<documenta X><blast>severality

Bracha Lichtenberg - Ettinger (bracha@easynet.fr)
Tue, 1 Jul 1997 16:08:11 +0200

Having been away in Venise then Kassel, I am catching up on some posts.
Brandon Van Every was suffering from "too much volume on too many subjects,
with too much disparate methodology" and felt "the list would benefit from
a more tightly focused discussion plan, such as "We're going to talk about
X for the next 3 weeks", "common goal" etc. "let's all do different
threads!" sounds good in theory," he says, "but in practice, it keeps the
centrifuge whirling ever outwards. People get distracted". I am taking
this up because some other members of the list may share these
frustrations, so well articulated by Brandon, or may feel their target.
Against this uncontrollable multiplicity, the yearning for the One emerged,
the phantasy of having All of us directed towards One desire and goal, at
least for a while. This yearning got connected to another phantasy, that of
the Everything: "Would that I could react to all of them, do justice to all
of them" ..." it would very shortly become impossible" said Brandon.
Surely, a nobel aspiration. Thus, in front of this opposite, the One for
All, another opposite appeared: Everything or Nothing, to be here or not,
and Brandon, much to my regret, signs off.
It seems to me that this list can't enter the yes/no, One/All,
Everything/Nothing phallic order and logic. Not because we wish so or we do
not wish so, but because this space is set up by and from Severality:
different hosts inviting people from different disciplines, different
contemporary attempts to articulate space emerge from different horizons
and display different desires and interests, giving rise to different lines
of thought and styles (technical, academic, theoreticla, poetic). The
phallic tools of One, All, Everything or Nothing can't handle these
differences, whether we like it or not, for severality is at the heart of
the list's mode of becoming. So the question is, in a space like ours,
where no One central guidance is offered, how can each of us negotiate
differences, approach or leave aside strange deires and unexpected messages
that do not follow "our" elected thread, in a way that does not destroy
either the other's desire (so that the other get into silence) or my own
(and I gives up and disappear). We may think of a borderspace of fading out
and zooming in rather then having to be completely "off" since
unable/unwilling to always be completely "on". Unable or unwilling to creat
a "pure" project or space doesn't mean condemnation to
impurity-as-confusion. Rather, a different sense for im-purity in severlity
may emerge here, independant of both these opposites (pure/impure,
One-goal/endless-multiplicity). In a non-phallic matrixial space, threads
that entwine in severality with no central control are not necessarily
confusion. And to conclude, I cannot accept Brandon's claim that doing
different threads "sounds good in theory" but is impossible in actuality
and we need the One. Theory is not separate from our "real" life, ideas
shape life and are born from it. The question of handling difference and
the other, and of negotiating different desires in a non-One and not-All
space of interlinks is crucial; the desire to construct an artificial "One"
when multiplicity gets too much is, to my mind, dangerous - it is one of
the dangers of our time.
Bracha Lichtenberg-Ettinger