The philosopher-dancer Susan Kozel explores the relation between dance and technology. Newly inaugurated as a professor at Malmö University, her coming research-creation, Intuitweet, will tap into this assemblage by studying how Twitter may be used to connect humans as sentient beings. One purpose with this endeavor is to “clarify what intuition is” and also to investigate into incipiency of movement in the array of technological devices, which is at the heart of our informationally dense contemporary culture.


The art of tracing VII: Monster Hug (avoid falling down)

Walking and perceiving, preferrably optically, stand out as the main acts of flaneurhood. Many testimonies bear witness to the flaneur as being one of urbanity's most well-known psychosocial types: Baudelaire, Benjamin, Simmel, de Certeau, Debord etc. The flaneur is a rather delicate and sometimes distant character that strolls through urban realms; Henry Miller creating a smooth space while loitering around in Brooklyn, as Deleuze and Guattari remind us.

In his conceptualization of parkour, Michael Atkinson timely interprets the traceur as a late-modern flaneur. While the modern flaneur was 'sketching' a space for himself (yes, unfortunately, this is just another persona based on an initially, and still hegemonically, male praxis), in which he could 'read' the city, Atkinson conceptualizes the late-modern variety as being capable of Heideriddean deconstruction. The void between houses, sous rature, becomes a void.

avoid falling down

It's inadequate to conceive of the opposite sides of a void as incommensurable, but it's necessary to stress that there is a gap, and that it takes a leap of faith to cross it. Association. Tracing is a micropolitically informed sociology. Life and live in HypheNation. Furthermore, concerning the flaneurie of traceurie, it seems that Deleuze and Guattari's distinction between smooth and striated space could enrich Atkinson's attempt to grasp parkour.

In sketching (tracing) space, the flaneur uses only the utmost tip of his body-brush: the soles of his shoes. The rest of the body is busy with an array of repetitive bodily idiosyncracies, such as smoking, walking casually, nodding, and tipping his hat at attractive and interesting passersby. The difference he makes is not to be found in these simple schemata, in this endless repetition, but in his interpretetive gaze. The optic reading of the city is the prime power of flaneurie. Compared with that, the bipedal itinerancy and meanderings of flaneurs appear as quite lame performances.

Deleuze and Guattari label the city "the striated space, par excellence", and by striation they mean the creation of channeled and hierarchical space, so that movement, in it, is rendered predictable. Striation, as the cybernetics of displacement, is the ordering of identities and positions onto grid-like fields, that are easily surveyed. In striated space, vision and optics therefore have a primacy. This of course relates to Foucauldian panopticon. One might even assert, that, as cities grew more and more entangled, more rhizomatic, and therefore more hard to overview, the proliferation of flaneurs served as a "necessary" distribution of surveillance. Big brother tips his hat at you. Male Gaze, and all that.

The traceur puts a different approach on display as he connects haptically, and not primarily optically, with the the city. The optic primacy of striated space, in smooth space, is inversed to a haptic primacy. A heightened hapticity, is the tactilization of (all) the senses. Although a loosely standardized and sketchy one, the repertoire of movements of traceurs often bear names that are lend from different agile species in the animal kingdom, such as cats and monkeys. And this should not primarily, as Michael Ferrari's analysis might imply, be interpreted as a search for an alleged pristine and savage nature of mankind. Rather, the quadropedal style of traceurs is functional-experimental. In parkour one does not mimic a animal, one is, as Deleuze and Guattari would have it, becoming-animal. One dialect of Agamben's gestural communication in the 'coming community' could definitely be taught by traceurs.

Being a late-modern flaneur, the traceur grasps and embraces his surroundings, rather than putting them on the hermeneutical treadmill. As a philosophical stance, then, tracing is kin to the musings of Bergson, when he -- by way of intuition, rather than through conceptual clarity -- attempts to melt into the phenomena under investigation. Whereas the flaneur perceived and interpreted the monstrosities of urbanism, the traceur conceives the city, in all its denotations; demonstration. Monstrare means 'to show', and -- although tracing might be perceived by pedestrians (modern flaneurs perhaps) as a spectacle -- a show is primarily seen, in that it evokes vision. Monsters are seldom felt; the moment when the monster will reveal itself is always the climax (equivalent to the climax when it is defeated). Once in a while even a monster needs a hug.

And that, is what traceurs do: hug monsters.


Bo(u)lder rush I

She walks along the line, where the ocean meets the land
like she is walking on a wire in a circus - Round here, Counting Crows

Lets get practical. That is what contin(g)ental philosophy wants us to do. To live the concepts we cherish as the events they are.

According to Latour, the nature/culture dichotomy is the most fundamental scaffold of the modern constitution. The emergence of Science (with a capital S) depends immensely on this partition. And along came secularization, industry, urbanism, and democracy. Along came the noise of technology, war, and pollution. This is what it boils down to.

Not that I want go all Heidegger about this; scholars of alternative sport always risk falling into the trap of romanticism. Not that there is anything wrong with 'risk' and 'falling' per se, it's just that many of the statements of adventurous athletes seem to reinforce the nature/culture dichotomy. One face of this particular Janus is the gloomy cubicle-denizen of culture and society, while the other is the vigorous and dionysian hedonist in nature. Hence the partition subsists.

One classical border between nature and culture is the coastline; nature in form of the water is both threat and leisure for the members of mankind. Storms, tidal waves and tsunamis threaten culture and humanity with floods and erosion. Bauman states in Liquid fear that such natural catastrophies mark the beginning of modernity. Due to Sloterdijk, the turbulence of water has filled human societies with such awe, that traditional western metaphysics grounded itself, firmly and solely, on the alleged solidity of land. After all Tellus is called Earth and not Water (even though more than two thirds of our planet is covered with water).

Regarding the practical examination of this border, breakwaters seem like an apt locus to start with. Many cities assemble a vast amount of boulders to protect their coastal areas. Are these placed in nature or culture? Due to the dichotomy they are definitely inbetween. They are the relation between city and sea. Coincidentally the word boulder appears to be derived from the Swedish word bullersten which means 'noisy rock', and noise, as Serres reminds us in The Parasite, could be understood as relation. Breakwaters then seem to be both the symbolical and physical crest of the wave that is natureculture (which is Latours dedichotomized concept), and therefore qualifies as one of those vantage points in which Serres wants to place the philosopher.

I want to ride that crest without falling, neither symbolically, nor physically. Will you follow me out to the rocks? This is 'bo(u)lder rush'; rushing is more peaceful than dashing, and the boldness comes from the impossibility of preparing for the required motion on this fragmented surface.