Myth and Mycelium


Myth and Mycelium


Audio recording of a lecture given by Sophie Strand on April 22, 2023 as part of the Carol J. Worrell Annual Lecture Series on Literature. A description of the event: "For most of human history knowledge was kept alive through our relationships to each other and to our environments. Storytelling and scripture did not live on the page but in boats of breath, buoyed between generations. Our most important information was nested in oral narrative vessels compelling and flexible enough that they could reliably sail through cultural collapse, disaster, and climatological pressures. In oral cultures and the historical oral traditions, we see narratives that are intimately responsive to their environments and concerned with right relationship to land. What happens when we start writing our stories down so that they can no longer evolve? What happens when we shift from breath to text, from direct relationship to land to abstracted marks on a static page? When we uproot knowledge from its ecosystem – its map of relationships – it becomes more vulnerable to misinterpretation and misuse. What if oral culture’s cultivation of resilient community, narrative plasticity, and environmental embeddedness is exactly what we need to look to in an age of ecological peril? We cannot return to the folk traditions of our distant ancestors. But we can reclaim knowledge as inherently relational and environmentally situated.
What if we could reclaim narrative as a way of rooting back into a resilient multi-species network of beings with more feral suggestions on how to dismantle paradigms of domination? The type of stories we are called to write and tell now are probably somewhere closer to composting. We live in a culture that is remarkably good at abstracting itself from waste and off-loading it onto the marginalized communities least responsible for its creation. We cannot simply decide that civilization and patriarchy are toxic and then reject them. Instead, we can take responsibility for our entangled inheritance of bad stories through the transformative power of rot. On the compost heap, nothing is exiled. Beliefs and epistemologies never designed to touch, inappropriately combine in the moist refuse pile, fermenting into soil that can grow something freshly adapted to our dire circumstances. Let us reroot our favorite texts in their original environments to recover the ecological wisdom they were built to transmit."



Santa Fe, NM




Meem Library has been given permission to make this item available online.









Original Format