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speculative fabulation, speculative feminism, science fact

string figures


"First, promiscuously plucking out fibers in clotted and dense events and practices, I try to follow the threads where they lead in order to track them and find their tangles and patterns crucial for staying with the trouble in real and particular places and times. In that sense, sf is a method of tracing, of following a thread in the dark, in a dangerous true tale of adventure, where who lives and who dies and how might become clearer for the cultivating of multispecies justice. Second, the string figure is not the tracking, but rather the actual thing, the pattern and assembly that solicits response, the thing that is not oneself but with which one must go on. Third, string figuring is passing on and receiving, making and unmaking, picking up threads and drop- ping them. sf is practice and process; it is becoming-with each other in surprising relays; it is a figure for ongoingness in the Chthulucene."

Relays, string figures, passing patterns back and forth, giving and receiving, patterning, holding the unasked-for pattern in one’s hands, response-ability; that is core to what I mean by staying with the trouble in serious multispecies worlds. Becoming-with, not becoming, is the name of the game; becoming-with is how partners are, in Vinciane Despret’s terms, rendered capable. Ontologically heterogeneous partners become who and what they are in relational material-semiotic worlding. Natures, cultures, subjects, and objects do not preexist their intertwined worldings.

"Playing games of string figures is about giving and receiving patterns, dropping threads and failing but sometimes finding something that works, something consequential and maybe even beautiful, that wasn’t there before, of relaying connections that matter, of telling stories in hand upon hand, digit upon digit, attachment site upon attachment site, to craft conditions for finite flourishing on terra, on earth. String figures require hold- ing still in order to receive and pass on. String figures can be played by many, on all sorts of limbs, as long as the rhythm of accepting and giving is sustained. "

These string figures are thinking as well as making practices, pedagogical practices and cosmological performances. Some Navajo thinkers describe string games as one kind of patterning for restoring hózhó, a term imperfectly translated into English as “harmony,” “beauty,” “order,” and “right relations of the world,” including right relations of humans and nonhumans. Not in the world, but of the world;