QUOTE CLUB: DEVIATION by Kulturfolger

This idea goes to the heart of philosophy, that is, metaphysics. If we had only the principle of identity, we would be mute, motionless, passive, and the world would have no existence: nothing new under the sun of sameness. We call it the principle of reason that there exists something rather than nothing. From which it follows that the world is present, that we work here and that we speak. Now this principle is never explained or taken up except in terms of its substantives; the thing, being and nothingness, the void. For it says: exist rather than. Which is almost a pleonasm, since existence denotes a stability, plus a deviation from the fixed position. To exist rather than is to be in deviation from equilibrium. Exist rather. And the principle of reason is, strictly speaking, a theorem of statics. If things exist and if there is a world, they are displaced in relation to zero. And if there is a reason, it is this inclined proportion. If there is a science, it is its evaluation. If there is a discourse, it speaks of inclination. If there is a practice, it is its tool. We do not exist, do not speak and do not work, with reason, science or hands, except through and by this deviation from equilibrium. Everything is deviation from equilibrium, excepting Nothing. That is to say, Identity.

Michel Serres, The Birth of Physics

 

The phrase 'far from equilibrium' is borrowed from the field of thermodynamics where, especially in the last four decades, it has come to refer to the special states of a system in which it is most likely to produce radical, productive and unforeseeable behaviours. When close to equilibrium, the disturbances, anomalies and events passing through a system are easily absorbed and damped out; but as a system is moved further from its rest places it becomes increasingly ordered and differentiated. The more ordered and differentiated, however, the more unstable and expensive (in terms of energy required to sustain it) the system becomes. Instability, it turns out, is the precondition of creativity. But because of its cost-in terms both of the energy required to produce and sustain it as well as in terms of the damage to the status quo that must invariably be repaired following every transformation- instability and invention are rare. Among the abiding mysteries of contemporary knowledge- in addition to the workings of the brain, of evolution and of Nature itself-is the mechanics of history and historical change. It is simply not known how history works, why change is constant yet not random. Causality has often proved to be a good myth to live by, but no more than that. We accurately think of ourselves today not only as citizens of an information society, but literally as clusters of matter within an unbroken informational continuum: "We are all," as the great composer Karlheinz Stockhausen once said, "transistors, in the literal sense." We send, receive and organize, and when no longer capable of sustaining these three functions, we disintegrate and die. But so long as we are vital, our principle work is to capture and artfully incorporate the signals that surround us. Life is a case of maintaining a very delicate structure-ourselves- a significant distance from equilibrium at nearly all times, and at others-in order to evolve, grow and invent- very far from equilibrium indeed. In common parlance, equilibrium and instability have opposite associations: equilibrium is calm and steady and sure, instability is danger and impurity itself.


Sanford Kwinter, Far from Equilibrium

 

light’s lives lurch
           a once world quickly from rises
army the gradual of unbeing (fro
on stiffening greenly air and to ghosts go
drift slippery hands tease slim float twitter faces)
Only stand with me, love! against these its
until you are, and until i am dreams...


ee cummings

 

Looking back is what keeps open the possibility of going astray. We look back, we go behind; we conjure what is missing from the face. This backward glance also means an openness to the future, as the imperfect translation of what is behind us. As a result, I would not argue that queer has “no future” as Edelman suggests — though I understand and appreciate this impulse to “give” the future to those who demand to inherit the earth, rather than aiming for a share in this inheritance. Instead, a queer politics would have hope, not even by having hope in the future (under the sentimental sign of the “not yet”) but because the lines that accumulate through repeated gestures, the lines that gather on skin, already take surprising forms. We have hope because what is behind us is also what allows other ways of gathering in time and space, of making lines that do not reproduce what we follow, but instead create new textures on the ground. It is interesting to note that in landscape architecture the term desire lines is used to describe unofficial paths, those marks left on the ground that show everyday comings and goings, where people deviate from the paths they are supposed to follow. Deviation leaves its own marks on the ground, which can even help generate alternative lines, which cross the ground in unexpected ways. Such lines are indeed traces of desire, where people have taken different routes to get to this point or that point. It is certainly desire that helps generate a queer landscape, shaped by the paths that we follow in deviating from the straight line. Even if queer deviations shape the grounds we inhabit, we should still avoid making deviation into a ground for queer politics. To resist making deviation into a ground is not to say that it does not matter which lines we follow. It does matter.  Some lines, as we know, are lines that accumulate privilege and are “returned” by recognition and reward. Other lines are seen as ways out of an ethical life, as deviations from the common good. Despite this, queer is not available as a line that we can follow, and if we took such a line, we would perform a certain injustice to those queers whose lives are lived for different points. For me, the important task is not so much finding a queer line but asking what our orientation toward queer moments of deviation will be.

Sara Ahmed, Orientations - Toward a Queer Phenomenology

 

QUOTE CLUB: STRANGE STRANGER by Kulturfolger

The ecological thought imagines interconnectedness, which I call the mesh. Who or what is interconnected with what or with whom? The mesh of interconnected things is vast, perhaps immeasurably so. Each entity in the mesh looks strange. Nothing exists all by itself, and so nothing is fully “itself.”… Our encounter with other beings becomes profound. They are strange, even intrinsically strange. Getting to know them makes them stranger. When we talk about life forms, we’re talking about strange strangers. The ecological thought imagines a multitude of entangled strange strangers.

