Notes: Peter Thompson, “Introduction: The Privatization of Hope and the Crisis of Negation” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Thompson, Peter. (2013). Introduction: The privatization of hope and the crisis of negation. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 1-20.

Summary:

Thompson defines the exigency for this book as recovering Bloch from anonymity, defining his principle of hope and spirit of utopia within the context of contemporary events.

Keywords: materiality, philosophy, speculative materiality, theory, utopianism

Quotations:

“Hope, for Bloch, was they way in which our desire to fill in the gaps and to find something that is missing took shape” (p. 3).

“The process that would take us from a static concept of being to one of becoming and of coming to possess ourselves was at base a material one, but it was also one in which our desires, ideas, hopes, and dreams fulfilled a fundamentally important material function in overcoming the ‘ontology of the not yet'” (p. 4).

“Hope therefore learns, but it also teaches as well as constitutes its own conditions” (p. 7).

“The vast majority of utopian thinking could be said to rest in abstract utopias, in abstractions from the process in which the utopia becomes something really existing, whereas the concrete utopia is one which exists and does not exist at the same time because it is in the process of its own creation” (p. 13).

Notes: Heather Horst and Daniel Miller, “Normativity and Materiality: A View From Digital Anthropology”

Horst, Heather & Daniel Miller. (2012). Normativity and materiality: A view from digital anthropology. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, (145), 103-111.

Summary:

Horst and Miller discuss how digital anthropology requires a reconsideration of how materiality and normativity operate in experiences of digital environments.

Keywords: anthropology, culture, digital rhetoric, materiality, methodology, new materialisms, research methods, technology

Quotations:

“Rather than rendering us less human, less authentic, or more mediated, we argue that attention should turn to the human capacity to create or impose normativity in the face of constant change” (p. 103).

“We therefore suggest that one of the central tenets of digital anthropology is the study of how rapidly things become mundane. What we experience is not a technology, per se, but an immediate culturally inflected genre of usage or practice” (p. 108).

Notes: Sara Ahmed, “Brick Walls” in Living a Feminist Life

Ahmed, Sara. (2017). Brick walls. Living a feminist life. Durham: Duke University Press, 135-160.

Summary:

Ahmed describes how diversity work is the labor of coming up against institutional walls, sedimented through material histories of which bodies get access to institutional spaces.

Keywords: feminism, feminist theory, theory, diversity, access, materiality

Quotations:

“[S]o much of what we have to do, because of what or who we are not, is not recognized. When we are diversity workers in both senses this both tends to be obscured as if doing diversity is just about being diversity, or as if being is all we have to do” (p. 135).

“Materiality: if we are hit by something, we become conscious of something” (p. 138).

“You encounter the materiality of resistance to transformation when you try to transform what has become material” (p. 140).

“To think about materiality through institutional brick walls is to offer a different way of thinking the connections between bodies and worlds. Materiality is about what is real; it is something real that blocks movement, which stops a progression” (p. 142).

Walls are how some bodies are not encountered in the first place
Walls are how some bodies are stopped by an encounter
” (p. 145, original emphasis).

A wall comes up to defend something from someone; walls as defense mechanisms.
A wall becomes necessary because the wrong bodies could pass through” (p. 145, original emphasis).

“When citational practices become habits, bricks form walls. I think as feminists we can hope to create a crisis around citation, even just a hesitation, a wondering, that might help us not to follow the well-trodden citational paths. If you aim to create a crisis in citation, you tend to become the cause of a crisis” (p. 148).

“When these words are dismissed, we are witnessing a defense of the status quo: it is a way of saying there is nothing wrong with this; what is wrong is the judgment that there is something wrong with this. There very systematic nature of sexism and racism is obscured because of the systematic nature of sexism and racism” (p. 157).

Notes: Jennifer Clary-Lemon, “Museums as Material: Experiential Landscapes and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights”

Clary-Lemon, Jennifer. (2015). Museums as material: Experiential landscapes and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Enculturation, 20.

Summary:

Clary-Lemon develops a network material approach to working with museums as distributed and choric.

Keywords: Archives, Methodology, Materiality, Network, Research Methods

Quotations:

“I map a material-rhetorical approach to analyzing contemporary museum sites, drawing on Vicki Tolar Burton’s notion of rhetorical accretion (547) and the heuristic work of Carole Blair with memorial sites. By bringing the work of these scholars together, I demonstrate that “reading” museum sites with material methodology in mind results in tactics for invention which emphasize networks over discrete discursive elements” (para. 1).

