Table of Con­tents | Arti­cle doi: 10.17742/IMAGE.MM.12.2.16 | PDF

Skip­ping on the Grains of Mul­ti­vers­es Poli­na Golovátina-Mora

Skipping on the Grains of Multiverses Towards a Portal: World-Building Experience

Poli­na Golovátina-Mora

This essay is a fic­tion­al autoethno­graph­ic sense­mak­ing of the expe­ri­ence dur­ing the long lock­down caused by the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. The sense­mak­ing main­ly draws on the thought of Deleuze and Guat­tari and Karen Barad, with a method­ol­o­gy inspired by Don­na Haraway’s con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion of spec­u­la­tive fab­u­la­tion. The expe­ri­ence is defined as mul­ti­species migra­tion in the mul­ti­verse. The essay is an explo­ration of rela­tions between dif­fer­ent forms of mem­o­ries and asso­ci­a­tions that they pro­duce in their inter­ac­tion under the con­di­tions of the cur­rent pan­dem­ic, as well as between the agen­cies involved and cre­at­ed in these rela­tions. This includes child­hood mem­o­ries, imme­di­ate mem­o­ries, read­ings, con­ver­sa­tions, imag­i­na­tive work, dreams, and cin­e­mat­ic images that form the world­view of the author. The essay exper­i­ments with the forms of explo­ration and its pre­sen­ta­tion to empha­size the intra-action between the con­tent and the form of writ­ing. The author aims to con­test the lin­ear idea of research and writ­ing and expand the accept­able ref­er­en­tial framework.

Cet essai est un sense­mak­ing autoethno­graphique fic­tif de l'expérience vécue pen­dant le long lock­down causé par la pandémie de COVID-19. Le sense­mak­ing s'inspire prin­ci­pale­ment de la pen­sée de Del­Cet essai est un exer­ci­ce de détec­tion autoethno­graphique fic­tif de l'expérience vécue pen­dant le long con­fine­ment dû à la pandémie de COVID-19. Le sense­mak­ing s'inspire prin­ci­pale­ment de la pen­sée de Deleuze et Guat­tari et de Karen Barad, avec une méthodolo­gie inspirée par la con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion de la fab­u­la­tion spécu­la­tive de Don­na Har­away. L'expérience est définie comme une migra­tion mul­ti-espèces dans le mul­tivers. L'essai est une explo­ration des rela­tions entre dif­férentes formes de sou­venirs et d'associations qu'ils pro­duisent dans leur inter­ac­tion dans les con­di­tions de la pandémie actuelle, ain­si qu'entre les agences impliquées et créées dans ces rela­tions. Cela inclut les sou­venirs d'enfance, les sou­venirs immé­di­ats, les lec­tures, les con­ver­sa­tions, le tra­vail d'imagination, les rêves et les images ciné­matographiques qui for­ment la vision du monde de l'auteur. L'essai expéri­mente les formes d'exploration et sa présen­ta­tion pour soulign­er l'intra-action entre le con­tenu et la forme de l'écriture. L'auteur vise à con­tester l'idée linéaire de la recherche et de l'écriture et à élargir le cadre référen­tiel acceptable.

I am so post-post, I am so meta-meta” (Mon­e­tochka)

Inabil­i­ty to con­cen­trate caused by severe stress is known to med­i­cine (Robin­son et al.). Dis­tress as one of the results of the cur­rent pan­dem­ic has been also dis­cussed (Pfef­fer­baum and North). While this essay can be read as an expe­ri­ence of being unfo­cused in dis­tress, I pre­fer to think of it as an autoethno­graph­ic attempt to make sense of the mul­ti­species col­lab­o­ra­tive migra­tion expe­ri­ence that has been catal­ysed by the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. It is migra­tion of mul­ti­ple species—humans, books, records, dogs, birds, plants, bricks, shad­ows and many others—between mul­ti­ple uni­vers­es and “an ongo­ing re-work­ing of the very nature of dynam­ics” (Barad, Posthu­man­ist Per­for­ma­tiv­i­ty 818). They migrate not by them­selves but in pairs, groups, togeth­er, sup­port­ing and push­ing each oth­er, cre­at­ing the worlds as they move. In these col­lab­o­ra­tive alliances, they notice the por­tals to those worlds, point each oth­er towards them, open up new ones, and become the por­tals themselves.

