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tearing the rag off the bush again
CORPOREAL ORDER by Chris Martin PDF E-mail
No balance, no right angles, no parallel lines, no circles—in effect, no geometry.


“That certain divergence, that never finished differentiation, that openness ever to be reopened between the sign and the sign.”

—Maurice Merleau-Ponty

“Things directly as they are: impermanently involved in an infinite play of interpenetrations.”

—John Cage

“A kind of wildness, pivots of unpredictability, elements whose trajectories, connections, and future relations remain unpredictable.”

    —Elizabeth Grosz

“A pliable and potentially infinitely diverse set of energies, whose capacities and advances can never be predicted.”

“The protracted disturbance of equilibrium.”

— Friedrich Nietzsche

“The continuous process of positive desire.”

“A continuous, self-vibrating region of intensities whose development avoids any orientation toward a culmination point or external end.”

“It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and which it overspills.”

    —Deleuze and Guattari

“The monumental march which has but itself for end”

“Functioning incoherency, disorder in action”

— Paul Valéry

“The intolerable secret of being”

—Georges Bataille
Equilibrium denotes a still point.  Disequilibrium necessitates a forward movement, an inertia, the future becoming the present, perpetually in process.

Equilibrium is a provisional and abstract structure, a falsification of the real that serves the world of appearance.  The falsity of equilibrium is the dissimulation of peace.  Everywhere, this false peace paradoxically threatens to obliterate bodies: real bodies, ontological bodies, bodies in the midst of becoming.

Instead: no peace, no balance, no stillness, no silence—in effect, no nothing.  What is is.  Or, more accurately, what is is becoming.

Disequilibrium is the shape of this becoming: forward yet oblique, inexorable yet unpredictable, invisible yet visceral, destructive yet creative.  Contradiction is not prohibited, it is inherent.  This is Nietzsche’s affirmation: Everything is permitted! There is no dialectic, no parallel opposition—all is asymmetrical.  Disequilibrium is a field of movement where interpenetrations flourish, vectors verge, and coincidence induces the situation of becoming to the sense-world of the body.

Though disequilibrium perpetually recurs, forever overspilling only to return, it has nothing to do with circles.  The middle is a zone of veers, of unpredictable lurches and zags that never look back.  Truth looks only backwards, whereas the real—disequilibrium—is forever facing forwards; not simply facing, but barreling, headlong, never straight but always oblique.

No balance, no right angles, no parallel lines, no circles—in effect, no geometry.

Think breath: an inexorable process of regeneration, repetitive yet variable—you breathe and in breathing change, you live and you die, asymmetrically.

Think blood: a ceaseless journey, always forwards but with tiny backwaters—the blood is the medium of the body, its middle ground, it preserves and is replaced, the body and the blood, cell by cell, mutually mutating.

Equilibrium is dependent on sight.  Seeing separates, punctuates, isolates, inculcates, abbreviates, obliterates.  Seeing creates a form built on edges, a violence of exactness, a knife sense.  Equilibrium is impossible without the abstraction of the eye, which cuts at a distance.  

Disequilibrium is dependent on nothing short of existence.  It privileges touch, the haptic, modes of feeling over modes of seeing.  More than touch even it privileges the synesthetic.  Disequilibrium incorporates.  Disequilibrium interpenetrates.  It acts with intimacy, proximity, responsibility.  

No hierarchy, only movement.  Only becoming.  Only of.

“Don’t worry.
Voice imposes order. From above.
Someone else’s voice.

Using violence first and then seduction
or vice-versa.

The mother’s voice and then the father’s voice.
The neutral voice of science
familiar as a lullaby.”

—Elaine Equi, Ripple Effect

“A knowledge that could acknowledge its genealogy in corporeality would also necessarily acknowledge its perspectivism, its incapacity to grasp all, or anything in its totality.”

—Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies

“QUESTION: There are neither divisions of the ‘canvas’ nor ‘frame’ to be observed?
ANSWER: On the contrary, you must give the closest attention to everything.”

