A Triptych*

Author’s Note We encountered each other serendipitously in an ethnography class that encouraged the very idea of serendipity – the by-chance-ness that is only possible by being open to what we don’t know, by finding one another and the unknown-ness through play, an act that seems near impossible within the accepted habitus of the four walls of a tall fractured academic tower. Our play, our serendipity, expands and exudes beyond the little corner of Thompson Hall where we sat every Wednesday feeling the warmth of the sun set on us through the windows until it was dark and class was over.

Issue 2


by haunted holobionts (Meredith DegyanskyTaylor Marie DohertyLucya Turowski)

Author’s Note

We encountered each other serendipitously in an ethnography class that encouraged the very idea of serendipity – the by-chance-ness that is only possible by being open to what we don’t know, by finding one another and the unknown-ness through play, an act that seems near impossible within the accepted habitus of the four walls of a tall fractured academic tower. Our play, our serendipity, expands and exudes beyond the little corner of Thompson Hall where we sat every Wednesday feeling the warmth of the sun set on us through the windows until it was dark and class was over. We have seeped through those cracks and reconfigured outside those walls. We found our way out by slithering along the ground level of one of the largest, most phallic libraries on the planet; by spending slow thoughtful time on benches for the possibility of encounters with others who ingeniously use the resources of the campus without being formally accepted into its supremacy; by noticing the earthworms squirming on wet concrete trying to find their way to one of the few patches of unfettered soil. As this assemblage came to an end that May, we formed a new node that extended out from that one. We needed to continue the practice, to seep deeper through the cracks that we only just licked the surface of. We slide into these cracks to make sense of our relations with more than just ourselves.

We see assemblages as a way not just to critique and analyze the world, but to bring about new possibilities through practice. Through building other worlds of possibility without a clear idea of where they’re going or who/what may become involved along the way. We use that as our strength. We are open to possibility and spend our time and space to create and co-think and support and show up. We exist as a constant invitation for others to combine and create with us. We wholly hope for holobiont happenings and connective hauntings. Necessary and urgent hauntings. Let’s shake the world with our symbiotic entanglements.

This triptych you are about to read was assembled by chance, by the ongoingness of toiling together with words written by others, sounds sung by multispecies choruses, smells grasped within our differently situated but hot and flooding landscapes, elbows brushed in grocery stores, mossy knolls we sat on near babbling brooks and survival poolsides in the desert. Our hundreds became a practice under which to jumble all of our coming-togethers that were inside our bodies and put them on the page to dance alongside one another. As part of this, we invite you to assemble your own hundreds and add them to our collective doc. To come together to see what comes from your body and fingertips based on how your body, memories, knowings, and feelings relate to a word.

Join us. Add your hundreds here to the hologenome.

*trip·tych (from Oxford Languages)
noun: triptych; plural noun: triptychs

  • a picture or relief carving on three panels, typically hinged together side by side and used as an altarpiece
  • a set of three associated artistic, literary, or musical works intended to be appreciated together

RESEARCH March 4, 2023

Research can be a project of harm, destruction, erasure and violence perpetuating colonialism, imperialism, and racism. Research can pollute and it can be a dirty word. A gaze that sometimes extracts knowledge like we extract and over extract resources leaving behind ecological and epistemic deterioration. It can also be beautiful. A way of moving through the world with an open and inquiring mind and heart. A practice of attending to the sights, sounds, smells, and senses that surround us. A messy collage made in the rubble and ruins. A conversation and blurring of lines between and through bodies and minds. (T)

Research as inquiry, growing, building, expanding. Feeling a longing for the imagination I had as a kid running through a tiny plot of woods behind my elementary school that expanded infinitely beyond space and time. Where bizarre plants and bubbling brooks filled with waterbugs and overturned logs turned bridges were not just something to apprehend and know about but were windows into a world that might not yet exist. Research as both learning from and aspiring to. Expansive, relational, not unidirectional. How to research and design with imagination–how multiple minds working together can expand possibilities in this future world. (L)

I heard something recently about how the english language has more nouns than verbs. Words that are Fixed. Stagnant. Apparently, Indigenous languages have more verbs than nouns. To turn research into a verb, to search, and re: to search again. To look for something. What are we searching for? Most of my life I’ve searched for the meaning of it. A trope, but real. To find that will take a lifetime. How could my search be for one parcel of that? Re. To do it again. To make this search a practice. To practice searching for parcels again and again. (M)

CARE March 18, 2023

A way of being in the world and thinking with the world (instead of always against it). An aim and movement towards repair. Mending how the state has ripped apart our geographies of intimacy and radical love. A vision to the world that might yet be. It is to say that tu lucha es mi lucha. Your struggle is my struggle and I will carry you with me as you carry me. Convivance. Mutuality. Sociality beyond that contract that atomizes us. A warm tea made by a friend that soothes tired, worn down spirits. Collective dreams. An otherwise. A weaving. (T)

