written with João Fiadeiro.
translation by Paula Caspão
2014. Jogo das Perguntas: o Modo Operativo AND e o viver juntos sem ideias. In Passos, E.; Kastrup, V.; Tedesco, S. (orgs). Pistas do Método da Cartografia, vol 2. Porto Alegre: Sulina Editora
2013. (original ) Jogo das Perguntas: o Modo Operativo AND e o viver juntos sem ideias. In Fractal Revista de Piscologia, v.25, n.2. Rio de Janeiro: UFF, Depto de Psicologia.
2013. O Jogo das Perguntas. In Trilogia Secalharidade. Lisboa: Ghost Editores
2013. O Jogo das Perguntas | The Question Game (Dossier AND Lab). In Revista A.Dnz, ano 1, no.1, Santiago de Chile: Universidade de Chile, Facultad de Artes, Departamento de Danza.
The question game "how to live together?" and "how to not have an idea?" composes the Operative Mode AND, a system that emerged from the reciprocal contamination between Real Time Composition and Ethnography as Situated Performance. On the "how to live together?" plan, the game has the rhythm of real time collective improvisation - it can be played within any everyday event or in laboratory practice. On the "how not to have an idea?" plan, the game takes the rhythm of a solitary research and the temporality of depuration: this is the game we play every time we work on the execution of a task or on the creation of an artcraft in any field of activity.
Keywords: togetherness; collaboration; creativity; ethics; affect.
The tool-concepts and the conceptual-tools at hand in this text are the result of an encounter between two modes of doing – the ethnographic and the choreographic or, more accurately, the encounter between two concerns: Fernanda Eugénio’s concern with anthropology and João Fiadeiro’s concern with dance – which turned out to be one and the same.
One: a concern about how to live together, considering that the apparatus we have to do it has been fully articulated around an obsession with separation, control, scrutiny, and knowledge. The concern about how not to have an idea, i.e. about how to let go of that obsession with knowledge and controlled, controlling and controllable decision, in order to be available to take a “de-scission”: between human and non human, subject and object, the “I” and her environment, person and event, theory and practice, thought and action, agency and passivity, ethics and aesthetics, and so many other complementary-opposite repliers that sustain our worldview.
STOP-AGAIN AND NOTICE: FROM KNOWLEDGE TO FLAVOUR, FROM WHY TO WHAT
Awakening this other operating mode in order to deal with what happens around us – as the matter of what affects and activates us – entails abandoning the “once upon a time” logic, as well as a linear relation to time, disposing us to start (and end) the story by the “middle”.
We are not used to take the middle as a working place, and while it looks simple and even obvious – since we are always “in the middle” or “in the milieu” of something, and living is always a form of gerund – we tend to begin by the “end”. The operating modes we practice the most, as different as they may be, rarely start by the “situation factor” of the middle: they all articulate themselves by the end and differ only in the way they understand it. If they situate the end in the future, they make us start by the “aim-end”: the purpose, goal or expectation. If they situate it in the past, they make us start by the “causality-end”: the cause, origin, motive, reason, tradition or, here too, expectation. The simple decision to start by the end encloses such operating modes in a law-format – the law of expectation, which puts us right away in the position of “narrating what was, what is, and what will be” – backed up by some kind of knowledge or assumption. As a matter of fact, this is another way of talking of the same problem: the games we are used to play are those in which not only the rules are given beforehand, the positions are also posed even before they are there: in practice they are not posed but “presupposed”, so they end up being “imposed” as well.
In this kind of games there is little or no room at all for what is not expected and known. The unpredictable, if and when it appears, cannot but activate the same knowledge game, where it cannot take an affirmative place: in the best-case scenario it can appear in the negativity of the “lack”. A “lack of sense” that immediately directs us not to deal with the concrete of what the unpredictable brings about, but with the abstract we suppose it takes away from us, and which we seek to restore as soon as we can: the so-called end, the why in its infinite varieties of purpose or causality. In this game of knowledge there is no room for not-knowing: either you know (why) or you seek to know (why?). That is to say, to solve and answer. The knowledge game is also the answer game: either we already have an answer and the unpredictable goes unnoticed, or all of a sudden we don’t have it, because that unpredictable intruder steals it. And in that case there is always something we think we know, we always have some answer up our sleeve: we have to explain and interpret at all costs; recover the why and the thread of the expectant-narrative, put things back in their “due” and tamed places.
