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the strange blue incandescence of mites

a genealogy of the living, as issued from the small

Diego Espíritu Chávez, María Antonia González Valerio & Eduardo Ramón Trejo - April 12, 2024

the original language of this article is Spanish

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Just as the Cloud is not just a cloud, but a cluster of wires buried underground
the small harbors within itself its own vast cosmology: all that is small is, in fact.
all that lives. Therefore, questioning the small involves enquiring about life and
nature themselves.

This poetic-visual essay takes up Mexican scientist Anita Hoffmann’s research on
mites and, through it, wonders what the small sounds like, how many names can
one creature be given, and how lethal may something small enough to live in a
water bear be.

On The Strange Blue Incandescence of Mites by Diego Espíritu

All that lives, lives somewhere. It lives in its place.

Territory comes first. The space where something happens, where something or someone is.

Which is why mites are such peculiar creatures. We are their territory.

Our room. Our bed. Our mattress. Our pillow. Our skin. Our very own body.

I am the mite’s territory.

How many names can one creature be given?

Me with the mite. The mite in me.
The singularity here is false. It is dependent upon the microscope (fig. 362).

There is no singular mite––there are mites in the plural. An indivisible multiplicity. A hodgepodge of grubby vermin on my mattress, scurrying through my skin.

They are a bunch. Even if drawings insist on the truth of their unicity.
Because what is, is a thing that manifests itself in its being.

The being of each thing, however, must be addressed from within its territory.
Things only are in a given place at a given time; things only are in as much as they are determined by a given place and by a given time.

(transhistoricity, deep, inhuman temporality;
The mite’s instantaneity, its minute evanescence)

Where are your mites, Diego?

Nowadays, critters ensue a certain fascination in philosophical stories –or explanations.

The question of animality comes up again and again
throughout contemporary philosophical discourses, preferably addressing cats
and dogs. Domestic habitats. Although
one may also find bears, panthers, birds.

Bugs are fundamentally different ––extraterrestrials whose form is anything but our own. And this seems to make them less anthropocentric. This seems to allow for a decentering of                      anthropocentric                                 discourse. This seems to veer away from the speciesism past knowledge ––or past stances–– is so often accused of nowadays.

No longer “Human.” Not anymore. It is all about the mite now.

Ticks. Ants. Bees. Beehives. The “social” ordering of insects. The simulation and modelling of their behavior through mathematical environs.

Ants regarded as multiplying dots on a cartesian plane. For we now know of complex systems.

Do your mites make a sound, Diego?
Can you bring your ear close to the pillow –softly– and sense their rattle as they breathe, as they scuttle?

Lend your ear too close and they will run crawl into your eardrums.
Ear mite. Incandescent. Clotted.

Mites only exist within miasma tales. I am disgusted by them. They reek of filth and staleness. Their territory is the morbid, mildewed humidity of an attic.
Modern hygiene ––which is not quite obsessive enough—wants smooth, sealed, chlorine-scented, pristine spaces.

I want to sleep
on a stainless
steel plate.

To take away the mites’ territory.

What about skin?
I painstakingly inspect my epidermis. It seems very much my own ––at least it does to the naked eye emitting judgements in compliance with cultured sense data. My territory (presa en mi epidermis –– walled up in my skin).

To learn how to regard and inhabit my own skin as a multispecies territory. To craft a world within a skin that is not mine, that is not me.

A territory cannot be owned. It is the very possibility of life.
I tuck myself in my skin ––along with them. (Acariasis)

They only take up the tiniest of spaces. Except they don’t. They take me up. And that is too much.
I will not count them.
Indeterminate hubris.

Why mites, Diego?
You have preserved them in the ether, perfectly still, waiting inside a drawer. Eternal.

Mite taxidermy. To hold one against the light and gaze at it with every variation of the shimmering sky
As it spreads itself, leg-splayed against the glassy surface of the microscope slide.

All must be rid of the sickly.

Festering rot.

Of intoxicated skin.

Inside. And out. Malfunction. Of the morbid body. The body and its dis-ease.
The body that smells. All that lives, smells. Thick stench of scum.

Liquid dust of incandescent mite. A flurry of the remains of the living. Inside. And out. Mite of mite. Primordial.

Death is always the matter ––our own death? Corruption. Destruction. Decay.
The diseased, always. Festering. Rank.
Or to die suddenly                             clean                           by a murmur on the left ventricle that stops the heart
for good.

Death, always.

All that lives, lives somewhere. It lives in its place.
The mite and me. Even in death. In its death.

Neither the Milky way nor Andromeda. Not even the explosion of the sun that fades not away.

The mite dies here and now. Incandescent.

María Antonia González Valerio
Coyoacán, Mexico City. October, 2020.

Translated by Sofía Falomir


author: Diego Espíritu Chávez

introduction text: María Antonia González Valerio

translation from Spanish to English: Sofía Falomir

copy editing: Bronwyn Mahoney

illustration and production: Eduardo Ramón Trejo

support: part of this project was realized in the A+C [Arte+Ciencia] seminar, at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the National Autonomous University of Mexico

references and rights

illustration copyrights

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Copyright 2022 by Eduardo Ramón Trejo. Reproduced with permission.



bibliography and references

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Casa Tomada. “Presentación ‘La extraña incandescencia azul de los ácaros’ de Diego Espíritu.” Facebook video, 1:08:41. Live streaming published June 12, 2021.

El Entusiasmo Libros. “Presentación de La extraña incandescencia azul de los ácaros.” Youtube video, 1:25:35. Live streaming published October 20, 2023.

Hoffmann, Anita. 2003. Animales desconocidos: Relatos acarológicos. Mexico : FCE, SEP, CONACyT, Collection LA CIENCIA PARA TODOS.

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This article is using Chicago format for its references

Espíritu Chávez, Diego, María Antonia González Valerio, and Eduardo Ramón Trejo. 2024. “The strange blue incandescence of mites.” .able journal:

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