This text focus­es on these coin­ci­dences and explores them as in-between spaces, leaps, rup­tures, as skip­ping in search for an alter­na­tive con­ti­nu­ity, for the decen­tral­ized and decen­tral­iz­ing order. Obser­va­tion and inquiry (M. Wells), poet­ic, spec­u­la­tive, and imag­i­na­tion-dri­ven men­tal, mate­r­i­al, and dis­cur­sive expe­ri­ence are the tools for this explo­ration. It could be defined as a fic­tion­al autoethnog­ra­phy, but is it real­ly fic­tion? Spec­u­la­tive fab­u­la­tion (Har­away, SF), more accu­rate­ly, frames the nature of this paper: a dynam­ic assem­blage of dis­trib­uted knowl­edge. This knowl­edge is col­lab­o­ra­tive becom­ing in and of the entan­gled mul­ti­species worlds.

The Contact

With the begin­ning of quar­an­tine, my thoughts have been increas­ing­ly less and less straight­for­ward. I find it dif­fi­cult to focus on one thing: like Shel­don in one of the first episodes of The Big Bang The­o­ry, “I was work­ing on [the arti­cle], and I thought, hey, …” (Litt et al. s.1, ep.4). The thoughts jump from one mat­ter to anoth­er, mak­ing men­tal book­marks and notes for the ‘bet­ter’ days. I think, I prob­a­bly should write them down but it would be anoth­er dis­trac­tion from what I have been doing then. I see in social media that I am not alone. It com­forts me yet skip­ping accel­er­ates. I try to hold the thoughts togeth­er and they burst in pieces like in the Big Bang…

With almost an awe and curios­i­ty, I notice that there is too much coin­ci­dence: it feels the thoughts them­selves lead me some­where. Are they tuned in to the world? Or am I in a sim­u­la­tion, and if so, who cre­at­ed it? Mar­tin Wells wrote about the life script nar­ra­tives of our own cre­ation, which like order-words (Deleuze and Guat­tari, A Thou­sand Plateaus), define our words, ges­tures, rela­tions, and the roles we play. From the per­spec­tive of trans­ac­tion­al analy­sis, the psy­cho­an­a­lyt­i­cal method of deal­ing with emo­tion­al prob­lems through rais­ing aware­ness of one’s own dis­course by means of obser­va­tion and inquiry, “life itself becomes the ther­a­pist to us” (M. Wells 143, 149). Mar­tin Wells elab­o­rat­ed that true lib­er­a­tion from the restric­tive struc­ture-stric­ture (Berne) starts with aware­ness of the con­nect­ed­ness of the world that we are part of. It res­onates with the Deleu­zo-Guat­tar­i­an idea of becom­ing in the rhi­zomat­ic world as a con­stant move­ment between the stri­at­ed, or struc­ture ori­ent­ed, and smooth, or nomadic, spaces. Con­nect­ed­ness, Mar­tin Wells offered, con­tributes to heal­ing (150) as it helps find­ing still­ness, silence, and the space in-between. Becom­ing clan­des­tine, mov­ing in-between and inside in motion­less voy­age, per­form­ing “a ver­i­ta­ble ‘defa­cial­iza­tion’”, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guat­tari pro­posed, break “walls of sig­nif­i­cance […] to which dichotomies, bina­ri­ties, and bipo­lar val­ues cling” and save us from get­ting sucked into the black holes “around which lines coil to form bor­ders” (190). It is the “sim­plest and the most sig­nif­i­cant les­son of all”, which the Ancient One (Der­rick­son) sum­ma­rized in the words “It’s not about you”. This les­son enables break­ing through the key­hole of the ego’s illu­sion of con­trol and fear of los­ing it towards the mag­i­cal mul­ti­ple pos­si­bil­i­ties of the entan­gled world.

I remem­ber the feel­ing of being over­whelmed when too many pieces burst in too many directions—silently, as if inwards, I scream “Stop”. They stop and wait… I think… Is it the uncer­tain­ty or pre­cise­ly this know­ing-feel­ing that comes from the out­side-inside? I notice that not only are my thoughts jump­ing from one sub­ject to anoth­er, but the thoughts are not thoughts exact­ly. They are hybrids of thoughts, mem­o­ries, sounds, smells, images, voic­es, movie quotes, song lyrics, feel­ing of dance move­ments even when I sit still in front of my com­put­er… —rumi­na­tions (Hen­son, After­shocks, Wran­gling Space). These muta­tions hap­pen fast. It is dif­fi­cult to say what is the con­tin­u­a­tion of what. Rhi­zome-like, they have nei­ther begin­ning nor end… (Deleuze and Guat­tari, A Thou­sand Plateaus 21).