One has to start by the middle, we said. But what exactly is this work about? It is about taking care of the “what” that is in the middle. To start by the middle means to start by the unpredictable, or rather: to start right there, by the unpredictable, that surrounding situation-place where the accident and the accidented erupt and interrupt each other, operating as a mutual opportunity to find a new game, another game. To replace the knowledge and the answer games by “flavour” and “question games”: a game where the obstacle may be perceived as a “condition” and not as a “conditioning” and whose “rules” may emerge from the game itself – sustained by the “consistency” – rather than by the “coherence” – of what is lived and shared.
The activation of this other operating mode happens therefore in the passage from “knowing why” to “savouring what”: that which is in the environment of the encounter with the unexpected, which manifests as a window of opportunity to turn away from expectation, allowing the very event to tell us “what it tastes like”. In this game it is no longer the situation around that occupies the place of what is expected; we ourselves get into a “standby mode”. The first (and perhaps the only) gesture is exactly this one: to stop. Or rather, to “stop-again”: to stop anew there where the accident irrupts and interrupts us.
As we are challenged by the unexpected, at any scale – be it the scale of major accidents or that of small unpredicted things – “starting up this stop” then consists in predisposing ourselves to suspend the pattern reaction of (already) knowing or knowing again, and take this as yet unnamed “what” – with no past to give it a cause or a future to give it a goal – as a middle.
Once we are able to “stop-again” the middle becomes tangible. Because to “stop-again” is also and almost immediately to notice the surroundings, the situational factors whose interrelations emerge as the webs of an immense and immersive living map: unlike the linear woofs of expectant-narratives (which operate by development rather than by involvement), these webs don’t produce history but geography: they operate by (un)folding. We are right in the middle: we are what we have and what has us, in a reciprocal implication that makes us, along with the accident, at once space, time, matter, and relation. On this ground, knowledge is useless – except to the extent that it is also, just like everything around, a matter that can be savoured and worked on. Knowing doesn’t allow us to take notice but only to “look” (an operation meant to acknowledge the why) or “see” (the operation that interprets the why). Yet when we are able to “handle the in-betweenness”, when we are able to handle not-knowing, the gesture of stopping-again-and-noticing is activated: no longer a quest for answers, but a navigation throughout the questions that the here-and-now web of relations has to offer.
Noticing and savouring are an experience that happens in immediate closeness to “what” there is. While the operation of looking/seeing/knowing produces separation and scission between the subject (of the narrative-knowledge) and the object (that is narrated-known), noticing/savouring can only be “accomplished” (in the double sense of taking place and of taking the place into account) as an act of coming closer, of contact, relation: as an act of de-scission. It is “together” that we stop-again and notice.
For noticing and savouring to take place as a “mode of doing” and as a “how”, one has to start by not answering this “how”. For as we ask “how” – How to live together? How not to have an idea? – we always (seriously) risk replying and thus finding ourselves back in the knowledge game. Hence the tactic: to every question, a re-question. Inside (or outside) of each question “how?”, (re)ask about the “what”, “where” and “when” of each situation – and at the same time cleverly drift away from the interrogative forms we are most used to practice: “who?” and “why?”. In this way, a short pathway to the game as (un)folding spiral may emerge: What, in what is there? How, with this what? Where-when, with this how?
Questions to be concretised every time you play, not to be answered, but situated, getting in position with the position of what envelops us. Getting in “com-position”.
THE CONCEPTUAL-TOOLS: HOW TO LIVE TOGETHER?
The game starts when we let ourselves get caught by the unpredictable. If we want to be rigorous about taking life in its condition of accidented “constant inconstancy”, the game could then virtually start every moment and any time. But the accident is only accomplished as such when it is “used”; so in order to start the game you need to turn the unpredictable into a “zone of attention”, a potential meeting point: it is not enough that the accident interrupts us, we have to notice that interruption.
There are two modulation-spaces to trigger this encounter-accident, within the fields of dance and anthropology practices. On the one hand we have the laboratorial space provided by the atelier/studio apparatus; on the other hand we can work at the level of “lived life” taken as an ethnographic field.
The laboratory allows us to trigger what we call a “maquette scale”, while the fieldwork gives us access to the game on a “human scale”. These “scales” correspond to different fractal cuts, though they operate in the same manner with regard to their functioning. The “mode” in which we get involved and the activation of the work of stopping-again to notice also triggers, on whatever scale, a way of living life – a continuous negotiation with unpredictability – and a research laboratory of living together.
