Reading:
Imagine Otherwise: Melody Jue on Thinking Through Seawater

Imagine Otherwise: Melody Jue on Thinking Through Seawater

retro
October 9, 2019

Melody Jue wearing a grey patterned shirt in front of a stone building

 

How can thinking with the sea shifting the foundations of humanities research? How does the ocean challenge terrestrial bias in standpoint epistemologies? What can we learn from the performative and creative possibilities of ocean-based work?

In episode 97 of the Imagine Otherwise podcast, host Cathy Hannabach interviews ocean humanities scholar and scuba diver Melody Jue about how she uses scuba diving as a humanities research methodology and method of interpretation, how scuba offers a less terrestrially biased model of feminist standpoint epistemology, and why Melody turns to kelp and other seaweeds for radical models of hope and climate justice.

Guest: Melody Jue

Melody Jue is an assistant professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published widely on the ocean humanities, American literature, media theory, science fiction, and science and technology studies.

Drawing on her experience of becoming a scuba diver, her book Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater (Duke University Press, 2020) destabilizes terrestrial-based ways of knowing and reorients our perception of the world by considering the ocean as a media environment. She brings this new understanding to bear on questions of cultural preservation and environmental justice.

Melody is also a co-editor of Saturation: An Elemental Politics (Duke University Press, 2021) with Rafico Ruiz and has published articles in Grey Room, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Animations, Humanities Circle, Scale in Literature & Culture, and Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction. 

Melody completed her PhD in literature at Duke University. Prior to that, she worked as a Fulbright English teaching assistant at the Open University of Hong Kong.

She is currently working on a new monograph about seaweeds.

We chatted about

  • Becoming a scuba diver and the ocean humanities (01:56)
  • The limits of terrestrial bias (06:37)
  • Rethinking dis/ability studies underwater (09:14)
  • How scuba can provide a new writing methodology (13:07)
  • Melody’s forthcoming book Wild Blue Media (17:10)
  • Melody’s future projects (19:16)
  • Working at the intersection of art, academia, and social justice (24:23)
  • Imagining otherwise (27:07)

Melody Jue next to a quote from her Imagine Otherwise podcast interview: "Telling new and refreshing stories about the ocean is one way of facilitating care for something that sustains our existence on the planet."

Takeaways

Scuba diving and humanities research

Scuba diving began through the encouragement of one of my advisors in grad school. At the time, I had sort of fallen out of fallen out of love with my current project and I began to watch a lot of ocean documentaries, just to relax. Then I realized, “Wait a second, all of this interest I had had in science fiction actually maps really well onto concerns about the ocean.” So I began reading up on what was going on in the ocean humanities….I began to look for different ways that terrestrial bias forms many of the ways that we think about and orient to the world. Going underwater became this science fictional method of trying to estrange what I was comfortable with as an embodied observer.

Mobility and underwater dis/ability

There’s an interesting feeling where you have all this freedom to move around in three dimensions. You stop thinking of moving across a planar space and instead you realize you can go here and there within this huge volume. There’s actually a lot of mobility that scuba opens up….At one dive shop in Hawai‘i, where I was getting my advanced certification, we had people coming through who were military vets who had some connection with the dive shop to be able to have the scuba diving experiences where all of a sudden they could move in ways that they could not move on land. I always thought that was a neat connection that diving opens up for three-dimensional movement.

Melody’s book Wild Blue Media

I draw from genealogies of feminist standpoint theory, especially in science studies—Donna Haraway, Sandra Harding. I think that the ocean extends some of their thinking in a more literal way but in a way that I really feel is environmentally- or what I call milieu-specific. Part of what Wild Blue Media does is not to just oppose ocean to land as opposites, gets people to consider the kinds of affordances and constraints of particular environments. The ocean is not a uniform environment. If you’re in the deep sea or you’re on the coast or maybe in a body of Arctic water, these are all very different places to think from.

How scuba diving relates to social justice

One of the things that really excites me about working with scuba diving is its potential to be performative. One thing I was really taken by was the Maldives’ underwater cabinet meeting that was staged by former president Mohamed Nasheed….He did a lot of work as a climate change activist because the Maldives is only 7 feet above sea level at places, so they’re very, very concerned with the social effects of sea level rise. What the cabinet spontaneously decided to do was to stage an underwater meeting where they all put scuba gear and decided to sign a statement committing to become carbon neutral by a certain date in the future. A lot of the media that circulated around this was really powerful. Because here you see this image of a possible future, the Maldives underwater where all these people are dawning scuba gear and they’re sitting in front of tables with chairs and little name tags as that’s the new normal. And yet by a staging this, they were trying to draw attention to sea level rise and the sheer degree of carbon emissions around the world.

