Covering almost 8% of the earth's terrain, lichens are living beings which are familiar to everyone, known to no one. They are one of those organisms that seem to offer nothing to hold our gaze. But the more time we spend with lichens, the more they reveal their beauty, their mysteries and their strange power of attraction. Part-algae and part-fungus, lichens call into question our customary ways of classifying forms of life and allow us to conceive of an ecology which is no longer based on distinctions between nature and culture, urban and rural, competition and cooperation.
The result of several years of investigation carried out on several different continents, this remarkable book offers an original, radical and, like its subject matter, symbiotic reflection on this common but mostly invisible form of life, blending cultures and disciplines, drawing on biology, ecology, philosophy, literature, poetry, even graphic art. What if lichens were at the heart of some of the most pressing and topical questions of our day? Does the fact that they can live everywhere, even in very harsh environments, that they persist when almost all other traces of life have disappeared, mean that, despite their fragility, lichens are a force of resistance?
After reading this book you will never see lichens, or the world, in the same way again.
List of Illustrations
Preface by Emmanuele Coccia
- First Contacts
- A Scientific Challenge: Remaining or Rising in the Ranks
- Customs and Beliefs
- Lichen Erotics
- To Describe, Name, Represent
- A Challenge to Representation
- Music = Mushroom
- The Far East, Mosses, and Wabi-Sabi
- Ecopoetics: Life Force and Resistance
- Rousseauist Walks
- Sentinel Species
- “Lichens of sunlight and mucus of azure”
- “Sbarbarian” Glowworm
- Ecological Forewarnings
- Fragility, Resistance
- Contemporary “Poethics”
- “Insurrection of the Humble”
- Toward a Symbiotic Way of Thought
- The Politics of Lichen: at the Origins of Symbiosis
- Chimeras, Vampires, and Other Common Monsters
- A “Third Place”
Index of Names
Index of Lichens
Vincent Zonca is a researcher and writer who lives in Brazil.
"Vincent Zonca has compiled a veritable pot-pourri of sympoietic intimacies. These crinkled expressions of desire and despair creep, slowly and unobtrusively, across every page, even as they breathe the air. Never has a work of literature more closely resembled its subject matter, inspiring wonder in equal measure. Welcome to the world of lichens!"
– Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen