How my pancreas became a person – Using crochet and writing to co-create with the more-than human world

Tracy Sorensen

Full text | PDF


In the hero’s journey, the dominant storytelling structure of our time, the individual strides out into a pre-existing world full of resources, obstacles and opportunities that must be taken, conquered or manipulated in order to achieve a goal. The agency and importance of the more-than-human world is denied while the intentional human subject is given centre-stage. Ecological collapse is now unfolding as an unintended consequence of such a way of seeing the world. In this article, I use the posthumanist theoretical framework proposed by Donna Haraway to trace how “I” came to produce a cancer memoir narrated by “my own” internal organs. I acknowledge the crucial role of crochet as a method of emulating and listening to more-than-human entities within and outside of my own body. I describe how my research experiments in “crochet writing” have helped me to reimagine “myself” and “the world” not as “subject” and “venue” but as multifarious, temporary assemblages of entangled agential matter. I describe my eventual return to the structure of the hero’s journey as a useful container for communicating my story of more-than-human others to a wider audience.


Anthropocene; Crochet; Listening; Storytelling; Donna Haraway; Posthumanism.

Crocheted organs on a reef of bleached coral with two tumours represented as crown of thorns starfish. Tracy Sorensen, 2020


I walk over to one of the two printers that serve the second floor of this new university building. It is wearing a sign that says: “Uh-oh, I have a problem! Help has been called.” Illustrating the text is a circular red “sad” face.

The other night, watching television, I saw an ad for crunchy microwavable potato chips. Two chips were standing up in their box, talking to each other, moving expressively as they spoke. They had no eyes or ears, but they did have mouths suggested by simple slits in their “heads”.

Now that I’m tuned in, I see personified more-than-human entities everywhere. I know I’m not meant to take the photocopier or the talking chips seriously, but now I’m seeing them in a new light. The world – all of it, not just sentient creatures, plants, living things – is feeling more lively than it did before.

In this auto-ethnographic account (Ellis & Bochner, 2011) I trace a handful of threads at play during my own research into the challenge of telling stories of more-than-human others. In this explication of situated knowledge (Haraway, 2016), I evoke my encounters with contemporary theory as I trace my own experiments in “becoming with” more-than-human entities through the practice of crochet. I then trace how my initial resistance to the hero’s journey was eventually followed by a wholehearted return to it in order to take my new sensibility to a wider audience.

Indifferent crocodile, indifferent pancreas

In 2008 I listened to an episode of The Philosopher’s Zone that focused on the life and work of Val Plumwood, who had just died (ABC Radio National, 2008). In 1985, as she paddled a canoe through swollen waters at Kakadu national park, a crocodile dragged her into repeated death-rolls. In the eye of the crocodile, she was shockingly thrown out of her own realm into another, alien one, in which she was simply edible.

The image of a struggling woman in a canoe suddenly glimpsing another, alien reality, stayed with me.

In 2014, I had my own near-death experience, a moment where I was thrown out of my everyday perspective, into another sensation of reality. In the aftermath of cancer surgery, my surgeon pointed to my pancreas, worrying that it might be oozing corroding juices into my abdomen. I realised my pancreas had been quietly continuing to do pancreas things all this time, through all the insults of tumour invasion, chemotherapy and surgery. Like Plumwood, a sense of the “me” I’d known dissolved. Just for a short time, and unexpectedly, I had a visceral sense of myself as an integral part of a wider web of life and being. Material processes were going on through and around me, within and beyond my skin. They were benefiting me, but they were not about me.

Many years later, after I’d enrolled in my PhD in 2015, I looked up Plumwood’s (1995) reflections on her struggle with the crocodile.

The illusion of invulnerability is typical of the mind of the coloniser; and as the experience of being prey is eliminated from the face of the earth, along with it goes something it has to teach about the power and resistance of nature and the delusions of human arrogance (p. 34).

I grew up, like other children of Western culture, marinated in the delusions of human arrogance. I absorbed God’s injunction to Man to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).

