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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Rhythms in Performance Philosophy

In April 11-13, there will be a conference on
Performance Philosophy. I'm in the programme. It will be on heterochrony and urges.

Urges shape the flesh, bend the flow of the elements and bring about states of affairs. The political biology of our bodies witnesses the layers of urges christalized in the folds concocted in the past. It is a tectonics. It acts as an ontological trigger: in it, the actual arises from the entrails of what is virtual, potential or merely possible.

Urges emerge always in pre-existing landscapes. Actualisation always meets the marks of what contingently happened in the past. The geological structure of contingency – as it is pointed out by Hamilton Grant in his analysis of Schelling’s Naturphilosophie – is such that whatever happens bends the board that future urges will shape. These folds are indeed carved by the events of the past - see Deleuze’s interpretation of the predicate as an event in his interpretation of Leibniz’s principle of reason. Indeed, Hamilton Grant’s also tries to approximate Leibniz’s sufficient reason to the (unthinged) furniture of nature in order to account for the standing of a ground. A ground is always a ground for further movement. Grounds are like floors, but floors are different. A floor is made of the left-overs of what took place before. Floors are the primary and ultimate archive of things past. And a floor is a starting point. But it is not an arché.

A floor has some resemblance to a skin. In order to consider the underlying tectonics of all events, I sketched, in a talk at the University of Madras, Chennai in early 2011, a tantric ontology. It looks at the populations that float under the groins of the skin of all events: desires, capacities, attractors, affordances, impulses and rhythms. Delanda talks about intensive time – the time that harbours a capacity to contaminate around itself. Spreading rhythms takes place in inorganic phenomena as well as in animal life, for instance in menstrual cycles of humans. The contagion of rhythm is called entrainement. If intensity is understood as the capacity to infect what is around, rhythms carry a rate of intensity. Organisms have the capacity to harbour different rhythms at the same time. And these rhythms can be disturbed, for example, by urges. Urges provoke heterochrony – the emergence of a different rhythm. In fact, there is a dimension of rhythm under all events. Actualization, either from the virtual or the potential, has a rhythm.

When philosophy is placed together with performance there is a potential for entrainement, for rhythm contagion. My presentation explores urges and heterochrony within the body. It looks at the plurality of rhythms that take place in philosophy – the rhythm of arguing, the rhythm of convincing, the rhythm of disolving questions, the rhythm of skirting around problems – and those rhythms of performing bodies. While I present, an initially independent process will take place in my body – the body of an urge – as a rhythm that will entrain my body and my varieties of philosophical attention.

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