—John Cage, Silence

“That the right angle is a ‘good gestalt’ and an angle of 80 degrees a ‘bad gestalt’ has nothing to do with experience.”

—Paul Schilder, The Image and Appearance of the Human Body

“The question is fundamentally that of the body—the body they steal from us in order to fabricate opposable organisms.”

—Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus

Or, perhaps, it is a fear of minutia, a terror in confronting the tiny disturbances and vague veers of difference oscillating near the bare core of the moment of the body.  When I was a child I refused to believe my breathing was inevitable or that I did it without any patent awareness.  I was right and I was wrong.  The body is an excess, does exceed us, but it remains at all points something we do.  This is why Spinoza and Nietzsche and Deleuze are aestheticians of the corporeal order.  Or anti-aestheticians.  They insist on a body that does, even if they aren't certain exactly what it is that it does.  

And what about breath?  Breathing is clearly something a body does.  Kimerer LaMothe locates breathing at the horizon of the body's becoming through dance.  She writes: “Breathing is a kinetic pattern of tension and release, creation and destruction.  It is activity through which we recreate ourselves at every moment.”  The body is the milieu of becoming.  And disequilibrium, a force in opposition to balance and stability, is the milieu of the body.  Simply by breathing we enact a process of destabilization, of re-creation.  It is fortunate for us that no matter how gaping the gulf—what Bataille terms the “strange distance”—we erect between ourselves and our bodies, we never cease to breathe.

“The body-image expands beyond the confines of the body…The voice, the breath, the odor, the feces, menstrual blood, urine, semen, are still parts of the body-image even when they are separate from the body.” (Paul Schilder)

Though terribly powerful as ideology, separation-by-image remains remarkably flimsy when interrogated by ontology.  Separation demands a stewardship, or worse, an ownership of the body; it becomes something one has, something one must subjugate and discipline.  But the body ever and always resists.  The first step in correcting the false stewardship of the body is to realign the mind and body, to recognize that the mind is, in fact, the body.  And vice-versa.  Then the body becomes something one is.   Finally, to engage the corporeal order, one must recognize the body as something one does.  This institutes great personal responsibility, not to control the body, but to perform it, to access the excess and attend to the disequilibrium of the body, moving from within its latent, though thoroughly potent choreography.

Within is a word of paramount importance to the corporeal order.  So is of.  So is middle.  The corporeal order craves terms that reacquaint one with the real.  Let’s begin at the beginning of the middle.  At the middle of the beginning.  Already.  I am beginning with the premise that it is already happening, which is concomitant to the premise that it is already changing.  So let's begin with a question: what's happening?

We are compulsively ordering the world.  It is a matter of aesthetics.  It is a matter of choices that have been subsumed by a system of aesthetics so successful that we don't even know it exists.  It is Debord’s spectacle, but a specific version of it, much older than the postmodern world.  Merleau-Ponty suggests the term “reflective order.”  Regardless of what we call it, it is a system predicated on the eradication of bodies. Consider disorder.  In this system a disordered part disorders the whole.  If we judge a part of the body as disordered, we judge the whole body as disordered.  More than that, we judge the whole person as disordered.  At any node on the spectrum, the key fact is that we judge.  Again, it's a matter of aesthetics.  Disordered parts may include race, class, weight, gait, or any of a myriad of factors.  What unites them is our desire to isolate and eradicate them.  

Where does this desire come from?  A fiction.  The oldest, most powerful, and most dangerous fiction.  That one is separate.  When do we learn this fiction?  At the exact point we learn fiction.  This happens twice.  Once in a fire and once in a mirror.  Then it keeps happening.   Let’s start in the middle.  The mirror.  

We begin in a plenum, undifferentiated.  In order to separate our selves from the plenum, to form a stable, cohesive self, we need a mirror.  What we find in the mirror is twofold.  We discover the abstract fact of ourselves and a thrilling ability to manipulate it.  This false other—a second, idealized body—can be harnessed in endless ways.  It is this usefulness, the dubious usefulness of the image, that dooms us.  That dooms us to lose our bodies.