Anx­i­ety impedes con­cen­tra­tion, but it can “also improve the abil­i­ty to detect and avoid dan­ger” (Robin­son et al. 203). The anx­i­ety fed by con­fine­ment reveals or reminds me of the sen­su­al­i­ty of knowl­edge, of indi­vid­u­al­i­ty and the com­plex nature of log­ic, of the lines of flight from reduc­tive con­ven­tion­al logic’s con­tin­u­um towards “a vir­tu­al cos­mic con­tin­u­um” (Deleuze and Guat­tari, A Thou­sand Plateaus 95). Arund­hati Roy called the pan­dem­ic a por­tal open­ing the new pos­si­bil­i­ties, a chance to rethink the real­i­ty we live(d) in and build the world anew. The por­tals glow yel­low and I turn around to see them the moment I read her words. I feel their pres­ence nei­ther around me nor inside me, but rather we are togeth­er, a becom­ing-in-between, hav­ing a cer­tain shape only “in the small­est inter­val” (Deleuze and Guat­tari, A Thou­sand Plateaus 94). In con­tact, imme­di­ate or by quan­tum entan­gle­ment (Barad, Meet­ing the Uni­verse Halfway; Ein­stein), bod­ies mutate, maybe tak­ing each other’s shape, learn­ing about each oth­er and mutu­al­ly trans­form­ing. Muta­tion and shape shift­ing are part of the learn­ing process as in the car­toon Con­tact (Tarasov and Kostin­skii).


The voic­es of Deleuze and Guat­tari fade into three images, yet with every new thought more images appear… I stop and make a men­tal selec­tion, focus on the small­est inter­val: on the ini­tial three images. They do not come in sequence nor are they simul­ta­ne­ous. I do not think I will ever be able to say what came first. They have been there. I see them in a dis­trib­uted man­ner, as one sees opti­cal illu­sion images: the focus skips from one shape to anoth­er in acceleration.

The morn­ing breeze smells like sum­mer as I remem­ber it—fresh and warm. It calls me out. I get up. The blades of dif­fer­ent weed grass that grows bet­ter than any­thing else in my back­yard, leaves of wine, their shad­ow dou­bles on the brick walls in the dis­persed light, plan­ta­go leaves that one day mirac­u­lous­ly appeared in my closed brick back­yard are my por­tal to/from the past… The breeze light­ly moves the leaves. I breathe in and skip from one leaf to anoth­er with the rhythm of the breeze. Clue 1.

Dark empti­ness, the dis­tant stars are not the stars but the glow­ing grains, all that is left of the destroyed Fan­ta­sia (Petersen). I skip from one grain to anoth­er till I see the bluish light of the Ivory Tow­er float­ing in the emp­ty dark­ness… The hope­ful joy squeezes my heart: It sur­vived! Is it my grain skip­ping that main­tains it alive?

I am half asleep, I had a flu, a fever. I think I am six, eight (?). I feel heavy and at the same time warm and cosy in the blan­ket… the cosi­ness could be the lat­er mem­o­ry. I think it is win­ter, Christ­mas time: I think I feel the warmth of the heater. I hear/feel the pul­sa­tion of the bells of dif­fer­ent sizes. I wish they would stop ring­ing. Is it my mem­o­ry or did I read about it in a children’s sto­ry? I start jump­ing from one bell to anoth­er, swirling around them, from one paw of the Christ­mas tree to another—an over­lap­ping mem­o­ry of the waltz scene from the Nut­crack­er (Stepant­sev, 5:06-5:16).

Reread­ing my diaries, sto­ries, arti­cles, and con­fer­ence papers writ­ten or pre­sent­ed in dif­fer­ent years, I clear­ly see the rep­e­ti­tions or refrains that trace the tune. What is this tune? Is it the music of Self or the music of life? The colours, smells, asso­ci­a­tions con­nect­ed to some real or imag­i­nary mem­o­ries become nodes in a cos­mic rhi­zome and inter­sec­tion of dif­fer­ent vec­tors and inten­si­ties (Deleuze and Guat­tari, A Thou­sand Plateaus 109-110). The rup­ture in the rou­tine caused by the quar­an­tine makes them sharp­er. The mutat­ing and trans­for­ma­tive nature of the virus shakes the stri­at­ed spaces and reveals the porous nature of the bor­ders seen before as walls. The walls become win­dows, doors, or some­thing else.

The mean­ings of time, days, hours, usu­al ter­ri­to­ries, prop­er­ty, street noise, and house sounds are lost, put on halt, and trans­formed. Every­thing is and is not. I long for the end of the quar­an­tine and at the same time I dread it. Waiting/fearing, I notice time does not fly but falls into a black hole. With curios­i­ty and awe, I feel it also drags me in. Boris Lavre­niov described the post-rev­o­lu­tion months: “The wind frat­er­nized with the time,” and overnight peeled the husk off the streets, signs, build­ings, words, peo­ple, their mem­o­ries, their titles— “the dried scab falling off from the bro­ken body that had sur­vived the fatal moments of the cri­sis, being dri­ven by the wind along the ghost­ly world of a bare street” (1). It is a heal­ing stage. And it is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly micro­scop­ic and mas­sive, struc­tural­ly affect­ing every­one and every­thing: “When a mas­sive body flies through the space, small­er bod­ies even against their will are drawn into its orbit. That is how a sev­enth satel­lite comes into exis­tence” (17). This mas­sive body, as a huge wave, drifts off the sand and moss from the pier’s columns, reveals their arti­fi­cial ori­gin, and makes their revi­sion eas­i­er. This rev­e­la­tion could be fear­some as it shakes up the cus­tom­ary, ‘nor­mal’, stri­at­ed. Sim­i­lar­ly, Tiutchev explained our fears of the night: the night tears off the day’s gild­ed cov­er and lays bare the abyss