As a child I caught fish from the jetty, using a hand reel. I learned how to plunge the knife, decisively, between spine and skull. How to gut, fillet, cook and serve. The fish, like Plumwood for the crocodile, was dinner.

As a child, I’d lie on my stomach on the laundry floor, where it was cool, and read the monthly Readers Digest that arrived in the mail. I’d read pieces by J. D. Ratcliff (1986): I am Joe’s Liver. I am Joe’s Kidney. In these pieces, the personified organs have nothing but loyalty and devotion to Joe. They are there for Joe at all times. If anything goes wrong, they can be sure Joe’s doctor will fix it, like a plumber fixing a tap. It never occurred to me that one’s organs were anything but loyal foot soldiers in the army of one’s body.

I’m working from home today, in this Spring of 2020, in a year dominated by forces revealing human vulnerability: bushfires and COVIC-19. Today, October 26, 2020 scientists estimate that the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is at the level of 411.79 ppm, up from 408.66ppm on this day last year. At my dining table, I read a journal article about the language of plants (Gagliano & Grimonprez, 2015). Plants release volatile chemical compounds that speak to pollinators, speak to plant-kin. Human language, they point out, is material, like the language of plants “and by virtue of its very ‘materiality’ closer than we think to the language of nonhuman others” (p. 146).

Taking breaks from the screen, I pull weeds from my vegetable garden, thinking about the cascades of volatile distress emanating from them. I’m immersed in scholarship advocating a way not as transcendent and exceptional but as vulnerable, deluded, ecologically unexceptional. For Donna Haraway (2016), the sky god, “Anthropos” must be brought down to earth and perhaps buried in it, to become compost (p.39). The “prick tale” in which “all others” are “props, ground, plot space or prey” must begin to give way to tales in which there is room for the hunter but are not about him (p. 40). For Deleuze and Guattari (1988) the “plane of immanence”, all that is, is better conceived as rhizomatic, not arboreal (p. 239).

For Karen Barad (2007), nothing in the material world has its “own” agency. There is only “intra-action”, because nothing exists in-and-of itself; everything is the result of, the creation of, interactions with other things. “Agency is not an attribute but the ongoing reconfigurings of the world. The universe is agential intra-activity in its becoming” (p. 141). Relationships are not between “relata” (things) because nothing has inherent properties; everything is involved in the processes and possibilities of becoming. In other words, no thing in the universe is actually a “thing”.

I get a cup of tea, thinking about all this. For a thing to have inherent properties, that inhere always, you must somehow click a cosmic pause button. I think of my mother in poses and moments that seem characteristic of her, that I have used throughout my life to develop a sense of her personality. The woman with long brown hair braided into two loose plaits, fishing from the jetty, standing in the kitchen, washing dishes, talking to the cats. Jetty, kitchen, cats, long brown hair, the child I was: they are all gone now. There is no cosmic pause button.

Karen Barad’s agential realism is not just an ontological claim. It also has an ethical dimension.

If we hold on to the belief that the world is made of individual entities, it is hard to see how even our best, most well-intentioned calculations for right action can avoid tearing holes in the delicate tissue structure of entanglements that the lifeblood of the world runs through (Barad 2007, p. 396).

How might this ethical position play out on the ground? How might these ideas work in the spaces that Haraway (2016, p.4) calls “always situated, someplace and not noplace, entangled and worldly”? I think of the furious debate over a proposed Go Kart track on the top of Mount Panorama/Wahluu here in Bathurst. For Wiradyuri Elders, that place is sacred, the high point in the landscape to which visitors and new initiates are ceremoniously inducted. That place supports yellow box trees, birds and microbats. It’s a quiet place, most of the year, when the annual V8 car races are not happening. People drive up to take in the views, quietly eat fish and chips in their cars, or walk their dogs. The local Council plans to build a track for noisy, fossil-fuelled Go Karts in that place. The track would operate year-round. For some, it is a simple matter of providing community infrastructure. For me, it feels like it is tearing holes in the delicate tissue structure of entanglements. I am involved – deeply situated – in the campaign against locating the track in that particular place. But I’m also aware of how my own well-intentioned calculations for right action might tear some of their own holes. For me, the myriad possibilities for unintended consequences in every action is not an argument for doing nothing. For me, as for Haraway (2016), it’s about finding ways to ‘stay with the trouble’ of these vexing times (p.1).

