Entangled Life (2020) by Merlin Sheldrake

pp. 8-9 - early medicinal use of fungi - indigenous australia, talmudic judaism, ancient egypt, elizabethan england

p. 14 - "Our perceptions work in large part by expectation. It takes less cognitive effort to make sense of the world using preconceived images updated with a small amount of new sensory information than to constantly form entirely new perceptions from scratch."

p. 17 - microbiome, nanobiome, picobiome - "To talk about individuals made no sense anymore. BiologY—the study of living organisms—had transformed into ecology—the study of the relationships between living organisms."

p. 18 - "The 'loss of a sense of self-identity, delusions of self-identity and experience of "alien control,"' observed an elder statesman in the field of microbiome research, are all potential symptoms of mental illness. It made my head spin to think of how many ideas had to be revisited, not least our culturally treasured notions of identity, autonomy, and independence. . . . 'We' are ecosystems that span boundaries and transgress categories. Our selves emerge from a complex tangle of relationships only now becoming known."

pp. 31-32 - truffle fruiting bodies house b/w a million and a billion bacteria per gram of dry weight

pp. 35-37 - fungal hyphae become mycelial network by 1) branching and 2) fusing ("anastomosis"), "Some fungi have tens of thousands of mating types. . . . The mycelium of many fungi can fuse with other mycelial networks if they are genetically similar enough, even if they aren’t sexually compatible. Fungal self-identity matters, but it is not always a binary world. Self can shade off into otherness gradually."

p. 38 - piedmont white truffles, porcini, chanterelle, matsutake, and others have never been domesticated bc of fluidity of relationships w plants and bc of intricacies of their sex lives, "trufficulture is immature"

p. 44 - "fungi actively sense and interpret their worlds, even if we have no way of knowing what it is like for a hypha to sense or interpret"

pp. 48-49 - "Mycelium overproduces links. Some turn out to be more competitive than others. These links are thickened. Less competitive links are withdrawn, leaving a few mainline highways. By growing in one direction while pulling back from another, mycelial networks can even migrate through a landscape. The Latin root of the word extravagant means “to wander outside or beyond.” It is a good word for mycelium, which ceaselessly wanders outside and beyond its limits, none of which are preset as they are in most animal bodies. Mycelium is a body without a body plan."

p. 59 - "the word brain is a distraction," mycelial network can have b/w hundreds and billions of hyphal tips, all integrating and processing information on a massively parallel basis

pp. 60-62 - electrical impulses, "action potentials," realistic way for fungi to send messages b/w different parts of themselves, conveying info about “food sources, injury, local conditions within the fungus, or the presence of other individuals around it"

p. 66 - "intelligence is based on how efficient a species becomes at doing the things they need to survive," latin root of intelligence means “to choose between,” “swarm intelligence” describes problem-solving behavior of brainless systems, "behavior of these network-based life-forms can be thought of as arising from 'minimal' or 'basal' cognition. . .  intelligent behaviors can arise without brains. a dynamic and responsive network is all that’s needed."

p. 76 - "panspermia" - can life travel thru space b/w planets/celestial bodies?

p. 79 - capacity of lichens to survive in space, "lichening rod effect describes what happens when lichens strike familiar concepts, splintering them into new forms. The idea of symbiosis is one such example. Survival in space is another, as is the threat that lichens pose to systems of biological classification"

p. 81 - "endosymbiotic theory" - eukaryotes arose “by fusion and merger” - earliest eukaryotic cells analogous to lichens: "innovation emerging from partnership"

pp. 84-85 - lichens are "extremophiles" - survive extreme conditions by entering state of suspended animation, produce more than a thousand chemicals that are not found in any other life-form, ability to survive many different types of extreme qualify them as “polyextremophiles," in swedish lapland the oldest known lichen is >9000 yrs old

pp. 90-91 - "queer theory for lichens" - "lichens are queer beings that present ways for humans to think beyond a rigid binary framework: the identity of lichens is a question rather than an answer known in advance"

p. 92 - "holobiont" - assemblage of different organisms that behaves as a unit

p. 97 - "ergot alkaloids," lsd, zombie fungi

pp. 100-101 - bosch iconography inspired by ergot poisoning, dancing mania of 14-17th centuries, rituals in central america, "flesh of the gods," hundreds of mushroom-shaped statues from 1000-2000 bce

p. 110 - psilocybin reduces "default mode network" brain activity, "ego-dissolution," "unconstrained style of cognition"

pp. 112-113 - mckenna and human-fungi symbiosis

p. 114 - "Analysis of the DNA of psilocybin- producing fungal species reveals that the ability to make psilocybin evolved more than once. More surprising was the finding that the cluster of genes needed to make psilocybin has jumped between fungal lineages by horizontal gene transfer several times over the course of its history. . . . The fact that the psilocybin gene cluster remained in one piece as it moved around suggests that it provided a significant advantage to any fungi who expressed it. If it didn’t, the trait would have quickly degenerated."