[…] to the sight
With its black hor­rors of perdition,
’Twixt them and us lies no partition:
And that is why we fear the night!” (May)

Play­ful­ness of imag­i­na­tion works as a dis­trac­tion from this “fate­ful abyss” and allows (re)constructing the alter­na­tive struc­tures, rela­tions, and con­sis­ten­cies. This “rumi­na­tive sto­ry­ing and resto­ry­ing of life lived in the con­se­quences of space and time […] resist[s] the impo­si­tion of coher­ence” (Hen­son, Wran­gling Space 518) and defies the norms of sto­ry­ing Self and the Oth­er. In dream­like fash­ion, when the sense of Self is inter­rupt­ed, the rup­tures help find­ing the over­looked in the coher­ence of the awake life (Golováti­na-Mora 338-339). Those rup­tures and incon­sis­ten­cies ally with imag­i­na­tion “to make sense of the non­sen­si­cal, to orga­nize the dis­or­ga­nized, to rec­on­cile the irrec­on­cil­able” (Hen­son, After­shocks 819).

The imag­i­nary worlds, Mark Wolf wrote, are com­plex con­struc­tions with their own struc­tures, inter­re­la­tions and sub­worlds. They have their own log­ic and con­sis­ten­cy; they are, as Wolf illus­trat­ed, transautho­r­i­al, transsen­so­r­i­al, trans­me­di­al, and inter- or trans-dis­ci­pli­nary. Dif­fer­ent media open “por­tals through which these worlds grow in clar­i­ty and detail, invit­ing us to enter and tempt­ing us to stay, as alive in our thoughts as our own mem­o­ries of lived expe­ri­ence” (Wolf 9). For both authors and audi­ence, world-build­ing becomes a mean­ing­ful life event (10). It goes beyond sto­ry­telling (12), in fact, as Hen­son (Wran­gling Space) not­ed, “I make my mem­o­ries in the liv­ing. The liv­ing, rather than the telling” (521). It is the process of sub­cre­ation (Tolkien, On Fairy Sto­ries), which is after all co-cre­ation. Resis­tance of cre­ative­ness (Deleuze and Guat­tari, What is Phi­los­o­phy? 108) makes the whole process trans­for­ma­tive for its par­tic­i­pants and the world (Wolf 9; Hen­son, Wran­gling Space 522; Lev­i­tas). Wolf described world-build­ing as a delib­er­ate activ­i­ty, an artis­tic endeav­our (10) that gen­er­al­ly cor­re­sponds to nat­ur­al human abil­i­ties, which could be sup­pressed or devel­oped fur­ther. For Abra­ham Maslow too, cre­ative­ness is a fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter­is­tic of the human nature that defines our relat­ed­ness with the world, “a spe­cial kind of per­cep­tive­ness” (65), and indi­cates the path to self-actu­al­i­sa­tion for an individual.

The “ency­clopaedic nature”—complexity and rich­ness in details—of the world-build­ing requires an ency­clopaedic approach (Wolf 12), or bor­row­ing advice Felli­ni alleged­ly gave to Kather­ine in Under the Tus­can Sun (A. Wells): “You have to live spher­i­cal­ly in many directions”.

A wormhole

Imag­i­nary world-build­ing is more of a jour­ney in still­ness: “we engage emo­tion sys­tems while dis­en­gag­ing action sys­tems” (Wolf 10).

The sev­enth month of quar­an­tine, I hard­ly leave the apart­ment and expe­ri­ence the world through media win­dows (Wolf): social media, books, films, songs, plants, scents of my pup­pies. The wind brings simul­ta­ne­ous­ly warm and fresh scents of grass. Is there more or less con­tact? I see few­er peo­ple, but I hear them more—before at times the build­ing felt emp­ty, now I hear them through the walls cook­ing, singing, play­ing inside their apart­ments. The first months of the lock­down, there are few­er cars—I do pan­ic that I can­not trav­el and see my fam­i­ly, friends, the sea… I feel I can­not breathe at times. But there are more scents now in the air: grass, trees, walls, cook­ing… I see a big brown dog look­ing at me through the win­dow from the oppo­site build­ing. The dog sees me. We silent­ly check on each oth­er every day at around the same time for about two weeks. I have not seen it since. I won­der if it was real.

