Monday, 6 December 2010

Research notes. 6th December 2010

Ralph Dorey
Research notes. 6th December 2010

Art as a means to reality
“The Stalker: Because weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing.
When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible, when he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a plant is growing, it’s tender and pliant, but when it’s dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death’s companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.” Stalker Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky. 1979.

To begin with there is a question of language.
I am interested in ways in which discourse can be used, and so naturally this requires a means of talking about such use. Here, there is an overlap with Foucault, with discourse as an act, “the author function”. I would argue that the act is (or is capable of being) both a means and a source. The naturalist’s field notes are the recording of discovery, but the creation of discourse is itself capable of being both genesis and witness. This is perhaps best described in terms of the creation of discourses most bound up in the “thinglyness” of the world. At moments of engagement, the authentic Heideggerian being, when manipulating or manoeuvring paint or rocks, this is not just a balanced state but one that is an extension of thought that moves beyond the Symbolic Order.
This thought-through-action is the engine of development. Development itself, the fluid state (to borrow from Bergson) is the place where I would attempt to site art and to which I would draw comparison to the development of the Hero (Bildungsroman, or the action caught up mid-development, and no stopping; the film Badlands, the scenarios of Walter Hill) and through this the drive of Modernism itself.
I believe that all developments must be taken into account, that all is fluid and what we are looking for is the spark between things passing, rather than the nailed down planks in order one against the next. To this end I am investigating Ulysses  as a model for both “Situated Knowledge” (the subjective partial knowledge is not only acknowledge but utilised as a site of reaction in terms of the author, the characters and the physical form of the book. The unreliable narrators are the only ones worth listening too, consider Rashomon..) , the creation of a discourse being simultaneously the creation of a resource, and the potential for loops of feedback within this, as well as its use of language which operates simultaneously in a mode of interpretation and a wild and raw one of volatile association. It moves forward and back at once, paths are blazed and steps are retraced in one kinetic action.

Survival / compression
A further question would be how do we survive? To bracket out that which we imagine we survive against, and now just focus on what is left. To survive is to get the job done, with no waste,with a poetic economy, to assess the terrain and then... Respond. I contain not only my history but the systems, the ideology, the problematic. Like Princess Yuki I can travel light, a mute woodcutter’s daughter and still be the heir and ignition (the tightest point in the lines between past and future, a lens) of my empire.

Paths of Bodies
To deal with systems, away from the real, perversely, away from situated knowledge to deal with the abstract, because this is a mine also, or the point on the climbing wall that allow the paths of bodies. The hole in the ground owns the space above it.

What is to be done?
Can there be landscapes to hold this fraction and that broken object and this truncated exclamation?
What word might mean both collapse and growth? A many-armed scale.
The campsite is between body, object, architecture and landscape, it bends with all these and receives a different kind of permanence from the monument. How can one be so prepared, so engaged?

Death Waits in Your Car

I pay the rope out as I lead the donkey, leaning slightly into its shoulder as we both try to keep balance. The rope loops down to the floor in coils as the animal slides over rocks and  split skinned roots arching out of the camber and I keep feeding and we walk on clockwise.

Death waits in your car.

A light is on in the house, then when you look again, all the lights are on.

A man says “it feels like I have iron filings on my teeth, I’m so nervous”

A switch is cut.

It is important that the structure be both waterproof and pervious to cross winds so that these may pass through it meeting no resistance for this resistance would bring about the collapse of the enterprise.

You could walk for miles and see nothing

Opening. Shine.


Low is stronger.

Finally, things for holding water.

History of the sled

History of the sled

Ever since we had strength to do so, we have dragged objects across the ground.

We pull bones out of the cave and set them upright, leaning, then move on.

That expression, “ to carry the world on ones shoulders”, the story of Atlas, The sherpa porter who carries your pack, these are all misleading. In reality might it be more accurate that we drag behind us? Like a sled, or a plough.

This isn't an unreasonable state. Considering our being bound to the earth it makes sense that everyone else would be so to. There should’ be any rides. There aren’t any.

So we drag behind us the luggage of history and these carpet bags and trunks accumulate leaf and root and lumps of chalk the size of your fist that feel wet and uncertain.

Three things happen here. One we carve sea-furrows in the things we walk on, obliterating our own tracks and leaving the bloody edges impressed upon and below the surface and recording the passing of something quite different to us with altogether inexplicable locomotion.

