Symlit ~ an emerging genre. Proposal.

Woodland mycelial hyphae, photo by me.


Nurturing love and symbioethics during the Sixth Extinction through language and neologisms (Sym-lit).

Sym ~ assimilated from Greek form of syn- word element meaning “together with, jointly; alike; at the same time;” from PIE (proto-indo-european) ksun or sm meaning “together”.

Lit ~ from Latin litera, of alphabetic letters; later litteratura, of words and books.

Aims and Objectives.

As a Fluminist, I am offering a new genre with a symbioethical rhetorical perspective, and hope to research and learn how it may fit into the wider genre of ecocriticism, creative non-fiction, and the effect/affect on human agency during our hugely disconcerting Sixth Extinction. Miller’s genre as social action, therefore, transforms into an inquiry on genre as symbioethical action.

My own work on Fluminism, with ecofeminist influences, befits a new theory of love to a new scientific systems theory of life, aligning with many indigenous communities’ understanding of the world in which we all exist (Rose Bird, Kimmerer, et al). Sym-lit may have positive potential in throwing light into the deepest shadows of the particular human/nature detachments developed during the Enlightenment period. Anthropocentrism and binary thinking prevails, and at great biospheric and social cost.

By adopting a combination of ecopoetical lyricism, personal nature-experience and ecophilosophy, including crafted neologisms, my intent is to nurture an intimate view of nature as symbiotic process in the reader, especially in the emotions of relationships, and in the moral imagination required, to perceive many of the flows of which we are all a part. From here, change has a chance.

My wish is to produce a substantial body of work, including both academic critical thought and narrative scholarship by example. I’ll investigate the process of this kind of writing, itself, as an extension of Fluminism, bringing participatory thoughts of life-love flow into the realm of culture as agency, and in shaping new norms.

A New Genre.

“Upon which shelf would bookshops place it?” I am often asked. From personal experience, I know it is a new genre; evidence it has been hugely difficult to persuade conservative publishers here in the UK to publish my work as a book due market fears and constraints. Yet I do recognize elements of it in other writers, mainly fictional writers such as Powers and VanderMeer. So I offer a whole new one. Symlit is founded in resistance to that capitalist reluctance.

Key Questions.

Could symbioethical writing during the age of the Sixth Extinction (The Anthropocene), ignite human love in symbiosis with all other beings, in proliferation of diversity and abundance in nature? Will it contribute to a movement essential and egalitarian to Literature and, therefore, to British cultural and ecological change?

Fluminism, creativity, and neologisms.

As a Fluminist, I continue to challenge the anthropocentric ethic. Its reductionism and homogeneity continues to catalyze schisms and death, rather than unity and life. Expansion of the human moral imagination, and with particular inquiry on love and language as agents of, and for, nurturing change as a result of that imagination.

The word creative stems from proto-indo-european ker meaning to arise, to grow. I contend it is part of the Great Turning (Macy), more the decay of economic growth and the rise of ecological growth. Albrecht has begun to define the potential of a new era of life in natural accord, a life of organicism, which he has called the Symbiocene. He also creates neologisms in what he calls the Pyschoterratica, Earth Emotions, and his influential work on ‘Solastalgia’ proves merit in this process (Goldfarb).

The word ecosystem itself is a human construct, an abstraction. In reality, there are no absolute boundaries within our one biosphere. The biosphere is the ecosystem (Margulis, Lovelock). The idea conveyed by ecosystem is that there are particular types of unities where different types of organisms persist in time and space. What is inside an ecosystem is internally related to all other things within that system (the holistic, ecocentric view of environmental philosophy of Naess). Beyond Deep Ecology is an emergent symbiotic view of life (Haraway, Morton) that talks about “tentacles” and “entanglements”.

Organisms have boundaries that are more distinct at macro level than ecosystems. Yet, post-microbiome discoveries, ‘we’ have a much more porous view of the organism than ever before. The human body (like all others) is a holobiont as it shares a common life with trillions of other organisms in the same time/space. Beyond “entanglement” this view needs to capture the essence of a shared life. Indeed, words stronger than “entangled” or “enmeshed” are now needed to overcome the residual Cartesian mechanism and atomism.