Care. Cuidar. To tend to, to look after, to pay attention to. It is expansive. An undercurrent that snakes its way around all our interactions that helps guide way of life that is both attentive to the nuances around us and giving to the pieces/places/people we encounter. Care for the small things, the overlooked things– as a place of revolutionary potential. It can create a collective link between people, moments, things, places—discarded by a world full of apathy and violence—brought back together by intention and attention. (L)

“You need to take care of yourself”. As if unreasonable to expect others to care for, about, with me. As if noodling, coddling, relating, conflicting, learning, growing is done alone. To care for me, by me - without others. God, it’s lonely. Fine, I’ll care alone. No! Or – A more-than-self care with the billions of microorganisms on my body? A holobiont. Pick up the phone, “hello forearm bacteria, I feel helpless under the wrangles of hetero-white-patriarchy, do you get me?” “OMG yes, I feel you, I had a time like this and that, and this and that”. We talked all night. (M)

INTRODUCTION April 30, 2023

A formal introduction. An expectation. Hello there. My name is X. Insert elevator pitch, intriguing factoid, where you work (which is not who you are) here. Contextual. Spatial. Who I am by means of introduction constantly shifts. Where am I? Who am I with? Temporal. An invitation to conversation. Which is to say an invitation to move together. Movement. Sway. Swirl. An invention of {my)self. A calling into being. How do we make introductions something verby? Move towards a becoming and unbecoming? What is the affective register of an introduction that moves towards invitation and becomes contagious? Let’s go. (T)

‘Research as a series of introductions’ –a way of going about the world. Not claiming or seeking to know and conquer or master or excavate and uncover a subject/object of attention/relation in totality but to experience, learn and relearn, rememorize. Introduce meaning to “lead in.” To bring other beings, bodies, landscapes into a communal world that may pre-exist your attention to it but is bolstered by your weaving it together explicitly at a moment in time. To lead others with your vision, your inspiration and your attention and also to be open to being led down different paths of inquiry by theirs. (L)

To introduce myself. Beginnings. Intro. A summary of what is to come. What is to come has been imprinted. Archival. Smatterings of moments, people, places, smells, tastes, sounds. I introduce you to the wind that blew my hair while riding in the uhaul with my mom and sisters in 1988. I introduce you to the curb I sat on when my first lover ditched me in 2007. I introduce you to the banana split I ate with my nephews last week while watching a sea chicken putz. Uncapturable smatterings of life in process, therefore, I introduce you to a name. (M)

OTHERWISE May 23, 2023

You should eat an apple everyday, otherwise you won’t study well. You should study, otherwise you will get bad grades. You should get good grades, otherwise you won’t get into college. You should go to college, otherwise you won’t get a job. You should get a job, otherwise you will be poor. You should get married, otherwise you will be lonely. You should be rich, otherwise you won’t have anywhere to live. You should have kids, otherwise no one will take care of you when you are dying. You should do otherwise, otherwise you will have to do all that. (M)

Other—not being separate, distinct, entirely new and capturable. Other as in an addition to what our minds are currently conditioned to focus on. An addition that is both from the future and the past simultaneously manifesting as an ephemeral experience in our consciousness presently. Wise—in one reading is informed, possessional and conquering, in another, if we move counterclockwise and against but attentive to the scary ghosts and follow other spirits that haunt and taunt us to move beyond and between the cracks beyond the trails toward some other way of being and knowing. Where we can create an otherwise. (L)

An approach to alterity. Creativity. Imagination. Where? The space between the li(n)es and the things we do not see. Glimmers. Glimpses. A multiplicity of happenings and times. Times with a S. Elsewhere. Another time, another place, another space and mode of being that is both not yet here, always already here, in the past and in the future. It is now, then, and before. Muddy like the river I used to frolic in behind the little red house. The Monatiquot. Did Papa know the name? Or was he avoiding complicity? Back to the Future. Time travel is necessary. (T)

ASSEMBLAGE June 6, 2023

Assembling disparate ideas in my head and jotting them into a word document to parse through: put some parts together, take them apart, put them back together again anew. A completed assignment for a class in one spatiotemporal lens, a ripple in my life project to learn and think through things in another, a conversation and collection/constellation of my experiences, the professor who guided me with a reading list, the co-producing of wonderings and thought in class, the room I sat in. Both a part of me and a part of so many other encounters. Assemblage—a collecting, never complete, never ending. (L)

