Filed under: Affect Theory, Attachment, Belonging, Craziness, Detachment theory, economy, Encounters, Love, Mood, Ordinariness, poetry, Theory of this Blog, writing | Tags: Christopher_Bollas, David_Shields, Elspeth_Probyn, Hannah_Arendt, Juliana_Spahr, Katie_Stewart, Leo_Bersani, Lorelei_Sontag
Try to forget.
Not unintentional forgetting, but of a thing that insists on being in the flow of things.
It could be the forgetting of a dream that you can’t stop because you’re in it, or of a sense that the world is converging there on that other guy’s table. All of history did not do its work to produce you. You can imagine that all history sought to produce you, but who are you? A bundle of action and feral muttering, a sweet wrapped and inhaled by strangers, booty for money, a bird puffing out its chest, a bit scared, an accident.
Filed under: affect, Affect Theory, Belonging, class, Craziness, economy, Encounters, Mood, non-sovereignty, optimism, Ordinariness, Politics, potentiality, sexuality, supervalent_thought, Theory of this Blog, trauma, writing | Tags: Bolano, Cadava, documentary, marx, Meiselas, memory, revolution, trauma
4. Contact Sheet
It is only evidence that she has been somewhere at the same time that her camera’s been there. There’s a pig in a doorway, a street, a man from behind. The places seem akimbo, as though executed by the fist of a small, tight child. The problem of a book is that it is fixed. But “archive” senses a strewn thing, of stuff and gesture moved by weather systems. Will we want to know later that the insurgents at the skirmish wore brightly colored jeans? We can imagine the folders into which they will go, each according to his palate.
Filed under: Attachment, Belonging, Craziness, depression, Detachment theory, emotion, Encounters, Love, Mood, non-sovereignty, optimism, Ordinariness, sexuality, supervalent_thought, Theory of this Blog | Tags: aesthetics, Aimee_Mann, Attachment, Barbara_Browning, conceptual_art, dreams, Gil-Scott_Heron, Kate_Lilley, Kathleen_Stewart, Love, sexuality, writing
3. What is the wish of the dream?
I open my hand and a small cluster of people peer up at me out of it silent and bug-eyed. I draw them out of my palm like taffy, but there is no snapping sound and no lost teeth. In a minute the crowded room buzzes harshly, wondering why it had bothered one more time to show up for nothing but an exhausted optimism. I was lucky to be the dreamer because the dreamer never stops being interested. People know when they haven’t said enough, that’s why they dream. Or that’s not why they dream, but why they continue loving.
When I met him he was raking leaves, in his tiny yard; usually they’re across some table in a room. And what of the very bald one who practices his Foucault Face™ in the mirror each day? If I try to write the story of someone who worked hard in case he showed up to work, what is the plot? She played touch tag by saying a thing then running into a field of noise. The delay architecture is so deliberate I can feel the shot-reverse-shot, the voiceover, and the signs of truth tattooed on my often-entered vagina. (more…)
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2. This game is called “Watch Your Step.” I am not sure that it’s a game or that any of the games I’ve described is a game. It’s more like a scene that stimulates games of encounter, which is to say, scenarios of risk. My thinking about this was world-shaken by Diana Taylor’s article on double-blind scenarios, which came out after her book, which I also loved, but as I was the editor for the smaller, later piece, my bones know it as deeply as a body would that has many times leaned toward its object. This is not objective knowledge.
The best a thought can do, after all, is to make itself available to be found, by documenting its encounter with something so well that it shifts things into a new proximity, as though words in a dictionary had suddenly slid down into each other’s definitions. That’s not too eloquent, but the event of eloquence has only a little to do with meaning emerging. I was researching what a “scene” is while editing Diana’s piece for a “special issue on the case,” which the University of Chicago Press refused to make into a book because they thought it wasn’t “sexy.” (more…)
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1. The Test
There’s a can of blueberries at the back of the shelf amid dust and flour mites or whatever it is that gets into the rice, like an old writing file where you made a deposit in the darkness of a late style. As though berries too syrupy even for ice cream and the cheesecakes your mother never got to make were just waiting around for you to be found, like that child in the game. (more…)
Filed under: affect, ambivalence, Attachment, Belonging, Craziness, Detachment theory, emotion, Encounters, Love, Mood, non-sovereignty, optimism, Ordinariness, pedagogy, psychoanalysis, sexuality, sovereignty, supervalent_thought, Theory of this Blog, writing | Tags: Bloomingdales, Camera_Obscura, cigarettes, femininity, french-wrap, high_heels, mother's_day, nominalism
I noticed, over the last few months, as my mother was dying, that I had taken pictures that seemed very specific. Now I am looking at the archive, as one looks at a drying hand after a manicure.