The difference between the model and the fieldwork, if there is one, will be in how the “zone of attention” – the interval between the manifestation and the perception of the unpredicted event that works as the starting point for the question game – erupts and settles down. While on the human scale of everyday events the “framing” of the event by our perception happens by the middle and in the milieu of something, on the model scale of the laboratory we have to wait that one of the “players” takes position for the accident to irrupt for others. That First Position inaugurates the collective com-position through the unfolding of a common “immanent regulation”. As in any improvisation process, once the First Position is installed, in life or in the studio, nobody controls beforehand what each “player/agent” will do, or what will be made from what each of them does. But unlike a traditional improvisation, whose code largely amounts to the arbitrary individual freedom – so much that you hardly ever get to play “with” somebody, the most common result equalling the sum of a set of contiguous but not coexisting proposals – each position is in this case taken in relation to the “possibilities-properties” of the previous position (after the first one), and in relation to the preceding relation (after the second position). This procedure is just a tactic to “protect us from ourselves”. Only in this way can sharing no longer have a meaning-sense, to engage in a direction-sense.
When we play the “game of knowledge”, the “common” is thought of as a pre-existing (preferably consensual) code: in order to play you have to know a set of rules and then play them back. When we are willing to play the “flavour game”, our first work is to “find the game” (or a common direction) from what we have and where we are: a plane of conviviality for the differences we bring to the encounter, made of the possible fittings between them (a “dissensual” plane then). This makes up a whole first work around the issue of living together, by means of a situational com-position to be negotiated with the collective.
As there are no presupposed rules in this game, this negotiation can only be made with what is there (and not with what we would like to be there). So from the start we have to be aware of the temporality of the situation itself, for it works both as a component and as a condition for everything which is there. That is to say, all this work of com-position cannot be imposed as an “artificial break”; in order to be accomplished, it has instead to find time “within time itself”. Living together happens (or not) in “real time”: and real time doesn’t correspond to a universal objective linearity, but to time performed by the very emergence of the event, within the duration of the “autonomy of flight” of each situation.
SENSITIVITY TO INITIAL CONDITIONS
It is within the area of autonomy between positions – the time interval within which an autonomous position repeats itself without differing – that we can stop-again and notice. This is the real time we have to accept the accident, investigate possible fittings with what we have to offer, and get ready to give back. A whole cycle of “give-receive-give-back” can fit in this interval between being invited to act and the action itself.
In order to explore the full potential of the encounter and of the very interval in a fair way, the proposed commitment is that we use this time to dedicate ourselves to the work of des-scission, out of which the decision may emerge as a consequence, no longer being the cause of our actions. This work is no other than the task of noticing, leaving aside, as soon as possible, the urge to “already know” or the pretention to “discover” what the accident “is” or “means”. Let us spend this interval stopping-again, declining the ease of taking the encounter as a set of fragments (pieces of a larger code that would give them a sense) to alternatively commit ourselves to the work of “defragmentation” or “fractalization” that operates within the spiral of “what-how-where-when”.
To make this happen we have to stop dividing the present into subjective and objective elements: between what the “I” thinks/feels/wants/imagines and the supposed “objectivity” of “objects”. This is neither about listing the “properties” of the environment nor the “possibilities” of “points of view”. Rather, it is about making an inventory of the “possibilities-properties” of the relation, of the potential fittings between the reliefs and the contingent tendencies that manifest there and turn the situation into a force field. An inventory of the affordances that emerge from the encounter with the First Position and, among them, those that carry as a tendency an “extensive intensity” and an “intensive extensiveness” (neither only extensiveness, nor only intensity). To notice the affordances is not a reflection separated from taking action; it is already a “thinking-action”, a gesture of putting-together and “with”, “hologramming” a body-to-body with the environment, a making that only differs from its execution in density, not in nature.
This is the stop-motion unfolding between the First Position and what will be at once the Second Position and the First Relation of the game. Only after the Second Position has been taken, can the First Position retroactively take shape and be (counter)effectuated, in the sense that of all the possible worlds that the accident-encounter brings about, only one will be activated.
