The Mushroom at the End of the World

Anna Tsing’s “The Mushroom at the End of the World” is the other reading selected for discussion here. The book is a compilation of short stories that explores the core questions in modern-day geography and ecology at large. Tsing’s book is a multispecies ethnographic display that seeks to displace the human-centred views which have usually downplayed the vitality of the contributions that non-humans contribute to occurrences and outcomes. The reading focuses mainly on matsutake mushrooms which began being traded worldwide in the 1980s and supplied consumers of Japan with a vital cultural good/artefact which does not grow in Japan now (Tsing 17).

The product does not grow there now owing to 20th-century encroachment processes and nematodes which have destroyed the red pines. Tsing gives a detailed account connecting economic activity and exploitation of a natural resource, especially during her stay in Oregon on the United States Pacific rim where she assesses the multi-species contribution to a multi-cultural economic aspect of matsutake dealing. The author has characterized the economic patches of matsutake as accumulations of human and non-human processes which interact in unintended patterns of arrangements (Tsing 23). The book uses matsutake, which grows from degraded environments, to symbolize or exhort readers to try and make ends meet even in a destroyed environment (Tsing 4). The author of this reading has talked about the destruction of the forest for human activities such as plantations and the timber industry in the opening provided by the laws which humans make such as the US timber policy (Tsing 41).

The human activity that destroys the environment relates this book to Global Warming and Sweetness of life since the two books deal with human activities that have had precarious and dire effects on the ecology and the lives of non-human species. The book thus relates to Global Warming as it challenges the existing societal arrangements on labour and natural resources and how human beings have intermittently destroyed the environment, especially in the capitalist arrangement the world runs on.