First threads

Neither my epiphany after surgery, nor Val Plumwood’s in the eye of the crocodile, came fully formed out of nowhere (1995). They came upon us as surprising, unexpected or unwanted events, but our bodyminds had been primed for them. Val Plumwood was a philosopher thinking and writing about nature. In the weeks before radical abdominal surgery in May 2014, I had been crocheting my abdominal organs. It may even be that Plumwood’s story about the crocodile was in the back of my mind, somewhere, as I began to play with hook and wool.

In March 2014, after my diagnosis, I began to crochet a small sphere from orange wool. I was using the amigurumi technique, using single crochet in a continuous spiral, increasing and decreasing stitches. The sphere was an experiment in technique, not an end in itself. My intention was to crochet a representation of my own stomach in three dimensions; something I could pad out with polyester fibre. Once I’d worked out how to do it, I began with what came to hand: blue wool in 8 ply. My interest was in reasonably accurate gross morphology; colour and scale were not important to me. I used Google images to find human stomachs. I looked at some photographs of surgery, some photographs of cadaver stomachs or stomachs in formaldehyde, but it was easier to work from anatomical diagrams and drawings.

After the stomach, I moved on to other organs: liver, gall bladder, pancreas, spleen, large intestine, small intestine, greater omentum, uterus. As I completed each soft, multicoloured object I’d assemble it with its fellows on the coffee table. The spleen goes here, butting against the tail of the pancreas, with the stomach and upper reaches of the colon nearby. The gallbladder is here, under the liver, with ducts running into the top of the small intestine. The tumours are here and here. Before my illness, my understanding of my organs was sketchy. I was on a fast learning curve.

The crocheted organs were not “my idea”. They came out of the matrix of threads that connected me to other makers and experimenters. Some of these threads: When I was about nine, Mum taught me to crochet. At the time, I made nothing of consequence but the basic technique became a body-memory, like riding a bicycle. At 19, I got a job in a clothing factory as a sewing machinist. A woman brought a home-sewn Scottish-themed troll doll to work. To squeals of delight, she flipped up its kilt to reveal detailed sewn and stuffed penis and testicles. Somewhere along the way, I’d encountered the Wertheim sisters’ crocheted hyperbolic planes that mimic coral reefs. After I started crocheting my abdominal organs, I searched for patterns. I found the work of New York actress/artist Sara Louisa Burns and her online shop. I used her patterns for spleen and gallbladder. I made the other organs by simply experimenting with basic shapes and techniques: cones, curves, increases, decreases, textured bumps.

My cancer was primary peritoneal cancer, a close cousin of ovarian cancer. It had produced two large tumours that were invading my spleen, pancreas, stomach, colon and uterus. My crocheted organs were like soft toys. If people asked, or if I wanted to explain, I’d take them out and arrange them on the coffee table. Their softness and whimsy helped soften the blow of this information; it allowed us to walk into the information without faltering or turning away.

At this point, the bag of organs represented “my” organs. They were an amusing, absorbing way of telling myself and others: “This is what is happening to me.” In the aftermath of surgery, during my moment in the eye of the crocodile, my organs were no longer “mine”. They were more interesting than that.

