week 4 thingness joseph fletcher

Joseph Fletcher


♦  Notes from Week 4 . . .  ♦


Two works

Blanchot would speak of two works, the laborious work and the unworked work. The burden of the production of equivalency, the burden of the imperative of the unequivocal. Always burdensome, but in differing measures.

The unequivocal, a gesture of inoperativity. An act of making without equation whilst resisting the demands of making a work. Making, away from a totalising logic, away from identification as associational tool.

Equivalency, simply a work. Injection-moulded ease of pre-packed exchange. The substrate of a calculable world, where ‘this equals that’ measures out a strange rhythmic procedure.

Labourious and unworked. Two works and two kinds of economy. One of equivalency and one of a limitless disruption. The question of two ends generative of two things: exchangeability and resistance.

Equivalence, disruption. When talking of perverse labour and the destructive constitution of community this division must be held in thought. Refusing labourious equivalency is embracing the languorous freedom of the inoperative. The work of continual destruction and production is a circular embrace of the refusal of the economic as decisive structure. Acting out the recuperative potency of a labourious work, the perpetual gesture of re-integration is drawn out in its most basic terms. Thus the question: how to work without making a work?

The fragment, an act of disruption, destructive liberty. All possible replies and all play a role of resistance. It is not a question here of an absolute response. The necessity of responding is captured within the fragment as a form of resistance. A shattered kind of interruption. Again and again and again, so goes the procedure. An immanent circuitousness which operates as a repetitive exposure. But through this fragmentation repetition loses sync, becomes a kind of arrhythmic syncopation in which the economic gesture is out of time and so becomes absurd. Destruction, reconstruction, out of time circularity, not to mention the confounding object at the heart of it all.


Harman’s dormant object

Harman’s odd objects: dormant object, dead object. One doesn’t relate, one fails underneath. An inability to connect or an inability to persist. Thus either the above is temporarily redundant or the bottom falls out. Isolation or decay. Contrary motions of similar effectiveness, both resistances to some degree. These are aberrant kinds of objects, non-participative and confounding, but still objects.

Effectiveness of resistance might be embodied within the sleeping object. Treating the artwork as a dormant object could propose another strategy of the function of the work. Sleeping, without-relation. Awaiting access, anticipatory of relation, but non-active. A redundancy of relation for a moment, a redundancy of equivalence too perhaps. Dormancy proposes a lapse of time. A withheld moment of engagement that might come later. A promise of the out of date too. A cobwebbed artefact would suggest the possibility of the always dis-temporalised. Yet whatever kind of minutiae of temporal difference, the time-lapse still stands. In this measure there is always a gap and therefore always a possible dormancy. Not a death, but a sleep; so not decaying but out-of-action. Temporal strains and a haphazard meandering through time could break up the regulated progress of this then this.


Finitude, the duplicate figure

Splitting. Symbiotic replication. Not a similarity, but a double. Absolute overlap, pure identification. Outline over outline there would be no difference, as if one had stepped out of the other to form a reflective surface.

She splits. And she is she and she. In this way she and she stand side by side. Perfect overlap. More identical than the identical twin, and as such not acknowledging the careful ontological distinction of the twinned being. The double really has nothing to do with twinness, as twinness is the condition of a replicated façade combined with ontological distinction. The double is a pure replication. Ontological identity and mirrored façade. Twinness is an impoverished relative of the double, a not quite proximal enough similitude.

The double, to be double, has to be an aberrancy, in space or in time. Identical splitting is the gesture of the aberration. After the replicative split, she and she overlap. This gesture or that gesture however begin to depart. There is a time-delay, a spatial displacement, a latency of action or an absolute non-commensurability between the two gestures. Thus the double becomes ragged around the edges. A divergence from the moment of separation, so not an embryonic purity, but a birthing of the double into the world. Coming forth in such a manner the double presents the problem of finitude in stark terms. A flood-lit problematic, the double is the double and henceforth she is never quite herself.


Object, epistemological break.

It is not too hard to imagine a confounding object, the stance of which would engender a strange encounter. Comprehension stretched, tenuous, grappling. A situation from which regularities of thoughtful encounter are pulled at. Objects come often as familiar forms, often enough that with difference comes a pervasive countenance of irregularity.

Confounding object, confusing object. An object such as this could do at least two things here: trouble epistemology, consecrate a new potential ontology. Meillassoux sketches out an object such as this, the arche-fossil. A propositional structure that positions the human-sun character out of place.

Yet such an encounter need not be so radically staged. Harman gives an alternative. The broken tool that comes from Heidegger does the same work. It is the confusion of the thing out of place, the thing that comes out of its place to appear all the more strange. The labour is always the labour of the object. The labourious procedure of finding leverage. Trial and error perhaps, but enough times and something engages. The object snags attention and the edifice is called into question. This epistemological orbit might just be a perverse reverie. A lapse into onanistic privilege because nothing has quite yet snagged enough.


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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?