Timothy Morton, Ecological Thought


Morton argues strongly for the importance of uncanniness, for allowing space for strangeness in intimacy, in which other beings can be their strange selves, ‘strange strangers’. ‘The essence of the local isn’t familiarity but the uncanny, the strangely familiar or familiarly strange. The experience of the local is the profound experience of strangeness’ (2010, 50).
According to Heidegger, the human being and the world in which it lives are incomprehensible as separate entities. Thus it is a mistake to conceptualise the subject– object relationship as the being-together of two present-at-hand entities. Heidegger argues that Dasein is essentially being-in-the-world and cannot be removed from it and still retain its character. This might sound like a very cosy, close-knit web of familiarity and embeddedness in the world of the sort that supports an ‘all-one-with-nature’ view and leaves little room for strangeness. Indeed, Heidegger is a popular philosopher among deep ecologists keen to emphasise our interdependence on nature. However a close analysis of his view of human conscious being reveals that, like Husserl’s and Morton’s, it is also shot through with gaps, absences and a sense that the strange and the familiar are a just a breath apart. Morton asks if ‘environmental awareness might have something intrinsically uncanny about it, as if we realized we were caught in something’ (2010, 58). Heidegger’s understanding of Dasein as ‘being-in-the-world’ defines us as essentially ‘caught’ in the world. As ‘care’, Dasein reaches immediately out of itself and into the world, and this, Heidegger argues, places uncanniness and displacement at the heart of the self.
According to Heidegger, ‘Being is an issue’ for Dasein, in its very being (2009, 32). As ‘being-in-the-world’ we understand ourselves in terms of what we are not – the world. And yet it’s not even as simple as that, because we cannot conceive of this as being like one thing positioned alongside another thing. Heidegger focuses on the kind of knowing that makes use of objects – stuff, gear – ‘equipment’ – rather than objects we just look at speculatively, as he thinks this reveals something emblematic about the human way of being. We can stare at a hammer, upside down for example, until it becomes strange, in a way of ‘holding-back’ that makes the hammer ‘present-at-hand’, or we can find the hammer ‘ready-to-hand’ and pick it up and use it understandingly as part of a toolbox, which includes nails, wood and the project we have in mind. Thus the world in which we and hammer coexist is a web of interrelated concepts, functions and roles which we learn as we grow up and gradually acquire the skills we need to live. A single piece of equipment makes no sense in this ‘equipment totality’. The uncanny can arise at any moment by simply holding open a space within this totality. We can make the familiar strange simply by refraining from everyday activities and considering an object’s essential nature (2009).

Samantha Clark, Strange strangers and uncanny hammers: Morton's The Ecological Thought and the phenomenological tradition

 

European racism as the white man's claim has never operated by exclusion, or by the designation of someone as Other: it is instead in primitive societies that the stranger is grasped as an "other." Racism operates by the determination of degrees of deviance in relation to the White-Man face, which endeavors to integrate nonconforming traits into increasingly eccentric and backward waves, sometimes tolerating them at given places under given conditions, in a given ghetto, sometimes erasing them from the wall, which never abides alterity (it's a Jew, it's an Arab, it's a Negro, it's a lunatic . . .). From the viewpoint of racism, there is no exterior, there are no people on the outside. There are only people who should be like us and whose crime it is not to be. The dividing line is not between inside and outside but rather is internal to simultaneous signifying chains and successive subjective choices. Racism never detects the particles of the other; it propagates waves of sameness until those who resist identification have been wiped out (or those who only allow themselves to be identified at a given degree of divergence). Its cruelty is equaled only by its incompetence and naivete.


Deleuze & Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

 

When we enter an unknown place, the emotion experienced is almost always that of an indefinable anxiety. There then begins the slow work of taming the unknown, and gradually the unease fades away. A new familiarity succeeds the fear provoked in us by the irruption of the "wholly other. If the body's most archaic instinctual reactions are caught up in an encounter with what it does not immediately recognise in the real, how could thought really claim to apprehend the other, the wholly other, without astonishment? Thought is in essence a force of mastery. It is continually bringing the unknown back to the known, breaking up its mystery to possess it, shed light on it. Name it.
So what happens when our eyes halt on the words: "hospitality, proximity, enclave, hate, foreigner ... "? Even if for an instant we find some "elsewhere" in them, they are soon assimilated to a landscape marked by the seal of our habitus of thinking and our memory.


Of Hospitality - Anne Dufourmantelle invites Jacques Derrida to respond

QUOTE CLUB: VOID by Kulturfolger

 

Nothingness. The void. An absence of matter. The blank page. Utter silence. No thing, no thought, no awareness. Complete ontological insensibility. Shall we utter some words about nothingness?
What is there to say? How to begin? How can anything be said about nothing without violating its very nature, perhaps even its conditions of possibility? Isn't any utterance about nothingness always already a performative breach of that which one means to address? Have we not already said too much simply in pronouncing its name? Perhaps we should let the emptiness speak
for itself. At the very least, listening to nothing would seem to require exquisite attention to every subtle detail. Suppose we had a finely tuned, ultra sensitive instrument that we could use to zoom
in on and tune in to the nuances and subtleties of nothingness. But what would it mean to zoom in on nothingness, to look and listen with ever-increasing sensitivity and acuity, to move
to finer and finer scales of detail of ... ? Alas, it is difficult to conceive how one would orient oneself regarding such a task. What defines scale in the void? What is the metric of emptiness? What is the measure of nothingness? How can we approach it? On the face of it, these questions seem vacuous, but there may be more here than meets the eye. Consider, first, setting up the condition for the experiment: we begin with a vacuum. Now, if a vacuum is the absence of everything, of all matter, how can we be sure that we have nothing at hand? We'll need to do a measurement to confirm this. We could shine a flashlight on the vacuum, or use some other probe, but that would introduce at least one photon (quantum of light) onto the scene,
thereby destroying the very conditions we seek. Like turning up the light to see the darkness,
this situation is reminiscent of the mutually exclusive conditions of im/possibility that are at issue in Niels Bohr's interpretation of quantum physics. Measurements, including practices such as zooming in or examming something with a probe, don't just happen (in the abstract) they require specific measurement apparatuses. Measurements are agential practices, which are not simply revelatory but performative: they help constitute and are a constitutive part of what is being measured. In other words, measurements are intra-actions (not interactions): the agencies of observation are inseparable from that which is observed. Measurements are world-making: matter and meaning do not preexist, but rather are co-constituted via measurement intra-actions.