I look inside my moon­stone ring—the North Sea’s wind hits me in my face. As if in a close-up move­ment I move back in time—I am ten (?). I look inside the micro crevices in a mas­sive ice slide. The sun is warm and cre­ates these caves full of crys­tals. They are so small that only a tip of my fin­ger can enter. It is cold inside. I won­der how it is there deep­er inside, how the sun plays on its walls, if there is water drip­ping. How does it sound? I won­der now or then…

A dancer (Quinn Whar­ton) recre­ates the last dance scene from ‘Dirty Danc­ing’ with his white lamp while at home alone dur­ing the quar­an­tine. A musi­cian plays musi­cal instru­ments with echo while in social dis­tance explor­ing and enjoy­ing the ver­sa­tile mate­ri­al­i­ty of the pipes, sound, land­scapes (Mar­shall). I hear the sound in my head:

But could you
per­form a nocturne
just play­ing on a drain­pipe flute?” (Maiakovskii)

Are the dancer, the musi­cian and the poet lone­ly? Alone? Or are they more?

The leaky stains on the roof reread me a sto­ry of a moose… each time there is more there in this com­ic. Clue 2. With curios­i­ty and grow­ing awe, I feel my feet, now legs… turn into roots, they grow quite fast, deep­er into the for­est soil. Where is the sofa? I thought I was on it. I can­not turn and I pan­ic, I feel claus­tro­pho­bic and can­not breathe. Did I fall asleep? Do I need to move more? Or was it a call through my body to stop and go into stillness?

Hawk­ing (1) described his work:

Although I can­not move and I have to speak from a com­put­er, in my mind, I’m free. Free to explore the great ques­tions of the uni­verse […] Find­ing out delves deep into what it is to be alive, to think, to be a human being, right to the lim­its of real­i­ty itself.”

The frag­ments of thoughts turn into a gold­en glow­ing net of coor­di­nates. They are clues… The bricks of the walls of the back­yard come clos­er and expand. They are like a com­ic strip, a quilt, but not lin­ear, not flat; they are mul­ti­di­men­sion­al, mov­ing and chang­ing. As in The Magi­cians (Gam­ble et al.), I col­lect the clues and they indi­cate where to go fur­ther between the worlds. As in Future Man (Over­man et al.), I am pro­duc­ing ever new real­i­ty. There must be thou­sands and thou­sands of them by now. As in a time-lapse of sprout­ing, I feel I am not still but move with micro­scop­ic pul­sa­tions, turn­ing around and aside in sync with my sur­round­ings. The moment I notice this net of coor­di­nates, it expands and starts suck­ing me in as a black hole—a worm­hole to be pre­cise: it has a fun­nel shape. We move from inside —outwards—inwards. It is a pul­sat­ing rhythm of movement.

In an instant, I move with mas­sive leaps, skip­ping frag­ments of the worlds. For an out­sider, I am still. The world-frag­ments open up as soon as I touch them and burst into pieces. The glow­ing, pul­sat­ing, coor­di­nat­ing net is a Deleu­zo-Guat­tar­i­an trac­ing. They are like stars in con­stel­la­tions: far apart yet mak­ing draw­ings in the sky. I focus and see one map, anoth­er, more, they burst the moment I see them. Unfo­cused I see more, almost all of them togeth­er in their (our) poten­tial­i­ty. Maslow spoke of cre­ative­ness as an abil­i­ty to bring togeth­er “dis­so­nances of all kinds”, and its con­struc­tive­ness depends “in part on the inner inte­gra­tion of the per­son” (65). I feel the dis­so­nances show the way, not fate­ful­ly impose it but rather raise the gild­ed cov­er. They are the secret lan­guage with­in that Colom­bian poet and mural­ist Rodas Quin­tero (Señor Ok) spoke about. It is the exte­ri­or­i­ty-with­in (Barad, Meet­ing the Uni­verse Halfway) that one explores in becoming.

The think­ing-in-move­ment (Deleuze and Guat­tari, A Thou­sand Plateaus) of world-build­ing is an open-end­ed process (Wolf), and “some­times a con­clu­sion is just what hap­pens when you’re done think­ing,” sum­ma­rized Hen­son (After­shocks 823).