Imagining otherwise

I would really like to see a world where people are producing more creative and refreshing stories about the ocean in a way that draws attention to this huge environment that is responsible for sustaining life on earth. The ocean is responsible for absorbing a lot of carbon. It absorbs a lot of heat and it also produces over half the oxygen we breathe. Telling new and refreshing stories about the ocean is one way of facilitating care for something that sustains our existence on the planet.

More from Melody

Projects and people discussed

About Imagine Otherwise

Imagine Otherwise is a podcast about the people and projects bridging art, activism, and academia to build better worlds. Episodes offer in-depth interviews with creators who use culture for social justice, and explore the nitty-gritty work of imagining and creating more just worlds. Check out full podcast episodes and show notes at ideasonfire.net/imagine-otherwise-podcast. Imagine Otherwise is hosted by Cathy Hannabach and produced by Ideas on Fire, an academic editing and consulting agency helping progressive, interdisciplinary scholars write and publish awesome texts, enliven public conversations, and create more just worlds.

Sign up for our newsletter

Podcast episodes, articles, and offers right to your inbox to help you rock your interdisciplinary career

Our Privacy Policy

Episode transcript

Cathy Hannabach [00:03]: [upbeat music in background] Welcome to Imagine Otherwise, the podcast about the people and projects bridging art, activism, and academia to build better worlds. Episodes offer in-depth interviews with creators who use culture for social justice and explore the nitty-gritty work of imagining otherwise. I’m your host, Cathy Hannabach. [music fadeout]

[00:22] This is episode 97 and my guest today is Melody Jue.

Melody is an assistant professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published widely on the ocean humanities, American literature, media theory, science fiction, and science and technology studies.

Drawing on her experience of becoming a scuba diver, her book Wild Blue Media: Thinking Through Seawater (Duke University Press, 2020) destabilizes terrestrial-based ways of knowing and reorients our perception of the world by considering the ocean as a media environment. She brings this new understanding to bear on questions of cultural preservation and environmental justice.

Melody is also a co-editor of Saturation: An Elemental Politics (Duke University Press, 2021) with Rafico Ruiz and has published articles in Grey Room, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Animations, Humanities Circle, Scale in Literature & Culture, and Green Planets: Ecology and Science Fiction. 

Melody completed her PhD in literature at Duke University. Prior to that, she worked as a Fulbright English teaching assistant at the Open University of Hong Kong.

In our interview, Melody and I chat about how she uses scuba diving as a humanities research methodology and method of interpretation, how scuba offers a less terrestrially biased model of feminist standpoint epistemology, and why Melody turns to kelp and other seaweeds for radical models of hope and climate justice.

[01:42] [to Melody] Thanks so much for being with us today, Melody.

Melody Jue [01:45]: Oh, thank you for having me here.

Cathy [01:47]: I am very excited to talk with you about what is one of the most fascinating research methodologies I’ve ever come across. You’re using scuba diving, which is just so cool, first of all.

Melody: Oh, thank you.

Cathy: But I’m curious, how do you actually use scuba diving to explore scholarly or research questions?

Melody [02:07]: I think it would help by starting with my project’s origin story. The scuba diving began through the encouragement of one of my advisors in grad school. At the time, I had sort of fallen out of fallen out of love with my current project and I began to watch a lot of ocean documentaries, just to relax. Then I realized, “Wait a second, all of this interest I had had in science fiction actually maps really well onto concerns about the ocean.” So I began reading up on what was going on in the ocean humanities.

An advisor suggested, “Why don’t you write a grant to go get certified for scuba diving?” I thought he was kidding at first, but actually he was serious. Then the research became an alibi almost to do something I had always wanted to do.

[03:02] I’ve been an ocean nerd for my whole life. I grew up in San Diego partially and went to the beach a lot and always had a lot of interest in whatever weird sea creature I could go visit. So scuba diving originally became a way of gaining first-person experience in this environment that I really wanted to talk about. Rather than writing a PhD [dissertation] based on secondhand information about the ocean and what other people who had been on sea voyages or other people who had reported on their experiences like Jacques Cousteau and Sylvia Earle, I had a feeling it would be valuable to be able to go to this environment myself.

[03:58] The experience of scuba diving helped me become a better interpreter of writings about the ocean for a couple of reasons. The way I think about scuba diving is, first of all, that it gives you site access. So if you’re writing about anything sunk underwater, the diving gives you access to be able to visit that place in person.

