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Cloudy Swords II

Editors’ Note:

Continuing the first part of the essay, Fahim Amir centers his discussion on insects and our social-cultural perspective towards them through the lense of the hostile fight against the insects, such as the application of chemical insecticides; yet, most of these strategies aiming for annihilation would prove to be a failure. From mosquitos' reaction to insecticide with altered behavior, to the termite colony all over subterranean Hamburg, he gives examples of how invasive insects challenge our understanding of the notion of “habitat,” invade our mind, and become our endless nightmare, causing discomfort in what he describes as “a ‘cloud shaped like a sword’ stuck in the heart of the city.”

Additionally, Amir also notices the perfect zero-waste communism model in the termite colony, and goes deep into the microscopic conceptualization of insects, questioning whether Mixotricha paradoxa, an organism combining four other creatures that live in and on it, is “one living being, five, or 250,000?” His eloquent discussions see insects not only as “instruments of political practice related to spaces,” but also something way beyond human discourse and practice, because certain ideas would “obstruct our view of other ecologies that surround us.”

Excerpted from Fahim Amir, Being and Swine: The End of Nature (As We Knew It), trans. Geoffrey C. Howes and Corvin Russell (Between the Lines, 2020).

This is part of e-flux in Chinese Column, a collaboration between Heichi Magazine and e-flux journal, with curator and writer Xiaoyu Weng as the column’s guest-editor.

Cloudy Swords from e-flux journal #115—February 2021, read the original article here. Click here to read the second part of the essay in Chinese. ​Translated by Nan Xi, co-edited by Xiaoyu Weng and Qianfan Gu.

Fahim Amir is a philosopher and author living in Vienna. He has taught at various universities and art academies in Europe and Latin America. His research explores the thresholds of natures, cultures, and urbanism; art, design, and utopia; and colonial historicity and modernism. The original German edition of Being and Swine [Schwein und Zeit] received the Karl Marx Award 2018, and was listed by Die Zeit as one of the top 10 non-fiction books recently published. The book was selected by the Frankfurt Book Fair and Goethe Institute as one of the best books of 2019.

Nan Xi is a MA student of art and visual history at Humboldt University Berlin.

Copyright: Christina Linortner & Fahim Amir.

Published: 2021.06.11