Crocheted Murray cod. Tracy Sorensen, 2020

Other bodies

It’s early 2019, a dry, searing summer. There’s drought, the dam holding the town’s water supply is at an all-time low. The receding water level leaves stranded mussels in the drying mud. The water is a soup of blue-green algae. With extreme water restrictions in play, there’s no vegetable garden for us this year; the lawn is down to bare earth patches. It’s the same up and down our South Bathurst street; no hanging baskets, no bright displays of annuals. I go for a walk across the playing fields near my home in South Bathurst, eyes glued to the ground. I’m looking for plastic baling twine, twine that mimics, in form, the ancient natural fibres that have held together sheaves of wheat and hay. There is a lot of this twine about, because paddocks have been stripped of feed, and farmers are buying in bales of hay, some of it brought across the continent from Western Australia, to hand-feed their livestock. The twine is mostly in a bright cobalt blue. I’m also on the look-out for blue plastic waste in other forms. I find my bits of blue on roadsides, in the grass at the edges of the playing fields, in the steep ground at the edge of the creek. Some are old, half-buried in the dirt. I gather my pieces and drop them into the calico bag slung over my shoulder. I notice that much of the litter relates to getting cooling water into young human bodies: coloured plastic straws with flared ends for scooping ice, clear plastic cups from 7-11 and McDonalds, Mount Franklin water bottles with their Edenic waterfall logo, the tube packaging for Zooper Dooper iceblocks, complete with puddles of sticky, brightly coloured water still present. I’m like a male blue satin bower bird, gathering treasure.

I’m working on a crocheted, life-sized old Murray Cod, one that has reached at least a metre in length, which would make it perhaps 30 or 40 years old. The skin is crocheted from blue baling twine. To stuff it and give it shape, I use plastic rubbish found on my walks. I wash the rubbish in tubs of soapy water, let it dry off just outside the back door and store it in crates in the living room. The house is starting to look like a tip, but my partner is tolerant.

I began my project in the light of the Murray Darling fish kills over the summer of 2018-19. Heat, low water flows and a toxic algal bloom killed millions of fish. They floated, belly up, in the stinking greenish water. Farmers and environmentalists argued that too much water had been siphoned off for growing cotton upstream. I was struck by the devastating image that went out across the media: Menindee farmer Dick Arnold cradling a dead Murray Cod in his arms, with care, as if it were a baby. Dead fish float on the water around him.

The blue of the baling twine mimics the colour of the blue-green algae that killed the fish. It is also a colour used to represent awareness campaigns for depression in the bush caused, at least in part, by the drought. The baling twine is too thick for my Number 4 crochet hook. I spend hours untwining it, putting the spinning process in reverse, to create a more workable yarn. I do this while watching television. I do this during meetings and at barbecues with friends. Sometimes people take a hank from me and help untwine. But I soon run out of material. I’m not finding enough baling twine “naturally”, on my walks. Tipped off by an agriculture store, I drive out to see a family who keep horses. Their back yard is full of the stuff, in drifts and piles. “I keep meaning to burn it, but I never get around to it,” the man tells me. They have not just blue twine, but some bright pink, the colour of washing-up gloves. I gather it up, watched by the horses.

I start at one end of the fish and crochet in the round, in a sort of spiral, from snout to tail. It’s trickier than I thought it would be to get the shape right. I look at endless photographs of Murray Cod from all angles. I watch fishing videos on YouTube. I buy a fishing magazine, Freshwater Fishing Australia, with articles on technique and on-water experiences and advertisements for boats, tackle and camping gear. I study the shapes of the fish, notice the endless repetition of two human hands holding prey, hooks sticking through fish lips. Unlike wool, my preferred medium, the plastic twine is hard, ungiving. It wears the skin from my fingers. My hands hurt, and I have to take breaks.

My crochet stitches look like scales. I feel my way into the Murray Cod’s shape, its distinctive wide mouth, the bulge of its belly, the narrowing flank towards the tail. I’m becoming with this fish, making it one cell at a time, multiplying cells, the way living things are made. I didn’t invent the Murray Cod, or the crochet hook, or crochet stitches, or polypropelene twine or blue-green algae or Google Images. My work is a co-creation, weaving threads coming from many directions across time and place: evolution, science, water, women’s work.