But it also makes you think a lot about the conditions of observation. For example, when you go scuba diving, you have to wear a mask. The reason for that is because the human eye needs that air pocket between itself and some kind of mediating lens in order to focus clearly. You also have to put on all this gear and you become very, very conscious that where you’re observing from is not something you can take for granted. You have to put on all these prosthetics in order to be able to go underwater in the first place.

[04:43] It was from that position that I began to think of scuba diving as a method of interpretation. This became important for me when I was writing about Jason deCaires Taylor’s underwater museum of sculptures off the coast of a small island in Mexico. The way he portrays his sculptures on his website is through the particular conditions of very clear water. He tried to take portraits of each human sculpture that he had sunk under water and the portraits usually conform to standards of portraiture where you’re looking at the face head on.

But when I went to go check out these sculptures in person and dive the site, I found that conditions of the current were sweeping me along. I could not look at the sculptures in the same way, face-to-face. I actually found it way easier to hover over them. I was constantly trying not to run into the sculpture as well. So the entire conditions of visitation were different as an underwater observer compared to terrestrial observation or even a representation of the works that takes on a kind of terrestrial perspective.

[05:40] From experiences like this, I began to look for different ways that terrestrial bias, which is something I develop in my book, forms many of the ways that we think about and orient to the world. Going underwater, for me, became this sort of science fictional method of trying to estrange what I was comfortable with as an embodied observer.

In my book, Wild Blue Media, I use scuba diving and often start with experiences from scuba diving to think about literary interpretation in a different way as well as to think about terms in media studies in a different way by submerging them in the ocean. So that’s I guess the long story of how I got started with scuba diving.

Cathy [06:41]: I’ve never been scuba diving myself, so I have a totally outsider perspective on it. But this sounds totally fascinating. Now this might be a dorky question, but is it claustrophobic?

Melody [06:53]: Well, you know, I was worried that it might be. What changed [my mind] was the difference between swimming in the pool and the ocean. I found that in the process of learning to scuba dive, once we went to the ocean, I realized that it was easier to breathe with a regulator than it was from a snorkel. The scuba regulator, the one that sounds like Darth Vader, you know, it goes [Darth Vader breathing sound]

Cathy: Yeah.

Melody: When you breathe from that, it delivers air at the ambient water pressure. So you actually don’t have to work as hard to breathe as when you snorkel. If you have confidence in your equipment and it’s all working really fluidly, that made me relax in a really meaningful way. So I actually never felt claustrophobic because of the trust I had in my equipment.

[07:47] There’s also an interesting feeling, too, where you have all this freedom to move around in three dimensions. You stop thinking of moving across a planar space and instead you realize you can go here and there within this huge volume. There’s actually a lot of mobility that scuba opens up.

One of the cool things that relates more to disability studies is that there’s a whole other kind of connection between military war veterans who have had amputations and scuba as therapeutic practice. So at one dive shop in Hawai‘i, where I was getting my advanced certification, we had people coming through who were military vets who had some connection with the dive shop to be able to have the scuba diving experiences where all of a sudden they could move in ways that they could not move on land. I always thought that was a neat connection that diving opens up for three-dimensional movement.

Cathy [08:44]: That’s really interesting because often what gets focused on, perhaps from that terrestrial bias that you were speaking about, is people think about what being underwater would close off—in terms of breathing or equipment or new things that you have to learn to use or to new ways you have to move. But this is exactly the opposite, right?

Melody [09:07]: Yeah. There are ways that the underwater environment encourages you to ask different questions about ability. There is actually a very cool dive shop, too, that a person who’s hearing impaired opened up and he speaks [American] Sign Language. For him, going underwater is not this sort of silent world of no communication at all, limited by a couple of hand gestures. Instead he has his whole vocabulary that he can bring down with him and any guests he might take. I think that’s a really interesting facet of it.

On the other hand, one thing scuba diving really made me think about is just how adapted one needs to be to a very particular environment. When I was writing the book chapter on theories of the interface, I thought about this a lot. If you don’t know scuba diving, it would be tempting to say that scuba diving opens up this amphibious passport to transitioning from air to water and back again.

[10:03[ But actually, something that’s really important in diving is time because as your breathing pressurized air, more nitrogen accumulates in your blood. If you’ve been down at a certain depth for a certain amount of time, you need to take a decompression stop before you go back to the surface or you could get what’s called the bends, where air bubbles come out of saturation in your blood and they might get lodged in a place that’s very, very dangerous or uncomfortable.

