Activist Journal: Ireland and Germany Extraction, 2015-16

By | 1 November 2016

3/3/2016 Tübingen

Have started reading and (re)considering the work of Pierre Nora re history and memorial sites. Considering Klee’s, ‘Art does not reflect the visible; it renders visible’ as footnoted on p. 125 of Henri Lefebvre’s The Production of Space (Blackwells, 1991. trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith, 2015 ed.), we might contest and rejoinder: Art is a concept of the visible, its truths are interior and invisible. It is the invisible I track as I walk and collate all I see, experience, learn. I do not wish to make these things visible as such, but rather suggest that they might be thought of as visible. That is, I want to be aware, but NOT appropriate. I want to observe but not fetishise in the consuming / possessing sense of the word. Others might have good reason to absorb or comment in that way, but I don’t, personally. Further, to ‘possess’ can be temporary, to own is to desire the exclusive use (or the rights over usage) until ‘it’ is either sold, given, inherited, lost or stolen. Talking of the Bauhaus, ‘as artists associated in order to advance the total project of a total art’, Lefebvre notes (as consequences) three points: ‘1. A new consciousness of space 2. ‘The façade’ (he notes: ‘Fascism, however, placed an increased emphasis on façades …) 3. ‘Global Space’.’ (see p. 125) Regarding the latter, he says, ‘Global Space established itself in the abstract as a void waiting to be filled, as a medium waiting to be colonised. How this could be done was a problem solved only later by the social practice of capitalism: eventually, however, this space would come to be filled by commercial images, signs and objects. This development would in turn result in the advent of the pseudo-concept of the environment (which begs the question: the environment of whom or what?).’ (p. 125)

My response, taking into consideration the vagaries of translation-loss and recontextualising to my own ecology of poetics (maybe the only ‘eco’ that poetry can ‘possess’!):

1. Space does not need to be filled – all space is already filled, or filling and emptying or in a state of ‘about to be filled’. Not just symbolic ‘dark matter’, but an eternally active spatiality, a flux of movement and exchange in which privilege is local and immediate but never permanent. I step and my steps leave a mark – I step again and the mark gets deeper but doesn’t erase the first step. But it is at once physically and conceptually eroded and its initial presence needs be restated (in poetry, in art, in music) to ensure respect for its initial presence, for knowledge of its intrinsic worth. In the same way, the poem text lost and present, or word-of-mouth, suffers entropy and is remade – it is flux. How can we respect indigenous space and open that space to people in need of a place? How can we entertain and respect multiple arguments for presence? How can we all be and not take away from each other? Space does not need to be filled: it is not a vacuum to be fed. It is a presence. But a presence that can tolerate mutual ‘occupation’.

2. Environment as the presence of all matter – living and ‘enlivening’ as it exists without the consequences of colonisation (theft). It is through the active notion of occupying space because it is ‘there to be occupied’ that invasive mentality gains traction – the poem should resist this as much as we should in our living actions. Instead of ‘left’ and ‘right’, maybe we should think in terms of how people wish to ‘control’ or ‘respect’ this ecology of space. Liberty of space or control of space.

Lefebvre is wrong in his deployment and understanding of constructs of (natural) environment. When he absurdly writes, ‘Pollution has always existed…’ (p. 326) he seems to treat it more as metaphor than reality. There is nothing ordinary about waste. Understanding the waste we produce – from the house, the town, the city, or a camp, or a tent or in the open – is pivotal to understanding the weight of being human, of a consciousness of occupying space to the exclusion of other living entities. Pollution as metaphor is the convenience of being able to pollute in reality and to pollute reality. This is the kind of crap that has allowed anti-green Marxists to (re)negotiate human space and biosphere as ALL, to negate intactness of ‘environment’. They are the colonisers who work hand-in-hand with the capitalist destroyers.