Karen Barad, What is the measure of Nothingness?

 

Translation is both a praxis and a theory; turbulence is a stable and unstable phenomenon where liquid moves and stays in a randomly fixed form; the organism-my body-is now an exchanger of time. At this point in time, several chronies intertwine. Perhaps I have encountered only spaces of transformation, singular spots or slack varieties. The simplest of these, absolutely, is the void, the void in which the atoms fall, in which, suddenly, bursts the clinamen: be it an order brought to its elementary state, elements of distribution for an element of order, a void purged of all determination; be it a transformer brought to its elementary state; be it a minimal operator, a difference of angle, the smallest change of direction. Then a second order appears, a volume in the fall brought about by a small volute attached to the bursting spark of chance. The space of transformation here is brought back to the first and simplest states, almost to the zero state, both in the theoretical and in the concrete. From that, however, a global system is formed, a world in the universe of worlds. The distance of performance is as large as the origin is near nothing and the final phase is near totality. Given, the following sequence: a distribution, a signal, a system.The hum of the universe -chaos, the blink of an eye, the world. Thus the space of transformation came back to physics and to phenomena typical of sight and hearing.

States change phase, and systems change state, by transitions of phases or of states. But the system itself is never stable. Its equilibrium is ideal, abstract, and never reached. The state, in the first meaning of the word, is outside time. The state is the contrary of history, for history tries to block and to fix the state. The state is the mortal enemy of history. And it can kill history. We are not far from this now. It moves ahead like the beam on the unstable wall when the winds blow and the earth shakes. It falls, it does not fall; it rights itself, it falls. It wears away; it is abraded; it is split by the flow. An aggregation, it loses parts like a vase covered with cracks. A miracle reunites its fragments and makes its synthesis blaze; time slowly disaggregates it. That is what existence is: facing death, being in perpetual difference from equilibrium. These flows never stop running over lacunar lands. To devour them, parasite them, nourish them, and make them live. The fall kills us and creates us. We move unfailingly toward noise, but we come from noise.

Michel Serres, Parasite

All sensation is composed with the void in compositing itself with itself, and everything holds together on earth and in the air, and preserves the void, is preserved in the void by preserving itself.
 

Gilles Deleuze, What is Philosophy?

 

 ACT ONE
A voice (off):
   To the North, nothing. To the South, nothing. To the East, nothing.
   To the West, nothing.
   In the centre, nothing.
The curtain falls. End of Act One.

ACT TWO
A voice (off):
   To the North, nothing. To the South, nothing. To the East, nothing.
   To the West, nothing.
   To the centre, a tent.
The curtain falls. End of Act Two.

ACT THREE AND LAST
A voice (off):
   To the North, nothing. To the South, nothing. To the East, nothing.
   To the West, nothing.
   In the centre, a tent,
   and,
   in front of the tent,
   an orderly busy polishing a pair
   of boots
   with ‘LION NOIR’ boot polish!
The curtain falls. End of Act Three and Last.

Georges Perec

QUOTE CLUB: NOISE by Kulturfolger

 

I'm attempting to think time. I'm well aware that time has no unity, no moment, no instant, no beginning, no end, and that I have no knowledge of its eternal completeness. For all the times that I've been able to tell, all of them were unities. I am now attempting to rethink time as a pure multiplicity. Thus, perhaps, can history be born. History is in the midst of these hazy midsts, commonly lived, uneasily thought, it is, as it happens, information neither total nor null, without a clear-cut boundary between the observer and the observed. Like the observer, it is full of sound and fury. A meditation on pure multiplicity, this book, is seeking, beyond the sea, the plain, the branch of the river-noise, hate, time-seeking a philosophy of history. The multiple is the object of this book and history is its goal.

These are objects I seem to live through more than view. I think I pick up noises from them more than I see them, touch them, or conceive them. I hear without clear frontiers, without divining an isolated source, hearing is better at integrating than analyzing, the ear knows how to lose track. By the ear, of course, I hear: temple, drum, pavilion, but also my entire body and the whole of my skin. We are immersed in sound just as we are immersed in air and light, we are caught up willy-nilly in its hurly-burly. We breathe background noise, the taut and tenuous agitation at the bottom of the world, through all our pores and papillae, we collect within us the noise of organization, a hot flame and a dance of integers. My acouphenes, a mad murmur, tense and constant in hearing, speak to me of my ashes, perhaps, the ones whence I came, the ones to which I will return. Background noise is the ground of our perception, absolutely uninterrupted; it is our perennial sustenance, the element of the software of all our logic. It is the residue and the cesspool of our messages. No life without heat, no matter, neither; no warmth without air, no logos without noise, either. Noise is the basic element of the software of all our logic, or it is to the logos what matter used to be to form. Noise is the background of information, the material of that form.

