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Joined 4 months, 2 weeks ago

I arrange things together into art, including paint, wood, plastic, raspberry pi, people, words, dialogues, arduino, sensors, web tech, light and code.

I use things other people have written to help guide these projects, so I read as often as I can. Most of what I read is literature (fiction) or nonfiction on philosophy, art theory, ethics and technology.

Fionnáin's books

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The social behaviour of monkeys (Paperback, 1972, Penguin) 4 stars

The Unbiased behaviour a zoologist

4 stars

I discovered Thelma Rowell through her more recent work, where she has taken her field studies with primates and applied their methods to domesticated livestock. So it was a surprise and a treat to discover a copy of this book, which I believe was the only one she ever published. It was even more a pleasure to discover that, even fifty years ago, Rowell had a keen sense of critique about the way humans observe our world.

The Social Behaviour of Monkeys was part of a series published by Penguin in the early 1970s. The book's title is self-explanatory; it explores in great depth the many research studies about social groups and behaviours in various primates, both in the wild and in captivity. A lot of the chapters are methodical references of different studies contemporary to the time of publication, and would not be to everyone's taste. What is striking …

The social behaviour of monkeys (Paperback, 1972, Penguin) 4 stars

In the last ten years a large number of field studies on undisturbed groups were reported, and an interesting dichotomy began to emerge, because such studies rarely used the 'fundamental' concept of hierarchy in explaining the social organization observed, or occasionally paid lip-service by stating that hierarchy was 'latent', that is, so well established that it was never seen expressed (an idea which is difficult to distinguish from the hierarchy simply not being there).

The social behaviour of monkeys by  (Page 160)

My emphasis. Words up to 'fundamental' are on p159.

I did a 3-month writing course with Emergence Magazine in 2020, online. In a Zoom breakout room, I read a piece I had written about the Earth observed from the point of view of a cosmic ray passing through in a microsecond. The others in the room all recommended this book. I finally got around to it.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (2000, McGraw-Hill College) 5 stars

A perfect landscape painted in words

5 stars

Annie Dillard is a writer who takes joy in writing, in learning, and piecing it all together. In her most well-known book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, she perfects the art. The book is like Thoreau's Walden revised for a 20th Century audience (in fact, Dillard references the American philosopher several times) but with a more playful voice. Dillard explores the world around Tinker Creek, where she lives for the duration of the book, and interacts with the place, from watching a praying mantis egg sac hatch to standing in a field so full of grasshoppers the entire thing is moving, to a neighbour boy carrying a snapping turtle with leeches on it, to lying under the stars and considering their vastness.

Within all this, Dillard maintains a wit and a clever storytelling that is endlessly enjoyable. Every sentence drips with her own sharp prose. She is an avid reader, …

Matters of Care (2017, University of Minnesota Press) 5 stars

...worms and other beings do take care of our waste even if they don’t commit intentionally to it. That relations are not reciprocally symmetrical doesn’t make them less vibrant with ethicality. What makes someone feel ethically obliged to worms can only be found in the grounded transformation of everyday practices that ravel asymmetrical modes of mutual obligation.

Matters of Care by  (Page 156)

Wormy networks of care.

Matters of Care (2017, University of Minnesota Press) 5 stars

A Framework for Care

5 stars

Care is a broad subject, and not easy to pin down to one idea. María Puig de la Bellacasa approaches it from a study of ethics and philosophy. The first section sets out the possibilities for care across different types of human and more-than-human actors, including inorganic technologies. It is dense reading, and not easy to recommend for that reason, but it is also carefully written, with each word chosen for its accuracy and no term used lightly.

The second half of the book presents a possible real-world praxis for the theoretical framework in the first. Puig de la Bellacasa uses her own experiences learning from a permaculture retreat to begin an argument about how care of soil is a critical and central example of a system that requires care. Drawing from science, philosophy, experience and culture, she uses soil to show how complex webs of interconnected actors need to …