♦ Notes from Week 3. . . ♦
Taking time to resist the demand of contemporaneity, the agitated spark of connection should be slowed. Not in order to reduce connectivity, but to test the equipment. An ebullient slowness. A hesitancy, thoughtful not stammering.
Slowness could be the time of stepping-back. A kind of divergence that would mark out a separate space. An eventual re-joining too, but out-of-joint. Out and back into the wrong place. Things look different from the wrong place however, and it is such that slowness might carve out a productive edifice. Half-engaged, almost snapped back into position. A slow-agent could change orbits, and change relations. Unexpected perhaps, but with a simple result of shifting velocities.
Slowness is not really a question of efficacy, this is the wrong scale of measure. It is about the leverage of an intervention. Perhaps just a delay, a mouth pausing for a brief moment before enunciating. Hesitating on unstable ground, and so needing the time to be sure of one’s step. In each case care is taken.
Slowness is a kind of care of time, an attentiveness to action and thoughtfulness of gesture. Acknowledging reduced speed, and at the same time the gap that opens up when action is slowed. The distorted frame of relations caused by slowing down is a more malleable space.
A number of questions arise here, but a political demand too. Slowness is not a time of inaction; it is not necessarily dissenting and the question of intent can miss the point. Yet slowness can have an impact. Drawing back from the intensive world is an advocacy for another possible pace. A quiet statement of alterity. Weighed and cared for with the endurance of a thought.
Heidegger would talk about technology, about tempestuous repression by the standing-reserve. Measure, measure, measure. As if the current thinking of technology was a mere surface tension, withholding something more onerous, a deeper and more invidious imperative. Yet before representing the problems of philosophy, Heidegger’s very method stands against the charge. Backwards looking to be sure, but embodying another imperative to give thought time to think. Not clearly. Not with the insistence of the technologic. But patiently. A patient thought to which care is due. Slowness of thought then as method. Slowness of gesture too.
Ambivalency of a use binary: use or not-use. These measures need not necessarily be so canonical. Use and not-use, a better measure perhaps. We hear from Blanchot, from Nancy too, of the terror of the work-imperative. Blanchot tells us of two types of work. Nancy tells us too of the simple deceit of making a work. These are useful distinctions between labour and something less instrumentalised: a workless work. This means less well-defined too. Yet in a way this is precisely the point. The inoperative must resist being a work and being put to work. Haziness serves a purpose here.
The block. Not outright refusal, but ambivalent denial. Resistance and production of relation. Shattering around the object, shards this way and that. Sprawling relation then, multiplying, divided, apportioned. Stumbling into a knot rather than hitting a wall. It is a tangle that is not insurmountable, but the very intractability of which renders encounter thoughtful. It is a question of effort expended over benefit gained. An unfortunate outcome of the instrumental equivalency of thought perhaps, but the benefit of course is that one can capitalise on this ever-present calculation taking place. Thus the knot is a useful resistance, confounding use and not-use precisely by presenting both faces. Ambivalence is the encounter with the knot, an imperative to disentangle or to disengage. A kind of economic calculation, against which stands the simple hesitancy of the knot.
Object re-making community. A principle of inversion at work here: not state, urbanity, house, furniture, object, but object, furniture, house etc. Articulation of dwelling, of a place in the world not from above but from an insistent act below. Embodied in this gesture of destruction and re-production is a resistant force. A demand to participate differently rather than an outright refusal of participation. Breaking, remaking, becomes to share something in common that appears aberrant. The quiet force of the not-quite-right, a mundane and bathetic offering that is privileged precisely through its very proximity to an ennobling decision to do something other.
A motion of the otherwise. A command of thoughtful indifference. A re-entrenchment of the productive object at the heart of something. Starting from the relation of the object, the hand, the common dwelling. Outwards moves the gesture of making. The simple object first, or rather the hand-sized object first. A human-scale part. From the part comes the relations of production, the space of the dwelling, the structures of a rudimentary sociality, all spilling out of a common endeavour of cyclical productivity. Microcosm of perverted immanence, short-circuit of capital-logic.
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Joseph Fletcher is a practice-based PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh. His work is concerned with writing and developing an ontological reading of community. Fletcher is participating in Cooper Gallery’s 2015 Cooper Summer Residency: Thingness?