My mother died of femininity. I told her that I would say this about her. She had said, “Will you write a book about me?” and I asked if she wanted me to. She said “Yes. I want you to say that I left the world a better place because I had you!” I said I thought that this was a bad idea: people would think it an excuse to write about me. She said, “Can you think of another topic?” I offered this phrase about femininity, and explained why. My brother-in-law thought that it would be better to say that my mother died from vanity rather than from femininity. I can see why he would prefer that story; it’s interesting to see how a label shifts the implication.
In her late teens she took up smoking, because it was sold as a weight-reduction aid. When she died she had aggressive stage 4 lung cancer. In her teens she started wearing high heels, to enhance the back arch and ass-to-calves posture whose strut transforms the whole body to a sexual tableau, shifting between teetering and stillness. Later, she had an abortion and on the way out tripped down the stairs in those heels, hurting her back permanently. Decades later, selling dresses at Bloomingdale’s, she was forced to carry, by her estimate, 500 lbs. of clothes each day. Shop girls, you know, are forced to dress like their customers. They have to do this to show that they understand the appropriate universe of taste, even while working like mules in that same universe, carrying to their ladies stacks of hanging things and having to reorganize what their ladies left behind on the dressing room floor. She liked this job, because she liked being known as having good taste.
Filed under: Affect Theory, Attachment, Belonging, class, Craziness, depression, economy, emotion, Encounters, Mood, non-sovereignty, optimism, Ordinariness, pedagogy, Politics, sovereignty, teaching, writing | Tags: " masculinity, "American Dream, Freud, Lacan, precarity
I’m converting a cafeteria to a café—Valois just got wi-fi and I wanted to be in a capacious space, light with big tables and no soundtrack. It’s empty, almost, mid-afternoon. A few old people are sitting around schmoozing as they will, and we look after each other’s tables when we need bathroom breaks or a refill. After a few hours a father and son come and sit two tables up. The father, young, instructs his son relentlessly: on how to use a laptop, how to play a game, how to sit, how to be quiet, and how to eat without smacking his mouth. I am working with my head down trying to drown out the noise. Then at one point I hear him say to his son, why do you want to give up on your dream, why do you want to give up on your dream of being a football player? Kid: I want to draw cartoons. Father: you also want to be in the NFL, why do you want to give up on your dream? Kid: I want to draw cartoons, I have lots of stories to tell. Father: tell me, why do you want to give up on your dream?
A piece of paper falls off the table. It has boxes drawn on it and word balloons. The figures they’re attached to look better than stick, but there’s a not lot of detail. His father says, Don’t you see, when you’re 35 and you’ve been in the Super Bowl, you’ll have the skills of a 35 year old man, not a 9 year old boy, and when you’re 35 and a cartoonist, you’ll have the skills of a 9 year old boy?
They call it a skill set, the father says.
Filed under: Affect Theory, Attachment, Belonging, Craziness, Detachment theory, Encounters, Mood, Ordinariness, poetry, potentiality, queerness, sexuality, supervalent_thought, Theory of this Blog, writing | Tags: C.D. Wright, Louie, Louie C.K., ordinariness, poetry, sexuality, violence
#2 in the series.
I spent most of the summer reading the kind of fierce poetry that moves fearlessly into barely inhabitable breathing space three beats beyond the object that was supposed to anchor attention. A poetics of associology whose noise world sits me down in disbelief at the rare freedom of other people’s minds. Not because attention gets things right (any more than attachment guarantees love), and not because there’s always in operation productive energy that can never be tamed but because—in these poems, and for me–revolt requires curiosity, a tipping over on a verge.
