INTIMACIES AND ENTANGLEMENTS
FROM WORLDBUILDING TO WEB3
The peculiar strangeness of the fungal circuitry that undergirds earthly existence is in some ways echoed by evolving Web3 sensibilities. As a general guideline, we suggest that fungi, and Sheldrake’s study of them, complicate notions of identity, autonomy, individuality and intelligence in ways that resonate with ongoing transformations in the Web3 space. These transformations concern notions of sovereignty and “self-sovereignty”, blockchain-based decentralization, and the appearance of executive collectives known as DAOs (Decentralised Autonomous Organizations). DAOs explore localized models of governance in service of specific objectives similarly to how fungi articulate their goals through responsive behaviors, through trade and trade-offs.
Emerging between fungal and Web3 modalities are consiliences of not only structure but culture. Culture, of course, has two meanings, both of which play into this project’s narrative: the first is a convergence of shared values; the second, a prepared medium for growth. The Entangled Life: Worldbuilders collection frames both definitions of culture through intimacy. If, as Merlin writes, “mycorrhizal fungi embody these relationships and help to lead us out of reductive stories featuring neatly-bounded individuals locked in competition for resources,” Web3 is modeling such boundary-breaking experimentation on a human scale. There may be no better complement to the mystery and promise of Web3 than the mycelial network, which cannot yet be mapped but which nonetheless grounds and connects everything in its path.
Across all manner of discursive output, from popular podcasts to microdosing through art exhibitions, mushroom enthusiasts have been dallying implicitly and explicitly in Web3-adjacent futurism. Their confluence ranges from rumors that Bitcoin originator Satoshi Nakamoto is a mycologist to arguments that cryptocurrency is the ‘mycelium of money’, proliferating like fungal spores through its own self-sovereign code. Using Algorand’s carbon-friendly technologies, Entangled Life: Worldbuilders straddles environmental sensitivity and biological animation, inviting new interdisciplinary intimacies to take root. Nor is this inquiry restricted to the respective spheres of the hard sciences or NFT market patterns, as it allows for the entwining, indeed the entangling, of worlds.
The enduring mystery, of course, is why mushrooms here, and why now? In his text and life, Sheldrake models how mycorrhizal interactions have expressed themselves across all sorts of scales and scapes for millennia. Our age would likely be no different, with fungi resigned to the role of powerful backroom operators, but for recent incursions and upheavals within the natural world. Under the thumb of a Fourth Industrial Revolution, amidst exigencies around social and infrastructural collapse and a general anomie in the face of climate change and mass extinction, fungi address some of the same questions that those pivoting to crypto are asking. Mycelial behaviors reframe what we know about independence and interdependence, and also about shared and atomized experience, to which Web3, taking shape within the virtual, is becoming central.