“I argue for an approach to material sites that engages each layer as connected to the next in a network of accretions which can help researchers form an attendant whole from seemingly disparate markers of diffuse texts” (para. 6).

“It is my hope, then, that considering museum interiors and landscapes as both housing and being different “core texts” that can be seen through a lens of material rhetoric can encourage complex understandings of the layers that are formed from objects, spaces, architecture, and affect from a range of different subject positions, and disturb the bifurcation of inside/outside that emerges from considering museums as object repositories—instead opening these landscapes to see inside and outside as connected in a network of place” (para. 6).

“Layers of durability connect with reproduction, with human relationships. Affect and force interconnect with layers of preservation and enabling functions of the museum-as-text on other texts. A material-rhetorical networked approach to invention in museum sites which layers and connects gathered moments, materials, places, emotions, texts, and technologies offers more than heuristical knowledge; instead, it opens up possibilities for analysis that ‘depend greatly on the principle of response’ within diffuse distributed textual and spatial frames (Swarts 122)” (para. 28).

“Too, this analysis reveals a partial look at the ways in which museum texts work within material contexts as they come into being; that is to say, to read other texts, relationships, and artifacts as arising out of and in conjunction with the materiality of museums disrupts, to some degree, the notion of originary orderliness that museums often unintentionally curate. In moving the topos—’place as empty container’—to the chōra—place as a seat of “dream reasoning” (Walter 68)—examining networked accretions of built sites offers another attempt at Ulmer’s (Heuretics) notion of chorography, and gives scholars a rich place to invent, explore, find, and qualify wholes out of seemingly disparate parts” (para. 29).

touching [writing, writing] feeling

In this ongoing project, Brianne Radke and I have been reflecting on the intersections of affect and materiality, at the interactions and extensions of self and/through objects in our composing process, at the way that selves and objects mean. Below, you can see how we have written our way into this inquiry—and we invite you to click, read, and write your way into this project as well.
untitled-design

legos ultra-fine blog gel pen laptop typewriter voice proposal rubber bands knitting

Our “do” session “attend[s] to the tex[x]tures” and affects of converging materials and experiential realities to explore how “objects and [body]events mean” (Sedgwick, 2003; Massumi, 2002; Bora, 1997). We invite participants to compose with varieties of materials and respond to the sensed experience of writing.

Having trouble viewing this? Interactive .pdf available here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9S67PZXzAr_bl9zeVNNSVhUZzA/view?usp=sharing

Knit /code and a lazy Fall afternoon

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Some days are chill pants days. Fall is here, which means for me gray skies, strong coffee, big sweaters, and a sort of nostalgic slowing down when at all possible. On those days, where it’s possible, I tend to not leave the couch. Whether it’s curling up to read, binge a show, drink more coffee, work: it’s couch work and chill pants time.

The stress of the school year, finishing up my MA program, working on my MA project, applying to PhD programs—these, if indulgent, moments seem few and far between.

I’m not the best at knitting, but it’s something that I love. Even sitting here on the couch knitting a misknit scarf is one of the highlights of my week. The soft yarn moving between my fingers, wrapping around the smooth metal needlethe textures of the fibers in the yarn fraying lightly, the fabric is cool, but touching it makes me feel warm beyond a physical level.

Any time I sit to knit, it is nostalgic. My grandmother taught me to knit and I still remember the black feathery scarf she was making for her mother to mother’s day. It was something I desperately wanted to learn to do, but it seemed strange. It was something I was ashamed to do if anyone was around or watching me. Some years later, my dad found a some study somewhere that I still haven’t read about knitting being helpful for people suffering with moderate to severe depression (my diagnosis). Then it was something that was encouraged, something I could display openly.

But there is an easy rhythm to knitting. It feels like beat counts: 1, 2, 3, 4/k, p, k, p. It feels even in time and material. The paced stitching of fabric in the measured passing of time. Like beat counts, after the first few bars, the pattern all but seems to fade away and becomes something more internalized: a knowledge that my hands know/do. And it is always moving: it never feels like an appropriate place to stop in knitting, as though there is something compelling me to continue to the next stitch.