The notion of corporeal order does not necessitate the collapse of all representations of the body.  It recognizes the practical usefulness of such models, but demands that they be recognized for what they are—provisional abstractions.  These representations are not purely social in nature, but also physiological.  The body image is not a pure invention of advertising, but a phenomenologically useful model for situating one's self in the world.  Without it, as Merleau-Ponty points out, we could not scratch our own backs, much less believe in them.  The real problem is how their provisionality becomes obscured by their usefulness, how the choice to follow these models, to utilize them, becomes a choice made without the recognition of choosing.  Again, beware the dubious usefulness of the image!

This, of course, leads us to Debord, whose Society of the Spectacle interrogates unconscious or prefigured choice. The body image, what Merleau-Ponty calls “the second body,” is at our disposal, not an inevitability.  It is a tool, and as such we need to approach it as one.  This is how one recognizes the usefulness of a representation and returns, representation intact, to the corporeal order: by making it do something.  This notion is borrowed from Deleuze, who cites cartography as a site where representations escape pure signification and verily produce things of their own accord.  The body image is a representation that does something.  It produces not only one’s own body, but also the bodies of others.  It provides access to the manner in which bodies escape the unity of their significations and subjectivities in order to mingle with and interpenetrate other subjects and, indeed, objects in the world.  

Paul Schilder has done as much as anybody to problematize the body image, demonstrating its ability to reach the tip of the feather in the top of a woman’s hat.  He likewise demonstrates how the body image, or what he calls the postural model of the body, is a system of parts in perpetual rearrangement.  The body image borrows parts of other bodies in the interest of its own production.  It is significant to note Schilder’s indebtedness to psychoanalysis, for this model of the body remains tied to Lacan’s mirror stage; only it escapes the foundational narcissism of the psychoanalytic “ideal ego” by interrogating its integrity to expose dislocations and interpenetrations.

And what, after all, is the danger of an ideal ego?  What, at the limit of counterintuition, is the danger of a “stable, unified identity”?  The answer lies in the fiction it is built on, the black hole point of absence it moves around: separation.  As Debord states, “separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle.”  And what is the ultimate vehicle of separation?  Sight.  Sight alone of all the senses is separate and manipulative.  Smell and taste are intrinsically synesthetic.  Touch exists only in proximity.  Hearing is something that happens to us and cannot be simply shut off.  To consider how sight provides access to separation, we must focus our interrogation on the image.  And for this we will need a fire.

When the first hominids evolved, some three million years ago, they were three subordinate adaptations and one superior adaptation away from becoming “human” in the way we understand it today.  The three subordinate adaptations are as follows: bipedal movement, nimble hands, and bigger brains.  The first, upright walking, set the stage for our obsession with a particular form of hierarchy, a vertical hierarchy.  We not only became vertical beings, but positioned our greatest tools, not yet understood to be tools as such, at the apex of that verticality: our eyes and our brains.  The second, nimble hands, gave us knowledge of tools, of the power of tools, and thus, manipulation.  It put the world, literally, at our disposal.  As time went on, it put the world metaphorically at our disposal also.  The last subordinate adaptation, bigger brains, helped to further the usefulness of the previous two, but could not undertake the final transformation alone.  For that we would need an elemental force.  

Fire, itself a tool, allowed us to do two very important immediate things: escape predation and weather.  These two forces remained the most crucial in limiting us to an animal existence.  Once we were no longer at constant threat, we had time to do something (r)evolutionary: nothing.  We had time to sit and stare and let our bigger brains, with their increasing knowledge of manipulation, come up with a fantastic, never before or since paralleled adaptation: imagination.  In time, it also became the ultimate tool.