I can’t remember how I heard of C. D. Wright; this book written from within incarcerated space seems to have migrated onto my desk from a lateral impulse I must have had once. People who liked this also liked. It’s been in a pile of revealed intention that I’ve been reading up and down.
Le ciel est, par-dessus le toit is one version of the commons: C.D. Wright includes it as a kind of acid irony. After all, the next line, si bleu, si calme, isn’t available as realism to the incarcerated–or the manumitted for now who swerve around aggressively while looking down at their feet, or anyone with a stomach overfull of the indigestible. I read this book and my brain clicked around over it all summer: glory hole, dream hole, peephole. (more…)
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Contact. I just saw the most anorexic woman I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. She was walking in 90 degree heat in full Gaga: white face, red lip, yellow blonde streaks all beautifully blown out yet so sprayed that it barely touched the face it surrounded. Her face looked like an @. She was crossing the street wearing a yellow cape, black skirt, and black opaque tights over legs that could not possibly be thinner. The platform shoe gait was ungraceful, but it was haughty, and my first thought was competitive, as in, when I was anorexic I still could pass, people said, for a manic New York Jew: whereas this person really did look as though if she’d had to dodge a bike too sharply she would have snapped in two.
At Banff a group of us who liked each other turned out to have in our backgrounds the overlap of Oberlin and eating disorder, and I got the impression that the back is not too far a ground from the front for some of us. The curse of recidivism attaches to predators and eating disorders. The revelation of that form of fort/da appeared in this group of people otherwise professionally linked when someone commented that another of us who had just walked by was surely bulimic, and the assurance with which she said this made me ask how she knew, and it was interesting. She saw semi-circles around mouths and eyes. We were all eating at the time, which seemed to be proof of something, although it was proof of nothing.
I thought of all the things I know about the “deepest problems of modern life” that “flow from the attempt of the individual to maintain the independence and individuality of his existence against the sovereign powers of society, against the weight of the historical heritage and the external culture and technique of life,” and I thought about another kind of impact I’d been amassing as I continue to think about contact as the intensification of the encounter with non-sovereignty, so of course this series twist happened without quite being a project. All summer I have been taking pictures of phrases that hit me and induced reveries and reorientations that made me both stupid and more alive. (more…)
Filed under: affect, Affect Theory, Belonging, Craziness, economy, Encounters, Love, Mood, non-sovereignty, Ordinariness, potentiality, psychoanalysis, queerness, sexuality, sovereignty, supervalent_thought, Theory of this Blog | Tags: Attachment, gesture, Lingis, mumblecore, Sara_Ahmed, structure_of_feeling, _Greenberg_
Remember the time I told you about the day I took a vacation from work during which time I watched a movie I needed to watch for work about a man who was taking an extended vacation from work as a way of life but who was redeemed from lifelessness by a woman who embodied a younger generation’s practice of diffused ambition, so that a baffling heterosexual tendency could be saved for another day and the confrontation with not understanding the lover, oneself, labor, or what “a life” is could be delayed and preserved in a sweet promise not to give up on sick dogs and to hang around for whatever potential whiff of relief might emanate from anywhere?
Maybe mumblecore is right, that all life needs is a “whatever” at the points where it seems impossible—a gesture of optimism that can’t bear a lot, but that can indicate an otherwise that could become the something stacked right above the nothing. Life, friends, is gestural. We must not say so. A gesture is the performance of contact that makes a conjuncture of the abstract and the immediate. Contact is a potential anchor, a movement that makes a moment stick or become passable, sometimes shaped toward the possible. Those haps can be a mere flicker or can build into atmospheres and environments for affective, imaginative, and politically collective activity, whether or not we pay attention to them. In the next few posts I’m going to engage some different ways of mediating contact’s gestural structuration of affect, its presentation of an opportunity to encounter the affective event. The aim is to brainstorm some extensions of the “structure of feeling” concept toward different aspects of the sensus communis that will undergird my next two books. (more…)