20/3/2016 Tübingen

Walked through forest to the Wurmlinger chapel in its island hill with Tracy and Tim. A nice 16km round trip – not far, but a good walk. Enjoyed ourselves greatly. Thinking of chapel-in-the-forest poems – Uhland’s poem is on the outside wall. His poem of burial and song and life and loss. And I think of Michael Dransfield’s poem ‘Geography’ and those exquisite lines which have imprinted me since I was a teenager:

in the forest, in unexplored
valleys of the sky, are chapels of pure
vision. there even the desolation of space cannot
sorrow you or imprison. i dream of the lucidity of the vacuum,
orders of saints consisting of parts of a rainbow,
identities of wild things

24/5/2016 Rosewood, Schull

Two walks today! Getting active again.

First walk – Colla Road loop.
Second walk – highlands loop with Tracy who came along to study the plants of the hedgerows (which she is writing about). She managed to identify every species she examined. I took particular delight (as did she) in the flowering hawthorn trees (apparently, even indifferent local farmers avoid ploughing too close to hawthorn trees in order not to disturb their roots and consequently The Others).


During the first walk I considered how to rethink the post-WWII ‘rethinking’. How to think around Deleuze and Guattari’s rhizome, how to think beyond the ‘tree’, outside The One, and also how to recognise and respect Adorno’s observations regarding art and Auschwitz. If we extend the living ‘tree’ metaphor and metonym we might look more to a contribution of the graft and the leaf’s vascular system and its temporariness re life and its vulnerability to damage and occupation by ‘parasites’. The assault on the lifespan of a leaf by totalitarianism and other ideological forces, as well as by the cadre units of control, is a disturbing poetics of human abuse of fellow humans and life in general. I have deep concerns over D & G’s stand on ‘these’ things. However, François Dosse in Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari: Intersecting Lives (Columbia University Press, New York and Chichester, West Sussex, 2013; trans. Deborah Glassman), approaches some of the complexities with:

Philosophy must not encounter historical tragedy and remain unarmed. On the contrary, it must affirm its function. ‘Of course, there is no reason to believe that we can no longer think after Auschwitz, and that we are all responsible for Nazism.’ (see Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy? (Columbia University Press, New York, 1994; p.106)) But the shame of being human, which Primo Levi expressed blindingly well, remains. We are not necessarily responsible individually, but Nazism sullies us all. ‘There is indeed catastrophe but it consists in the society of brothers and friends having undergone such an ordeal that brothers and friends can no longer look at one another or at themselves without feeling a sense of ‘weariness’, perhaps ‘mistrust’’. After Auschwitz, we can no longer claim the candor of the Greeks. (p.520)

However, I think we all do have responsibility regarding Nazism if we have knowledge or had knowledge of the ‘western world’ or were part of (or are) ‘The West’ and haven’t acted to the contrary, but also I think that if we do not refute such a metaphysics and philosophy in general in the light of this (self)knowledge, we are game-playing with horror and catastrophe. So much of the dialogue centres on the personal desires and egoism of the players – their loves, the affronts they receive or perceive, the enforcement of their belief system / s. D & G resisted ‘stratification’ of systems and yet they deployed their ‘war machines’ to renegotiate the spatial terms of engagement on a very pragmatic level (micro and macro). In other words, in their post-Nietzschean world, they indulged themselves. Collaboration as indulgence is undesirable to me and a desiring stratagem for them – all openings and enveloping, all enterings and releases. It’s a form of drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. It’s desire for the ‘attractive brunette’ and the enjoyment of recognition, even if one puts a humble face to Badiou and his Maoist’s intrusion into your seminar.

On the first page of his conclusion, F Dosse writes:

Between 1969 and 1992, the year of Guattari’s death, two authors with very different backgrounds, personalities, and sensibilities collaborated on an exceptional oeuvre. During this long period, a ‘disjunctive synthesis’, or collaborative arrangement of enunciation – a term they defined in a portentous way in their first article, published in 1970, on Klossowski – functioned well. It was an improbable marriage of the orchid and the wasp. (p.519)

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