At this exact moment, art was born.  The fiction at the beginning of fiction.  The image, most commonly celebrated in the cave paintings of France, became an abstracted representation of the world.  What might seem like a fairly benign beginning can actually be seen as a sort of Pandora’s box.  Again, beware the dubious, destructive usefulness of the image!  Just like the mirror with its misrecognition, displacement, and construction of the self, the abstracted image of representation allowed for a misrecognition, displacement, and construction of the world.  This second world, a representational world, is the world of the spectacle.  It is an ordered world, resolutely hierarchical, where knowledge of ontological truth is made inaccessible and beyond utility. If we want to approach anything resembling truth, we must acknowledge that life is built not on abstract stability, but on lived disequilibrium.

If it isn’t clear already, I am writing with a particular agenda.  I want to disprove the notion that each is alone, separate, one isolato after another.  But let’s not couch this in negative terms.  To negate separation is also to affirm the multiplicity that each body is, or in Deleuzian/Spinozian terms, does.  We must attend to the manner in which bodies mingle with, coincide with, interpenetrate, and most importantly compose one another.  This involves a departure from the reasonableness of abstraction, a divergence from the symbolism of spectacularity.  It is a movement that perpetually returns us to the middle where we have always been.  It is an abolishment, perhaps only temporarily, of the displacement of the body.  Ontologically, it is a recognition of placement.  

In this activity, I think there is a potential for something tremendously ethical.  Through a privileging of movement, difference, disequilibrium, we commit ourselves to a monumental task, a monumental attention.  By recognizing the primacy of the choice for order, for a particular kind of order, we can make new choices.  There is no certainty or even likelihood that this opportunity will be met with better choices, but I think it is a measure of great hope.  The body is a great hope: local, lived, dynamic, spontaneous, unpredictable.

As John Cage says, “You must give the closest attention to everything.”  Is this possible?  No.  Is it possible to form a complete understanding of the body?  No.  Is it possible to form a complete understanding of the real?  No.  Must we fill in the holes of our understanding?  Good question.  “The body,” says Elizabeth Grosz, “has remained a conceptual blind spot.”  In this statement, she points primarily to the trappings of mind/body dualism.  This is the danger.  Grosz warns of “the ontological incompleteness” of the human body and its “amenability to social completion, social ordering, and organization.”  The body, in its excess, which is simultaneously its incompleteness, allows for conceptual reconstructions that further distance us from the real.  What we don’t understand about the body leads us to shirk the body altogether, creating a second body, an abstract body, which can look back upon the first or simply pretend it doesn’t exist.  Convenience and reason have killed the body and replaced it with a false version of itself easily manipulated by Cartesian thought.

Thus we are thrust into the realm of the spectacle.  Thus, as Debord writes, we suffer the downgrade of “being to having to mere appearing.”  Our bodies get sucked dry, stretched flat, held in front of us like a canvas.  Or, in more contemporary terms, like a screen.  Our bodies become trapped in an artifice of the image.  And what lies at the center of this death drive toward spectacularity, this “perfection of separation within human beings”?  An idea.  A choice.  An aesthetics.  We believe that we can, through artifice and abstraction, create a better world than the real one we are given.  Debord offers several terms: “image of harmony,” “still center,” “a falsification of life.”  Bataille calls this choice “a refusal of the offered condition.”  He calls man, “the animal that negates nature.”

The choice that lies at the core of the spectacle is the choice to judge stability, integrity, and balance as preferable, even if they are born from complete and utter abstraction.  The choice is to fabricate peace even if it means “the impoverishment, enslavement, and negation of real life.”  This is why disequilibrium is so crucial to the corporeal order: it is the other choice.  It lies, seemingly dormant, in the activity of the real, patiently waiting to be recognized.  One hint of disequilibrium, one wafting whiff, and the spectacle crumbles like a thin layer of wax on a waking hand.  If the deep energy of disequilibrium approaches too near the spectacle, it pops like a balloon.  If the first choice was to deny the real and shirk disequilibrium, corporeal order demands that one return to that choice, to choose differently.