The second and third things that happen are sited within the objects being pulled. As we drag these objects they alter, weather, degrade and grow, their core unstable by still constant, made constant by their being dragged. We acquire passengers, like the tick on the behind of the hiker and like that tick they exist as passenger only for that last moment of potential before assimilation with the body. A man’s parasites are his own, there are no rides. And while all this is happening the very nature of the load is always changing, rotting, blooming and cracking like we all know that you drag anything in your wake for long enough and it will cease to be that which you first grasped, it will cease to be anything definable.

In classical civilisation time was thought of as like a wind that rushes from behind you, only sensed prior to its passing and with its passing only the implications of its great agency visible. It seems prudent then for us to pull our-load backwards, like someone with head pressed to the very lip of exhaustion or one rowing a boat. bow and stroke, bow and stroke.

We could stop of course but then everything else would stop the fluctuation of the baggage, the fluctuation of the land beneath it and to start again is uncertain.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Conscious In Time

Conscious In Time
The Bergson-Einstein-debate about the Duration of SpaceTime.
Otto B. Wiersma

In his 1907 book Bergson appreciates the logic of solids as making our intellect triumph in geometry. But that’s only one side of the story (after all it’s life that made geometricians). Life as transcending teleology as well as mechanism is according to B a continuous change / transition / progress / transformation / maturation / evolution. This opens our eyes also for the ‘arrow of time’: ‘Consciousness cannot go through the same state twice. That is why our duration is irreversible.’ B opposes the idea that aspects of the present are calculable as functions of the past (e.g. as differential equations). Bergson: ‘The most complex has been able to issue from the most simple by way of evolution.’ but ‘Anything that is irreducible (..) and irreversible in the successive moments of a history eludes science.’ For which Bergson uses comparative arguments: ‘life is no more made of physico-chemical elements than a curve is composed of straight lines’. This way Bergson opposes both radical mechanism (the real is complete – the only problem is that our mind just doesn’t know that) and radical finalism (realization of a previously arranged programme - as inverted mechanism), although refuting radical mechanism and radical finalism is not as easy for both of them. Finding a trace of spontaneity will refute radical mechanism, but there is no similar refutation for radical finalism. With his Philosophy of Life Bergson claims to transcend both mechanism and finalism, looking for another principle of organization. For this he refers to ‘curious facts of regeneration’ in order to postulate an ‘appeal to some inner directing principle in order to account for this convergence of effects’ which may also ‘imply consciousness and will (..) admitting an internal and psychological principle of development’. Darwinian, neo-Darwinian nor neo-Lamarckism deliver an explanation of this development. According to B an original impetus of life is the fundamental cause of variations, that accumulate and create new organs and new species. For instance: two points are equally striking in an organ like the eye: the complexity of its structure and the simplicity of its function. Nature does not show straight ways to succesfull organs and species: failure seems the rule, success exceptional and always imperfect. In the creative process B distinguishes intelligence (manifacturing) and instinct (organizing): two different methods of action on inert matter, which both involve knowledge that is acted. In this context he makes some remarks about ‘matter’ that sound very modern in 2005: Matter can be seen as ‘elementary vibrations, the shortest of which are of very slight duration, almost vanishing, but not nothing.’ And again he constrasts the succession of eventities with simultaneity: ‘For the (..) system of to-day actually to be superimposed on that of yesterday, the latter must have waited for the former, time must have halted, and everything become simultaneous: that happens in geometry, but in geometry alone. (..) Induction therefore implies first that, in the world of the physicist as in that of the geometrician, time does not count. But it implies also that qualities can be superposed on each other like magnitudes. (..) Matter becomes, it seems to us, geometry itself.’ But this approach of science itself is contingent, relative to the variables it has chosen, relative to the order in which it has successively put the problems. So again B contrasts the order of the vital or the willed (impetus, impulsion) against the order of the inert and the automatic’.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Icons: A Silent Auction Of Contemporary Art In Aid Of St Joseph's Hospice at St Botolph-Without-Aldgate