Michel Serres, Genesis

 

Rigorously speaking, there is never silence. The white noise is always there. If health is defined by silence, health does not exist ..Health remains the couple message-noise. Systems work because they do not work. Non functioning remains essential for functioning. And that can be formalized. Given, two stations and a channel. They exchange messages. If the relation succeeds, if it is perfect, optimum, and immediate ; it disappears as a relation. If it is there, if it exists, that means that it failed. It is only mediation. Relation is nonrelation. And that is what the parasite is. The channel carries the flow, but it cannot disappear as a channel, and it brakes (breaks) the flow, more or less. But perfect, successful, optimum communication no longer includes any mediation. And the canal disappears into immediacy. There would be no spaces of transformation anywhere. There are channels, and thus there must be noise. No canal without noise. The real is not rational. The best relation would be no relation. By definition it does not exist; if it exists, it is notobservable. This is the paradox of the parasite. It is very simple but has great import. The parasite is the essence of relation. It is necessary for the relation and ineluctable by the overturning of the force that tries to exclude it. But this relation is non relation. The parasite is being and non being at the same time. Not being and non being that are the names (or the non names) of stations; but arrow and non arrow, relation and non relation. Hence its metamorphoses and the difficulty we have in defining it. The ancient topic depended on an ontology, an ontology of the pure, simple, and unique relation. The Sophist and the Statesman are inside the functioning of the Dialogues. The same goes for the Symposium. Or rather, the sophist and the politician (the statesman) are interceptors of every relation in general ; they are the relation itself and, as I have said, the collective. The parasite is being and nonbeing, relation and nonrelation.

Michel Serres, Parasite

 

"Go first to your old plant and watch carefully the watercourse made bythe rain. By now the rain must have carried the seeds far away. Watch the  crevices made by the runoff, and from them determine the direction of theflow. Then find the plant that is growing at the farthest point from yourplant. All the devil's weed plants that are growing in between are yours. Later... you can extend the size of your territory by following thewatercourse from each point along the way." Music has always sent out lines of flight, like so many "transformational multiplicities," even  overturning the very codes that structure or arborify it; that is why musical form, right down to its ruptures and proliferations, is comparable to a weed, a rhizome.

Deleuze & Guattari, Thousand Plateaus

 

And yet it is hard to believe that anything
in nature could stand revealed as solid matter.
The lightning of heaven goes through the walls of houses,
like shouts and speech; iron glows white in fire;
red-hot rocks are shattered by savage steam;
hard gold is softened and melted down by heat;
chilly brass, defeated by heat, turns liquid;
heat seeps through silver, so does piercing cold;
by custom raising the cup, we feel them both
as water is poured in, drop by drop, above.

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, Book I, lines 487–496.

 

Space as inventory, space as invention. Space begins with that model map in the old editions of the Petit Larousse, which used to represent something like 65 geographical terms in 60 sq cm., miraculously brought together, deliberately abstract. Here is the desert, with its oasis, its wadi and its salt lake, here are the spring and the stream, the mountain torrent, the canal, the confluence, the river, the estuary, the river-mouth and the delta, here i the sea with its islands, its archipelago, its islets, its reefs its shoals, its rocks, its offshore bar, and here are the strait, the isthmus and the peninsula, the bight and the narrows, and the gulf and the bay, and the cape and the inlet, and the head, and the promontory, here are the lagoon and the cliff, here are the dunes, here are the beach, and the saltwater lakes, and the marshes, here i the lake, and here are the mountains, the peak, the glacier, the volcano, the spur, the slope, the col, the gorge, here are the plain and the plateau, and the hillside and the hill , here is the town and its anchorage, and its harbour and its lighthouse ...Virtual space, a simple pretext for a nomenclature. But you don't even need to close your eyes for the space evoked by these words, a dictionary space only, a paper space, to become alive, to be populated, to be filled: a long goods train drawn by a steam locomotive passes over a viaduct; barges laden with gravel ply the canals; small sailing boats manoeuvre on the lake; a big liner escorted by tugs enters the anchorage; children play ball on the beach; an Arab wearing a big straw hat trots down the shady paths of the oasis on his donkey ...

Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces

 

I stub my foot on a stone lying on the path. Surely, you will say, the stone is an object. Yet it so only if we artificially excise it from the processes of erosion and deposition that brought it there and lent it the size and shape that it presently
has. A rolling stone, the proverb says, gathers no moss, yet in the very process of gathering moss, the stone that is wedged in place become a thing, while on the other hand the stone that rolls – like a pebble washed by a running river –
becomes a thing in its very rolling.

Tim Ingold, Creative Entanglements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUOTE CLUB: MULTISPECIES by Kulturfolger

 

 

I have argued that what we commonly take to be individual entities are not separate determinately bounded and propertied objects, but rather are (entangled “parts of”) phenomena (material- discursive intra-actions) that extend across (what we commonly take to be separate places and moments in) space and time (where the notions of “material” and “discursive” and the relationship between them are unmoored from their anti/humanist foundations and reworked). Phenomena are entanglements of spacetimemattering, not in the colloquial sense of a connection or intertwining of individual entities, but rather in the technical sense of “quantum entanglements”, which are the (ontological) inseparability of agentially intra-acting “components”.28 The notion of intra-action (in contrast to the usual “interaction”, which presumes the prior existence of independent entities/relata) marks an important shift, reopening and refiguring foundational notions of classical ontology such as causality, agency, space, time, matter, discourse, responsibility, and accountability. A specific intra-action enacts an agential cut (in contrast to the Cartesian cut – an inherent distinction – between subject and object) effecting a separation between “subject” and “object”. That is, the agential cut enacts a “local” resolution within the phenomenon of the inherent ontological indeterminacy. Crucially then, intra-actions enact agential separability – the local condition of exteriority- within-phenomena. Thus, differentiating is not a relation of radical exteriority, but of agential separability, of exteriority-within. Intra-actions cut things together-apart (as one movement). Identity is a phenomenal matter; it is not an individual affair. Identity is multiple within itself; or rather, identity is diffracted through itself – identity is diffraction/ / différance/differing/deferring/differentiating.