I enter the Murray Cod in the 2019 regional Waste to Art exhibition and win my category. The work has my name on it. I acknowledge the Murray Cod itself, but leave all my other crucial co-creators unaccounted for, including the children who dropped their straws and Zooper Doopers into the grass.

I first encountered the phrase “becoming with” in Haraway’s (2016) Staying With The Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthuluncene and found it again in Deleuze and Guattari’s (1988) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. In becoming animal we do not literally become the animal, nor do we become “like” the animal. It is not an exercise in method acting. The point is the “becoming with” itself:

What is real is the becoming itself, the block of becoming, not the supposedly fixed terms through which that which becomes passes (Deleuze and Guattari, 1988 p. 238).

For me, this “block of becoming” is to feel the stitches forming in my hands, scale by scale, so that I am becoming fish, looking out through fish-eye lenses at the distorted man reaching down into my warm murky water. It is to feel his hands sliding and grasping my belly as my heart slows, as my mind goes blank. I am becoming with a dying fish.

Since I began my PhD research into my own entanglements with crochet, climate change, cancer and communication, I have become with:

  • The Macquarie/Wambool River (as part of the Bathurst River Yarners group; the yarned river is now over 80 metres long).
  • A grey headed flying fox.
  • A platypus.
  • A bush stone curlew.
  • Brain coral
  • A Dawson’s burrowing bee.
  • A new set of organs of the peritoneum, this time growing out of a bed of bleached coral.

Once each object and project is finished they are set free into a wider world that I cannot control. People say, “That is so cute! You are so clever!” I enjoy these pats on the back, but I know the great power is not in the product, it’s in the process. I can’t be sure about my audience, but I know these blocks of becoming-with are changing me. They’re giving me a way to ‘stay with the trouble.’

Staying with the trouble requires making oddkin; that is, we require each other in unexpected collaborations and combinations, in hot compost piles. We become-with each other or not at all (Haraway, 2016, p. 4).

Resistance to the hero’s journey

For about ten years until the end of 2018, I taught video and documentary subjects. Over and over again, I taught the classic three act structure of storytelling: the beginning, the middle and the end. The deep structure of the hero’s journey, I’d tell my students, stand behind all the stories you grew up with, all your favourite books and movies. One way or another, subtly or overtly, you must work into this sure-fire formula: Protagonist, antagonist, conflict, resolution. Without it, your work might be interesting – as Andy Warhol’s film of a man smoking a cigarette is interesting – but it will not be compelling or satisfying.

The hero’s journey, in which a protagonist battles an antagonist, has a colonial, swashbuckling, treasure-hunting soul, even if the story is set among flowers or insects or a women’s sewing circle. What matters is the hero’s journey and eventual triumph—all else is venue, supporter, obstacle or prize. Schroll and Polanksy (2017) summarise the problem:

Traditionally the hero is associated with the quest (such as Odysseus from Greek mythology), or with conquest and colonialism (such as Christopher Columbus), and combinations of these hero archetypes continue to be prevalent in modern literature and films. Indeed, conquest and colonialism heroes represent the worst of human arrogance (p. 1).

In our culture, the hero myth makes sense of daily life. When I was being treated for cancer in 2014, I felt I was immediately assigned the role of hero bravely going into battle (see Sontag 1978, on this theme). It seemed impossible for some friends to describe my cancer as something I “had” (in the sense that one has a cold, or a broken leg, or period pain); instead, the word “journey” was used, as if I’d chosen to set sail into the land of cancer. I was told to “stay positive” as if any deviation from this state would weaken me for the battle.  For myself, I didn’t feel like a brave soldier. I was simply a person attending my next appointment, doing the next indicated thing, sitting for hours in hospital waiting rooms full of the sound of yapping morning television.