p. 127 - plant root systems have their “roots” in mycorrhizal networks, which they collaborated with to exchange nutrients

p. 136 - “reciprocal rewards” promotes best symbiotic pairings b/w plants and fungi, “both partners share control of the exchange”

p. 140 - plants w higher proclivity for fungi partnerships migrate and spread faster

pp. 145-147 - “ecosystem engineers,” broad agricultural applications and possibilities

p. 151 - “common mycorrhizal networks” - fungal networks form physical connections between plants of same and other species, whereby they can share carbon and other nutrients

p. 156 - mycoheterotrophs - plants that depend on fungi for their nutrition

p. 162 - fungi as “brokers of entanglement able to mediate the interactions between plants according to their own fungal needs”

pp. 182-185 - “mycoremediation” - fungi can “learn” to transform (degrade, decompose, digest) human pollutants: cigarette butts, glyphosate, dmmp, pesticides, synthetic dyes, explosives (tnt, rdx), crude oil, plastics, and a range of human and veterinary drugs not removed by wastewater treatment plants, including antibiotics and synthetic hormones

pp. 192-193 - “mycofabrication” - fungi can recompose materials: skin grafts, batteries, bricks, tiles, packaging, furniture - darpa has invested $10 million in this process

Can't Get You Out of My Head (2021) by Adam Curtis

we tell ourselves stories in order to live: order vs. chaos, individualism vs. collectivism, psychoanalysis, consumerism, alienation, terror, manipulation, violence, conspiracy, connectivity, surveillance, lies, the multilayered fractal incoherence of history

jiang qing - mao’s wife, ex actress, will driven individualistic ideology, helped start red guard, tried to take power with gang of four after mao’s death, suppressed by deng xiaoping and sentenced to death, hanged herself in prison in 1991

kerry thornley - discordianism, novel on lee harvey oswald, operation mindfuck w greg hill, perpetrated illuminati conspiracy theories, early randian, later realized the kennedy coincidences actually were part of a conspiracy

michael de freitas - immigrant from trinidad in london, works for slumlord, then becomes revolutionary michael x, started black house to pursue drug dealing and money laundering, returned to trinidad, killed his gf, and was executed by hanging

peter rachman - de freitas's boss, rents notting hill to blacks, immigrants, and sex workers

sandra - model in london, divorcing husband commits suicide

ethel boole - surrender individualism, gadfly author, daughter of george boole, boolean logic

plisetskaya - most famous ballerina, anti communist

huss madher - german left revolutionary, went to liberate palestine, became maoist, red army faction, beider-meinhof adjacent

harold - created “logical sequences” computer networks to determine where terrorists would attack in german cities, first successful application mass surveillance

afeni shakur - alice williams, harlem black panther

eckhart hesse - studied eye pupil reactions psychoanalytically

daniel carnaman - student of hesse, nobel prize for psychology, theory about chaos being greater than human brain can rationally digest

laurentz - climate/weather scientist related to a bomb research, determined that climate was unstable, fragile, not self correcting, project iceworm

arthur sackler - pharmacologist, developed valium, then oxycontin

eduard limonov - son of gulag cop in ukraine, became dissident, moved to moscow, poet in underground, married yelena, fascinated by victims of soviet criminal system, supports violence to escape constraints of soviet society, immigrated to brighton beach to start russian mafia, wrote anti capitalist novel ‘It’s Me Eddie,’ returned to russia, concerned about geopolitics in post soviet russia/europe, started national bolshevik party

alexander solhenitzyn - author of ‘the gulag archipelago,’ disillusioned by mass killings of sociopolitical revolution, posited that the on. way to escape horror is to stop trying to change the world and believe in nothing

harry caudil - lawyer for miners in appalachia, predicted chaos, committed suicide in 1990

deng xiaoping - anti-jiang qing/gang of four maoist og revolutionary, wrote “lady x” poem, propagandist, started rumor gang of four was cia, imprisoned jiang qing and seized power, wiped maoist ideals, introduced capitalism to “restore china’s power” + humiliate the west, believed tiananmen square protests were part of 150-yr western-incited conspiracy, d. 1997

