To kick off our Interviews issue, we are giving you a double dose of shrooms for the weekend. Anna Tsing is an anthropologist whose latest book, The Mushroom at the End of the World, traces the fates of matsutake mushroom pickers in the Pacific Northwest and their embeddedness in supply chains that upend what we usually expect to find out about global capitalism.
Miranda Trimmier reviews Tsing’s book here, highlighting Tsing’s granular attention to cooperative, aleatory social structures that nonetheless fit snugly with the structure of global capital:
But a person needn’t be an academic to understand something of the collaborative histories that make matsutake. There are amateur proxies to the scholarly methodologies, what Tsing calls the arts of noticing: paying attention, watching, sensing, and telling stories.
And in an interview with the author, Branden Adams pushes her on how to read her account:
The book seems hopeful.
I’ve been accused both ways.
Well, it has “End of the World” in the main title, and “the Possibilities of Life” in the subtitle.
That’s true. We don’t have a choice except to muddle by. So that’s the hopeful part. We have to figure out what we’ve got and what we can do with it. To me, this is practical hopefulness. It is a hard line to pull off. […] The book asks us to pay attention to the imperfect situation in which we live, to recognize both the handholds and the pitfalls. Perhaps looking at this particular mushroom lends hopefulness.
Enjoy #FungusFriday, courtesy of your friends at the New Inquiry.