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Issue II – POETIC SYSTEMS – Klara du Plessis


“Fungi Opera” is a sound-poem-translation of the following excerpts from Merlin Sheldrake’s Entangled Life:

1st voice: Mycelium is a body without a body plan. It is what happens when streams of embodiment, rather than streams of consciousness, commingle. 

2nd voice: Mycelial coordination takes place both everywhere at once and nowhere in particular.

3rd voice: Mycelium is a living, growing, opportunistic investigation—speculation in bodily form.

4th voice: Lichens provoke fierce debate about what constitutes an autonomous individual. They confuse our concept of identity and force us to question where one organism stops and another begins.

5th voice: Lichens are a product less of their parts than of the exchanges between those parts. Lichens are stabilized networks of relationships; they never stop lichenizing; they are verbs as well as nouns.

6th voice: A broad range of players might be able to form a lichen, they just need to “tickle each other in the right way.”

These excerpts were translated into German, then performed by members of the Toronto Experimental Translation Collective (tetcollective.com) according to the characteristics of a particular species of fungi. The poem highlights the interconnectedness of mycelial language, where each individual voice interacts with the others, creating a poetic sound system that reverberates with and into other networks and languages. The collective performance is nodular and reciprocal, commingling, everywhere and nowhere; it confuses both identity and the grammatical systems of language. 

—TET Collective




Toronto Experimental Translation Collective (TETC) is Benjamin de Boer, Yoyo Comay, Nicholas Hauck, Eddy Wang, Fan Wu, Ami Xherro. Combining the formats of seminars, workshops, and performances, TETC renegotiates relationships within and across languages and media. The texts, recordings, and performances produced document our unlearning of prior assumptions around communication. These activities develop strategies for withdrawal from the instrumentalization of language systems. In addressing the hegemonic power of major languages, TETC brings to the fore language’s potential in play and protest.