betty ford - became addicted to valium. “to me it was beautiful and , but to my family i had begun to show signs of overmedication”

bernard kouchner - helped vietnamese refugees in south china sea when left/right wouldn’t, humanitarian for “borderless” world, went to afghanistan to support mujhadeen, became leader of “liberated” kosovo after uk/us intervention

julia grant - early out trans woman in britain, under psychiatric evaluation for gender reassignment, defied and got breast implants, then sex change surgery, but it was damaged

wei jingshieng - democracy wall, chinese dissident antifascist, imprisoned by deng xiaoping

bob geldof - british musician, started live aid to help ethiopians, realized it was being rerouted as a political war tactic to round up and eliminate rebels of the authoritarian govt

chai ling - student in china, attracted to maslow self actualization psychology of the self, joined student protest movement, vocal activist in tiananmen square, decided resistance was futile, expected violence, left

daniel kahneman - psychologist, 2 systems in human brain: conscious and unaware parts, behavior must be studied, ppl’s “conscious” understanding of themselves bypassed, ie “priming,” turned out to be harder to apply than they thought

majone - bypass politicians and national govts bc they are a threat to globalist stability, organized eu society into “non majoritarian institutions,” ie govts, banks, corporations

cecil sharp - worked to spread british nationalism thru promotion of idealized “folk” culture of the countryside

‘the immortal hour‘ - opera, another folk inspired work of nationalist propaganda, played at glastonbury festival in 1920s

‘birth of a nation‘ - iconography derives from novel ‘the clansman,’ which based its iconography on scottish folklore and writing of sir walter scott, who simply made it up

gertrude bell - went to baghdad to build up city after wwi, bombed rebels demanding self representation, then “invented” iraq and gave power to rural sheikhs

morgenthau - defended the “dual state” model, american exceptionalism, mid-20th century imperialism

mobuto - american-backed puppet dictator of congo

saddam hussein - rose to power alongside american backed puppet coup, given names to eliminate communists, had movie about his rise directed by director of ‘dr. no’

sheikh aburisha - american-backed tribal leader, “sons of iraq,” helped democratize iraq then turned against new govt. as isis

herbert bayer - creator of the family of man photo exhibition

tupac shakur - moved from ny to california after afeni got addicted to crack, wanted to reboot black panthers to uplift community, thug life is about fostering gang related anger to catalyze revolution against oppressive govt, arrested in 1994 for rape

abu zubaydah - palestinian in saudi arabia, wrote diary to himself in the future (year 2000), lost and poor found identity in jihad, after brain injury his memory became fragmented, just as jihad fragmented, fled to pakistan after 9/11 knowing intelligence would try to tie it to him, arrested by cia, who thought he was multi personality and wanted to unlock the terror secrets he hid inside, early bush era interrogation torture victim

murray gell-mann - helped invent complexity theory as alternative to chaos theory, computers analyze data to predict chaos and manage society

dominick cummings - supporter of applying complexity theory to take power from elites and give it back to the people, wanted brexit to pave way for move away from elite power

the princes(?) - corrupt directionless chinese leadership after deng xiaoping, pushed for and supported ganglord land grabs, which was easy bc communist party owned all land

bo jelai (sp?) - son of original maoist revolutionary, who was killed during cultural revolution, red guard who’d been in forced labor camp, became politician, led maoist rallies in opposition to new corrupted govt, mayor(?) of guiyang, essentially a high level gangster, he and his wife arrested, replaced by surveillance systems and good behavior credits for citizens

neil hayward - ex mi6 in beijing, involved in land grab stuff, found dead in chinese hotel, probably murdered by bo

jeffery hinton - great grandson of george boole, pioneer in neural networks, computer mimics human brain, an intelligence without coherent “story” narrative, vector reality -> data based patterns beyond human comprehension, which was then applied to banking and govt

walden 2 - scientific utopia, coincidental “model“ for new chinese surveillance society

I Contain Multitudes (2016) by Ed Yong

pp. 25-26 - independence free will identity, “alien control,” symbiotic collaboration

p. 39 - “the history of warfare always proves more glamorous than accounts of co-operation...”

p. 54 - “the germ free animal is by and large a miserable creature...”