And to choose differently, we must see differently.  How does one recuperate sight from its destructive compulsions?  The answer lies partially in the work of Merleau-Ponty, who posits a “double-belongingness” of the body, which is at once subject and object, a seer and the visible.  He writes: “We have to reject the age-old assumptions that put the body in the world and the seer in the body.”  The body is of the world; the seer is of the body.  This being of, the “reciprocal insertion” of the body in the world and vice-versa, obliterates the fiction that entities are irrevocably separate, that clear delineations can be drawn to create a vertical hierarchy of order.  Our inherent of-ness runs oblique, marks a perpetual zag in the constitution of being.  

Merleau-Ponty also posits an inextricable quality of touch in the visible.  He writes: “Each visible is a cut out of the tangible.”  Sight borrows the language of touch, is perhaps as inextricable from touch as taste is from smell.  Part of following a corporeal order means recognizing the proximities of sight, the way seeing is tantamount to touching, and how these interpenetrations bind us in an open system of becoming.

And what is becoming?  Well, as Deleuze and Guattari state, “Becomings are always specific.”  This is important.  The corporeal order is chiefly predicated on a return to the body, but what kind of body?  A male body?  Per Grosz’s emphasis in Volatile Bodies, corporeal order should not be understood as ideal or universal.  Different bodies produce different orders and there is no essentializing possible to avoid sexual difference.  Corporeal order, in fact, should be seen as fully embracing sexual difference at all points along its subtle and complex spectrum.

An old body?  A virile body?  A sexualized body?  An able body?  It is a return to all and none of these bodies.  It is a return to whatever body you are already have.  No, scratch that, whatever body you already do.  “It is,” according to Deleuze and Guattari, “a question of forces.”  This is why disorder is explicitly not what we are talking about.  Disorder implies a certain kind of judgment.  This is not about judging the body, or limiting it by definition, or bracketing it, or framing it, or in any way separating it from what it can do.

In this, we pursue what Grosz, speaking of Deleuze and Guattari, terms “a rare, affirmative understanding of the body.”  This approach to the body privileges unpredictability, movement, variation, and disequilibrium.  Is there danger in this affirmation?  Very much so, but this danger is far preferable to the false peace and punishing control of the reflective order.  Grosz writes: “If we do not walk in dangerous places and different types of terrain, nothing new will be found, no explorations possible, and things will remain the same.”  Though Grosz is absolutely right, she misreads the real danger.  Without risk we will never find our way back to the real, to what already is, to what the body is already doing.

Deleuze and Guattari, of course, have much to say about risk and experimentation.  It is inevitable that I should here invoke their “Body without Organs,” or BwO.  What makes a BwO is not a lack of organs, but rather a lack of organization; or, more accurately, a lack of a certain kind of organization.  They rail against organizational models that privilege interpretation or focus on hierarchical aesthetics.  While they insist that one should retain “a minimal level of cohesion” with which to “mimic the strata,” they encourage one to move past organization and toward forces, interpenetrations, and intensities.   

This is what is so overwhelmingly affirmative about the BwO.  It is an acknowledgement that “Something will happen,” that, “Something is already happening.”  Deleuze and Guattari attest: “It has nothing to do with phantasy, there is nothing to interpret.”  What is there to discover is already there and does not require abstraction or artifice.  It is not about aesthetics, but desire.  It is not about stability, but disequilibrium— “dynamic tendencies involving energy transformation.”  It is “the continuous process of positive desire.”  And again, it is “a question of forces.”  It is not about separating, isolating, or stopping.  Instead, Deleuze and Guattari encourage us to “connect, conjugate, continue.”