Karen Barad, Nature's Queer Perfomativity

 

 Let us now leave the seclusion of the study and take a walk outside, in the openair. Our path takes us through a woodland thicket. Surrounded on all sides bytrunks and branches, the environment certainly seems cluttered. But is it cluttered with objects? Suppose that we focus our attention on a particular tree. There it is, rooted in the earth, trunk rising up, branches splayed out, swaying in the wind, with or without buds or leaves, depending on the season. Is the tree, then, an object? If so, how should we define it? What is tree and what is not-tree? Where does the tree end and the rest of the world begin? These questions are not easily answered – not as easily, at least, as they apparently are for the items of furniture in my study. Is the bark, for example, part of the tree? If I break off a piece in my hand and observe it closely, I will doubtless find that it is inhabited by a great many tiny creatures that have burrowed beneath it and made their homes there. Are they part of the tree? And what of the algae that grow on the outer surfaces of the trunk or the lichens that hang from the branches? Moreover, if we have decided that bark-boring insects belong as much to the tree as does the bark itself, then there seems no particular reason
to exclude its other inhabitants, including the bird that builds its nest there or the squirrel for whom it offers a labyrinth of ladders and springboards. If we consider, too, that the character of this particular tree lies just as much in the way it responds to the currents of wind, in the swaying of its branches and the rustling of its leaves, then we might wonder whether the tree can be anything other than a tree-in-the-air.
These considerations lead me to conclude that the tree is not an object at all, but a certain gathering together of the threads of life. That is what I mean by a thing. In this I follow – albeit rather loosely – the argument classically advanced by the philosopher Martin Heidegger. In his celebrated essay on The Thing, Heidegger was at pains to figure out precisely what makes a thing different from an object. The object stands before us as a fait accompli, presenting its congealed, outer surfaces to our inspection. It is defined by its very ‘over-againstness’ in relation to the setting in which it is placed (Heidegger 1971: 167).
The thing, by contrast, is a ‘going on’, or better, a place where several goings on become entwined. To observe a thing is not to be locked out but to be invited in to the gathering. We participate, as Heidegger rather enigmatically put it, in the thing’ thinging in a worlding world. There is of course a precedent for this view of the thing as a gathering in the ancient meaning of the word as a place where people would gather to resolve their affairs. If we think of every participant as following a particular way of life, threading a line through the world, then perhaps we could define the thing, as I have suggested elsewhere, as a ‘parliament of lines’ (Ingold 2007a: 5). Thus conceived, the thing has the character not of an externally bounded entity, set over and against the world, but of a knot whose constituent threads, far from being contained within it, trail beyond, only to become caught with other threads in other knots. Or in a word, things leak, forever discharging through the surfaces that form temporarily around them. I shall return to this point in connection with the importance, which I discuss later, of following flows of materials. For now, let me continue with our walk outside. We have observed the tree; what else might catch our attention? I stub my foot on a stone lying on the path. Surely, you will say, the stone is an object. Yet it so only if we artificially excise it from the processes of erosion and deposition that brought it there and lent it the size and shape that it presently has. A rolling stone, the proverb says, gathers no moss, yet in the very process of gathering moss, the stone that is wedged in place become a thing, while on the other hand the stone that rolls – like a pebble washed by a running river – becomes a thing in its very rolling. Just as the tree, responding in its movements
to the currents of wind, is a tree-in-the-air, so the stone, rolling in the river current, is a stone-in-the-water. Suppose then that we cast our eyes upwards. It is a fine day, but there are a few clouds. Are clouds objects? Rather oddly, Gibson thinks they are: they seem to him to hang in the sky, while other entities like trees and stones lie on the earth. Thus the entire environment, in Gibson’s words, ‘consists of the earth and the sky with objects on the earth and in the sky’ (Gibson 1979: 66). The painter René Magritte cleverly parodied this view of the furnished sky by depicting the cloud as a flying object floating in through the open door of an otherwise empty room. Of course the cloud is not really an object but a vaporous tumescence that swells as it is carried along in currents of air. To observe the clouds, I would say, ‘is not to view the furniture of the sky but to catch a glimpse of the sky-in-formation, never the same from one moment to the next’ (Ingold 2007c: S28). Once again, clouds are not objects but things.
What goes for such things as trees, stones and clouds, which may have grown or formed with little or no human intervention, also applies to more ostensibly artificial structures. Consider a building: not the fixed and final structure of the architect’s design but the actual building, resting on its foundations in the earth,buffeted by the elements, and susceptible to the visitations of birds, rodents and fungi. The distinguished Portuguese architect Alvaro Siza has admitted that he has never been able to build a real house, by which he mean ‘a complicated machine in which every day something breaks down’ (Siza 1997: 47). The real house is never finished. Rather, for its inhabitants it calls for unremitting effort to shore it up in the face of the comings and goings of its human inhabitants and non-human inhabitants, not to mention the weather! Rainwater drips through the roof where the wind has blown off a tile, feeding a fungal growth that threatens to decompose the timbers, the gutters are full of rotten leaves, and if that were not enough, moans Siza, ‘legions of ants invade the thresholds of doors, there are always the dead bodies of birds and mice and cats’. Indeed not unlike the tree, the real house is a gathering of lives, and to inhabit it is to join in the gathering, or in Heidegger’s terms, to participate with the thing in its thinging. Our most fundamental architectural experiences, as Juhani Pallasmaa explains, are verbal rather than nominal in form. They consist not of encounters with objects – the façade, door-frame, window and fireplace – but of acts of approaching and entering, looking in or out, and soaking up the warmth of the hearth (Pallasmaa 1996: 45). As inhabitants, we experience the house not asan object but as a thing.

