This afterword reflects on how the Matsutake Worlds Research Group project can be considered as ontological. The multispecies ethnographic engagements presented in this special issue manifest not only the concepts inherent in the worlds of others that defy the categories of Western metaphysical thought (e.g., life forms seen as ‘events’ rather than mere things), but also the way in which non-human life forms themselves can demand that we practice another kind of thought and embrace another vision of our own selves. By succumbing to the allure of the matsutake fungus, the Matsutake Worlds Research Group has begun one of the most suggestive and original conceptual enterprises today, a practice that perhaps could be named ‘heeding headless thoughts’.
Heeding Headless Thoughts
Matsutake’s Elusive Elusiveness in 2010 Japan
Elusiveness can itself be elusive. This article considers why matsutake draw over-the-top excitement as an elusive commodity even in years of prolific harvests. In 2010 Japan, an unexpectedly copious domestic matsutake harvest prompted a precipitous drop in the mushroom’s price and made the mushroom readily accessible. The article traces the sources of consumer excitement that year, showing how matsutake commodity elusiveness is itself produced through contingent coordinations among trees, fungi, weather, pickers, mycology, popular media, and consumers. It suggests that, in 2010, media outlets and consumers resolved the contradictions of this elusiveness—celebrating matsutake’s elite status as an elusive commodity while enjoying its accessibility—by treating the bumper harvest as a euphoric anomaly.