FINDING THE GAME: THE COMMON PLANE
So we have a first relation between two positions; a first com-position. From that relation, new affordances emerge once again, a little more complex to notice, because it is no longer a matter of noticing what an autonomous position offers, but the relation between autonomous positions – what they sustain in co-dependency, the ambiance between them. Our work here is to find a breach where to establish a relation with that relation: thus the Third Position is also the Second Relation. “Relation of relations”, which is to say: getting in the common plane.
If the Second Position works as a “suggestion” for a possible common plane, the Third Position has the responsibility to “accomplish” it – in the double sense of “taking it into account” and “embodying it”. Hence finding the game – or being found by the game – implies a minimum of three positions. For this is also the minimum required for two relations to emerge: a relation (between the First and the Second Position) and a relation with that relation (between the Third Position and the First Relation).
To avoid waste is a crucial part of the “ethics of sufficiency” that concerns the whole game. To do with what we have and “diminish” assumptions, control and manipulation, replacing them by a fair positioning and a careful handling, as well as by a mode of being in which the players are first of all gamekeepers (not authors) of the event. Guidelines based on “competence” and “efficiency” – which characterise competitive games – are out of the frame of this game, since here you can only win what you accept to lose, and you only win when everybody wins.
If three positions and two relations are enough to find a game/common plane, our work is to create the conditions for them to emerge in the shortest time lapse, so that we can, as soon as possible, start the game. In short: start living together. And living together, in the context of the ethics and proposed procedures, will be all about “postponing the end”. Taking too long to find the game would not be about postponing the end but the beginning – and this is exactly what we usually experience in “knowledge games”, which seldom get to savour the experience of “togetherness”.
PLAYING THE GAME: POSTPONING THE END, ACCEPTING THE END, ANTICIPATING THE END
Once the common plane or direction-sense of the game has been found, the “work of noticing” moves into an infinitesimal dimension. On this scale it is no longer about stopping-again before taking a position, but about stopping-again in and out of each of them. The rhythm and the pace have already been clarified in the very cadence of the common event, so that the work is “diminished” in the handling of the amounts (non qualitative quantities) of repetition and difference that the event “needs” to keep (un)folding. Then comes a third modulation of noticing [“reparar”]: apart from stopping-again [“re-parar”] and noticing [“reparar”] the affordances, there is the work of “repairing” [“reparação”].
The work of repairing consists in “differentiated repetition”. So with each new “move”, while remaining within the common plane, we reposition ourselves through subtle “focus changes” capable of preserving the dis-sensus, i.e. the elasticity of the shared direction. Repairing thus takes the form of a constant “rehabilitation for use” of what we have, in order to keep us with one another: “repair” [“consertar”] in order to “consult each other” [“concertar”]. For this to happen, it is important that repairing occurs “on time”, without falling into a “late remediation”. Repairing and not saving; working through fairness rather than justice; through accountability rather than repentance.
In this work of “precision” (neither less, nor more) and “readiness” (neither before, nor after), our attention is focused on not letting us get caught by knowledge, which could convert the common plane into a consensual plane, and the precision of the event into “necessity”, reducing the spiralling of the question game to a circling around the answer. This concern, which is crucial to preserve the dimension of regulation that is immanent to the game, prevents the initial conditions of the encounter – which allowed us to reach a shared direction-sense – from being captured by the machine of explanation/interpretation and meaning-sense, and stultified under the form of constraints. With it we can protect ourselves from fabricating coherence in relation to what happens, a coherence that would make us set the next steps via expectation.
That is what “postponing the end” is about: thickening the consistency of the very “playing the game”, without letting it fall into coherence. For this reason, postponing the end has to start by “accepting the end”. It is our lucidity and capacity to welcome a common plane in its “finite” condition that protects us from transforming it in a law. Since starting the relation by the promise or claim of some kind of “forever” imposed by decree would mean to restore the old predetermined roles, to increase expectations and authorize the whole panoply of accusations and charges based on a “should be”. We would block up our capacity to keep repairing, since we would restrict the composition to the “contour-limit” of the law: proclaiming an “infinite”, we would convert it into a “limited”. Ultimately, the quantities of difference would become delineated qualities, and the position takings would no longer have manoeuvre room to repeat while differing; the looping circle would be installed: the stop as resistance and accusation or as withdrawal and resignation.