Tim Ingold, Bringing Things to Life: Creative Entanglements in a World of Materials
 

 

QUOTE CLUB: BLOOM by Kulturfolger

 

 

Let me illustrate this species of connection, this connecting pattern, a little further by citing a discovery of Goethe's. He was a considerable botanist who had great ability in recognising the nontrivial (i .e.,· in recognising the patterns that connect). He straightened out the vocabulary of the gross comparative anatomy of flowering plants. He discovered that a "leaf" is not satisfactorily defined as "a flat green thing" or a "stem" as "a cylindrical thing." The way to go about the definition-and undoubtedly somewhere deep in the growth processes of the plant, this is how the matter is handled-is to note that buds (i. e., baby' stems) form in the angles of leaves. From that, the botanist constructs the definitions on the basis of the relations between stem, leaf, bud, angle, and so on. "A stem is that which bears leaves." "A leaf is that which has a bud in its angle." "A stem is what was once a bud in that position"
 
Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature

 

Kant’s first example of free beauty is flowers.  “Hardly anyone,” he says, “apart from a botanist knows what sort of thing a flower is [meant] to be; even he, while recognizing it as the reproductive organ of a plant, pays no attention to this natural purpose when he judges a flower by taste.” If we make a judgement about a flower, we refer to no “intrinsic purposiveness” of the object, and need no notion of a “perfection” of a flower.

Denis Dutton, The Experience of Art is Paradise Regained: Kant on Free and Dependent Beauty

 

The grand insignificance of achievements and invention. We are flowers, fancy tools for procreation, whoring about for pollinators. Our mediated reality doesn't give one what one desires it tells one how to desire. It is impossible to move, live or do anything without leaving a seed, trace, mark or suggestion. It is ever more difficult to fix lines on a map which are only pure projection. These lines signify an inventory of our knowledge. These lines however become roots (routes), both solid and liquid, evident and hidden, and initiate a mesmerizing inquiry. Thus, a thousand human ways of narrating natures.
KF

 

Now I shall speak of the sadness of flowers so as to feel more of the order of whatever exists. Before I do, I'll give you the nectar with pleasure, sweet juice that many flowers contain and that insects seek with greed.
The pistil is the flower's female organ that generally occupies the centre and contains the beginnings of the seed. Pollen is fertilizing powder produced in the stamens and contained in the anthers. The stamen is the flower's masculine organ. It's composed of the filament and the anther in the lower section surrounding the pistil. Fertilisation is the union of the two elements of reproduction-masculine and feminine-from which comes the fertilized fruit. "And Yah-weh God planted a garden in Eden which is in the East, and there he put the man whom He had formed" (Gen. II-S).
I want to paint a rose.
Rose is the feminine flower that gives herself wholly and such that the only thing left to her is the joy of having given herself. Her perfume is a crazy mystery. When inhaled deeply it touches the intimate depth of the heart
and leaves the inside of the entire body perfumed. The way she opens herself into a woman is so beautiful. The petals have a good taste in the mouth-all you have to do is try. Yet rose is not it but she. The scarlet ones are of great sensuality. The white ones are the peace of the God. It's very rare to find white ones at the florists: The yellow ones are of a happy alarm.The pink ones are in general fleshier and have the perfect color. The orange ones are produced by grafting and are sexually attractive. Pay attention and as a favour: I'm inviting you to move to a new kingdom.

 Clarice Lispector, Aqua Viva

 


A rose in flower, is, so to speak, only for the dilettanti; the gardener’s pleasure is deeper rooted, right in the womb of the soil. After his death the gardener does not become a butterfly, intoxicated by the perfumes of flowers, but a garden worm tasting all the dark, nitrogenous, and spicy delights of the soil.

Karel Capek,  The Gardener's Year, 1931

 


But the stagnation of the duckweed is not conceivable on the scale of the entire globe, where in any case the necessary equilibrium is lacking. It can be granted (theoretically) that a pressure everywhere equal to itself would result in the state of the rest, in a general substitution of heat loss for reproduction. But real pressure has different results: It puts unequal organisms in competition with ne another, and although we cannot say how the species take part in the dance, we can say what the dance is.
Besides the external action of life (climatic of volcanic phenomena), the unevenness of pressure in living matter continually makes available to growth the place left vacant by death. It is not a new space, and if one considers life as a whole, there is not really growth but a maintenance of volume in general. (...)
I insist on the fact that there is generally no growth but only a luxurious squandering of energy in every form! The history of life on earth is mainly the effect of a wild exuberance; the dominant event is the development of luxury, the production of increasingly burdensome forms of life.

Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy

 

Or again: in a Japanese flower arrangement, "rigorously constructed" (according to the language of Western aesthetic), and whatever the symbolic intentions of this construction as set forth in every guide to Japan and in every art book on the Ikebana, what is produced is the circulation of air, of which flowers, leaves, branches (words that are far too botanical ) are only the walls, the corridors, the baffles, delicately drawn according to the notion of a rarity which we dissociate, for our part, from nature, as if only profusion proved the natural; the Japanese bouquet has a volume; unknown masterpiece, as dreamed of by Frenhofer, Balzac's hero who wanted the viewer to be able to pass behind the painted figure, you can move your body into the interstice of its branches, into the space of its stature, nor in order to read it (to read its symbolism) but to follow the trajectory of the hand which has written it: a true writing, since it produces a volume and since, forbidding our reading to be the simple decoding of a message ( however loftily symbolic ), it permits this reading to repeat the course of the writing's labor.

