Pedagogy of Touch

On Performing the University of Disaster, Part Two

Bond. James Bond.

In the very name is the relational. Bond is the spy who operates in the liminality between smooth and striated, who fluidly shifts identity to meet the parameters of the assignment, who acts as an attractor of potentials. His is a contingent existence, at once strange and familiar, a unity of process and relation. Bondage.


A process philosophy demands that one consider first and foremost the relation. Part-subjects are only thus insofar as they co-emerge with others from a streaming continuity of experience. Or better, not simply streaming but eddying and circling back to recondition the possibilities for becoming, aternally, often far from any conventional understanding of equilibrium.


The Colonel sets up a secret rendezvous in Toronto. A reversal from the movies, the city has an air of exoticism relative to the drabness that is the everyday of cosmopolitan Europe. Fragments of time and space coordinates are passed through various channels to notify and gather agents from the field, multiply redundant yet still requiring individual wit to zone in on the final locale. Glancing around the room I spot 007, over there Agent 99, Homo Generator appears to be wearing a disguise, and somebody whispers something about Bourne. Each looks on the surface to be relatively normal: I wonder what secrets they hold?

fail more better the object reads
better the attempt, embrace, fail
dwell in this craft
write body
touch a moment in that singular-plurality, herein called a failure.

Intelligence has just come in from the strategists at the University of Disaster. As befitting the context, he delivers it with sobriety, grace and aplomb. Or does she? It seems to be hesheheshehe, stereophonically so. From the highest dancing trebles of art to the physically pounding basslines of philosophy, the sounds register to the depths of my body and back again. In other words, both-and. Relation. Process. Massumi+Manning as the catalysis to chaotic, non-linear and networked potential.


Take two people in bed. While sleep is shared need for psychosomatic regeneration, shared sleep is something different altogether. An enclosed space, though not a striated one: there is no line drawn down the middle of the bed separating the bodies into disciplinary partitions, no gaze ensuring the objects of information stay confined to the appropriate area. Rather, a negotiation takes place during the night — for space, for cover, for the presence or absence of touch in the depths of sleep. One might cross the theoretical dividing line in order to contour and caress the body of the other, or one might try to create distance in order to plunge more fully into restfulness. Either way, this negotiation is not spoken, nor even truly conscious, but felt: it is a haptic negotiation of both flesh and skin that continues throughout the night, in greater or lesser form, with the goal of corporeal, psychic and social rejuvenation hopefully balanced come sunrise.

Take three people tending bar. A long, tight space to navigate as one moves from customer to glass to fridge to tap to garnish to till to customer, all the while avoiding the other two. And the demands of capital drive the demands for speed in this space. Serve, quickly, and reap the rewards. One imagines this would create noise in the system, and the newcomer does literally run face-first into the situation. But once a new threshold for perception is reached (stop looking and feel!), speed actually enhances, turning the movements of the three behind the counter into a frenzied ballet as each moves along the length of the bar to pour drinks. Bodies negotiate and cantilever through space in real-time such that maximum reward is pragmatically achieved.

Take multiple people dancing at a club. This is Manning's tango with a live wire stuck in one side, multiplied and radiating rhythmically to every corner of the dancing space. How do bodies become-several within this multiple mass? Once again there is a negotiation, and once again it is silent save for the pounding basslines (philosophy!) that provide rhythm to the exchange. But we are more fully constrained in this case by the volumetric, as each writes or inscribes one's own four dimensions in such a way as to not physically strike fellow dancing bodies, while seductively sharing moments of the flesh with another.

(i take comfort in the laughter of cixous)

Or, finally, flip the terminus and take these three examples in reverse order. Negotiation, approximation, risk. The slightest change in perception can have dramatic consequences for understanding the microsociality of relation.

Relationality - Courtesy of Abigail Simon

the 'ness' survives as perishable object of subjective form.

i know, because i sense it — because i non-sense it.

non-sensuous wave and curl and folding back into upon and under that sense immediate
those eyes on page trailing letter shape,
sense made in your non-sensuousness (did you realize?)

Make no mistake about it, we are describing the state of affairs at the micro-level: microspaces, microsociality, micropolitics. But, as they say, smaller isn't necessarily better. One might think that the microspace would lend itself to be better surveyed by the intelligentsia of this mission, to be better mapped, better controlled. Au contraire, estime Jean-Christophe. A performed cartography suggests a renewed call for psychogeographical techniques that quickly fractalize a neighbourhood in advance of the mission-event: for food, drink, information or aesthetic sustenance.

It might be suggested that the requirement for food to nourish each of our bodies singularly, to keep alive our animal body alone, would offer an experience separate from the bonds of ontogenesis. But this is to fully misunderstand in its many forms the relational nature of food! Its growing, sourcing, preparation, consumption and reflection upon thereafter all constitute a relational experience par excellence. Vital nourishment!

Yet despite the trappings of wealth and style, James Bond doesn't seem to eat. How does he negotiate? I suppose one cannot eat much and still stay as thin as an image. Odd fellow.

Relationality - Courtesy of Barb Fornssler

write a paragraph of sensing body, dwell in this craft
i cannot make para, cannot generate the graph without disruption.
slice into flow, see curves
imaginings are sometimes best left blank. please dwell.

Once again, we say farewell and flip back to the now of the network (this realization is sense made, a point of understanding that is mis/understood as a point, as an end). But a terminus is only so until the tendency produced by it is fed forward to produce another (it feeds forward into your next line, and the next, and the next). Process is always, resolutely, becoming (and the text is less important than that movement in your eye, the hollow glow from screen that dilates the pupil). Or, a coming into touch with. It is always co-emergent, prior to thought, prior to language (i am a dilated pupil…and now so are you).

Word is bond, yo.

(co-written by the colonel and the spy for all those who made the canvas of toronto cryptic.)


6 responses to Pedagogy of Touch

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  1. sportsBabel » Remixed Signals says:

    [...] Bond does not exercise. And frankly, if one was an image why bother? There is no sense in doing so, no sense in maintaining one's structures ossiferous [...]

  2. sportsBabel » Intensionality (for Jean-Luc Nancy) says:

    [...] of movement and speed. Rhythm and tempo are more readily apparent, the eye more in balance with the sense perceived by the rest of the [...]

  3. sportsBabel » awakening says:

    [...] desires the sleep less reflex, or Rx, for psychoanalysis is uncertain if dreaming tears an aperture through [...]

  4. sportsBabel » my skin is (y)our relation says:

    [...] that we feel nothing. the process is always tactile, stimulating: we are always in touch even when we are out of touch. though the skin of the host may [...]

  5. sportsBabel » Wolfgang Schirmacher: In Memoriam di Imagum says:

    [...] but this is only how they appeared when filed in the field reports. The shots were part of the process, emergent from the flux that is the University of Disaster. It was just a game, was it [...]

  6. sportsBabel » La Paracite says:

    [...] verse; he pays his select table companions and their good food in word. But someone disturbed the dinner. At the door of the room, they heard a noise. Simonides runs off, but no one else follows him. No [...]