Pulling apart the word helps one see what is assembled within it. Parts coming together, spinning in, out, each curve of the s, the m, don’t forget the g, the l too - it’s straight and sturdy back. Scrambled, moving. Letters in a jumble like bumper cars in a dimly lit arcade. Boom, boom, twist this way and that. A jarring bump, a ricochet over there. Mixing and melding with e. Hello e. Goodbye e. Floating along with a now. Twisting and twirling, the teacups. Assemblages spin us around, make us, entangle us and puke us out. masbsgeela beglaseasm esalaegmsb…(M)

A gathering of things and objects more than human and human. An assortment or jumbling. Interchanging parts. Particles bumping into one another. Some are reabsorbed, others recycled and refurbished. Scraps that are reclaimed from the trash heap and stitched into our weaving of words that are also webs and worlds. What’s inside the matrix? A coming together melding and moving. Solder some pieces to fit together. Dissolve, move, reform. Assemblages melding and disintegrating while creating rhizomatic bursting collectivities. Gears and cogs in a new machinery that we are building everyday towards reaccumulation -not primitive but futuristic- not by dispossession. (T)

CONVERSATION June 27th, 2023

We’ve been thinking and talking side by side for over a year now, discussions moderated by professors contained within the walls of classrooms ‘Hey, do you want to work together in a writing group?’ moves it into an intentional conversation. ‘Hell yeah,’ sipping black coffee and red wine at the same time. I feel like I talk all the time and wonder what I’m adding to the conversation on my own? But I’m not on my own. That’s the point of this conversation project we are creating together, to bring our own selves ready to be changed, to create change. (L)

Conversing. Chatter. Sharing. Something to say. What should I say? Small talk. Talk. We need to talk. Okay, conversation scares me sometimes. Let’s chat! Connection through words and coming together. Dissemination of information and feeling. Who do I converse with? I speak with the dead but they don’t (always) speak back. Sometimes I want to cut out my tongue. My mouth. A flowing well of communication for the trafficking of thoughts. Utterances. Rima oris. The multiplicitous microorganisms inhabiting our buccal mucosa utter something… are you listening?. What do they have to say today? Can you hear them? Open your ears. (T)

How do you do it? Do you put one foot in front of the other? Do you need a hand to say hello? A bell to decide it’s starting? A voice? Can you converse without a voice? Ears? Can you converse without ears? A heart? Can you converse without a heart? A soul? A history? A pulse? Do conversations end? Do they begin? Are they discreet and boxed in or ongoing, cycling through deep time? Is this one giant conversation - zipping and soaring catching tidbits here and catchalls there scooping up souls histories eyes ears hearts into one bumbling pulse? (M)

GLIMMERS July 18, 2023 - July 30, 2023

Glimmers catch light and prismatically refract it. A disco ball hanging in an old school turned hipster diner. Ginger bug tickling my throat. Leviathan’s rose quartz nose. The sweet desert smell of creosote after a monsoon. Petrichor. A vulva shaped tree hollow. A small squirrel. Sea glass shaped like a heart. Soft purrs and an exposed chonky cat belly. Two tiny lizards with their tongues sticking out. The star filled sky. Saoirse’s laughter. A wink from my partner. A familiar friend’s voice. Hearing a dropped R accent. All these mini moments of joy, serendipity, play, and calm accumulate within me. (T)

Glimmers, glints, gleams, god I love alliteration. One of the joys that occupy my life. I indulge it. The thing about glimmers, they’re always there but you have to learn to see them shine in the tiny last beam of light on a deepening and darkening flood-warning sky. Like when you don’t know the next time you’ll see a bit of mica on the path glimmer in the sun. So you start looking. For the maybe mundane but nonetheless magnificent hidden moments. Then suddenly you’re no longer out-of-body but bounded to a bed of moss [maybe metaphorically] witnessing tiny moments between you and the world. (L)

Smelling freshly cut grass from my crib when I was three. Doing that thing with your hand out the car window where the air pushes it back but you keep rolling it forward. An exciting bite. Laughing so hard you have to waddle to the bathroom. Heavy fucking rains followed by a setting sun. A voice that makes goosebumps on your arms. Pants off naps. Strangers washing your hair. The way the sunlight makes morning shadows on your stovetop. Overdosing on a new song on repeat. A squished bus ride where thighs touch. A string of words that shake you. (M)

RESONANCE July 18, 2023 - July 30, 2023

Sonic layerings. The reverberations and echoes of tiny critters in the river and small ripples resonate with me. They evoke a sense of deep safety despite the rising river banks. I plumb the depths, fistfuls of alluvium slip through my fingers. Three towns over is where Prescott, Dana, Enfield, and Greenwich were before they were engulfed. Disincorporated. Deprived of existence. The inhabitants, settlers, forced to flee, farmlands burned then flooded with water to provide life to Boston. To make live. Quabbin is Nipmuc for the meeting of many waters. A reservoir running on biopower. To let die. Does it resonate? (T, written in Montague, MA on the Saw Mill River 7-22-23)

