'Towards a Physiological Novel'

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'Towards a Physiological Novel' is a series of 8 bi-weekly talks and screenings initiated by Sidsel Meineche Hansen on the subject of communication and Angest, and the production of noise and nervousness in an electronic era.

The Nervous System is a collection of cells, tissues, and organs through which the body receives information from its surroundings and then directs the body in how to respond to that information. The reception and transmission of information and affect is a form of constant communication that models the biochemistry and neurology of the subject.

The talks will operate as a mode of research for a physiological novel that examines how information circulates - how it, in physiological terms, is embodied, and consumed in our current society. The series will bring together a diverse range of theoreticians, artists and fiction writers whose works' provide a flexible foundation for dealing with these ideas.

To inform and compliment the talks, there will be a selection of literature available, including books and journals relating to critical theory and art, which together establish a bibliography.

These events are free.
Contact: Sidselmeineche@gmail.com

Sidsel Meineche Hansen is an artist and a researcher. The series “Towards a Physiological novel” draw into her individual work that deals with the production of nervousness and the genealogy of this production in the context of fiction, science and law. Sidsel recently obtained her Masters at Goldsmiths, University of London, at the Centre for Research Architecture, here she co-initiated the ongoing collaboration 'Model Court' that deals with technological, spatial and aesthetic aspects of legal procedures. The material that her practises produce has lead to a series of international exhibitions, publications, workshops and lectures.


THIS SERIES HAS NOW FINISHED

#1. Dissonance at the Threshold; or Interfering in Systems Thinking.
Speaker: Matt Clemments.
Wednesday 23 March Open 7pm, talk starts at 7.15pm

- In recent months and years – in fact at various junctures throughout the history of modernity – the notion of resonance has offered at least one alternative to the split between, on the one hand, a crude materialist account of the causal interaction of bodies, and, on the other, a naive valorisation of the spiritual heritage of the human.

My presentation will seek to expropriate and unravel the implications of resonance by way of an analysis of certain trends within cybernetics and systems theory. I will begin by attempting to describe how these theories offer to at once undermine and overcome more traditional models of inter-subjectivity. Elaborating this sublimation by way of the concept of operational-closure, I will move towards a suggestion of the role played by the threshold in the creation, constitution, and transformation of systems. Three examples will serve my purposes here: the last message of Gilles Deleuze as interpreted by Isabelle Stengers; the systems based methodology of Alcoholics Anonymous, according to Gregory Bateson; and finally the evolution of cellular slime-moulds. The third of these examples will bring me back to a reinvigorated conception of resonance, clarified in terms of dissonance, noise, interference, and the artefact.

#2. Medieval Scandinavianism: Asger Jorn’s search for a Vandalist Aesthetics.
Speaker: Niels Henriksen
Wednesday 6th of April, Open 7pm, talk starts at 7.15pm

Medieval Scandinavianism: Asger Jorn’s search for a Vandalist Aesthetics. From 1961 to 1964 Danish painter and former member of the Situationist International, CoBRA and Helhesten, Asger Jorn, devoted much of his energy to the Scandinavian Institute for Comparative Vandalism, an ambitious research initiative aimed at medieval art. Looking at Jorn’s predilection for stonecarvings of human-animal morphologies against the background of his appropriative reading of formal art history, popular science, positivism and pragmatist philosophy, the outline of a radical politics of sex, change, and difference emerges.

#3. The Artistic Dérivative, or Some Things I Learned About Life and Labor from a Dead Hare.
Speaker: Stevphen Shukaitis.
Wednesday 20th of April. Open 7pm, talk starts at 7.15pm