pp. 80-83 - no good or bad microbes

p. 108 - herpes viruses live inside and disease coral reefs

pp. 119-121 - inflammatory bowel disease

pp. 122-123 - livestock and pets effects on microbiome and microbial diversity

p. 123 - c-section + bottle fed babies = illness later in life

pp. 124-125 - fiber, stool size/weight, and short chain fatty acids

p. 125 - “antibiotics are shock and awe weapons”

p. 134 - “scientists... find simple explanations psychologically soothing” - occam’s razor

pp. 182-183 - evolve to digest plants and meat, rapid adaptation with seasons, dietary variation, and environmental demand

p. 190 - HGTs - horizontal gene transfers, bacteria easily and frequently swap dna, leading to highly rapid evolutionary/adaptive opportunities

p. 223 - no clear evidence probiotics help the most flagrant disorders in which microbiome has been implicated, or change microbiome

pp. 227-228 - probiotics need to feed on prebiotics to prosper, and prosper best within a community of cooperative/collaborative microbes

pp. 229-235 - FMT - fecal microbiota transplant, someone else’s healthy feces can recolonize suppressed/compromised gut, earliest record from emergency medicine handbook written in 4th century china, 94% effective for treating c-diff bacterial infections, anecdotally treats obesity, ibs, autoimmune diseases, mental health, autism

p. 230 - coprophagy - common animal practice of swallowing other animal’s dung dropping to acquire microbes, acts as colony-wide immune system to defend against parasites and pathogens

pp. 234-235 - rePOOPulate - 33 strains of gut bacteria harvested from healthy 41 yr old woman who’d never taken antibiotics, cured c-diff, represents future of FMT: ideally there’ll be a series of tailored, personalized microbial cocktails to treat different diseases

p. 238 - “artisanal bacteria” - scientists tinkering with genes of microbes to endow them with new skills —> in order to create proprietary microbes/cocktails —> pharma can’t patent naturally occurring bacteria

p. 252 - “dog dust contain allergy-suppressing microbes”

p. 257 - “toilets that are cleaned too often are more likely to be covered in fecal bacteria”

p. 258 - ill recover faster w open windows than hyper-sterilized indoor hospitals, “fresh air brings in harmless environmental microbes that take up space and exclude pathogens”


found a new spider
ever since i punched the wall
a few months ago
my knuckle has itched
i want
to interview don swaim
about his interview
with t. gertler
houseplant stores are a racket
i buy my plants from gnomes

Time with Children (1987) by Elizabeth Tallent

some characters appear in multiple stories:

CHARACTERS                STORY                  (  OF 13)

Sam, Jenny, Sandoval - "Grant of Easement" (1), "Sweet Disposition" (6), "Favor" (12)

Hart, Caro, Kevin - "The Fence Party" (2), "Hannah’s Example" (8)

Charlie, Kyra, Nicholas - "Time with Children" (3), "The Forgiveness Trick" (7), "Faux Pas" (10), "Listen to Reason" (13)

Brian - "Time with Children" (3), "Faux Pas" (10), "Listen to Reason" (13)

Pippa - "Time with Children" (3), "Faux Pas" (10)

universe building lite...

In Constant Flight (1983) by Elizabeth Tallent

motifs i noticed:

acting - "Ice," "Keats," "Bridges"

Adidas - "Keats," "Natural Law," "Swans," "Bridges," "In Constant Flight"

airplanes/airports - "Ice," "Asteroids," "Refugees," "Keats," "Bridges"

antelope - "Asteroids," "Refugees," "Keats," "Bridges"

birds/dinosaurs - "Refugees," "Natural Law," "Swans," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

cats - "Ice," "Asteroids," "Keats," "Comings and Goings," "Natural Law," "Why I Love Country Music," "Bridges," "In Constant Flight," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

child (always someone else's) - "Asteroids," "Natural Law," "Bridges," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

Colorado - "Refugees," "Comings and Goings," "In Constant Flight," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

dance - "Ice," "Why I Love Country Music," "Bridges"

Danskin - "Asteroids," "Natural Law," "Keats"

Datsun - "Refugees," "Natural Law"

divorce - "Asteroids," "Keats," "Natural Law," "Why I Love Country Music," "Swans," "Bridges," "In Constant Flight," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

dogs - "Asteroids," "Keats," "In Constant Flight"

feral child - "Keats," "In Constant Flight"

Fiats - "Keats," "Natural Law," "Swans," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

field research - "Refugees," "Swans," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

horns - "Comings and Goings," "Why I Love Country Music," "Bridges"

Humphrey Bogart - "Keats," "In Constant Flight"

masks - "Ice," "Asteroids," "Natural Law," "Why I Love Country Music," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

movies - "Asteroids," "Refugees," "Keats," "Comings and Goings"

New Mexico - "Natural Law," "Why I Love Country Music," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

parent death - "Ice," "Asteroids," "Bridges"