Where the corporeal order diverges from the BwO is at the level of depth.  Deleuze and Guattari insist on the flatness of multiplicities and a totality of those multiplicities that they call the plane of consistency, which is “the outside of all multiplicities.”  Not only do we cringe at the concept of a necessary flatness, but that we seem to be getting mired once again in a politics or physiology of the outside.  A corporeal order, a true disequilibrium must be predicated on depth.  And, crucially, we must acknowledge the unimprisonable excess that depth provides.  Grosz puts it well: “A knowledge that could acknowledge its genealogy in corporeality would also necessarily acknowledge its perspectivism, its incapacity to grasp all, or anything in its totality.”  Choosing the body means investigating an untotalizable depth, a depth that changes and moves and exceeds at all points.  If the body is ever a surface, it is, in the words of Merleau-Ponty, “a surface of inexhaustible depth.”

Totality is also an important term for Bataille, but takes on a very different form, more along the lines of an intersecting plenum, a natural contiguity of inconceivable depth that involves all bodies.  For him, vision is our way of detaching ourselves from the totality, which haunts us with its horror, what he calls “the horror of being.” He writes: “We have fashioned this humanized world in our image by obliterating the very traces of nature.”  In this way, Bataille opposes a constructed, ordered existence to what he terms the “whole bloody mess.”  This mess might well be viewed as a pseudonym for corporeal order.  In order to find order amid the mess, humans separate themselves from nature.  The separation here is a negation, a refusal, a prohibition.  For this to occur, man must harness an intimate rejection, “generally mistrusting the body,” and the plenum that the body engages.  Ontological truth is thus buried under the abstract power of the image, becoming a furtive thing, what Bataille calls “the intolerable secret of being.”  

The body itself does not represent.  We, rather, represent the body.  And we represent the body in order to get rid of it.  But we never quite achieve this negation, because there is always desire, and desire, through its engagement with the joyful abundance of the body, brings us back to the fiction of separation, and our desire to reconnect with the totality.

Schilder asserts: “The body-image is a social phenomenon.”  Is it a contradiction that the corporeal order is both ontological and social?  Contradiction is crucial to the corporeal order, as is coincidence, as is variation, as is multiplicity, as is interpenetration.  If it isn't both it isn't real.  The instinct to separate is the instinct to kill.  Whether by physical violence or the violence of isolation and neglect, separation betrays a lack of ontological understanding.  Not that being both entails a balance.  There is an immanent asymmetry to contradiction.

Thus the unevenness of this essay, which begins in the middle and travels always oblique.  This is not to say that there are not intimate connections between parts, but that the progression is subjugate to the moment.  There are definite processes of the body, but whenever you zoom out from the specific to the systemic you suffer the flood of abundance.  We are systems in “continuous interplay” borne by a “continual flow” (Schilder).  The indefinite, askew movement of these systems terrorizes us as we attempt to order our life in a way that reflects the vertical, discrete hierarchy of the spectacle.  Schilder describes one of his patients: “He hated everything that might disturb the symmetry of the body.  He was afraid of freaks at the circus.”

Ah, yes, the freak show—corporeal encounter extraordinaire.  What draws us to hyperbolic corporeal difference?  Why the need for such complicated, yet transparent attempts to shroud the freak in narratives of spectacularity?  Given that the freak show is so explicitly grounded in spectacularity, does it possess a means to challenge the spectacle?  There are endless questions surrounding the freak show.  This is a measure of its potential, its power.  For at the core of the freak show encounter is something that exists outside language, representation, and definition: ambiguity.

In every instance of extreme corporeal encounter there is a reckoning with the body, a reckoning incommensurable with language.  It is this unorganizable core of the encounter that drives us, compulsively, to surround, hide, manipulate, simplify, flatten, separate, and spectacularize the encounter through the mediation of language.  This is why there is a secret imbedded within Bataille’s “intolerable secret of being.”  Being will not be mediated.  Each time we engage this secret, some of it sticks, a little piece of our awareness of the disequilibrium of the body grows, and we are simultaneously pulled and repelled.  We become aware of the process of abjection.  We feel it within us.