Postponing the end is therefore a work with the unlimited, with the spiralled widening of the “tension-limits” of the common direction, accomplishing its extension to the extent of its “meta-stability”. It is therefore a work with the “finite”: within the lifecycle of the situation or the space-time of its autonomy. The lucidity of finitude is what allows the responsible engagement in handling what we have, and the commitment to attend it timely and fairly. That lucidity is also the device that allows for the concrete practice of sufficiency, working for the end not to be consumed in the vertigo of dumping and waste, but to extend in duration.
Yet to postpone the end it is not enough that we accept it. “Playing the game” in duration is also simultaneous with another still movement: the one to “anticipate the end”. This anticipatory work has nothing to do with precipitation, on the contrary. It consists in the widening and distribution of attention between what is accomplished – the complexity of duration and the densification of the relation – and the set of possibles and impossibles that never stops actualising. “Anticipating the end” requires a commitment, so that the “concentration” on gamekeeping the game (the work to be done within each position) is accompanied by the “spreading” of lucidity (the work to be done in the exterior of each position), so that we are able to welcome and take the “virtual signs” into account: the amounts of difference that are not yet effectuated in the common plane, which fail to meet it in terms of density only, but nevertheless keep crossing it. To intercept signs, admit them without reacting right away: this is what anticipating the end is about. In other words, anticipating the end is ultimately no more than “managing differences” instead of “generating differences”.
It is through the activation of this distributed attention – awareness, more than consciousness – that we can intercept the yet imperceptible difference, even before it takes “body of consequence”. This operation allows us to constantly gather in an inventory the differences that emerge from repetition as we play. It also enables us to handle the matter of emerging differences, turning them into the matter and fuel to keep postponing the end together. For if in order to keep going together we have to preserve the common plane, in order to preserve the common plane we have to change from time to time. Change focus on each move, but also “change plane” when “needed” – in the sense of just fair and not in the sense of necessity.
Indeed, “postponing the end” is about “accepting the end”: not only admitting the “finitude” of the common plane as soon as it establishes itself, but also welcoming the end when it comes about, by exhaustion or saturation. If we are attentive, the signs collected in the work of anticipation show us when the right time to stop comes. If we can accept them and turn the very “state of play” into the criterion of the situation, we will be ready to turn the time to stop, once again, into “stopping-again”. In order to turn the end into a new “milieu”, finding a new game beginning and extending the desire (not the pleasure) to live together.
THE TOOL-CONCEPTS: HOW NOT TO HAVE AN IDEA?
The game of the question “how not to have an idea?” can be found in different fractal cuts. On the one hand, it is “interior” to the game “how to live together?”, happening in real time in the interval between each position taking – it is therefore a “game that is played during the game”, which unfolds in each player. On the other hand, it is “anterior” to the game (and “posterior”, as in a spiral the end is also the beginning), and can then be described and lived in several ways: broadly speaking, “not to have an idea” works as a condition to live together, so that this is the game we have to play to (re)learn, each time, how to offer what we have in relation to that for which we are taken. And this work can both be the handicraft that allows us to propose a First Position for the collective game – in the life-laboratory or in the laboratory-life – and give rise to another way of experimenting the individual creative act.
The most common way of understanding creation – both in the biblical pattern of creation “from scratch”, and in the romantic conception of creation as authorial irruption – is predicated on the idea. Or rather: it is confined to the idea. This is one of the many ways in which we got to the set of modern “scissions”, as well as to the maintenance, as the blind spot of our living patterns, of some “transcendence” meant to secure our actions. Execution is bound to follow the idea, invariably falling short of it. And the idea is bound to arise “from nothing” – for God or the individual-gods and especially for the author-gods among them. With this kind of assumption, we already start our relation to the world in debt towards the transcendence of the model-idea, even before we have done anything. And in this case the game that is activated is a game of addition or subtraction: a game of competition, not of cooperation, either with each other or with the environment, both objectified to some degree.
Because we are all more or less immersed in this scheme, the game of “how not to have an idea?” requires the most complex of challenges: being able to play with the matter of what we call “I”. To rehabilitate for “use” what is rather designed for “abuse”. The complexity of this task is the fact that even before we start playing, we have to defragment or fractalize that “I” and re-find what are the “forces” that move us as “beings” – what “the scheme of the idea” has already formatted in a cliché: our affects and desires. If, in order to not have an idea you have to multiply the “I” as you divide it (or divide it as you multiply it), it is clear that living together reciprocally works, too, as a condition to not have an idea. This is therefore a single operation involving two questions – which is however constantly reformulated by the scale on which we play them (that of the “I” or of the “group”).
