Written originally to integrate the conference-performance Secalharidade (2012), created in collaboration with João Fiadeiro (co-production Alkantara Festival/Culturgest).
2013. O encontro é uma ferida. In Trilogia Secalharidade. Lisboa: Ghost Editores
2013. An encounter is a wound. In Scores, 3 – uneasy going. Viena: Tanzquartier
2013. O Encontro é uma ferida (Dossier AND Lab). In Revista A.Dnz, ano 1, no.1, Santiago de Chile: Universidade de Chile, Facultad de Artes, Departamento de Danza.
An encounter is a wound. A wound which widens – in a way that is both delicate and brutal – the possible and the thinkable, signalling other worlds and other ways of living together, as it subtracts past and future by way of disruptive emergence.
An encounter can only be one when its accidental manifestation is perceived as offered, accepted and returned. From that mutual implication emerges a middle, a minimum environment whose duration will little by little design, mark and inscribe itself as a common landscape. An encounter can only take place – can only stop emerging and start to happen – if it is noticed and consecutively counter-effectuated – this is to say, assisted, handled, cared for, each time (re)made as never-ending.
Many accidents that could become encounters never come to accomplish their potential because when they come up they are so hastily decoded, added to what we already know and to the answers we already have, that our existence goes on undisturbed in its infinite kinetics: we do not acknowledge them as anxiety, as an opportunity to reformulate questions, as an occasion to restructure operative modes.
Assuming that we have to know first in order to act afterwards, we hardly stop to take notice of the accident: as soon as we are caught in it, we tend to hinder its still precarious and incipient manifestation. We withdraw our body and move further with the “gaze” – believing it can “objectively” perceive what is there – or by “looking”, assuming there is a meaning behind things which is to be “subjectively” interpreted. In either case, we arrive too soon with what we know – a law or point of view, a unified or a plural one: both are manipulation. Both are versions of the same scission between subject and object, partitioning by decree what each of these entities can and cannot. Unilaterally attributing the capacity to produce agency and meaning to the subject, as well as the right to legislate about the object in order to diagnose, control, classify, and pacify the spirit, etc. Transformed into an object, the accident’s inclination and potentiality to affect are also cancelled and boxed in, by force, in a certainty or in some “I find”. And so we keep existing. Before any encounter, we have already “found”.
This is the dominant logic operating in our day-to-day – the one of despair and not the one of waiting; the one of urgency and not the one of emergency; the one of certainty and not the one of trust – an accident can only be experienced as such if it has the force of a catastrophe. When it is so disproportional in its difference, in its divergence in relation to our expectations and our decoding and interpretation tools, that it precedes and overwhelms the objectivation decree, taking us from subjects to subjected in one go. That is when we cannot ignore or domesticate it: it simply lands on us. But what is tragic is that even this catastrophe-accident tends be experienced not so much as an encounter, since the scission between subject and object is preserved; only its signs are inverted. Dismissed of the control we believed to be ours by right, we find ourselves paralysed, outraged before the sudden sovereignty of the accident. We enter a crisis, doubting about everything; blaming the gods, the parents, the state, the country. In despair, we rush to the arbitrariness of “who cares” or the superiority of “anything goes”: we take to resisting. And if it doesn’t work all the same, then it is even worst, we take to desisting.
And then it is already too late – the fact of knowing does not apply anymore, “findings” do not save us, and neither do we open to mutual estimation; we thus miss the opportunity to experiment what the encounter “tastes like”. We lose control and so the certainties that sustained it. We are clearly not the ones who decide anymore. In the meantime, as if we had forgotten to synchronize our assumptions with the actualisation of the world, we remain hostages of the decree that gave us the illusion that we have decided. Here is the knot: not in the fact that we lost the “power of decision” (have we ever had it?), but in the fact that we are unable to take a “de-scission”, revoking the decree of scission.
The world we live in today is precisely that: the one where we have already understood that we cannot decide, but not yet learned how to de-scissor. A world where we, astonished, uninterruptedly feel caught by an accident after the other, crisis after crisis, uncertainty after uncertainty. Caught in the sensation that it is “too late”. “Too late” to insist on the denial of disparities, conflicts, disagreements, intransigencies, equivoques turned into law. “Too late” to insist on living “as if” the consensus was possible or even desirable. To insist on an unshakeable existence, supported by an aprioristic transcendent nexus: for every thing a name, a frame, a regularity; no frights or risks, everything explained, everything foreseen. And that, all this, is no longer sustainable.
It is no longer possible to keep on with an accommodated existence, in the peaceful indifference of the “everything’s fine”, “too late” anyway, both for resistance and for desistence: it becomes clear that there is no “way out” from those two ways of unresponsiveness.
And that is precisely why this may well be the right moment to staunch despair and take notice of what surrounds us. To suspend the regime of urgency, creating the conditions for a disarmed and responsible opening to emergence. To replace expectation with waiting, certainty with trust, complaint with commitment, accusation with participation, rigidity with rigor, avoidance with attendance, competition with cooperation, efficacy with sufficiency, the necessary with the precisely needed, conditioning with condition, power with force, abuse with use, manipulation with handling, discarding with repairing. To take notice of what one has, to do with what one has. And welcome what emerges as an event. Reencounter, in that simple and daily matter towards which we are taught to become insensitive – the matter of mayhapness –, reencounter in that mutual attendance, a whole multiplicity of contingent ways to open a breach. A breach into re-existence.
In order to explore that breach, one has to abandon the answers, let go of the obstinacy to define what things “are”, what they “signify”, what they “mean”, what they “represent”. Give up the obsession of causes, motives, reasons, and the insatiable hunting to identify and accuse the guilty ones, to reinforce the lament – while the consequences impassibly pursue their purposes. Most precisely, we have to activate a work with the consequences, commit to assisting and tracking in the obvious the opportunities to enter a common plane.
If there is a reason in the encounter, it’s not the reason of causes or judgments, but the ratio of distances between the positions that assemble in its frame, transforming it into a co(m)position. It is this kind of “reason” that appears when we engage in the guesstimate of the variables at stake, in the infinitesimal calculation of the matches and the sufficient proportions.
This can only be carried out if we revoke the protection shields of the subject and the object, and if we let go of the pre-defined contours of the self and the other. This can only be carried out if we stop moving further too soon, driven by the vertigo of revelation or the tyranny of spontaneity, finding time within the very time of things. A time that is already there, between the stimulus and the answer, but that we squander in the voracity with which we give in to fear and get back to habit, to readymade answers or to whatever impulsive reaction, just to quench the despair of not knowing. This can only be carried out if we let go of leadership, transferring it into that “third” place, an impure and precarious place that takes place halfway at the crossroads of mutual inclinations: the event.
If we give ourselves that time, that silence, that breach; if we can put up with keeping the wound open, if we can put up with simply (re)pairing – stopping anew in order to reconsider the obvious until it “dis-obviates” – then the encounter presents itself and invites us in, with its complexity wrapped up in simplicity.
To encounter is about “having something with”. It is an “enter-(main)-tainment – an inter-having –, that implies unfolding the strangeness brought about by the sudden manifestation of the unexpected. To unfold what it “has” and, at the same time, what we have to offer it. To defragment, in minutiae, the amounts of difference unexpectedly put in relation. To go back from the fragment (part of a whole) to the fractal (wholly of a part).
Relation: a match situated between compossible possibilities that co-incide.
Relation of relations: a tendency, a pathway, an event that only takes place while it “is” not, that only takes place while we re-exist with it.
Living together is just about postponing the end.