[-empyre-] "(E)MOTION FREQUENCY deceleration: time/space prospection, vacant lots

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Sun Oct 30 00:05:35 EST 2011

dear all:
hmm, Sonja may very well be right in critiquing a superficial use of the notion of the "post-urban,"  
and my use of course was a romantic one reflecting my naive & arrogant fascination with Texas and Houston when I moved there, not finding anything i knew, 
and thus trying to understand the vast expanse of (apparently historyless, flattened) space and the gaps and holes and vacant lands  all in-between stretched out dwellings (I remember being taken to a New Year's gathering in Pearland (a Houston suburb)  in 2010, and we drove down HIghway 288 for a long time, it seemed, past nothing, and then past a long stretch of Potemkin shops still empty but waiting to be opened for the drive by consumer.)  

It was the Potemkin effect that puzzled me, alongside the subtropical sensuality of its swaggering funkadelic neighborhoods with side walks buckling so you'd stumble when you walked, blindfolded.  Sérgio's "venda" and commodification, again, is a problem here, but also obviously my misreading; i felt, for example, that Occupy Houston could not happen, there could never be an uprising in Dallas or Houston as there are no public squares for anyone to gather.

regarding "venda":  a few days ago when Jaime was talking to our MA students here in London about gender strike, posthumanism, the demands for public sex and post intimate spaces, for some reason the conversation briefly shifted to Giorgio Agamben, and I tried to remember his chapter (in "The Open") on 'Umwelt, and the example of the spider and the fly which live in different perceptual worlds.  I think i botched the example, but we had been discussing vividly the question of multiple perceptual choreographies  (yes, Sonja, you are quite right, these are plural).  I also remember now Sonja mentioning Auschwitz or the camps, and even as i cannot quite get the spider's and the fly's environments straightened out, I do remember Agamben's argument that we not live in a single world.

Akram Khan said as much when he told me about the research on the acceleration of the movement of galaxies (away from "us" and our planet) and the challenges of tracing time and histories of [different] times (through measuring how light comes back to "us" from objects out there).

As to Agamben, in "The Open" the philosopher suggests that western thought had articulated 'man' as an arbitrary, unstable border between human and animal, categories that the Aristotelian “scale of being” situates in a relation of more and lesser being. Considering such  ontological hierarchy separating human and animal,  and that no particular biological differences can be found between our species and other higher mammals, the ambiguity of the border then becomes insupportable.
 As a result, Agamben would argue, not only human and animal coexist in a conflictive manner, also of course within ourselves, but the less defined the the border is the more violently it is imposed.  Jaime's workshop on Microsexes/Microdances this week was precisely also about this, as we worked with the tiny cameras pointed to our skins, projecting strange amorphogenesises, beginning to lose a sense of skins or shapes or boundaries between one and other. 

The human, Agamben suggests in the political sense of his argument (also in 'Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life', 1998)  discloses to be a form of life that in order to dignify itself requires subjecting other forms to the utmost imaginable indignity. This might be what lies behind Agamben’s identification of Auschwitz as the central political institution of the West. 
That Nazi concentration camps no longer exist should not make us feel confident, however, for the properties of the camp extend these days into an indefinite series of spaces of "exception" that are continuously reenacted everywhere and badly masked by references to the rule of law. Thus, a terrifying prospect of radical exclusion make us continuously deny the ambiguous nature of our own beings....

with regards, and until Monday evening we debate please

Johannes Birringer

Sonja writes:
I am always surprised when people think post-urban in the world that is, looking from the stratosphere at people dwellings, - saturated with slums (epicenters of course look familiar:). Unfinished modernizations is what rather comes to my mind, sometimes.
We can, no doubt, talk about post-industrial when walking through Detroit (and I do not mean the Lafayette park here:), but post-industrial is not a global phenomenon. Industries all around the world, even hidden sweat-shops in 'our' cities rather resemble (pre-)urban 19th Ct Manchester.
The notion of cockpit as a prototypical space of the interface - it frightens me a bit. I am looking forward to hearing some more in order to de-symbolize the fear that might be somebody else's experience...
I already mentioned cinematic creations, VR included, that I see as plausible spatial modelling of cultural interface.
Johannes asked me to comment Occupy Movement. Well, thanks heaven, there is entropy and there is solidarity and compassion.I think these are two/three forces that move people to break through the shell of their houses and re-claim the skin of the city as their right.
The choreographies (as Slavic-Latin mind I just cannot admit singular exclusivity here of one and only choreography;) of those movements actually haven't changed so much since people's first protests in Northern Europe in the 16th Ct - when modernity as we know it today was actually born. As an English word, and therefore as a concept. The protests took their fully grown form in these pre-urban (pre-hygienic) cities of the 19th Ct.
Occupy Movements are intrinsically modern, actually, they represent a quest for inexperienced modernity, civilizations still rambling and stumbling in (expanded) medieval-like structures where hierarchies are simultaneously throned and intangible, as Latour puts it, while we are looking for Dingstaetten where democracy is not just simply (pan-)demonic.

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