Random: amongst other things, what exceeds human control.
Random: also ‘running’, things that transform in haphazard ways.
Random: in its peripheral etymologies, Rand (German: peripheral).
Nonhuman agencies—despite human (scientific) endeavours to contain their meanings and regulate becomings—do ‘random’ things: Things that ‘run’ in haphazard patterns, that shift the margins, and that exert forces beyond human control.
Decay, Ruin and other (Un)Becomings draws attention to the processes that shift attention from human-directed intention to grapple with the oft unpredictable agencies of the nonhuman. Unbecomings attend to processes which are not fitting, inappropriate, or otherwise not-quite-right, and becomings suggest the ‘random’ ways new worldings emerge. This entails a practice of attentiveness towards “open-ended assemblages of entangled ways of life” (Tsing) and the ways in which literary texts render ruins not as what is left but what we are left with (Stoler).
Accordingly, I draw on texts whose forms that reckon with edges and incidentals, with wonder and the unanticipated, be it fragments, as in Dany Laffèire’s The World is Moving Around Me; iterations on recurring themes, as in the essays of Arundhati Roy; or elemental coalescences, as in Jay Griffith’s Wild: An Elemental Journey. Forging meanings through disaster, threat, waste, and other adversities, such texts (amongst others) engage with randomness as theme and as form. In a world of climate crisis, in a world that continues to sear with the effects of colonialism, in a world that is not-quite-right, engaging in a practice of reading for—with—the ‘random’ affords a space for grappling with unintended agencies and barely comprehensible effects.