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June 2023

The Contrarian - EAB-61

All the pathways ran in one direction
indicating a nest & consensus, except there
was one burrow that cut completely across
the others. The sides were sharper, the
walls steeper. Someone had other ideas and
they needed to be expressed. The bite marks
showed anger that spoke volumes about...


Inner critic of the inner bark : a set of tentative but distinctly
personal marks helped us identify an author struggling for a voice

The bark tore away. As I lifted the log a burst of wood dust sat in the air and the unusual pattern registered in my mind. Copious marks, undeniably intentional. Were they only larval residue or a form of writing? Were messages hidden inside the tree?

Segmentation and consumption
of an ash tree's living tissue
is the writing process
of the emerald author

Ash bark #35-b

To uncover examples of ash borer
writing, I began sketching unusual looking
channels. After several days I paid less attention
to the channels and more to the in between
shapes. In one of those shapes I recognized the
image of a woodpecker, a natural predator of
the ash borer.

Therolinguistic Field report #23


Knowing I exist

I move within my sustenance

Fearing the woodpecker


I stay safe


Drifting smoke from fires near Quebec filled the air with a dystopian
orange haze. The strange light brought me into the woods where I
discovered two more dead ash trees, upping the total to five, leafless
in summer, standing side by side, needing to be cut down so they
don't fall on the studio.

A living sheath inside tree bark, phloem and xylem cells are rivers of fluids and nutrients. Dead phloem cells become bark, xylem cells heartwood. This liminal space is an emerald ash borer garden of eden, a paradise in which newborn larvae feast and create.

The writing found inside the bark of the ash tree contains the multi-threaded stories of insect authors, dying species, thoughts of investigative therolinguists, householders barely coping, living in constantly shifting environments, individuals, embracing impermanence, and waking up to the magnitude of the moment.

Simultaneous stories of trees dying and insects thriving

My initial assumption, that insect intelligence functioned like human intelligence, was wrong. Because I began by believing that I was looking for an individual beetle that had a singular voice, I failed to appreciate how insects live dependently and how much of the writing is collectively authored.

A typical emerald ash borer story,
each path detailing a larval life,
collectively the death of the tree

"I'm not alone here. Through thin walls, I feel the vibrations of the other larvae hatched from the same batch of eggs. Sometimes we cross paths or collide, vying for space and resources within the ash tree, often engaging in battles for dominance."

-group 4 translation (2016) from bite patterns on sample 24-b

The paths created by Ash Borer larvae are called galleries

Galleries of a mature infestations are more paths than phloem

Shapes carved in bark tell a story of survival

Confusing data and information

Gaps appearing in the canopy

Imagine a place where awareness is concentrated enough to distort the fabric of consciousness, forming a well that functions like a gravity well, but instead of attracting matter, attracts mind.

Chapters of the story are written on the trunk

The project involves equal parts
close examination and broad imagination

Brainstorming about larval experiences and world views: emphasis on touch, very little light, pathways as road signs, reading is tactile, messages in movements, the literature of scents, and transformation to adulthood means redemption not death.

of larval lives
under the bark


Heard about some hipster ash trees that took pride in showing off their galleries

Walking along the road today, I stopped to pull back some bark and revealed deep scars

Circulating air, water, and soil,
Emerging as an ash tree,
Transforming to food and fuel,
Returning ash to ashes.


Larval borers interact
with the phloem of the ash tree
like discordant waves
crashing on the shores of now
leaving trails of one inside the other


Drawing from life and falling in love with the pencil

Naturemind intertwine

Exploring a new relationship