Waiting for the phone to ring

Kate Brown, Ben Marvin
April 21st, 2020

♣: We returned to the topic of truth and how it functions in art and writing when he showed us this picture of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled. It reminded him of “waiting for a man to call.” For him, the photograph’s truth lay in an embodied knowledge: Our susceptibility to the power and influence of love and its unequal parts.

♦: I wasn’t there when Untitled came up, but the moment’s clear enough to me anyways. The term talks about a body knowing how to act, hold, carry, accept change, shake a hand, keep a distance.

♣: One of its important features is that the body, not the mind, is the knowing subject.

♦: I was once asked how I feel about life before my child, and I said something like it’s hard to know, she’s been imprinted on everything. What I meant was that every part of my body was reprinted by the knowledge of her; I am immune from unknowing her. It’s ubiquitous and entirely special. An image like Untitled achieves this, I just have less of a stake in it.

♣: But, also what’s up with this feeling. The desire to be un-political. To not talk about the thing that everyone is talking about. That feeling that all the important things are being blotted out. All proceeds go to helping those most in need during the crisis, whichever crisis. The failure to materialize meaningful responses lays bare structural deficiencies.


♦: The neoliberal project is failing, but I have unfortunately not completed my Abmeldung; I want to look away but I have a stake in the thing. I don’t want to talk about this crisis any more, but it’s also ubiquitous and, apparently, has a half-life on surfaces for days.

♣: Like Zizek and others have said, we need to deemphasize such a focus on individual responsibility. He continued to say, as it is, [such a focus] functions as ideology the moment it serves to obfuscate the big question of how to change our entire economic and social system.

♦: As our friend Maya Beaudry once said, we’re jogging the mindscape, but in this case, it's in the wake of losing all that body-knowledge that we thought was true and stable.

♣: So here we are, group writing.

When you're all alone and lonely
In your midnight hour
And you find that your soul
It's been up for sale


♣: When Lou Reed wrote that, it was the age of existentialism. Americans were withdrawing from the war in Vietnam—they knew that they could be living out their last moment, it must have been an edgy time.

And you begin to think 'bout
All the things that you've done
And you begin to hate
Just 'bout everything


♦: One might apply the same sort of sentiment into this present crisis. It’s an impoverished word anyway, crisis. I learned at some point that the Greeks meant it as a crucial turning point in disease in particular, good or bad. The question should be less about before-and-after effects, but rather about what sickness it is that we're talking about.

Alexander the Great sat down and cried,
somewhere in the middle of India, I think,
because there were no more new worlds to conquer.


♦: And by the way, when you mentioned a desire to not talk about the thing that everyone is talking about, you forgot to mention that we must do that while not being silent.

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