In this game we also start by the “milieu”, by what surrounds, runs across, and makes us: the matter of our affects. The unspeakable “That”, which nevertheless takes the form of “This” every time it is shared. And it could not be otherwise, because the creation of an artefact is an act of “giving” – and since “we can only give what we have”, our affects are all we have (and all that has us).
In the meantime, before we rush to have an idea of the affects we have, a project, a work to be offered, we should realise that the relation to the matter of affect is first of all about the capacity we have to “receive”– and that offering the “work” is, therefore, more of a “return” than a “giving”. For affects are encounters: they are, at once, the most intimate and foreign that we have. We do not choose our affects: they find us. In that sense they are also accidents that interrupt us from time to time, in the form of concerns – concerns that trigger what we call a creative process.
The problem is that once concerns emerge, our tendency is to drift away from them – instead of doing “with” them. Once they emerge, we perceive them and assimilate them as ideas. In other words, we hardly give ourselves the opportunity to live with “That” in its ineffable condition: we often already experience it via our clichés; we already experience it as a deciphered “This”. We cannot handle uncertainty long enough to inhibit our habits of deciphering, saying, diagnosing, interpreting, knowing – and that is how we disable the possibility of having the very concerns that affect us telling us “what they taste like”. Turned into inspiration, idealization or model, they sustain our “intention”. No longer in possession of affect but of “intention”, our creative process takes the path of representation: a work “on” the “implicit” idea and not an artefact “with” the “explicit” affect. Worse still: in possession of an “intention”, we can no longer notice the “inclination” of the affect-ground, in the direction-sense towards which it tends and to which it invites us. We are already, as soon as possible, deep in deciphering the personal meaning-sense that the concern awakens in us. We are already, as soon as possible, in a journey of “biographical illusion”, working to produce an “effect” from that affect, which we soon take as a “cause”.
The problem is that personal criteria of intention only allow the “work” to function as an occasion of sharing by a happy coincidence, since they inscribe it in the constellation of individual codes and meanings of the one who makes it. So that what can emerge as a First Position is a “closed” and “complete” fragment or, at best, “open” because “incomplete”. In none of the cases do we have conditions for an autonomous positioning, able to invite without imposing, to exist without demanding: conditions that only a position at once “open” and “complete” could fairly provide. A creation whose support and legitimation are exclusively predicated on the “author’s intentionality” has thus little chance to operate as an open and available autonomy area, as an occasion for a possible encounter, an occasion for reciprocal co-dependence.
So, as “well-intentioned” as we may be (or precisely because we are), what we offer tends to take the form of an “independent fragment”, which dismisses the other or addresses her with a watchword. The other is left with the option to position herself towards an “offer with no gaps” or a “gap with no offer”, in terms of “like” or “dislike”. “To each her own (taste)”, as we often say, yet drawing from personal taste there are little chances that relations emerge.
Affect is not taste: while the latter is inscribed in the logic of pleasure and satisfaction, the first unfolds in the logic of desire and concern. Taste is organised as a response; affect disorganises us in the form of a question. Taste is personal; affect is transversal and therefore impersonal.
But how, then, to open a breach in the “scheme of the idea”, that would allow us to work with the matter that affects us, and not about it? How to conjure the idea, this answer that comes to us so fast and has us repeating with no difference, with all the conservatism of our author-individual “freedom”, preventing us from being many and from being with many?
The work to do is one of “implication”, not one of “explanation”.
THE MAP OF WHAT: THE ETHNOGRAPHY OF ENCOUNTER
When it emerges, “That” is a cloud: an aggregate of relations of relations that addresses us on the surface. So explicit that it is “ob-vious”, it is pushed away and kidnapped from vision: in face of it, plunging in explanation/interpretation is helpless. It is therefore on the surface that we have to remain, in order to do “with” it. As an emerging ob-vious, “That” is an accident, an obstacle, a “relief” that makes us stop.
The first question that comes to mind when “That” happens to us: “what is This?” is the question of the idea, because when it comes to us our tendency is to jump right away to the response plane. Hence our proposal is simple, but difficult to apply: first, we have to replace the “what is”, which would make us look for the answers behind or underneath what is there – in a supposedly implied meaning to be explained – by another kind of question, that enables us to feel our way along the reliefs that “present” themselves, rather than delving into the assumptions of what they could “represent”. Instead of being, having: “what is in That; what does That have; what concerns us in That?”
