Sunday, May 1, 2011

retro spatial assignments and our 'libido of belonging' are pressing for replacement by more evolved, integral concepts

"Human beings, like all living creatures, take up space; they are driven to occupy particular portions of territory by the libido of belonging. Collectivities cement themselves through place, just as place confirms the singularity of the collective. That this impulse is perpetual also makes it paradoxical. It seeks to confine space and to confine itself to a space, but the impulse to confine and contain is itself unconfined and uncontained. Its tendency is not to sit still, to rather to propagate, to expand irresistibly into other territories. All living creatures are in essence imperialist, in that only the limits of the environment or other beings prevents their infinite expansion to fill all space – the head of the sunflower, blindly discovering and illustrating the Golden Section in its rage to pack as many seeds into the space as possible, aptly demonstrates this. But, if the imperialist is always in search of new territories to annexe, he is also for that reason always looking beyond or taking leave of where he is. Indeed, Serres distinguishes human beings from other species on precisely this principle: ‘Living species are sites of memory; humans take leave of these sites’ (Serres 2003, 58). Or, as he put it in the course of a conversation about his book on angels (1995a), which takes the form of a philosophical dialogue set in an airport, ‘we are the dasein in the sky, not in the land. Do you see what I mean? We are wandering. We are nomads. This is not a new state of things. It is a very ancient state of things. I think the dasein is in the atmosphere’ (Serres and Kunzru 1995).

But what happens when space is saturated or runs out, as may happen with our space, even our airspace? Necessarily, Serres argues, this must mean that we will have to take our leave, not of this or that location, but of space, in the sense of locatedness, itself. The network, the gridding or checkerboarding of finite space, with its determinate and mutually exclusive positions, gives way to a topological ocean of changeable relations. ‘[Soft] connectivity replaces [hard] collectivity’ (Serres 2009b, 20)." [Steven Connor on Serres]

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