The essence of my work is that flow is unequivocally shared and proliferated by and between all species. This is life-love. We exist, and with true understanding, demonstrable love as care, live a good life to the best of our ability. We do this in symbiosis, both internally and externally, with many other beings. And so do they. I is really we. All is connected.

The word ‘phronesis’ (a practical virtue), may evolve to incorporate traits in all other life systems; a love-wisdom. This would be in the spirit of non-anthropocentric thought, cultivated via Environmental Ethics as a discipline, though I propose we now develop the discipline of Symbioethics as there really is no such thing as external environment.

I think the need for neologisms is justified when all past and present conceptualizations fail to give adequate expression to a feature of life now being revealed. Fluminism and many other of my neologisms are an ecolinguistic response to this gap in knowledge, this failure to be able to communicate a new world view. As Reuther almost put it: New Earth New Humans.

There must be a radical revision of interconnection and relationship on the basis of these discoveries, and critically, bringing new and diverse voices into a new genre of creative non-fiction ecologism to focus minds. My next phase of research must now look at how language and literature may contribute to this process, and establishing a new genre: A Literature of Symbiosis (Sym-lit).

With Deleuzian aims of creativity and practicality, opening a new opportunity of rhetorical ‘doing.’ (Miller)






Biological sex, mind blowing.

Snailsex, photo by me.

“With the pace of smartphone evolution moving so fast, there’s always something waiting in the wings. No sooner have you spied the latest handset, there’s anticipation for the next big thing.” Chris Hall, Pocket Lint. Jul 2020.

I want us to be able to think like this when it comes to our own bodies.

“With the pace of the science of biological sex moving so fast, there’s always something waiting in the wings. No sooner have you spied the latest paper on biological sex, there’s anticipation for the next big thing.” Ginny Battson, Seasonalight. Jul 2020.

Bombarded with new reports and adverts year round, we have largely absolved technical revolutions as part of our modern culture. I think advertising has tricked us into accepting them as the norm. Lust for profit/neoliberal survival has created precision marketing campaigns, playing on primitive desires and a sense of empowerment, however real or fake. In they roll like tides, these technologies. Keep up, keep up. And we part with our cash.

I have been pondering on new evidence on things like biological sex, and the microbiome, and then biological sex effected by the microbiome. Sexual diversity! It’s mind blowing!

Yet, sadly, so unnerving for many.

Why? We seem happy to trust engineers and marketeers, but not scientific research, meta analysis, trials, and peer review of human biology, endocrinology, neurology.

Science is a search for definition in a very uncertain world, but uncertainty is foundational to these pursuits, because the margins of ambiguity are the constant fuel for new questions and answers. Redundant technologies we easily reject, acknowledging they have been integral to the timeline of progress. So why can’t we reject redundant biological science in the same way in building a clearer picture of existential life?

Sex is non-binary, or fluid, or a process beyond the moment of birth. Yes. Open your minds. It’s love.

It’s also understandable that people feel disoriented, as if all we thought we knew firm beneath our feet has suddenly turned to jelly.

I observe a similar reaction when people discover that other living beings, microbes, inside our bodies and on our skin, survive to support us all in symbiosis. Or when I point out that species distinctions are more porous than once thought, and that we ourselves are porous and less defined as one species, being a genetic mix of other human species that were thought to have become extinct (they themselves were probably a mix).

I see that almost vacant look of incongruity. I also see disgust. When I describe how porous we really are, swimming around in water, soils and air that is filled with the essences of the living and the dead flowing in and out of us, I see your eyes swivel. Boundaries are few, if existent at all, and things are a hell of a lot more fuzzy, from cosmos to quantum.

“I’ is really “we”. Ancient Eastern religions were really on to something.

All I can ask is that it’s critical to open one’s mind. Open the mind to new understanding, which may well be ancient too, about the world around us. We are learning new/ancient things every day.

Openness is a form of compassion, because we are humbled in engaging our listening powers. There’s no humility in being closed, in shutting our eyes and ears, repeating absolute certainty, or so-called facts. Some fixed thinkers can find this very hard, because they are nurtured in The Great Scientism of definition, of fixed truths, and of defending against fakery and varying human power structures.