Pandem­ic is the time-space of the “Con­ver­gence” of the mul­ti­ple realms—a cos­mic event of the align­ment of the worlds (Tay­lor), which becomes the win­dow of oppor­tu­ni­ty to form new alliances through time, space, and dimen­sions, alliances with mul­ti­ple Selves and Oth­ers, and as a col­lab­o­ra­tive co-cre­ative effort to make the change, to sur­vive, to stay sane under sen­so­ry depri­va­tion con­di­tions (M. Wells 149; Char­lo), and to become more. I raise my eyes to the sky and, as if in mul­ti­ple expo­sure, my mem­o­ry visu­alis­es the Con­ver­gence scene from Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World (Tay­lor). The intra-active (Barad, Meet­ing the Uni­verse Halfway) and open nature of the Con­ver­gence pre­vents it from becom­ing a self-ful­fill­ing prophe­cy as it is often dis­cussed in the sci­ence fic­tion (Wasser­man).

I write with ink the script on a paper. I put the paper on the bal­cony floor in the sun and place an ice cube on it.1 The bub­bles become like a win­dow to read the let­ter, or, maybe, to look at me. In an instant, every­thing starts mov­ing, the cube begins to rewrite the text togeth­er with the wind and sun. The ink seems to flow from the ice cube out onto the paper. The let­ters become clear­er. The ice fortress is flu­id, sen­si­tive. A lit­tle pud­dle is a fortress now, its walls are steady yet respon­sive to the wind, they mim­ic and trans­form in a choir—in choreography—the dance of the let­ters, ink, the leaves and clouds far above yet inside the pud­dle. The paper is soaked. The ink is on the floor and on my fin­gers. I do not remem­ber touch­ing the paper. I won­der what is on the oth­er side of the leaf. I turn it over hours lat­er. The paper absorbed the waves of the pud­dle, the dance of the wind and the rhythm of the let­ters with them. The waves are now part of it. I am sur­prised and not: a baby drag­on spit­ting fire looks back at me from the oth­er side of the ice becom­ing water becom­ing air becom­ing paper waves. Clue 3. The drag­on turns its head from side to side in the spa­tial­ly inter­rupt­ed dimen­sion, skip­ping from the floor to the paper. Instan­ta­neous­ly, I feel my palm burn­ing. It held an ice cube hours ago. I would feel it for hours in rem­i­nis­cence, in expan­sion, rhyth­mi­cal­ly. The sen­sa­tion is in-between bod­ies, imag­i­nary and present, now and then.

The key to a por­tal was a note sheet that start­ed appear­ing on the wall in the morn­ings. It was slight­ly blur­ry but the light notes were quite vis­i­ble. They were there every time the sun hit the win­dow. They are shad­ows of the lit­tle gar­den of my back­yard. I work in the gar­den to make the closed brick-walled space some­what more open with the smell of the leaves, rustling sounds in the wind and under the rain. In the allied response, it gave me that clue. To solve it, I need­ed more alliances of machines and peo­ple, social media and mem­o­ries. I got up almost abrupt­ly when I saw the note sheet on the wall. I could not unsee it, and Chopin’s Impromp­tu filled in the space. With it, the rye fields with scat­tered red and blue strokes of the pop­pies and knap­weeds brought the warm smell of earth. The windy green for­est sur­round­ed it. I won­der if it is the nota­tion of Impromp­tu. I look for it online. It doesn’t look as messy as mine… I leave this win­dow open, and start explor­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a tran­script of the light nota­tion. Cam­era pre­served and dig­i­tal­ized the image to com­ple­ment my mem­o­ry. Pho­toed­i­tor flipped the image and made the tune more obvi­ous. Paper and pen­cil began reshap­ing the shad­ows. Clue 4. A week lat­er some­one would post the nota­tion of Stump’s Faerie’s Aire on social media. It was the same kind of nota­tion, “arranged by acci­dent” (Stump).

So, fairies… Indeed. I once hoped for them to set­tle in my gar­den. I saw a bird that I believe is a shape shifter or a fairy car­ri­er if not the fairy itself a cou­ple of times on my gar­den walls. The found nota­tion was lib­er­at­ing as hope—I will find the clue…

Work­ing on this text, I remem­bered remem­ber­ing with a sur­prise ear­li­er dur­ing this pan­dem­ic a short sto­ry I had to write down in 2014. Was it then an echo of today’s pan­dem­ic? An echo of the con­ver­gence event, or the con­ver­gence itself revealed at this moment of remem­ber­ing? The writ­ing of that sto­ry was not a process, but rather a thought-image flashed in my head, I believe, as a reac­tion to the events of the year. It struck me with its pre­cise­ness and I had to write it down as a short sto­ry before it start­ed haunt­ing me. Almost imme­di­ate­ly a title, ‘Lock it up,’ flashed in, leav­ing me won­der­ing about the pos­si­bil­i­ties for its inter­pre­ta­tions. Soon after the begin­ning of the lock­down, the mem­o­ry of this hap­pen­ing came back as a pul­sat­ing flash­light and a refrain. Clue 5. The sim­i­lar­i­ties with my cur­rent emo­tion­al state and the over­all sit­u­a­tion struck me then and even more so now when I edit the text. The virus’ effect on the body reveals the poros­i­ty of the bor­ders with­in the body between the organs, out­side between the bod­ies, between the body and broad­er envi­ron­ment, and with­in the envi­ron­ment itself.

