winged, buzzing ones of the Apidae family — in combination with a pharmakon of some sort would provide the best form of transport out of here? I do not say this to the boy. I do not want him to leave. I have been trying not to leave. When he was very small, he opened our first theological discussion with an assertion that that god was female and multiple. I invited him to draw them. They were winged creatures in a fuzzy pastel, risen above the earth, their rounded wings a kind of Grateful Dead patchwork.

Bees were thought by the Ancient Greeks to contain the human souls of the deceased or not yet born. This belief may have come about because bees like to make nests inside cracks in stone walls or in caves — these seemed like entrances to the underworld. Bees, humming, buzzing, are like cracks in the cave wall in and of themselves. Perhaps they are symbols — humming, vibrant ones — of life itself.

I am reading the poet H.D., specifically her essay ‘Notes on Thought and Vision’. In it she wrote of the statue known as the Delphic charioteer and how it acted for her as an entrance to ‘over-world consciousness’. But generously, sanely, she offers, ‘But my line of approach, my sign-posts, are not your sign-posts.’ 32  Her essay explores the difference between the subconscious (the site of dreams), the mind and the over-mind:

Our minds, all of our minds, are like dull little houses, built more or less alike … Man’s chief concern is keeping his little house warm and making his little wall strong … Outside is a great vineyard and grapes and rioting and madness and dangers. 33 

She imagines a giant moth, drunk on the sweetness of grapes and trying to balance noisily on the side of her golden cup; they laugh drunkenly together. She repeats, ‘Outside is a great vineyard and grapes and rioting and madness and dangers.’

In many of her bee poems, Dickinson identifies with the inebriation of the bee, drunk on nectar, essential oils, sun, the forces of nature, the elation of purpose and generative practices. Her own drunkenness is of observation, drinking in new states with the eye to the point of hallucination. The moon rises as a huge orb, like the round body of an enormous she-spider. It literally squeezes out of the sea at the end of the bay from a gap in the horizon’s line of hills and rolls up the edge of one headland, illuminated in the night sky and lighting the darkened sea. Her web is everywhere, and being condenses on its strands in the cool of the deepening evening. Listen to each other. Find moments of unison and of tension and improvise flight to find the over-mind:

The lines of the human body and the lines of the fruit tree are like the body of the Delphic charioteer … The fruit tree and the human body are both receiving stations, capable of storing up energy, over-world energy. That energy is always there but can be transmitted only to another body or another mind that is in sympathy with it, or keyed to the same pitch. 34 

I watch these bee-mothers who gather and return and labour, who work from home, but to try to write this in relation to the time of the bee, open to the perception of their utter difference, is slow, slow to the point of stasis, so slow as to give up. It feels dangerous, as if one could die from a latent unhappiness borne of not being in accord with the world. Plath did not survive her communion with bees. It is an agony to go from one state to another; there is burn-up on re-entry and fortitude of mind is required: ‘The swing from normal to abnormal consciousness is accompanied by grinding discomfort of mental agony.’ 35 

The beehive can be such an over-mind gate to visionary perception. It embodies the power of the gatherer, the crowd; transporting vibration, the language of a collective entity that is riddled with contagious energies — the potential for conjuration with all traces left in it by the bee–human assemblage. A dead honeybee on the windowsill creates a small hesitation: this little corpse, this little horror. Each pause is a break, and Noble’s images of dead and alive — living and dying — bees amplify this rupture, making space, demanding attention be paid to the incalculable.

It has been raining for five days. Early this morning the cat runs into my room, darting about, and I can see that he has brought in a young sparrow. It hides in the wardrobe. I eject the cat from the room and try to pick up the bird gently with a pillowcase. I take it to a box in the conservatory where it can recover and gently open the fabric. Instead of being fear-frozen it flies out the open door. I was surprised the cat had gone out in this weather, but then remembered that I’ve been told burglars do go out in the rain.

We all come out with the sun after the days of rain, and the flowers with us. I go out on foot in the circling wind — it swings counter-clockwise when observed from above — to the linden tree inside the park that stands in the expanse of planted lawns before the predator-fenced kahikatea swamp we are told is the last remaining original bush on the plain. The linden is newly in flower and alive with bees, vibrating, signalling, offering notes with which I can join in unison and dissolve. I can reach only the lowest branches and I pick the fragrant flowers into a cloth bag, careful to not disturb the bees in their work. They are gathering nectar and pollen to feed themselves and their young (at least — probably more is taking place than I can clock), and while I gather the soporific flowers for tea I am skating on the elating surface of bee-tree knowledge. In the winter they can deal this increase orally, impart the heady bee-vibration of high summer and the long-chain consciousness of the hive-keepers. The flowers and leaf tips are the pale golden green of a cat’s eye, and I am real gone.

