Intra-acting with Geese and Grass in April

A short visit to a windy Harakka Island for the April session of the remake of the Year of the Horse revealed a familiar landscape. The surroundings looked almost the same as at the end of March, with one audible difference, the birds had arrived. Not only were the sea gulls sitting in pairs on the cliffs, screaming every now and then of the sheer joy of spring, I guess, but two geese couples were strutting on the slopes of the old fortifications, trying to find something green to eat among the dry grass of last year. Now they are relatively calm, but soon, when more of them have arrived and started nesting, standing on the path on the hill will feel like a dangerous adventure; the birds will be fiercely protecting their territories from intruders, and humans make no exceptions. The wind felt extremely cold and I was reminded of the fact that spring is always late by the sea. When the birches have leaves in the parks of the city, the ones on the island are still struggling to overcome the stiffness of winter.
I am reading Karen Barad’s important (and partly quite incomprehensible) book with the beautiful title Meeting the Universe Halfway – quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning (Duke University Press 2007) trying to understand what agential realism might mean in practice. Building further on the explorations of Foucault and Butler she maintains that the forces at work in the materialization of bodies are not only social and the materialized bodies are not all human, which makes sense of course. “According to agential realism, causality is neither a matter of strict determinism nor one of free will” she writes, “intra-actions iteratively reconfigure what is possible and what is impossible – possibilities do not sit still.” (p 234) She explains: “The world’s effervescence, its exuberant creativeness can never be contained or suspended. Agency never ends; it can never ‘run out’. The notion of intra-action reformulates the traditional notions of causality and agency in an ongoing reconfiguring of both the real and the possible.” (p 235) She emphasizes that agency is a matter of intra-acting, an enactment rather than something somebody or something has. “Particular possibilities for (intra-) acting exist at every moment” and they “entail an ethical obligation to intra-act responsively in the world’s becoming, to contest and rework what matters and what is excluded from mattering.” (ibid.)
Fine, I can agree with that. And I like the notion of intra-action, instead of interaction, which assumes that the entities interacting pre-exist the interaction, while intra-action suggests that bodies or agents or subjects are created through intra-actions. But in practice, despite my attempts at improving our intra-action, I still dislike the geese, for example, or rather their behaviour, based on previous experiences, and I anticipate many minor conflicts during the coming months. And to be honest, I am not so fond of the wind either, because the waves are scary while rowing in a small boat and cannot help having a preconceived idea of a causal relationship between the wind and the waves. So actually only intra-action with the grass seems unproblematic to me at the moment, and there is not much grass on the island at this time of year. Well, at least I could try to (intra-) act responsibly, I guess, and finish the book first, before complaining that I do not understand it. Especially since I have a feeling that Barad’s ideas are really important, so I will keep struggling…