Roland Barthes, Empire of the Signs

 

QUOTE CLUB: TRANSLATION by Kulturfolger

 

Science has been about a search for translation, convertibility, mobility of meanings, and universality- which I call reductionism only when one language (guess whose?) must be enforced as the standard for all the translations and conversions. What money does in the exchange orders
of capitalism, reductionism does in the powerful mental orders of global sciences. There is, finally,
only one equation. That is the deadly fantasy that feminists and others have identified in
some versions of objectivity, those in the service of hierarchical and positivist orderings of what
can count as knowledge. That is one of the reasons the debates about objectivity matter, metaphorically and otherwise. Immortality and omnipotence are not our goals. But we could use some enforceable, reliable accounts of things not reducible to power moves and agonistic, high-status games of rhetoric or to scientistic, positivist arrogance. This point applies whether we are talking about genes, social classes, elementary particles, genders, races, or texts; the point applies to the exact, natural, social, and human sciences, despite the slippery ambiguities of the words “objectivity” and “science” as we slide around the discursive terrain. In our efforts to climb the greased pole leading to a usable doctrine of objectivity, I and most other feminists in the objectivity debates have alternatively, or even simultaneously, held on to both ends of the dichotomy, a dichotomy which Harding describes in terms of successor science projects versus postmodernist accounts of difference and which I have sketched in this essay as radical constructivism versus feminist critical empiricism. It is, of course, hard to climb when you are holding on to both ends of a pole, simultaneously or alternatively. It is, therefore, time to switch metaphors.

The “eyes” made available in modern technological sciences shatter any idea of passive vision; these prosthetic devices show us that all eyes, including our own organic ones, are active perceptual systems, building on translations and specific ways of seeing, that is, ways of life. There is no unmediated photograph or passive camera obscura in scientific accounts of bodies and machines; there are only highly specific visual possibilities, each with a wonderfully detailed, active, partial way of organizing worlds. All these pictures of the world should not be allegories of infinite mobility and interchangeability but of elaborate specificity and difference and the loving care people might take to learn how to see faithfully from another’s point of view, even when the other is our own machine.

Donna Harraway, A Cyborg Manifesto

A real translation is transparent; it does not cover the original, does not block its light, but allows
the pure language, as though reinforced by its own medium, to shine upon the original all the more fully. This may be achieved, above all, by a literal rendering of the syntax which proves words rather than sentences to be the primary element of the translator. For if the sentence is the wall before the language of the original, literalness is the arcade.

Walter Benjamin, A Task of a Translator

Thoughts pass from one individual to another, each time a little transformed, for each individual can attach to them somewhat different associations. Strictly speaking, the receiver never understands the thought exactly in the way that the transmitter intended it to be understood. After a series of such encounters, practically nothing is left of the original content. Whose thought is it that continues to circulate? It is one that obviously belongs not to any single individual but to the collective . Whether an individual construes it as truth and error, understand it correctly or not, a set of findings meanders throughout the community, becoming polished,
transformed, reinforced, or attenuated, while influencing other findings, concept formation, opinions and habits of thought.

Ludwick Fleck, Genesis and development of a Scientific Fact

The technology of memorisation as exploited by the minstrel will seem unfamiliar to ourselves for we have long been accustomed to dispense with it. Aside from ecclesiastical rituals where
the congregation may be invited to respond to the priest and repeat after him, we normally memorise if at all something that has first been read, and read not to us but by us. This involves a
complicated process by which we first use the organ of sense to see and then identify a series of printed signs. These symbols in themselves have no power over us; they are silent and lifeless.
We then do one of two things or a combination of two things; we either recollect our vision of these symbols so that we can see them again in the same order if we shut our eyes, or we translate them into sounds which in practice we have to mutter or recite ‘to ourselves’, as we say. This act of translation combined with the solitariness of the act means that we draw exclusively upon our own psychic energies in order to get something into the memory. Oral memorisation on the other hand could save a great deal of personal energy in a listener. For the sounds as spoken aloud by the poet were alive, and there was no need for translation from eye message to ear message. The audience simply imitated in as direct and as uncomplicated a manner as possible.
The modem memoriser has to practise self-hypnotism.

Eric Havelock, Preface to Plato

Spivak weiß sehr gut, dass wir mit den Mitteln der heutigen theoretischen Reflexion fast jede mögliche Identität radikal dekonstruieren können und ihren Essenzialismus als einfach erfunden, konstruiert usw. enthüllen können. Trotzdem arbeitet die Politik selbst immer noch mit diesen essenziellen Identitäten – wie etwa der Nation –, als ob wir nicht wüssten, dass diese nur unsere Illusionen darstellen. Dies ist der Grund, warum der Begriff des “strategischen Essenzialismus”
ebenfalls als eine Art Übersetzung verstanden werden sollte. Denn die historische Situation in der wir leben, artikuliert sich selbst in zwei verschiedenen Sprachen: in jener der postmodernen antiessenzialistischen Theorie sowie in jener einer parallelen, alten, essenzialistischen politischen Praxis. Spivaks Konzept des “strategischen Essenzialismus” räumt einfach ein, dass es keine
direkte Übereinstimmung zwischen beiden Sprachen gibt – sie können nicht im alten dialektischen Sinn durch einen universalen dritten Begriff, der als dialektische Einheit beider funktioniert, aufgehoben werden. Daher ist die einzige Möglichkeit einer Verständigung zwischen ihnen eine Art Übersetzung.

Buden, Boris „Kulturelle Übersetzung: Warum sie wichtig ist, und wo damit
anzufangen ist“ / „Cultural Translation: Why it is important and where to
start with it“


A foreign language can signify a total separation. It can represent, even today, the ferocity of our ignorance. To write in a new language, to penetrate its heart, no technology helps. You can’t accelerate the process, you can’t abbreviate it. The pace is slow, hesitant, there are no shortcuts. The better I understand the language, the more confusing it is. The closer I get, the farther away. Even today the disconnect between me and Italian remains insuperable. I write in a terrible, embarrassing Italian, full of mistakes. Without correcting, without a dictionary, by instinct alone. I grope my way, like a child, like a semiliterate.

