About seeing

You know for certain, that there they are, looming under some decaying matter, or huddled together, almost as if gossiping under your blind eye, or sometimes even standing defiantly in a clearing, being so certain that you’re going to miss it and walk by. Mushroom foraging always starts like this, even though you know what you’re looking for, and even which way to look (usually down). At first you just can’t see them. Then, after a while or two your eyes adjust: what you thought was a dead leaf just a second ago, is actually a delicious chanterelle[1], and right there, where there definitely was absolutely nothing, there is a band of yellowfoot[2], still probably giggling at you in their what-ever-counts-as-a-mind for fungi. For what ever reason, it’s always hardest to spot the mushrooms that you crave for. The first ones that you spot are always your poison paxes[3] and similar ones that you either won’t recognise (=you don’t pick!!!!) or the ones that you don’t want (=also don’t pick!!).

During this autumn I’ve been thinking a lot about mushrooms, but also the materialism and infrastructures that fuel and funnel our digital desires. Funnily enough, it seems as though it’s just as hard to see those infrastructures, as it is to see the mushroom at first, even though those infrastructures are also right under our proverbial noses. 

We’ve had quite a run on our technological developments during the last few decades. It’s undeniably incredible that we have all the knowledge in the world at our literal fingertips everywhere we go, whether it’s underground in the metro or deep in the forest (looking for the mushroom for instance). However, it seems as though the pace we’ve been moving has also blurred our vision and we’re not seeing all that is going on behind the scenes. And it hasn’t helped, that some of the companies driving these developments have been downplaying the issues and urged us to look at only the nice and edible mushrooms, keeping the underlaying mycelia of child labour[4], e-waste[5] and rising CO2-emissions[6] hidden away in the soil.

The thing with development is that whether it’s for the good or for the worse, it still becomes the prevalent state, overriding the previous one. For instance, it would be impossible to convince our civilisation to stop using our technology altogether and go back to, say the technology of the 60’s. (And even if we did, we’d be doing more harm on different departments, by using DDT or freon-fridges.) What we can do, is try to affect the direction we’re heading next. By having the discussion of where the minerals that make our tech run come from and what impacts it has on the people and the environment on all the stages of the process, we make it harder for the companies to focus on just the shiny parts. In the forest, when we eventually have those mushroom hunting glasses on, we can still only see the fruiting body of the fungus. With technology, we must have and take the option to see the whole organism.


[1] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanterelle 

[2] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craterellus_tubaeformis 

[3] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paxillus_involutus 

[4] – https://www.worldvision.com.au/docs/default-source/buy-ethical-fact-sheets/forced-and-child-labour-in-the-technology-industry-fact-sheet.pdf?sfvrsn=2 

[5] – https://www.statista.com/statistics/499891/projection-ewaste-generation-worldwide/ 

[6] – https://escp.eu/news/reduce-your-digital-carbon-footprint-shape-greener-future 

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