“Everyone is an artist” proclaimed Joseph Beuys. Beuys, as an inheritor of the avant-garde desire to abolish the separation between art and daily life, argued for the realization of a multitude forms of creativity through out many areas of social life, or forms of social sculpture as he called it. What can we make of this goal in age of semiocapitalism where the dream of everyone an artist has been realized in perverse form as “everyone is a worker” all the time? That is to say where the relationalality ‘sculpted’ through the circuits of an always-present network culture are rendered into opportunities for capitalist valorization, all YouWork and MyProfit? Is it possible to reclaim any of the subversive impulse of the avant-garde when the difference between the advertising firm and the détournement of the art provocateur is increasingly imperceptible? Drawing from a compositional approach to political analysis this presentation will examine the ways that social energies and processes created within various tendrils of the avant-garde have influenced the development of the capitalist production. From this it will elaborate the notion of the artistic dérivative, or a form of production where value is created through the labor of circulating creativity through the productive basin of the metropolis, configured as a factory.

Stevphen Shukaitis is an editor at Autonomedia and lecturer at the Essex Business School at the University of Essex. He is the author of Imaginal Machines: Autonomy & Self-Organization in the Revolutions of Everyday Day (2009, Autonomedia) and editor (with Erika Biddle and David Graeber) of Constituent Imagination: Militant Investigations // Collective Theorization (AK Press, 2007). His research focuses on the emergence of collective imagination in social movements and the changing compositions of cultural and artistic labor. For more on his work and writing, see http://stevphen.mahost.org.

# 4. Søren Kierkegaard on Trauma: The Concept of Anxiety as a Theory of Traumatic Time
Speaker: Isak Winkel Holm.
Wednesday 4th of May at 7pm.

In The Concept of Anxiety, Søren Kierkegaard presents his dense and demanding theory of “the moment” – a fragment of time “in which time and eternity touch each other”. This paper will argue that the concept of the moment must be understood not in theological or philosophical, but, rather, in psychological terms. The theory of the moment is, in fact, a proto-theory about what was later to be known as a traumatic experience: a violent wounding event which is incomprehensible for the person experiencing it and which breaks down the chronological order of time. The paper will focus on Kierkegaard’s complicated web of metaphors and literary images in order to show that The Concept of Anxiety is, among other things, a book about the relationship between art and trauma, between aesthetic representation and psychic breakdown.

Isak Winkel Holm is a Ph.D, Associate Professor at Department for Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen. He is the author of: Thinking in Images: The Poetics of Søren Kierkegaard(Tanken i billedet. Søren Kierkegaards poetik). He has written on Rousseau, Schlegel, Kleist, Hegel, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Musil, Kafka, Kundera, DeLillo, Sebald, McCarthy, etc. In his current research he focuses on: “Disaster Fiction”, and “Kafka: Forms of Injustice”.

# 5. Mothercraft books and the physiology of reproduction.
Speaker: Jesse Olszynko-Gryn.
Wednesday 18th May at 7pm.

When The Motherhood Book (1934) instructed the “wise modern mother” to take herself to the doctor “at the earliest possible moment,” far more was at stake than the heath and wellbeing of the individual. Interwar anxieties about production and reproduction fuelled public debates about population decline, criminal abortion, and “the unfit”. In this politically charged climate, the future of the race and nation depended on the science of motherhood, or “mothercraft”. Meanwhile, physiologists developed new “diagnostic” tests for pregnancy. Instructional manuals were powerful technologies that reinforced old notions of pregnancy as disease, but also established new social relations between women, doctors, and the laboratory. By examining popular marriage manuals, home nursing handbooks, and medico-legal textbooks that were published in 1930s London, this talk will explore the changing image of the pregnant woman’s body in homes, clinics, and courtrooms.

Jesse Olszynko-Gryn is a PhD student in the Cambridge Department of University Department of History and Philosophy of Science. He is working on a history of pregnancy testing in twentieth-century Britain as part of “Generation to Reproduction”, a Wellcome Trust supported project. http://www.reproduction.group.cam.ac.uk/

# 6. We Blush to Say Many Things which we do not Blush to Write.
Speaker: Piyel Haldar.
Wednesday 15th of June at 7pm.

The oral tradition of common law rests upon the idea that evidence is best relayed to the court orally. Oral testimony is predicated upon a fiction of voluntariness. At the same time advocates of the oral tradition points to the necessity of viewing witness demeanour for signs of veracity or mendacity. The body once divorced from the will of the subject becomes both a cipher and a guarantor of the truth. This paper will follow through a reading of Julien Offray de La Mettrie’s essay ‘Man a Machine’ (1749) in order to assess the mechanistic attributes of the legal subject as a witness.