I’m trying to think of the lowest and deepest sound I’ve ever heard. Something vibratory, orchestral. A roaring rumble of thunder but no, it’s deeper than that. Something gaping, under the earth, but beyond earth, cosmic, or the core moving. Basalt tumbling, continents splitting and crashing, a quake. Oh no. No no. It’s deeper yet - god damn it! In my gut, pouring down and out, pushing me in and up beyond it. It rumbles with strength, the opposite of a man’s voice. Like Lorde’s erotic. A resonance that vibrates through all of us if we bare down and feel it. (M)

Resonance bang! bang! on pots and pans resounding, bounding through my mind. Reverberating ing ing ing echo back but somehow GROWING into something larger, something more, something situated but not able to be contained, continuously. Twisting, turning to acknowledge the past/path whilst jostling ever forward. Sometimes stagnant—and now in rapid waves. Starting, ending up who knows where? Letting go of control and letting the sound pick your body up and let you dance, listen, bang your pots to the sound of change. Resonance residing in the ability to move toward a better future even if the destination isn’t exactly clear. (L)

NOURISHMENT July 18, 2023 - July 30, 2023

A wise question from an academic mentor: What sustains you? This collective with M & L is one of my primary sources of sustenance. We write, read, and embrace each others words with generosity, curiosity, mutuality, and care. Kind words, gentle questions, and holding space for our half baked thoughts. This, thinking together with other comrade-accomplices, my espresso machine, and the overpriced dino kale salad from the market down the street. Nourishment is something we need to do with and for one another. Being and thinking together even while we’re apart is how we promote intellectua-spirituall growth and renew our souls. (T)

Gurgle guzzle gulp chomp. You feel it flowing down your esophagus - rubbing against each nook and cranny of the inner wall, a smooth stream of aliveness making connection with the innards you will likely never see. Spreading through your arms, your gut, down to your toes, up to your brain, entering your veins then spazzing through your entire meatsuit. Ping poke pop pow. An energy, an awakening, a necessary being meeting your being, moving you, moving through you, becoming through you, becoming with you, pouring from the sky into puddles and oceans as you gulp gulp guzzle to stay alive. (M)

Is nourishment selfish? If I feed myself am I focusing on my own growth over others? Sometimes grad school feels like a self indulgent endeavor that prioritizes my own mind with the ambiguous guise of helping others “someday.” But I do help. Don’t I? And I need help. Desperately. Thesis titled “SOS Help me and also I’d like to help others!!!” Existential always in crisis. And in the cracks in the cement of the brutalist architecture of academic buildings I find friends to co-write and cothink with and then my body is no longer depleted. It is full. (L)

HAUNTINGS July 18, 2023 - July 30, 2023

Memory is a funny, slippery thing. It is collective yet individual. It is simultaneously past and present. Seeping spillage and slippage through the corkscreweb of non chronological time. These lines, minutes, and hours, Silko reminds us are all imaginary. The past persists in the present through a hauntological process. Ghosts come to visit us as researchers. In the archive they are ephemeral particles that flit and float through dust. Names and projects mentioned never to appear again, but they were there and are still here. I write this on top of my ancestors bones and ashes. Haunted by familiar ghosts. (T - written at the Pine Hill Cemetery MA 7-24-23)

Once the house I lived in was haunted. Haunted by past inhabitants, residents, visitors who scared the shit out of me. Then I learned to listen. I found not all hauntings are bad. Some hauntings are the best friend you watched gasp their last breath in front of you when you were only 13 but she changed and rearranged your life forever. Revisiting it could pain your heart but open your world into new possibilities that may never have happened without her lingering, whispering in your ear TO PAY ATTENTION. We can be haunted by problems but we are also haunted by friends. Let’s listen together. (L)

Benjamin said the forests were haunting him - as the trees towered over us, looking down, seeing way more than we can, a reliable collective standing above and beyond our human bodies. Later that day, he asked the neighbor if she is haunted by anything, “perhaps by the past?” “Oh no, not the past, I am haunted by the future”, she answered, going on about a devastated crumbling planet. We drove home through the haunting forests wondering how one could be haunted by the future without being haunted by the past. Aren’t futures just the past, and nows, pasts and futures? (M)

haunted holobionts (Meredith Degyansky, Taylor Marie Doherty, and Lucya Turowski) are wonderers and wanderers who met in an ethnographic writing class and have continued writing, thinking, feeling, plotting, and conversing together. We are curious about tricky, sticky concepts like memory, time, space, protest, embodiment, movement, power, and affect and aim to trouble method/ology and theory as we know it. We believe that interdisciplinary writing and thinking is necessary for building other ways and worlds. We use 100s as a writing practice, an invitation for reflection, a reimagining of academic form, and a way of processing our collective conversations.