[-empyre-] Social Practice, Difference, and Temporality
margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com
Wed May 18 03:32:45 AEST 2016
Good morning! Thank you Kyle and the larger community of -empyre- for
hosting this discussion. I am so excited and truly honored to be sharing
this week with Margaret Rhee.
I wanted to begin by introducing a couple of recent projects in an initial
post as a way of addressing Kyle's important questions, and connecting to
the important questions that have emerged already this month.
Both are collaborative projects, the first being the Guerrilla Grafters.
The Guerrilla Grafters describe themselves as a "self selecting
international workforce" -- Ian Pollock, Tara Hui and I are the most
visibly active organizers. Guerrilla Grafters graft fruit bearing branches
onto ornamental, sterile street trees in the urban environment. We do this
to push conversations around food accessibility, commons and more broadly
how the division between food and wilderness supports regimes of property,
especially in and for cities. Our tagline states that "We aim to turn city
streets into food forests and undo civilization one branch at a time."
One way we track the success of the Guerrilla Grafters is the kind of
debates and conflicts it inspires and I see this as being in dialog with an
ethics of difference. Through the graft, we are introducing new connections
and conflicts between grafters, property owners, various human and
non-human fruit eaters, and city officials. Since neoliberalism relies on
the avoidance of any kind of conflict (I include organized violence here as
a kind of avoidance), I tentatively propose that by introducing difference,
or the conditions for difference) on ecological (plant, animal, microbe),
human and institutional levels there are opportunities for resource
regeneration that humbly combat the more dominant regimes of scarcity
typically found in cities. All kinds of things can be said here about urban
commons projects and how they support or resist gentrification, so perhaps
we can explore this in subsequent conversations this week.
The other project currently in development is a project through The Coastal
Reading Group, with Bibi Calderaro and Christos Galanis, entitled *We Weave
and Heft by the River*. This is all night event, from dusk until dawn,
conducted around a bonfire, where we try to find a language and a process
for grief of the tremendous loss of non-human species we are experiencing
at this time. This collaborative finds our sub/cultures and communities to
be profoundly deficient when it comes to grieving the human let alone any
other species; essentially, we have well presented visual data on the loss
of species, and occasional images of polar bears on thin pieces of ice, and
that is kind of it. Here, we see nature as a field of relations that are
lost to us, and we grieve that loss, and also the profound deficiency of
our language to address it. We could explore the conditions that led to
this phenomenon, which might take us again to the division between resource
(food, energy, etc) and wilderness (everything else), which is ultimately a
division between spaces of care and non-care.
To me, the work of grieving is a temporal shift that involves resisting
the capitalist narrative of progress so skilled at continually pushing us
into the future and avoiding grief (which of course makes the catastrophe
ever larger). I think this is in dialog with the important work of
melancholy and nihilism, but also distinct. I wonder how this work might
converse with Ultra Red's active listening, and Macon's Eulogy For The Dyke
Bar. The first all night event will be at the Language, Landscape and
Sublime conference at Schumacher College this summer. I am interested in
how this work might shift based on the context in which it occurs.
I have two sort of ethical guide posts for the two projects described
above; one is an ethics of difference that is indebted to Emmanuel Levinas,
Deborah Bird Rose, and Zoe Todd. My practice as an herbalist and
permaculturist also informs this work. The other is an ethics of
temporality that for me is most informed by Benjamin's ninth thesis, from
his Theses on the Philosophy of History. My collaborators might also
mention Martin Prechtel and Stephen Jenkinson as helping to understand the
*practice* of grief.
I'm quite sure I've written too much, but hopefully there's something here
that will be interesting to work through together this week.
uncli*que* <http://beforebefore.net>, disconnect
<margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com>
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