I ask, as good scientists also ask of me ~ look to uncertainty as a motivation for new discovery. Look, and feel it.

Remember, for instance, those (who probably identified as men) dissecting bodies for eons, who made a decision based on the evidence before them that there were certain organs within living beings, particularly mammals, which dictated their entire role in life, in respect of reproduction only. They were dissecting animals, and dead humans. Animals that are unable to communicate their full lives to us directly; cultures, kinship, memories, thoughts and feelings. Incidentally, neither can dead humans.

So when we are thinking about the cultural and social constructs of gender and sex, I know people have been trained to divide them, like the Cartesian separation of mind from body, but the news is, from some scientists themselves, they are interlinked and inseparable. The idea that you could have any other kind of alternative understanding seems to be beyond so many people. Part of this is that particularly women who have fought for recognition of rights certainly in recent memory, and it’s still ongoing, and raw, and in areas such as politics, medicine, law, design… and the menarche, and sexual assault, and miscarriage, childbirth, and Grade 3 carcinosarcoma of the uterus, and in the menopause…

I return to Hilary Lawson, and his influential idea of closure. When we have an idea of something closed, as in dealt with, and processed, and in the past, it becomes the past. Signed, sealed and delivered in a box to a shelf. When new information comes into the fold, it’s hard to find that box, open it, rummage through, and review all.

Instead of having something closed, even though it might be a word, a feeling, or even an event, if one can train the mind into being much more open, open is often associated with something artistic, creative pursuits, and I think we need to consider that, especially in the face of the Johnsonian shackling of the arts and humanities right now.

Yes, sometimes, rather like we look at maps, male and female can tell us an awful lot of information. They are like keys, and we can navigate our way, if we know how to imagine symbols as reality, if we are able to relate to maps in three dimensional time and space, and that getting from A to B is a process. But essentially maps are just guides. As are male and female. Our brains do most of the ‘open’ work. It’s a gift. Let’s celebrate it.

What we need to imagine is that instead of trying to close down everything, the binary in all, the taxa, the finite, and that male is this and female is that, we need to keep things open, but recognize the need for empathy, love and understanding in that comet tail of adjustment. There will always be comet tails in time and space, adjustment to new norms. Sometimes, there’s a great deal to take on board, for the ones who are re-identifying, and the ones who love them. Time is osmosis. Meanwhile, compassion and kindness on all sides is a must.

One day, sexual fluidity and gender fluidity will be accepted along with all our other beautiful spectrums, and perhaps some we have not even articulated yet. Sex and gender do not remain fixed at birth. As we are discovering with genetics and epigenetics, neurological developments in relation to endocrinal events in life, the amount of love we receive, or the traumas we suffer, and effects of the constant exchange between ourselves and the nagorasphere. Or even that the microbiome may have direct effects on reproductive activity, it might well have effects on our psychological understanding of where we are in relation to others around us. They have been evolved features in living beings for a billion years.

I guess the exponential culture shock of high-tech has been ‘treated’ in some ways by a relentless exposure therapy by mass media. Our Western culture of individual identity, Rights and entitlement are coupled with many of the markers and markets of the Anthropocene. The supposed prophylactic (hypnotism) of consumerism has been driven by all manner of symbolic campaigns, in glossy magazines, on TV, and multiple, repetitive London Underground posters. Maybe we could apply this expertise for something far more compassionate and useful ~ spreading the news on biological sex diversity.


For more on Sex Contextualism, do read Bennett McIntosh here about the work of Sarah Richardson, Harvard philosopher and historian. 











Gwylet ~ a fledgling gull.

First flight, a juvenile gull lands heavy on the balcony. She’s scared. Parents, sentinels. The community is a riot.

I’m going to call this mottle-beauty a gwylet, after Welsh gwylan for gull and ‘et, as in cygnet, owlet.

After hours, she finds her way to the edge, and swoops again, wind through her virgin feathers.

To another, lower shiny, slate roof.

Landing, slips down, backwards, wings stretched. Friction.

Stops. Climbs ugly to a tiny notch. Breathes.


I’m with her parents, on guard, until nightfall. But in the morning, they are all gone. #gwylets #gulls