Cómo hablar con el bosque, how to speak to forests?

 If ANT fails as a connector of entities, it’s crucial that semiosis, in Kohn’s hands, succeeds. For me, thetwo projects are actually much closer than the author thinks. The following definition of an attempt to bring the reality of forms into the picture, would fit marvelously ANT’s project:

Form, then, is crucial to lives, human and otherwise. Nevertheless,
the workings of this vague entity remain largely undertheorized in
anthropological analysis. This, in large part, is due to the fact that form
lacks the tangibility of a standard ethnographic object. Nevertheless,
form, like the basic intentionality of the pig and the palpable materiality
of its meat, is something real. Indeed, its particular mode of efficacy will
require us to think again what we mean by the “real.” If, as anthropologists,
we can find ways to attend ethnographically to those processes of form
amplification and harnessing as they play out in the Amazon, we might
be able to become better attuned to the strange ways in which form
moves through us. This, in turn, can help us harness form’s logics and
properties as a conceptual tool that might even help us rethink our very
idea of what it means to think.” (Kohn 2013: 160)

Rematerializing thinking as well as rethinking what is real, that’s what is common
to science studies and to anthropology.


Y es, it  is admirable to begin to think of the forest as what is able to  align growing seeds,  falling trees, startled monkeys, shooting hunters, dreaming fathers, dead mothers,  moving glottises, onomatopoeias, words as symbols, ethnographic documents, all  the way down to the beautifully written text, yes, but when you sum it up by saying  “the forest thinks” you are bound to say “wait a minute, now that you have given  us such amazing continuities, I want my discontinuities back, not the old ones to  be sure, I don’t care about abandoning nature/culture, object/subject, world/words,  but still, I don’t wish to confuse a seed with a dream or a predator with a prey.” And  that’s why, in my experience, the half-life of descriptive theory is about five years!  That’s at least what has happened to ANT’s quickly diminishing returns. And I am  afraid that’s what will happen to this influx of semiosis into ethnography. Ontologi - cal pluralism cannot be achieved through only one mode of existence, no matter  how encompassing it appears to be.



Latour 2014