Ontologically (after Barad, Haraway, Deleuze and Guattari), there are no beginnings, middles or ends. In writing about them, I felt my “becoming with” experiments – with my own internal organs, with a variety of more-than-human critters – should be allowed to stand on their own somehow, without being shoehorned into three acts. I would drag the sky God Anthropos down into the compost, and, like the whack-a-mole game, attempt to quell any arboreal tendencies.

A crocheted pancreas and greater omentum. Tracy Sorensen, 2020

Return to the hero’s journey

In February 2018, my novel, The Lucky Galah, was published. It is narrated by Lucky, a feisty pink and grey galah, a denizen of the more-than-human world. Lucky is exploring whether there’s any agency to be found in a life that is passed around in a cage. To entertain herself, she tells stories, using the human beings coming and going around her as raw material. For some readers, Lucky is a purely literary device, a quirky way to tell a human story. Lucky is certainly that, but for me she’s much more than that. She is a figure reaching beyond myself, beyond my human experience, into beak, claw and feather.

At a launch function for the book someone put up their hand and asked me what I was doing for my next book. I had no ready reply to this. I’d been bemused by the description of the book as my debut, as if there would be others. I’d been glorying in being able to cross off one of the oldest items on my bucket list. It felt like enough. All that zipped through my mind, but I found myself saying I’d be writing a cancer memoir from the point of view of my abdominal organs. The hot compost had sprouted a seed, and I was letting it grow.

My work in progress, provisionally titled The Pouch of Douglas, radically decentres the transcendent human subject that is normally at the centre of the cancer memoir. In this novel, the human assemblage known as “Tracy” is only peripherally present. “Tracy” is just the venue; she is the ground upon which, or within which, the action takes place. She is to the organs as “the planet” is to we humans. The memoir is told in the first person by each organ, creating a polyphany of voices that sometimes directly, sometimes incidentally, moves the story along.

It’s a riff on Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the Body Without Organs (BwO), which conjures a state of being beyond slavery to organism:

We come to the gradual realization that the BwO is not at all the opposite of the organs. The organs are not its enemies. The enemy is the organism. The BwO is opposed not to the organs but to that organization of the organs called the organism. (Deleuze & Guattari 1988, p. 158).

One of the organs in my story is Panno the pancreas. I’d originally crocheted him (back when he was “mine”, when he didn’t have a gender or personality) in yellow. The colour reminds me of the yellow Duco of a classic 70s muscle car. His name comes from the Australian tendency to shorten names, but it is also redolent of the panel van, another 70s vehicle. Panno sprang to life surprisingly quickly: he’s a young man, a computer gamer, a lover of muscle cars. He can hear the Bathurst Races every October and loves it. If he were a human being, he would be in favour of the Go Kart track. His day-to-day work has two sides: the spurting of a salty concoction of digestive enzymes into the duodenum and a quieter, seeping activity, in which he releases hormones to deal with rising and falling blood sugar levels. Here is Panno, speaking in his own voice:

My name is Panno. I’m on the road. I’m a genius all the time. I’m a yellow muscle car, a Holden Monaro GTS, with a supercharged V8 engine and a gun mount for my bazooka. I’m bright yellow, shiny with black stripes running down my sides. I have the power of two hundred and fifty horses. I have a Bathurst tank, breather hole and diff hump.

No, all that’s a lie.

I’m on the road, but I’m not the one moving. I’m on the road between Mouth and Anus, about a third of the way along. I’m a service station, or Servo. You come to me for juice.

The Holden Monaro GTS rises up over the fuel pumps, a giant paean, an Australian Big Thing, like the Big Banana or the Big Merino.

I track you from a distance; I know you’re coming. I see the lights on my screen. It’s like a mother hearing her baby cry, or a boy thinking about a porn star; secretions start building up, looking for some sort of outlet. Milk or semen, spurting things. I spurt juice. I can feel it build up in the bays below; my acinar cells start weeping it into my ducts, and all of these feed into a big duct. As you pull in for juice, it’s ready. It’s more than ready! All I want to do is spurt. Right now. Like pus from a pimple. You pull up and get out, a little wobbly, and as you’re reaching out for the handle, I work the trigger myself. The flexible hose rears back like a snake, turgid, and squirts juice all over you, drenching you in it. This element of surprise is my biggest kick.