I am ashamed of writing like this. I don’t understand this mysterious impulse, which emerges out of nowhere. I can’t stop. It’s like writing with my left hand, my weak hand, the one I’m not supposed to write with. It seems a transgression, a rebellion, an act of stupidity. I do my best to hit the target, but when I take aim I never know where the arrow will land. At least a hundred times while I was writing the chapters of this book I felt so demoralized, so disheartened, that I would have liked to stop. In those dark moments my Italian writing seemed to me a mad undertaking, a slope too steep. Yet if I want to go on writing in Italian I have to withstand those stormy moments when the sky darkens, when I despair, when I fear I’m at the end of my rope.

Jhumpa Lahiri: In Other Words

 

QUOTE CLUB: DELICATESSEN by Kulturfolger

 

"The quasi-object acts as an integrator and as a differentiator. It marks the relations to the real, where the rational can’t go: where only the rite and the fetish can go, and without which the surplus would vanish and disappear. The fetish as necessity to encode and decode ciphered information, in the communication that makes a community. An intersubjective remedy commutating a quasi-object. Up to its firming as a particularly stratified object. A statue. Here death temporarily reappears in a cyclical eternal return on the linear natural path, with an angle of
contingency hollowing out predetermined directionality. Intrinsic in the DNA, as its void. Evoking a spiral. With a generic trajectory, absent from the common nature. Yet the casting off from it knows no end. In doing so one finds glues for the universal. Make it unknown, foreign; discover
and bring it back"

David Schildberger, Nudged Viands, 2016

 

"Like every sort of taste, it unites and separates. Being the product of the con­ditionings associated with a particular class of conditions of existence, it unites all those who are the product of similar conditions while distin­guishing them from all others. And it distinguishes in an essential way, since taste is the basis of all that one has--people and things--and all
that one is for others, whereby one classifies oneself and is classified by others Tastes ( i.e. , manifested preferences) are the practical affirmation of an inevitable difference. It is no accident that, when they have to be justi­fied, they are asserted purely negatively, by the refusal of other tastes. In matters of taste, more than anywhere else, all determination is negation; and tastes are perhaps first and foremost distastes, disgust provoked by horror or visceral intolerance ( 'sick-making') of the tastes of others. 'De gustibus non est disputandum': not because 'tous les gouts sont dans la nature', but because each taste feels itself to be natural-and so it almostis, being a habitus--which amounts to rejecting others as unnatural and therefore vicious. Aesthetic intolerance can be terribly violent."

Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction, A Social Critique on the Judgement of Taste, 1984

 

"No Japanese dish is endowed with a centre (the alimentary centre implied in the west by the rite which consists of arranging the meal, of surrounding or covering the article of food); here everything is the ornament of another ornament: first of all because on the table, on the tray, food is never anything but a collection of fragments, none of which appears privileged by an order of ingestion; to eat is not tO respect a menu (an itinerary of dishes), but to select, with a light touch of the chopsticks, sometimes one color, sometimes another, depending on a kind of inspiration which appears in its slowness as the detached, indirect accompaniment of the conversation (which itself may be extremely silent); and then because this food-and this is its originality -unites in a single time that of its fabrication and that of its consumption: sukiyaki, an interminable dish to make, to consume, and, one might say, to "converse," not by any technical difficulty but because it is in its nature to exhaust itself in the course of its cooking, and consequently to repeat itself-sukiyaki has nothing marked about it except its beginning (that tray painted with foodstuffs brought to the table); once "started," it no longer has moments or distinctive sires: it becomes decentered, like an uninterrupted text."

Roland Barthes, Empire of Signs, 1993

 

"Crowing delightedly that our morning hunt had already proved fruitful, my friends and I plowed on deeper into the woods, following Giorgio and Bruno, and, of course, Mina (she of the extraordinary nose). Our first tartufo, now comfy and safe in the bulky left pocket of my hunting vest, jostled against my leg. Unable to resist, I stuck my hand in to make sure it was still there.
Everyone knows that truffles are hard to find. In the forests of France and Italy, the truffle trade has long been closeted in as much stealth (blame zealous tax collectors and tax-evading hunters) as Colombian cocaine. The world’s most expensive fungi, they develop under mounds of dirt near the roots of oak, hazelnut and other trees, and have been prized for centuries for their pungent aroma and full-on, robust taste. Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the 18th-century equivalent of today’s celebrity chefs, famously called truffles the “diamonds of the kitchen.”

Helen Cooper, Searching for Truffles, a Treasure That Comes in Black, NY Times, September 9, 2013


The Delicacy

Friend, remember how you showed us beasts love beauty?
We were wading in your lake with bluegills and you said,
Be careful, you will lose your beauty marks

To their little jaws. We were a delicacy. From us they purchased
The darkest part of the skin, only what contrasts on us.
And it was more than a pinch or sting,

It’s a sensation of hunger
That makes us spring off the bottom and swim out deep
And safe. “No blue stripes on cheeks; no red on fins;

Old individual’s belly coppery red or brassy.”
As others see you, I think these indicate,
Who would have you all one shade then wouldn’t have you.

At your full table later, over muskellunge and lemon,
We read in the book the fish that liked us
Has certain maxillaries “wholly wanting.” Your gourmet bluegill:

It lives in the eye of the beholder, it swims the vitreous
Humor, would eat even your blind spot!
But we think we can paddle out there until all

Goes dark, and we are wholly desirable, and too much.

Sandra McPherson, “The Delicacy” from Patron Happiness, 1983