The sto­ry is full of refrains and pat­tern­ing itself. Reread­ing the sto­ry now, I stum­ble over some images as if over a stone on a path, and the stone moves and speaks or rather sings in a silent but loud voice that goes straight to the brain or pops up inside it. It has the voice of con­tem­po­rary Russ­ian poet and singer Lisa Monetochka.

Those are the life rhythms of the sev­enth satel­lite, echoes of the quan­tum entan­gle­ments between beings in the shared world. Brought from the past, the sto­ry and the mem­o­ry of its appear­ance stop being a mem­o­ry as a mere piece from the detached past, but become a tun­nel to nav­i­gate not the line but a time-space net­work, echo­ing back and forth in all direc­tions, con­nect­ing and hint­ing at the connections.

Drums in the deep

It is the sec­ond week of May: the sec­ond month of quar­an­tine almost fin­ished. I slept well; it is a nice sun­ny morn­ing. I feel anx­ious or rather I feel awe. The next imme­di­ate thought after hav­ing pinned down the name for the feel­ing are the words in my head: I am a bee­tle. I ask: “Like in Kafka’s Meta­mor­pho­sis”? This is so sud­den and unex­pect­ed that I do not hear the answer or if any­one answered at all. I do not feel those were my thoughts as in log­i­cal con­se­quence of causal rela­tions. They were just there, popped up, float­ed up to the sur­face. Their sud­den­ness amazed me and made me final­ly write it down in the diary. The first note of the quar­an­tine, even though I have been think­ing of doing it since its beginning.

I try to recall my school-time com­po­si­tion on the inter­pre­ta­tions of meta­mor­pho­sis. The first thought is the Jun­gian arche­type of rebirth, of trans­for­ma­tion, or rather a thin line between death and life, con­scious and uncon­scious (Main). Var­i­ous Google search results also speak about cre­ativ­i­ty, coop­er­a­tion, and an inevitable change with­out los­ing one’s integri­ty that can come with a lit­tle thing that is easy to over­look. Was it some­thing I dreamed about that day? Was it rather syn­chronic­i­ty, “the simul­ta­ne­ous occur­rence” between inside and out­side events (Main)? Or maybe it was that “spooky action at dis­tance” (Ein­stein 157), the phe­nom­e­non of quan­tum entan­gle­ment that Barad (Meet­ing the Uni­verse Halfway) unpacked with her agen­tial real­ism, or a Deleu­zo-Guat­tar­i­an rhizome?

I have my eyes closed, still not quite sure whether I am awake or not, I can still feel the emo­tions of the dream. The dis­tant bark from the streets grows loud­er as if it is rolling. I almost can see a pack of dif­fer­ent sizes, colours, forms of ears run­ning, jump­ing over the knee-high walls of the lit­tle green areas between the build­ings and a path­way. Some dog­gies are fight­ing over a lit­tle branch that could be found occa­sion­al­ly in the streets so well cleaned even dur­ing the quar­an­tine at least in this part of the city. There are no less than 15 of them. They are hap­py, free, and pur­pose­ful. They run togeth­er, enforc­ing each other’s selves. The ris­ing bright fresh yel­low sun fills emp­ty streets with hap­pi­ness and strength high­light­ed with the well-marked shad­ows. It makes the dogs fluffi­er as every hair in their ears shines with the sun­light. They will run till noon more or less, then they all return to their homes to get some rest. Peo­ple are at home these days. Streets are car-free. My pup­py twins’ ears raised alert with the first frag­ment of this morn­ing tune. As if being a slur or a crescen­do sym­bol they merge that melod­ic sen­tence. They run togeth­er hap­py, free, and pur­pose­ful… The bal­cony win­dow and my shout­ing to stop bark­ing at 6 am break the har­mo­ny between them and the oth­er bark­ers, pos­si­bly only two or three of them, to be fair. That breaks the con­nec­tion between the dream, the thought, and the real­i­ty. I felt anx­ious till the after­noon… till when they would come back to get some rest of the heat of the sun. Peo­ple are at home these days. Streets are car-free. Bus­es, cars, motor­bikes… The streets are busy, the path­ways are the same nar­row, the forests did not mag­i­cal­ly grow up. Yet there is some­thing. I feel its pulse.