I shoot the fatz. I shoot the fatz. I also shoot the sugars and proteins but I mainly shoot the fatz. It’s what I love to do.

This Panno is an interesting guy. We probably don’t have much in common. He is a caricature, a stereotype built out of my search for an Other, someone who is not me. I need my pancreas, and my pancreas needs me. We become-with together or not at all. In Panno, and my other personified organs, I rediscover one of the great affordances of the novel as artform: the ability to inhabit different points of view without having to label any of them as wrong or right. As Milan Kundera (1986) says, in The Art of the Novel:

Outside the novel, we’re in the realm of affirmation: everyone is sure of his statements: the politician, the philosopher, the concierge. Within the universe of the novel, however, no one affirms: it is the realm of play and of hypotheses. In the novel, then, reflection is essentially inquiring, hypothetical (p. 78).

In writing this story, I find myself re-entering the world of the hero’s journey. The story has a beginning, a middle and an end. There are protagonists (the organs) and antagonists (the tumours). Tension rises until there is an almighty showdown in the form of a major surgery. Not everyone “makes it”. At the end, a band of hardy survivors picks up the pieces, all fundamentally changed.

I have found that once the (co-created) personalities begin to take hold of my fingers, to emerge on the screen, they began to want things. This wanting causes movement, pushing and pulling. In that pushing and pulling, the three-act structure rises, like yeasted bread dough.

The hero’s journey does violence to Baradian ontology, in which there are no “real” beginnings, middles or ends, only entanglement and possibility. And yet, to tell a story, I find that I must choose a limited number of threads; I must find a suitable container that will exclude endlessly proliferating possibilities. The hero’s journey helps me organise my material. The tool originally invented to exalt the human might also be used to trouble the human. The disassembled hero is eschewed in favour of a collection of organs with their own tales to tell.



ABC Radio National (2008). Philosophy and the Natural World – Val Plumwood (Radio program hosted by alan Saunders) Retrieved from—val-plumwood/3291526

Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the universe halfway: Quantum physics and the entanglement of matter and meaning. duke university Press.

Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1988). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Ellis, C., Adams, T. E., & Bochner, A. P. (2011). Autoethnography: an overview. Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung, 273-290.

Gagliano, M., & Grimonprez, M. (2015). Breaking the silence—language and the making of meaning in plants. Ecopsychology, 7(3), 145-152.

Haraway, D. J. (2016). Staying with the trouble: Making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.

Kundera, M. (1986). The Art of the Novel (L. Asher, Trans.). London: Faber & Faber.

Plumwood, V. (1995). Human Vulnerability and the Experience of Being Prey. Quadrant, March 1995.

Ratcliff, J. D. (1986). I am Joe’s Body. Penguin Putnam.

Schroll, M., & Polansky, C. (2017). Bridging transpersonal ecosophical concerns with the hero’s journey and superheroes through comicbook lore: Implications for personal and cultural transformation. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 36 (2).

Sontag, S. (1978).“Illness as Metaphor”, New York Review of Books, January 26. Retrieved from

Sorensen, T. (2018). The Lucky Galah. Picador Australia.


About the Author

Tracy Sorensen is a PhD candidate in the School of Communication and Creative Industries at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst. Her debut novel, The Lucky Galah (Picador 2018) was long listed for the Miles Franklin prize in 2019. She was writer in residence at the Charles Perkins Centre, Sydney in 2020. She is an active member of Bathurst Community Climate Action Network, Inc and the River Yarners, a craftivist group.


To cite this article

Sorensen, Tracy. “How my pancreas became a person.” Fusion Journal, no. 19, 2021, pp. 42-52. my pancreas became a person/

First published online: March 2021

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Copyright © Fusion Journal