By actually taking scuba diving courses that caution you on these sorts of things, I realized that all these fantasies about a perfectly amphibious transition between worlds are not so simple. When you’re diving, you as you become temporarily unable to surface if you’ve been deep enough for a certain amount of time. The physiological aspect of diving was something that pushed my thinking on how media studies talks about interface.

Cathy [11:00]: What are some of your favorite scuba stories or ocean experiences that you’ve had while diving—either research-related or not?

Melody [11:10]: I have a lot of favorites and I hopefully look forward to quite a few more too. But some of the more memorable ones, let’s see.

There’s this one place called Sea Cave in off the coast of Honolulu. The amazing thing about this dive site is that Hawai‘i was built by volcanoes so there’s all these different underwater elements of typography that were built by lava. Sometimes you’ll get places that are very porous. Sea Cave has an underwater entrance under about 70 feet of water, but it also has a skylight at the back where it opens up to the surface. And so what we did was sink way down to where that entrance was on the sea floor and then swim up through the cave as the light was increasing. It had this really cathedral-like effect that it was just spectacular

[11:59] Another favorite dive I had was while I was visiting the underwater sculptures in Mexico, a couple of towns south of where that was located. There was another site with these freshwater caverns called cenotes. The interesting thing about cenotes is that they’re located in places where there’s a lot of limestone so they end up being porous underground to the ocean. So sometimes when you dive in this freshwater cave, you can see what’s called a halocline or the border between fresh and salt water and it kind of shimmers. There’s all these other optical effects of mirroring and light coming down that are really unique to these cenores.

They’re part of this super clear freshwater and you can have 100 or 200 feet of visibility. For diving. that’s really good. Typically, somewhere like where I live off the coast of Santa Barbara, if you have 20 feet, that’s a really good day. So to have something with such visual clarity offers a lot of different cool optical effects.

Cathy [13:07]: Obviously you use scuba as a way to ask analytical questions about your research topics and your research objects. But I’m curious, do you use it as a writing methodology? Have you found that some of the lessons, experiences, or perspectives that diving gives you been applicable to your writing process?

Melody [13:28]: Oh thanks for that question. One thing I talk a lot about in my book is where you can see elements of terrestrial bias in different uses of language. In my analysis of this one text by Vilém Flusser, who is a Czech media theorist who ended up in Brazil. He wrote this crazy text imagining the point of view of a vampire squid. As I was reading through this piece and developing an argument, I realized that one place in language you can look to for elements of terrestrial biases are prepositions like in, through, and towards. The way that a vampire squid would orient to its world might be very different from the way we orient to ours. I drew a lot on theories of metaphor by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson in order to be able to talk about this strange speculation of what would it be like to really think from the position of a vampire squid embodiment.

[14:30] I worked from there to develop this broader argument about terrestrial bias. So for example, in English when we talk about the directions up and down, a lot of times we attach emotions to these, like “I’m feeling up today” or “my feelings are so low.” This whole emotional scheme maps onto a human and terrestrial experience of space. It’s not a hard code by any means and there’s lots of exceptions, but there’s a strong tendency to correlate emotions with different kinds of spatial movements.

So with the example of the vampire squid, you might wonder, “Well, how’s it going to feel about up and down? Or how’s it going to feel about buoyancy or staying put within the water column?” That’s a whole other science fictional question. That got me really interested in the effects of where one exists and interprets from in relation to these choices in language or these sort of ordinary ways of speaking.

Cathy [15:31]: It really gives a different dimension to something like standpoint epistemology, right? Or like any framework that is trying to emphasize that one’s positionality in broader structures shapes what one thinks, what one feels, etc. And this is to the nth degree.

Melody [15:48]: Yeah, you’re picking up on a really strong theme here. I draw from genealogies of feminist standpoint theory, especially in science studies—So Donna Haraway, Sandra Harding. I think that the ocean extends some of their thinking in a more literal way but in a way that I really feel is environmentally- or what I call milieu-specific.

Part of what Wild Blue Media does is not to just oppose ocean to land as opposites, gets people to consider the kinds of affordances and constraints of particular environments. The ocean is not a uniform environment. If you’re in the deep sea or you’re on the coast or maybe in a body of Arctic water, these are all very different places to think from.

I also consider how what I am writing about the ocean might be applicable to somewhere like high altitude or outer space. Anthropologist David Valentine has done some interesting work on what it might be like to orient within different conditions of gravity, like on another planet, for example. So I think that there’s still a lot of implications to work out around what it means to really think in a milieu-specific manner as a theorist.