The feel­ing of the rhythm of coastal drums was increas­ing with every day of the quar­an­tine. It was not the sus­pen­sion sound of the Juman­ji drums (John­ston), or omi­nous Orc drum sounds in the deeps of Moria (Tolkien, The Fel­low­ship of the Ring), but the sound of the rain show­er and the sea waves as in the song of Colom­bian singer Totó la Mom­posi­na, Aguacero de mayo. It is a thrilling from awe to excite­ment wave-like motion. Awe comes from recog­ni­tion: of the sounds, of its vol­ume and mul­ti­di­men­sion­al­i­ty, of impuls­es that her voice and rhythms give my body. The motion starts by itself first near­ly invis­i­bly and then with an increas­ing ampli­tude. This pul­sa­tion is in the world, in me as I am in it, as I am of it (Barad, Posthu­man­ist Per­for­ma­tiv­i­ty). Prob­a­bly the most accu­rate way to describe it would be the octo­pus swim­ming: an expanding/unfolding then con­tract­ing, the ten­ta­cles are the mul­ti­plic­i­ties “lived along lines” (Har­away, Ten­tac­u­lar Think­ing 2). It is the move­ment of a flow, trans­for­ma­tion, muta­tion between in and out, myself and the oth­er, thoughts, forms, ori­gins, micro­scop­ic and mas­sive, in mul­ti­ple direc­tions and between the species. In rhyth­mic sequence it makes me thirsty and sati­ates me.

While I have been work­ing on this essay, some­thing was for­got­ten, redis­cov­ered and re-mem­bered, rein­sert­ed in the sequence of Self, rewrit­ten anew. Writ­ing this autoethnog­ra­phy was more dif­fi­cult than I expect­ed not only because I will­ing­ly share my vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty (Strom), but also because of the con­stant desire to make the nar­ra­tive coher­ent, organ­ised, log­i­cal, and to ratio­nal­ly explain what is non-ratio­nal. It was not a report of the expe­ri­ence or a jour­ney from the begin­ning to the end towards a spe­cif­ic pur­pose. Instead, it was an open process of mat­ter­ing, in which “‘part’ of the world makes itself dif­fer­en­tial­ly intel­li­gi­ble to anoth­er ‘part’ of the world” (Barad, Posthu­man­ist Per­for­ma­tiv­i­ty 817) as parts of this world and its mak­ing. The essay was part of the world-build­ing, whose pur­pose is momen­tous. It is not rel­a­tive but rela­tion­al, part of the com­plex mul­ti­species (dis)assemblage.

As I migrat­ed between worlds, I found sup­port in the mul­ti­vers­es through­out time and space: my past, present, and future assem­bled Selves, things around me and their shad­ows, lit­er­a­ture, fel­lows in the jour­ney of the project that makes this pub­li­ca­tion. The mul­ti­vers­es are full of clues or por­tals, ready or in mak­ing. They are not clues to how to inter­pret the worlds. They indi­cate the in-between, the spaces of co-cre­ation, the openings.

The pan­dem­ic reshuf­fled my sta­bi­lized accents of atten­tion from forms and causal lin­ear­i­ties towards relat­ing and becom­ing. It is ther­a­peu­tic and lib­er­at­ing because the accent is shift­ed from the uncer­tain­ty of the local struc­tures’ muta­tions towards the uncer­tain­ty of world-build­ing. Skip­ping between the clues was a way to nav­i­gate the uncer­tain­ties in trust of the larg­er log­ic of rela­tions between the worlds in mak­ing. It was the result of this trust, of look­ing for the allies, of lis­ten­ing to the new openings.

Now, look­ing back at the text, I see how its ele­ments inter­act with each oth­er and acquire new mean­ings with every new read­ing, as they open up new clues to nav­i­gate and re-sto­ry the expe­ri­ence. It would still be to a cer­tain extent a select­ed piece frozen in time and space, yet, I hope, its open form would keep it a liv­ing breath­ing and pul­sat­ing experience.

+++++++, types my dog… He wants me to stop and rub his bel­ly. I stop and that becomes the conclusion.


Clue 1. https://​pho​tos​.app​.goo​.gl/​v​N​r​8​U​P​n​v​q​m​M​P​b​R​Db6

Clue 2. https://​pho​tos​.app​.goo​.gl/​K​1​6​A​1​s​c​2​J​K​X​e​B​T​pi9

Clue 3. https://​pho​tos​.app​.goo​.gl/​W​Y​q​P​J​2​D​G​e​Q​r​5​X​r​v3A

Clue 4. https://​pho​tos​.app​.goo​.gl/​1​u​a​a​s​U​2​g​A​q​7​q​X​Z​1E7

Clue 5. https://​www​.golo​vati​namo​ra​.info/​l​o​c​k​-​i​t​-up

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  1. An exer­cise pro­voked by Prompt 7 “Observ­ing, sens­ing and sense­mak­ing” of the col­lab­o­ra­tive series of exercises/prompts devel­oped by Anne Har­ris, Annette Markham and M. E. Luka in May-June 2020.