Piyel Haldar is Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London. He has published widely in the UK, Germany, Australia and the U.S. and he is the managing editor of Law and Critique. Piyel Haldar is the author of Law, Orientalism and Postcolonialism: the Jurisdiction of the Lotus Eaters (Routledge, 2007). He is currently working on another book examining the symbolic importance of animals in iconography, the medieval bestiary, legal trials and other didactic forms.

# 7. Title: Paul, you are neglecting your shoes.
Speaker: Paul Buck.
Wednesday 29th of June at 7pm.


If I say it’s a novel, it’s a novel. A urinal has been art for many years. Silence too. Noise is integrated. The list extends through the disciplines. Yet the novel, and indeed other categories of writing, come under the authority of the thought police. If we pirouette it is towards oblivion. Somersaults risk limb removal. Why can’t literature move without theory dragged as the carcass on the piano? Like other arts, literature’s concern is to respond to life lived now. Writing as research only survives if it can be controlled. Stamped and filed. The real question is what is life lived now? Where do you place your shoes?

Paul Buck maintains no CV. He recalls his first book was Pimot (1968), and whilst he holds a fondness for all his books, he could note re/qui/re(qui)re (1975), Lust (1976), Violations (1979), No title (1991), Walking into Myself (1995), Lisbon (2002), Spread Wide (2006)… along with his editing of Curtains through the 1970s and his divertimenti in film, theatre and music. Currently preparing A Public Intimacy (BookWorks) for publication, and writing Performance, a biography of the Cammell/Roeg film

#8. ONEIRON (or how a dream machine works exactly)
Speaker: Mark Von Schlegell
Tuesday 5th of July at 7pm.

"If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?" – Emily Dickinson asks and we answer no. We go on to ask, however, what then is the way to know the novel, the genius of narrative prose, per se? “Good as is discourse, silence is better, and shames it," answers Ralph Waldo Emerson. So in this phantasm we’ll only remark on thirteen things....

Mark von Schlegell is author of the novels Venusia (2005, Semiotexte), Mercury Station (2009, Semiotexte) and New Dystopia (2011, Sternberg Press), as well as the critical works Realometer: American Romance (Merve Verlag, 2009) and Dreaming the Mainstream (Merve Verlag, forthcoming 2011). His weird theory and scientifiction appear regularly in periodicals like Artforum, Parkett, The Rambler and Art/Text and in numerous art books the world over.

 

‘Towards a Physiological Novel’

# 1.

Dissonance at the Threshold; or Interfering in Systems Thinking.

Speaker: Matt Clemments

# 2.

Medieval Scandinavianism: Asger Jorn’s search for a Vandalist Aesthetics.

Speaker: Niels Henriksen

# 3.

The Artistic Dérivative, or Some Things I Learned About Life
and Labor from a Dead Hare.

Speaker: Stevphen Shukaitis

# 4.

Søren Kierkegaard on Trauma: The Concept of Anxiety as a Theory of Traumatic Time

Speaker: Isak Winkel Holm.

# 5.

Mothercraft books and the physiology of reproduction.

Speaker: Jesse Olszynko-Gryn.

# 6.

We Blush to Say Many Things which we do not Blush to Write.

Speaker: Piyel Haldar.

# 7.

Title: Paul, you are neglecting your shoes.

Speaker: Paul Buck.

# 8.

ONEIRON (or how a dream machine works exactly)

Speaker: Mark Von Schlegell

 

‘Towards a Physiological Novel’ Bi-weekly talks on Wednesdays at 7pm.
X Marks the Bökship
210 / 3 Cambridge Heath Road London
E2 9NQ