Cathy [17:10]: Can we talk a little bit more specifically about your book? I know we’ve talked around it in certain ways, but I’d love to dive a little deeper (pun not intended, but there you go!).

Melody: It’s actually really hard to avoid puns when you’re writing about the ocean because there’s just so many of them.

Cathy: I would imagine!

Melody [17:28]: Wild Blue Media is my effort to think through and theorize what it means to think milieu specificity or through the specificity of the ocean environment.

In its organizational framework, the book imagines the ocean as a science fictional environment for displacing familiar terms in media theory. So I have a chapter that talk about the interface, a chapter that talks about inscription, and a chapter that talks about databases and forms of storage. For each one of these, I pick out different oceanic examples that serve to estrange the way that we normally have thought about each one of these terms.

[18:29] So for the database chapter, for example, I think a lot about [William] Shakespeare song from The Tempest sung by Ariel talking about sea change. I think you can simultaneously think about the ocean as a storage medium but also as something that radically changes that which is submerged. There’s been some comparisons of databases to oceans and I don’t think that quite holds because whenever a form of media emulates the ocean, often it picks one quality and skips others. So in that chapter, I think a lot about what those kind of selective choices mean and how the oceans are modeled, what kind of formal choices are involved when the ocean is modeled at different scales.

The last chapter is about underwater museums and that’s where I offer a few thoughts on what it would mean to cultivate a humanities methodology of scuba diving. In other words, the sciences can’t have a monopoly on scuba diving as quantitative practice. I think about scuba diving a lot as a method of interpretation.

Cathy [19:16]: This is so cool. I’m so excited to read this book. Now I know that in that kind of process of writing this book, you created the germ of another project. This is what we academics love to do, right? So your next project is about what you call the media ecology of kelp. First of all, how did that kelp project come out of the first project and what is a media ecology of kelp?

Melody [19:44]: So this kelp project emerged from being at UC Santa Barbara and listening to my students. I had a student who was interested in aquatic science and she gave me the tip that our local a biodiversity center, the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration, had all these cool archives, including one of the largest collections of marine algae in southern California. I visited visited the center and it turns out that all these dried seaweeds are pressed just like pressed flowers and they’re stacked in folders inside these cabinets in a way that looks a lot like a library. As I was looking through some of the specimens, I was struck by their aesthetic qualities as they’re often arranged to show off their form. The forms of seaweeds are incredibly diverse and also really beautiful.

[20:44] It was from there that I started investigating who was writing about seaweeds. I also discovered that in the history of photography, Anna Atkins, a female photographer, was the first woman to make an entire book of cyanotypes—prints of seaweeds. Cyanotypes are made by a using two different chemicals that dye the paper blue and turn it photosensitive. This gave its name to the familiar concept of blueprints. Architecture blueprints came from this kind of method. That really intrigued me because here we had this organism—it’s not a plant, seaweed is technically a marine macroalgae—here we had this organism that could photosynthesize and yet it was also entangled in the history of photography, specifically camera-less photography.

[21:43] Cyanotypes also go by the name sun prints, and you might have seen them with different kinds of children’s craft activities. It’s definitely pitched more in the craft sphere than the high art sphere. You lay the paper down, put an object on top of it and then remove that from the sunlight and place it in water. And that would develop the image.

I became really interested in this sort of entanglement between seaweeds and the history of photography. So this new project is going to look at seaweeds as forms of media through the relation to photography and their relationship to the genre of the recipe, different forms of industrial extraction of seaweeds and substances, and then also their potential for bioremediation.

I have to say that part of my attraction and turning to seaweeds is not just that they’re pretty, but that they offer this incredibly optimistic story of hope for not just sustaining but restoring different environmental habitats. They can function as important forms of a carbon sink as well. A lot of the discourse around seaweeds that you can find simply through setting a Google Alert is really optimistic and utopian. I found this incredibly refreshing amidst the entire other weight of stories about climate change and its various forms of destroying ways of life. Seaweeds are just really an optimistic thing to be following.

Cathy [23:11]: In addition to your fabulous forthcoming book [Wild Blue Media], what other projects should people keep an eye out for from you?

Melody [23:17]: One project I have in the pipeline is called Saturation and Elemental Politics and this is a edited collection that I’m working on with Rafico Ruiz. This project is going to be forthcoming with Duke [University] Press as well. It aims to think through saturation as a different kind of heuristic to other focuses on, say, objects. Saturation begins by working within a sort of watery metaphor, like what saturates what.

