[-empyre-] Liquid Blackness, Matter & Flesh

simon swht at clear.net.nz
Sun Apr 10 08:23:47 AEST 2016

Dear <<empyreans>>,

some questions to Charles follow, that may or may not require a wider 
audition, although Johannes's

> where 'representation' falters a little, at least.
> affects?  attaching meanings and metaphors nevertheless seems unavoidable for the toucher.
leads me to think these thoughts, however ragged, are yet worth adding 
to the texture of the fabric of the discussion. And on the "affective 
sensorium" Alessandra recalls from Derek's introduction, a note that 
Michel Serres/'s The Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies (I)/ 
(1985 & 2008 English) when not harping on the supremacy of the exact 
sciences, provides a term, /coenaesthesia/, for the mingling sensoria to 
set them free from their allocated roles, and from being affectively 
enclosed under the bell-jar of a singular sensorium, about which he writes:

    Here is the tomb of empiricism, clad in engraved marble. The body,
    the statue, our knowledges or memories, libraries or cenotaphs: all
    imprison the phantom by denying its existence.

On coenaesthesia in a mouthful of wine:

    I taste; existence for my mouth. I feel; and a piece of me thus
    comes to exist. There was a blank void in the place which was just
    born of the sensible. ... The edges of my tongue had no existence of
    their own until they emerged from underneath a coating of Chateau
    Margaux; the broad sides of the body itself remain blank; empty
    coenaesthesia suffers or enjoys this multiple birthing, ongoing
    creation. A new tongue grows. Then touch, a real hand with five real
    fingers, my very own palm ...this improbable skin envelopes me at
    the zones that see, hear, shiver and fold inwards, to great depths.

A final line from Serres:

    Darkness is concerned with optic space and retains Euclidean volume;
    shadow, like clarity, preserves the order of common geometry; fog
    occupies a variety of topologies and is concerned with the
    continuous or ragged space of touch. ... Shadow leaves everything
    invariable and mist makes everything variable - continuously,
    whether broken or unbroken.

To Charles:

on whose behalf are you speaking when you write that "blackness and race 
are still largely *understood* representationally"?

I would also like to question the "essential labor" of "[d]estabilizing 
the representational paradigm of race". Is race essentially a 
representational paradigm? Is race essential? Or, does race, not to 
speak of blackness [!], have to be considered essential in order that 
this "essential labor" be undertaken?

Sound, because it is "largely *understood*" to be "less beholden" (what 
a strange way of putting it) to representation ("than images"), is 
surely then more likely to be largely left unanalyzed in its 
representational role.

And, in that role, or according to "representational and metaphorical 
valences of Blackness and race" what would it do? what role would it be 
playing if it could be uncovered that sound was in fact playing a role?

What else is this 'representation' than an understanding? If it be 
largely understood this way, it is playing the role of a consensus, no? 
A very Kantian tribunal is at work here.

I would suggest that such valences--and I have to admit, I don't quite 
understand this word--as are representational and metaphorical largely 
carry on because of an inadequate (perhaps because it is at large) 
understanding of the work they do, and how they labour, all too 
productively, at it.

Simon Taylor


On 09/04/16 07:20, Linscott, Charles wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear Jenny,
>   Regarding the representational and metaphorical valences of 
> Blackness and race more generally:
>   Yes, these are absolutely problematic and far too facile. 
> Nevertheless, blackness and race are still largely *understood* 
> representationally, which is why the work of liquid blackness (as a 
> group), along with the efforts of its progenitors and influences, is 
> so vital. Destabilizing the representational paradigm of race is a 
> difficult but essential labor. For me, sound helps to perform this 
> labor because it is less obviously beholden to representation than 
> images. Of course, strictly opposing sound and image is problematic in 
> itself, but I do feel that thinking about Blackness and sound is 
> fecund and provocative. What kind of work does Blackness do in sound, 
> music, and voice? What (or where) is the “Blackness” in a “Black” 
> voice or “Black” music? What happens to “Blackness” without the 
> representational ease provided by an allegedly legible “Black” body?
> Thanks to everyone—but particularly Derek, Alessandra, Jenny, and 
> Murat (superb questions!)—for the opportunity to be a part of this 
> extraordinary conversation. I look forward to the coming weeks.
> Cheers,
> Chip
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