Star Wars - "Asteroids," "Natural Law," "In Constant Flight," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

university - "Refugees," "Keats," "Comings and Goings," "Swans," "In Constant Flight," "The Evolution of Birds of Paradise"

Virgo - "Natural Law," "In Constant Flight"

The Letters of Jean Rhys (1984) by Jean Rhys

p. 24 - “that gave me a great kick” - on reading ‘hunger’ by knut hamsun, feb. 18, 1934

pp. 49-50 - sleep

p. 51 - “toadstools on the kitchen wall” - inspiration for “let them call it jazz”?

pp. 52-53 - half happy, happy minutes or sensations

pp. 66-67 - “I hate to remember that coffee”

p. 76 - account of assault, basis for “let them call it jazz”

p. 80 - “I like trees, shadows, a shaded light”

p. 95 - numbers

p. 106 - “I find it easier to write than to talk” etc.

p. 142 - “have reached the stage when I can’t stop looking for [Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats]”

p. 145 - “it’s heaven having no landlady”

pp. 148-149 - references to sukarno takedown, cia coup, turmoil in indonesia

pp. 152-153 - mitsou san

pp. 155-156 - final paragraph, few understand books

p. 159 - “It made me laugh a lot. I liked it.” - on reading ‘the catcher in the rye,’ jan. 10, 1959

p. 161 - “So magnificent in parts. . . . I’d never read it before.” - on ‘wuthering heights,’ feb. 5, 1959

p. 170 - “I am pretty sure that most people notice details without knowing it. . . .”

p. 171 - “I think that I have had little success because I did not want it. . . .”

p. 172 - “As far as I know I am white. . . . Meek!!! When I long to slaughter for a week or more. All over the place.”

p. 173 - “I know that to write as well as I can is my truth and why I was born. Though the Lord knows I wish I hadn’t been!”

p. 174 - “I do often wish for a machine gun...”

p. 175 - “Sometimes I have wondered if Miss Brontë does not want her book tampered with!”

p. 184 - cow

p. 190 - publicity

p. 195 - “I’ve always known dogs were cash conscious—but I didn’t know cows were.”

p. 204 - poems, “the old bomb”

p. 205 - “I wish people had not got rid of God—they seem to be getting along badly by themselves!”

pp. 207-208, 211, 217, 227, 228, 268 - pep pills

pp. 208-209 - jean lenglet’s death(?) “No one dies.”

p. 214 - “She is not Jane Eyre’s lunatic at all.” - antoinette ~14 in 1839 - jane eyre published in 1847 - “she must die young, not old”

p. 220 - “I exist, am harmless, and non political in the extreme.” - oxymoronic

p. 224 - “Other people’s troubles are always boring and very distant somehow.”

p. 225 - audiences

p. 226 - numbers (13 unlucky, also p. 168)

p. 228 - “I’m not mad about the Welfare State you know!”

p. 229 - morning glory seeds and mescaline

p. 234 - “False Legend”

pp. 239-241, 243 - black magic/witch

p. 257 - superstitious about number of letters in title

pp. 262-266 - “Obeah Night” and explanation

pp. 267, 269 - mr. rochester and heathcliff

p. 271 - charlotte brontë quote

p. 273 - Béké, Buckra, ofay - words for “white people”

pp. 281-283 - ‘barred’ by edward de nève, aka jean lenglet

p. 284 - jean and maryvonne lenglet’s wwii resistance experiences

pp. 289-290, 298-300 - film/tv rights contract dispute

p. 291 - “I remember, at a dance, watching jim and thinking that he dan rd as if he were gay and loved life.” - on hemingway, aug. 4, 1965

p. 293 - “my last dress,” “Cows have a most inquisitive way of looking at you.”

p. 301 - dreams about baby, “It’s so cold


i've survived disputes with landlords
and experienced emotions
and still i can't account
for brittle egos
as they apply to lording
over land
i can provide >65k definitions
of deference yet
a dog’s primary source of self-esteem
is based on an alchemical ambition
to increase the temperature of snow
by 15%


the trees are gray and green
oh please, trees,
be nice
(they’re mean
and attract the keenest grief)
gold cardinals, share honey
(as a matter
of course
they deny me)
jesus christ... do whatever
but cry, and when you do,
don’t remind me


it snows every day
this morning was sunny
i drove down the mountain
to buy a lemon, 3 limes
a felled tree reposed
on a power line
when it started to snow
it did to the left, then the right
i drove up another side
called the librarian
about 6 overdue dvds
and i lied