All because of two stitches: knit (k) and purl (p). All purling even is is a reverse knit (coming from a Middle English word to twist). I can make from them scarves and sweaters, and hats, and socks, and gloves, and cozies… I can misknit, drop a stitch (or drop-stitch) or double stitch and then what does that mean? Now that the pattern has been interrupted and I’ve moved on rows and rows away.

It’s frustration and failure. It’s the questions of value: is this still a scarf? Is this still usable? How bad does it look? What are my options? Are there ways to adjust or compensate? Does a scarf need a straight edge?

NameError_Scarf

eval(Scarf.importMainWithPattern(“<kkppk>”,false,prog));
}
catch(e) {
alert(e.toRow4Stitch4())
}

Knit/code

Not only because knitting operates with a binary operation/language (k,p/1,0) but I think about the ways in which knitting and coding are similar. The pattern operation, the potential for error in-line, and the frustration I feel during these moments seems the same as when I write code.

However they both involve the use of an interpretive and performed language to make digital and material objects.

What is that act of making? And how am I doing it? Have I installed, as I knit, some sort of Python library that make these flurried movements recognizable as knitting though? And where am I in this or as I code for that matter? Or is this just the practice of doing with skilled knowledge?

I don’t feel skilled.

Nor do I feel like I’m tending to the formation or sustaining of something skilled. These acts of doing inscribe into what I do as much as my doing makes the objects.

feel some sort of generative energy in both situations that is clumsy and wondering with the interplay of vision and (re)vision that my hands make possible; a conceptualizing ends and means that wouldn’t be possible without my hands and self being present with the materials at hand.

Rubber bands

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There’s little more frustrating than starting a rubber band ball. The folding, twisting, wrapping—snap! Time to start over again. I tried again, folding the first rubber band in half and in half again and then started to wrap the second around it and the slightest move of my finger made the first lose its shape—time to start over.

And of course, above all else, a rubber band ball takes time—and rubber bands I suppose—hundreds if not thousands of straps of rubber go in to making just a single ball. And perhaps the best part is, you don’t know necessarily what you’re making until you’ve made it and you know it’s never done until you’re satisfied with it.

But what does it communicate to you that signifies “done”ness or completeness? Is it the weight? The feel of the uneven grippy texture of the bands gripping against my palm with the satisfying mass that tells me of the hours of dedication bound up in this ball? Is it the constraint of time or materials? That I simply can’t make more mass because of material limitation?

ogres shrek animated GIF

I’m sitting at this kitchen table making a rubber band ball across from a maker space inspired project book. One of the series of projects is a rubber band ball of the planets. How to create Jupiter, Saturn, etc. out of rubber bands binding the meaning of the planets in with the colors and patterns that visually signify the corresponding planet: a complete-able project goal with clearly articulated materials needed to make this.

But what I’m struck by as I’m sitting at this table, feeling the tension and release as each band flexes and wraps around the others is the indeterminate, the undefined. My band ball looking more like a germinating potato. There’s a satisfaction that comes with the addition of another band that also comes with an uncertainty. Has this one band altered the ball? Will it? Could it? If I had angled the band differently, how would that change? Would the patterns and textures created give a different feel? A different completeness?

At any moment a rubber band ball could be complete, after all. And if it were one on its own, it’s still a complete object that means. The rubber band. The snap against your wrist as that annoying kid who made fun of you at recess pulls back and releases a band in class—the time you tripped down the stairs in the office building holding a stack of newly printed documents bound together in one band that then scattered across the floor—that wooden gun your uncle bought you on your tenth birthday that you spent hours shooting the beige circlets at the oak trees out back—when you were nineteen and sitting at a desk and you realized that, yes, centuries of musicians and mathematicians weren’t lying when you produced a note an octave higher than the first—your senior year in high school when you handed in your final portfolio that you’d lived out the whole year in a sort of anticlimax all tethered together by the single and unimpressive band

Image result for wibbly wobbly timey wimey

I think too about time in this ball. The way it is bound and complete, but becomes newly complete and incompleted anew with the addition of a new band. The ball that bounces across the table seems unstable: that it could continue to grow, or shrink and be at once enacting its history and futures all together. The ball’s ball-ness is iterative and only seems to be a completed ball when it is named a completed ball—a fixed point in ball-ness; I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.

But it’s all caught up in that tension. That felt tension when your fingers press against the edges of the bands, or you pull and that release. It retains its shape, or encompasses another within it.