16 May 2011

More False Intimacy

In his interview with Erika Staiti, Whitener reimagines the labor of "manifesto" as the positive articulation of what's least known in one's work: the declaration of blind spots or short-sightedness or rigid thinking or a crucial lack of imagination:

"What I most responded to in your question are the words modulate, corporeal, and crises. I would shy away from Manifesto, especially with a capital; I think the work is trying to draw new lines between the manifest and the latent, or the material and the immaterial. Manifesto also implies perhaps a program or a knowledge: perhaps this book is a negative space of a manifesto, sites of passage out of unknowing and unbeing, or rather its form is a search for sites (linguistic, formal, conceptual) where gestures or skins or subjectivities could be hastily thrown up...The piece's response is to modulate, to set up altered linguistic zones and conceptual figures that could possibly bind together a skin (in turns animated by colorlessness, the feminine, etc.) but skin that involutes 'material' and 'immaterial' in unique ways or a skin that might also just be exits..."

I've been trying to understand False Intimacy through a claim in Tiqqun's Introduction to Civil War about "community": "Community never refers to a collection of bodies conceived independently of their world. It refers to the nature of the relations between these bodies and between these bodies and their world. The moment community tries to incarnate itself in an insolatable subject, in a distinct, separate reality, the moment it tries to materialize the separation between what is inside and what is outside, it confronts its own impossibility. This point of impossibility is communion. In communion, the complete self-presence of the community coincides with the dissipation of all community within singular relations, and therefore coincides with its tangible absence."

Maybe the impossibility of communion (or community as the point of impossibility) stems from the subject's troubled relationship with the contemporary (or contemporaneity)? So that the community fades in the articulation of "singular relations" that are themselves afterimages of false intimacy? I'm reminded here of Agamben's claim in "What is the Contemporary": "Contemporariness is, then, a singular relationship with one's own time, which adheres to it and, at the same time, keeps a distance from it...Those who coincide too well with the epoch, those who are perfectly tied to it in every respect, are not contemporaries, precisely because they do not manage to see it; they are not able to firmly hold their gaze on it." And later: "The contemporary is he who firmly holds his gaze on his own time so as to perceive not its light but rather its darkness."

Whitener investigates a time one "cannot manage to see" (the 90s) through the lens of a subjectivity one does not fully "occupy," troubling the notion of a unified community embodying an "insolatable subject" so deeply related to the time of its own mis-understanding:

a hollow shaft of negative space
running straight upwards and
through bending itself into a
pulsing gucci symbol, unslung
up towards hong kong, doubling
back inside itself, sounding,
becoming not large but more
interlaced, the 1990s, America,
visible, nodding, rapid multiplier
effect, reduced into consumable
prey, i can open my mouth and
it will pummel, a figure tracing
an arc from an optic nerve to a
hole, tracing a certain
instantiation of whatever was
given and then again and then
again, like an exit, look, it's fine
if you are more beautiful than i
am, plastic surgery is the new
ruin, it's THE 1990s, narrative
is not enough, and if we just
spin these pronouns around fast
enough, we could create a
given, i mean, a body, for us, a
problematic pirated body, that is
what breaks from within the,
neither furry nor plastic, neither
nodal nor oddly enough, my
beautiful given, the negative
space of a desire, a shaft,
adorned in gucci

let's not start thinking

depends not on the events, but
on the

language that has abstracted
itself from pronouns a
photograph of a specific
historical occurrence whose
description taught us something
about the body and language we
nodded together, spammed, what
CREATE blankly, a flat plastic
spur, faux, of an unprecedented
space abstracted from pronouns,
spun and nodded


False intimacy with the present begins with our understanding of the contemporary; Whitener illustrates how we might reimagine the present by tracking, isolating and undercutting those moments we feel most confident we belong to it. Rather than occupy an impossible communion peopled by static, rigid bodies overdetermined by their moment, Whitener proposes a community founded on unknowing one's place and time as a mode of belonging.


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