THURSDAY 18TH NOVEMBER 18:00 - 21:00

Emi Avora, Sarah Jane Barnes, Darren Beatty, Karl Bielik, Kevin Broughton & Fiona Birnie, Sean Branagan, Oana Camilleri, Elena Cecchinato, Jake Clark, Oliver Clegg, Paul Cole, Giles Corby, Alex Daw, Mengsel Design, Robin Dixon, Peter Doig, Ralph Dorey, Elmgreen & Dragset, Richard Ducker, Kris Emmerson, Sophie Erlund, Ruth Ewan, Ben Faga, Nooshin Farhid, Dave Farnham, Oona Grimes, Gonkar Gyatso, Ian Hamilton Finlay, David Harrison, Adam Hemuss, Alex Hudson, Henry Hudson, Mandy Hudson, Kate Hughes, Max Hymes, Chantal Joffe, Ben Johnson, Birthe Jorgensen, Deirdre King, Peter Lamb, Andrea Medjesi-Jones, Hugh Mendes, Hiroko Nakao, Chris Ofili, Grayson Perry, Robert Rush, Harry Sewell, Keir Smith, Malin Ståhl, Richard Stone, Kate Street, Mimei Thompson, Hugh Wilson, Jeanine Woollard, Mark Wright 

Turner Prize winners Grayson Perry and Chris Ofili are among the high profile names donating works for this exhibition and silent auction to be held over 2 days. The auction will help to raise essential funds for St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, which provides end-of-life care to those with incurable illnesses in east and north east London. Victoria Miro, of Victoria Miro Gallery is Patron of the event and is helping attract artists, including Chantal Joffe, Peter Doig, Hiroko Nakao, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Elmgreen and Dragset. With over 50 pieces from both established and emerging artists, the auction offers a unique opportunity to get your hands on some original, high quality art works whilst supporting a worthwhile cause.

St Botolph-Without-Aldgate  / Aldgate High Street, London EC3N 1AB

Saturday, 23 October 2010

5ive / Burning Season / mind of a rock

Middlesex Philosophy Events open to public

Middlesex Philosophy Seminar and Events, 2010-11

The Philosophy programme at Middlesex is due to close in 2012. Admissions have been stopped, and only second- and third-year undergraduate students now remain. We will announce the appointment of a new temporary lecturer in Philosophy shortly.
Below is the schedule for the Philosophy Seminar. This series is aimed at Philosophy and Humanities students at Middlesex, but is also open to the public, and anyone interested in fundamental enquiry about philosophical issues is welcome to attend.
Seminars will mostly be held on Thursdays, at 6.30pm, but three (30 November, 25 January and 15 February) will be held on Tuesdays at 5.30pm. All seminars will take place in the Saloon (M004), Mansion Building, Trent Park. (Cockfosters/Oakwood tube).
Please also note the workshop on Wednesday 3 November, ‘The Humanities and the Idea of the University’. This will take place between 11am and 6pm, in the Saloon, Mansion Building. The ‘Hegel Now?’ workshop on 5 May will take place from 2pm – 8.30pm (room to be announced).

Thursday 14 October.  Alex Callinicos (Kings College London): ‘Slavoj Žižek and the Critique of Political Economy’

Thursday 28 October.  Nina Power (Roehampton): ‘Intellectual Equality: Rancière and Education’

Wednesday 3 November.  Workshop: ‘The Humanities and the Idea of the University’

Thursday 11 November.  Susan James (Birkbeck): ‘Spinoza, Rembrandt and Suspicion’

Thursday 18 November.  Sean Sayers (Kent): ‘Marx’s Concept of Communism’

Tuesday 30 November.  Christopher Norris (Cardiff): ‘Aesthetic Ideology Revisited’

Thursday 9 December.  Gary Lachman (London): ‘What is Cosmic Consciousness?’

Tuesday 25 January.  Robin Le Poidevin (Leeds): ‘The Beginning of Time’

Thursday 3 February.  Keith Ansell Pearson (Warwick): ‘Beyond Compassion: On Nietzsche’s Moral Therapy in Dawn

Tuesday 15 February.  Dylan Evans (University College Cork): ‘Is Lacanian Psychoanalysis Wrong, Or Not Even Wrong?’

Thursday 3 March.  Marcus Boon (York University, Toronto): ‘The Politics of Just Intonation: Music, Mathematics and Philosophy after La Monte Young’

Thursday 17 March.  Martin Liebscher (Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, London): ‘Sigmund Freud and his Philosophical Mediators’

Thursday 31 March.  David Lapoujade (Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne): Title to be announced.

Thursday 5 May.  Workshop: ‘Hegel Now?’ Including Slavoj Žižek on ‘Is it still possible to be a Hegelian today?’ Further speakers to be confirmed.

In addition, this semester we will be running two short courses open to the general public. These will take place in the Green Room (M009), Mansion Building, on Friday afternoons between 4-6pm. From 15 October to 12 November, Meade McCloughan will lead a course on Marx’s Capital, and from 26 November to 10 December, Rosa Nogues will give an introduction to French feminist philosophy.
Please direct enquiries to