Navigate, instead of plunging. Re-ask, reformulate the question, but go on not answering: this is the opening for a work that allows us to remain in the “explicit”, that can navigate on the surface of the ob-vious without looking for evidence of it. A mapping work, an ethnographic work, a spotting work. The game of “how not to have an idea?” operates in a sequence, once again a spiralled one: map-navigation-map-navigation.
How does that work? If the first map to be drawn is a map of What, this is exactly the question to be left unanswered. To make the Map of What amounts to “circumscribing it”, asking “how” and “where-when”: “How has That found me? Where-when has That found me? “
Exploring these two questions does not require an explanatory or interpretive work, but a descriptive one. It requires a complete willingness to “receive” the event, to investigate the conditions under which It “was given”, offering itself to us. Such work takes place in the very event as milieu, a territory of reliefs that have to be crossed again, so as to be circumscribed. The Map of What has the particular responsibility of preserving That in its condition of “aggregate-cloud”, of “envelope”, “fold”, “origami”. After all, That can only summon us because it is such an autonomous form-force, open and complete as an origami: open, in the sense that it is based on its own folds, without glue; complete in the sense that it presents to us in a concrete form – the form of its folds. Mapping what this folding brings about is a work to be done on the borders: the circumscription of an instance or force field, and not the inscription of a substance or field of meaning.
As we engage in the description of the very event of the emergence of That as unrepeatable singularity, in handling a minute circumscription of its mode of eruption, we do nothing else than a field account. In order to put into words the force field of That, the Map of What uses language – the same we commonly use to tell an idea – in a quite particular way. Like this we arrive at a “minimum sentence”, a “tension-phrase” capable of describing That in the form of an “operation”. In this way we do no exactly describe the affect separated from the subject, but the relation between them, the de-scission that makes them one and, out of that one, many.
To achieve this minimal description with accuracy gives us access to what That can and to what we can do with It. Working on the borders of the fold, circumscribing the surroundings of the encounter with That, we transform the “form” into a “formulation”, conjuring away the possibility to set what That “is” in order to concentrate ourselves on what It “does” and on “how It makes us”. Hence this formulation results in the description of an operation. This operation, in its turn, works as a “task”.
In this way we leave the Map of What not with something to know, but with something to do. We are thus ready for navigation again.
But how to navigate in the Map of What? How to perform the task? How to operationalize That into an artefact? The very emergence of this question works as a sign that we have started a new cycle of the spiral and that we have already fully entered the topographic work of mapping the How.
THE MAP OF HOW: THE ARTEFACT OF ENCOUNTER
Just as we did with the first map, in this second map – the Map of How – the tactic will also be about turning away from the answer. Once the operation that leads us to a creation task is clarified, we have to be careful not to anticipate the decision of how we will execute it; otherwise we will soon get back to the operating mode of manipulation, separated from the opportunity to handle. So, as soon as the question of “how to execute” emerges, our commitment is both to distract it and distract ourselves again from the “I”. To the question “how to”, ask again “what” and “where-when”: “What do I have to work? With what can I perform this task? Where can I situate it; on which interface? When can I execute it, what is its temporality?”
These questions lead us to dealing with the very concreteness of the handicraft as it is performed. But we can only ask them honestly, be available to them, if we do not know the way to do it beforehand, a way that already conveys assumptions in terms of techniques and methods, as well as in terms of materiality, “mediums” and specific space times. In other words, the Map of How can only be done if we are able to question what “suits” the very operation so that we can execute it.
To frankly live and inhabit the Map of How is only possible if we are willing to find – every time, on and with the ground – the materials to be triggered (word, body, image, etc.), where to situate them (in what kind of spatial device or interface) and what is its temporality (that of the instant, of duration, which duration, etc.).
THE MAP OF WHERE-WHEN: THE RETRIBUTION OF THE ENCOUNTER
At this point, there is not much more to say. We are fully in navigation without ideas, in the body-to-body of the merging with what we have and what has us. This is our third map, the situation factor: the Map of When-Where consists in the very position taking by the artefact as a space-time in which our affects get impersonal and “co-incide” with everything that is still alien to them. Here is a Third Position that is also the First, a return that is also a giving, inviting the other and the environment to receive and inaugurate, again and again, the game of living together.
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