  1. ‘So, when I came to write science-fiction novels, I came lugging this great heavy sack of stuff, my carrier bag full of wimps and klutzes, and tiny grains of things smaller than a mustard seed, and intricately woven nets which when laboriously unknotted are seen to contain one blue pebble, an impeturbably functioning chronometer telling the time on another world, and a mouse’s skull; full of beginnings without ends, of initiations, of losses, of transformations and translations.’ Ursula Le Guin, ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’, in Dancing at the Edge of the World (New York: Grove, 1989), 152–53.
  2. Sylvia Plath, ‘The Arrival of the Bee Box’, Ariel (London: Faber and Faber, 1965).
  3. Plath, ‘Stings’, Ariel.
  4. ‘Gaia is autopoietic — self-forming, boundary maintaining, contingent, dynamic, and stable under some conditions but not others. Gaia is not reducible to the sum of its parts, but achieves finite systemic coherence in the face of perturbations within parameters that are themselves responsive to dynamic systemic processes. Gaia does not and could not care about human or other biological beings’ intentions or desires or needs, but Gaia puts into question our very existence, we who have provoked its brutal mutation that threatens both human and nonhuman livable presents and futures. Gaia is not about a list of questions waiting for rational policies; Gaia is an intrusive event that undoes thinking as usual.’ Donna Haraway, ‘Tentacular Thinking: Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene’, e-flux Journal 75 (September 2016).
  5. See Félix Guattari, Chaosophy: Texts and interviews, 1972–77 (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009).
  6. See T. J. Clark, The Sight of Death: An experiment in art writing (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008).
  7. See Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic: A structural approach to a literary genre (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1975).
  8. See Elias Canetti, Crowds and Power (1960), trans. Carol Stewart (New York: Seabury, 1978).
  9. Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester (London: Athlone, 1990), 149.
  10. See Barbara Goldsmith, Other Powers: The age of suffrage, spiritualism, and the scandalous victoria woodhull (New York: Harper, 1999).
  11. See Michael Taussig, ‘Humming’, in The Corn Wolf (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2015).
  12. See Bernard Stiegler with Frédéric Neyrat, ‘From Libidinal Economy to the Ecology of the Spirit’, trans. Arne de Boever, Parrhesia 14 (2012): 9–15.
  13. Susan Howe in the preface to The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s envelope poems, ed. Marta Werner and Jen Bervin (New York: Christine Burgin and New Directions, 2013), 6.
  14. Ibid., 7.
  15. Ibid.
  16. From Emily Dickinson, Poems: Three series, Project Gutenburg, 2004, First Series, III, Nature: XV, ‘The Bee’; and VIII, ‘Summer’s Armies’,
  17. Ibid., Third Series, III, Nature: XI, ‘A Rose’; First Series, III, Nature: VII, untitled; and Third Series, III, Nature: XXII, untitled.
  18. Emily Dickinson, ‘The Murmur of a Bee’, J155, Fr217, Packet XV, Fascicle 9. Includes 29 poems, written in ink, c. 1862. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.
  19. Werner and Bervin, The Gorgeous Nothings, 66–67.
  20. Lillian Smith, quoted in Le Guin, ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’, 151. Emphasis in original.
  21. Rosi Braidotti, Posthuman Knowledge (Cambridge, UK, and Medford, MA: Polity, 2019), 3.
  22. Ibid., 17.
  23. Ibid., 176.
  24. Ibid., 175.
  25. Ibid., 42.
  26. Hito Steyerl, ‘The Language of Things’, Transversal Texts 6 (, June 2006).
  27. Ibid., 5.
  28. Canetti, Crowds and Power, 46.
  29. Ibid., 105.
  30. Ibid., 107.
  31. Plath, ‘The Arrival of the Bee Box’, Ariel.
  32. H.D., ‘Notes on Thought and Vision’ (1919), in Visions and Ecstasies (New York: David Zwirner, 2019), 22.
  33. Ibid., 34–35.
  34. Ibid., 39.
  35. Ibid., 18.