Engaged dis-identifications, NOTES#8: de-selfing the self

1. Po-ethic inquiry: rearranging desires uncoercively

[an education-to-come as] ‘ an uncoercive rearrangement of desires’ [towards] an ‘ethical imperative to relate to the Other, before will – Gayatri Spivak, Righting Wrongs 2004.

[the problems of unexamined investments in harmful systems cannot be addressed in education through cognition alone]

2. Stretching spaces

How can a pedagogy of self- reflexivity, self- implication, dissensus, and discomfort support people to go beyond denials and feelings of shame, guilt, or deceit?

What are the limits of critique and self-critique? How the self be de-selved?

How is different from transmissive, “transformative” or “emancipatory” education?

How can one ethically and professionally address the paternalism and deficit theorization of difference that abound in educational approaches benevolently concerned with (helping, fixing, defending, educating, assimilating, or giving voice to) the Other?

How can we learn from social breakdowns in ways that complicate conversations  and that might open ourselves to ethical obligations and to being taught by the world?

How can one theorize learners, teaching, and learning in ways that take account of power relations, of the complexity of the construction of the self and of alterity, and of the situatedness and the limits of one’s own constructions and theorizations?

Is it useful to distinguished between desires allocated by modernity and metabolic yearnings (emerging in the metabolic intelligence of the earth)?

3. Nuancing affectabilities

 Attempting to…

  • register experiences of selfhood beyond meaning inscribed in self-image, identity, and codified understanding
  • examine the affective dimension of our relationship with knowledge and knowledge production
  • face and sit with paradoxes, contradictions, complexities and diversities internal to the self
  • identify the relationship between external social demands and individual affective, intellectual, relational and material investments
  • observe the symptoms and effects of one’s attachments to coherence, self-expression, authority, certainty, virtue, mastery, leadership, superiority unrestricted autonomy and control
  • articulate and assess projections and unexamined compensatory patterns of addiction
  • build stamina to engage productively and agonistically with dissonance, dissensus, complicity, conflict, ambivalence, divergence, indeterminacy, and imcommensurability
  • develop dispositions of self-permeability and affectability where relationships not mediated by knowledge or desires for identification or dis-identification
  • discern between wants and needs and their sources
  • reduce collective anxieties and  transform conflict into generative experiences

4. Incubating performative practices

What if racism and other forms of toxic, and highly contagious viral divisions are preventable social diseases?
What if the medicine involves facing our violent histories, and the complexity, affliction
and imperfection of being human: the fact that we are all capable of wonderful and terrible things?
What if our inherited social scripts have carried both the mutant virus that spreads the disease and the medicine that prevents it?
What if learning to distinguish between the disease and the medicine requires disciplining our minds, bodies, and spirits by confronting our traumas and letting go of fears  of scarcity, loneliness, worthlessness and guilt?
What if we have to learn to trust and love each other without guarantees?
What if in our attempts to escape from or turn our back to the disease  we are trapping ourselves in reproducing it by refusing to be taught by it?
What if the motivation to survive alongside each other in our finite planet, in dynamic balance, without written agreements, coercive enforcements or assurances, will come precisely through being taught collectively by the disease itself?
What would it take for us to be able to face the world without being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the pain we have created?
What kind of education would be necessary then?

Image credits:

Sessions facilitated by various members of the GTDF collective, during the Residency Period and Educational Week that took place in Gorca Earth Care (Slovenia) in August 2019. Photos by Ubiraci & Dani.

Engaged dis-identifications is an artistic-pedagogic collaboration between Dani d’Emilia and Vanessa Andreotti that explores the workings of non-notional possibilities of co-existence through performative practices. It attempts to translate post-representational modes of engagement into embodied experiments that reconfigure the connections between reason, affect and relationality.

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