The freak show also necessarily engages the acquisitive nature of the body image.  Whether conscious of not, these hyperbolic encounters involve exchanges and productions, a psychological grafting of corporeal parts back and forth.  If the encounter has traditionally been seen as a unidirectional vector flung from the audience at the mute body of the freak, Schilder helps demonstrate how there is a reversing undercurrent, a strong corporeal drift, which may at least partially account for the contradictory compulsion and repulsion one experiences.

But let’s return to ambiguity.  Elizabeth Grosz, in line with Bataille, refers to freakification as a process of locating “intolerable ambiguity.”  One might argue that it is not the extremes of corporeal difference that succeed in transforming the viewer, but a forced acknowledgment of an ambiguity that exists at the core of all bodies.  Paradoxically, through the hyperbolic scale of the freak show we are reconnected to the quotidian fluidity of difference.  The difference of one necessarily returns us to the difference of all.

Ambiguity is a crucial site for potential change.  We have spoken at length about the use of specific kinds of visual order to simplify the world and create false hierarchies dependent on a relative norm.  There is a laziness inherent in this tendency.  A laziness and a fearfulness.  And there is an alternative version of looking and attention that becomes activated by ambiguity.  It places one in the middle of things, which is sticky.  As Deleuze and Guattari write: “It’s not easy to see things in the middle.”   

Our laziness lets us flit from sight to sight, content with reducing each consequent site to its consumable content.  But ambiguity has friction; it doesn't have a surface to slide off of.  In this momentary “stuckness,” one is forced to confront an inner stuckness, where language, representation, and definition fail.  Ambiguity is thus a particularly ontological state, a middle from which our experience spills over into itself, always reconstructing, never fully still or at peace.  Ambiguity is a reminder of what lies beyond or before or below or bestride the spectacle: the real.

When zebra finches learn to sing, they do not begin with the first syllable of their song, but with one from the middle.  All true learning proceeds this way, born out of helplessness and confusion into the midst of a corporeal competency.  Learning requires disequilibrium. Piaget, though clearly intoxicated by the resolutions of order, at least recognized this.  To learn, one must enter the middle, that zone of instability that allows for transformations.  And we learn more, and more constantly, than we could ever guess at.

It is fitting that here we return to the middle, where, as I have repeatedly noted, we already are.  The middle, as it is often misrepresented, is not about a mean.  It is not about a medium value or a mediating device.  It is not about stasis and it is not about balance.  According to Deleuze and Guattari, the middle is “by no means average; on the contrary, it is where things pick up speed.”

Bataille, George. The Accursed Share, New York: Zone Books, 1993.

Cage, John. Silence. Wesleyan: Wesleyan University Press, 1961.

Debord, Guy. The Society of the Spectacle. New York: Zone Books, 2006.

Equi, Elaine. Ripple Effect: New and Selected Poems. Minneapolis: Coffee House Press, 2006.

Grosz, Elizabeth. Volatile Bodies. Indiana: Indiana UP, 1994.

LaMothe, Kimerer. Nietzsche’s Dancers.  Palgrave, 2006.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. The Visible and the Invisible. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1968.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. The Will to Power. New York: Vintage, 1968.

Schilder, Paul. The Image and Appearance of the Human Body. New York: International Universities Press, 1950.


Act    Affect        Affirm        Air

Already        Ambiguity    Amid        Attention

Becoming        Body        Coincide

Consequent    Continuous    Contradiction

Corporeal        Depth        Difference

Disclosure    Disequilibrium            Dynamic

Erupt    Excess      Experience     Friction

Happening    Heat        Improvise

Indeterminate        Interpenetrate        Intersubjective

Intimate    Invisible    Involve            Jerk

Joy    Local        Multiplicity    Mutual

Necessary    Oblique    Of        Open

Participatory        Perform    Permeable

Phenomenal     Place        Presence    Provisional

Pulse    Queer         Recommence     Rhythm

Simultaneous    Situation    Slip    

Spontaneous        Texture        Uncanny

Unpredictable            Variation        

Veer    Warp        Web        Wet    Within
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