I held a symposium on this here at UCSB a couple of years ago, and the ways that people took saturation as something to think with ranged from economic saturation to the saturation of virus particles within blood and to the saturation of sound waves through a body of water to wireless forms of saturation through the air. It really took off as something we all felt deserved to be an edited collection. I’m excited to say that that project should be forthcoming in probably another two years or so.

Cathy [24:21]: I’m curious how you see your work across all of these realms, using all of these methodologies, combining your interest in academia or research, art and creativity (I would certainly put scuba diving as a method in that bucket), and in your interest in social justice or social change. What draws you to this nexus of these three different realms?

Melody [24:44]: I think that it really starts with what does the ocean require? If you look at it only from the perspective of one medium, you’re probably going to miss something else. In the ocean sound conducts really well. A lot of organisms are super attuned in terms of their hearing capacities or smell or taste. All the ways that we can think to represent or document the ocean are very selective and also attuned to a human being, sort of out of necessity. That’s how I found myself at the nexus of literature, thinking art and media together as opposed to sticking very strictly to the study of one discipline.

[25:32] One of the things that really excites me about working with scuba diving is its potential to be performative. One thing I was really taken by was the Maldives’ underwater cabinet meeting that was staged by former president Mohamed Nasheed. This was before Nasheed was, was ousted. He did a lot of work as a climate change activist because the Maldives is only 7 feet above sea level at places at the most, so they’re very, very concerned with the social effects of sea level rise. So what the cabinet spontaneously decided to do was to stage an underwater meeting where they all put scuba gear and decided to sign a statement committing to become carbon neutral by a certain date in the future.

[26:31] A lot of the media that circulated around this was really powerful. Because here you see this image of a possible future, the Maldives underwater where all these people are dawning scuba gear and they’re sitting in front of tables with chairs and little name tags as that’s the new normal. And yet by a staging this, they were trying to draw attention to sea level rise and the sheer degree of carbon emissions around the world.

This performance was designed to prevent this future from happening at all. So there’s actually a really sophisticated sort of science fictional logic around this whole performance. The images have always stuck with me and I think that one area I would like to grow in as a scholar is to explore other sorts of performative possibilities around the use of scuba, towards the service of these social justice issues.

Cathy [27:05]: So this brings me to my absolute favorite question that I get to ask folks, which really gets at the big why behind all of this work that you do. And that’s the version of a better world that you’re working towards when you go on a dive, when you teach your classes, when you do your scholarship. So I’ll ask you this giant question, but I think it’s a good question (I realize it’s giant, I know). What kind of world do you want?

Melody [27:30]: This is such a good question because I think a lot of times the pace of being an academic is such that you forget to go back to this really basic question.

I would really like to see a world where people are producing more creative and refreshing stories about the ocean in a way that draws attention to this huge environment that is responsible for sustaining life on earth. The ocean is responsible for absorbing a lot of carbon. It absorbs a lot of heat and it also produces over half the oxygen we breathe. Telling new and refreshing stories about the ocean is one way of facilitating care for something that sustains our existence on the planet.

[28:27] I hope that my work does two things at once. I hope that it doesn’t just focus in a kind of journalistic way of becoming a megaphone for important issues. I also always hope that does something theoretically interesting that changes what we expect to be normal. This is why I gravitate toward science fiction. I think that anytime you can be shocked or surprised or have your perspective opened or challenged in some way, this is a healthy thing.

With my new work on seaweeds, I’m attracted to them as potential forms of remediating the environment, but I also hope they are not taken over by large industry. I hope that as the US expands its interest in aquaculture, more people who have been impacted by things like the crash of fisheries are able to participate in seaweed cultivation. So I’m really interested in tracking what kind of hopeful and optimistic stories are coming from the folks involved with seaweeds as well.

Cathy [29:20]: Well, thank you so much for being with us today and sharing some amazingly cool ways that you imagine and create otherwise.

Melody [29:28]: Oh, thank you. It’s been great to talk with you today.

Cathy [29:34]: [upbeat music in background] Thanks for listening to another episode of Imagine Otherwise. Imagine Otherwise is produced by Ideas on Fire and this episode was created by Christopher Persaud and myself, Cathy Hannabach.

You can check out the show notes for this episode on our website at ideasonfire.net where you can also read about our fabulous guest as well as find links to the people and projects we discuss on the show. [music fadeout]


Related Stories

Arrow-up