JMW Turner, “Barge on the River, Sunset” (c. 1806-7).
Thinking of climate change and giant robots reminded me of the tenderness towards human fragility and insignificance in Turner’s paintings, a pathos of distance born from the attempt to imaginatively occupy the position of nature’s own vast remorselessness.
My love of images - mesquite flowering, the wind, Ehécatl, whispering its secret knowledge - and words, my passion for the daily struggle to render them concrete in the world and on paper, to render them flesh, keeps me alive.
― Anzaldúa, Borderlands / La Frontera
By means of the breach of philosophical identity, a breach that amounts to addressing the truth to itself in an envelope, to hearing itself speak without opening its mouth or showing its teeth, the bloodiness of a disseminated writing comes to separate the lips, to violate the embouchure of philosophy, putting its tongue into movement, finally bringing it into contact with some other code, of an entirely other kind. A necessarily unique event, nonreproducible, hence illegible as such and, when it happens, inaudible in the conch, between earth and sea, without signature.
― Derrida, “Tympan”
Another conversation threw up a fascinating image: “During our regular night shifts, the general manager used to be abrasive with any worker he saw dozing. He used to take punitive action against them. One night, one hundred and eight of us went to sleep, all together, on the shop floor. Managers, one after the other, who came to check on us, saw us all sleeping in one place, and returned quietly. We carried on like this for three nights. They didn’t misbehave with us, didn’t take any action against us. Workers in other sections of the factory followed suit. It became a tradition of sorts.”
—Faridabad Mazdoor Samachar (Faridabad Workers’ News), May 20141
Kumbhakarna, a warrior in the Sanskrit epic Ramayana, is remembered for his ravenous appetite, enormous strength, ethical doubts (he did not want to fight in a needless war, but did so when pressed, out of duty and loyalty), and his preference (given to him as a boon) for hibernating half the year away.
The Kumbhakarna Proposition is a proposal to recognize the revolutionary potential of the cultivated hibernation of a reticent strength, whose awakening has consequences. Like Kumbhakarna’s prowess, which some attribute to his preference for sleep over wakefulness, the radical move may derive its strength from gestation. To assert, propose, or desire seduction into a long period of invisible ferment may be seen as a wager to linger or loiter over thinking, as opposed to making haste for the purposes of execution. This is the time to dream lucidly. To envision and realize the things that one cannot do when one is awake, distracted, bored, busy. This is the time for hearing voices, to become open to the murmur of the universe, for heresy, for audacious conversations, for acts to turn factories into orchards, and a laughter that makes standing armies into brass bands.
"Is the World Sleeping, Sleepless, or Awake or Dreaming?" —Raqs Media Collective