Diffraction troubles dichotomies, including some of the most sedimented and stabilized/stabilizing binaries, such as organic/inorganic and animate/inanimate. Indeed, the quantum understanding of diffraction troubles the very notion of dichotomy—cutting into two—as a singular act of absolute differentiation, fracturing this from that, now from then.
(Barad 2014, 168)
Diffraction denotes the phenomenon of interference generated by the encounter of waves, be it light, sound or water and, within quantum physics, of matter itself. Such a superposition of waves produces a diffraction or interference pattern that records, i.e. incorporates the trajectory of waves. Donna Haraway draws on the optical phenomenon of diffraction as a metaphor and a method for knowledge production, because diffractions crucially differ from reflections. Whereas reflection is bound to ‘repeating the Sacred Image of the Same’, ‘diffraction patterns record the history of interaction, interference, reinforcement, difference’, as she points out.
(Sehgal 2014, 188)
The model of inscription
The dominant idea of the body as
Diffusion of confusion
A passive surface of inscription
Who is doing the writing?
What is the power of this?
Timelines of thoughts
How would we think together?
How is that thought coming into being?
How do we coalesce?
Coming together not quite in the right order
What kind of thinking is enacted here?
What kind of ideology?
Not in your own voice, but in the voice with someone else
Writing with hands
With similar points of contact
Is it a co-articulation across gender?
Who is included?
Who is excluded?
Together and apart
And at the same time full-body writing
Breathing through the winds of ghostly voices
Sensations pouring like ink
Does it speak with authority?
Is it open to critique and to
Breathing into and through the bones
What is it bracketing?
Is it joyful?
What kind of emotional tone does it have?
It seems to be so serious
Does it allow for play?
Weaving in through the touch, the weight
Hosts and ghosts
Giving the weight
Only what it needs, and exactly only that
Would it be in any another situation?
If sensations can pass through so can thoughts
How different is it really?
Always to the point, finishing the line
Does my touch change it?
Does it affect your thinking?
To call that ‘writing’?
I can’t quite get through you
Words not always come together
How it could be
The quality of its touch
Sometimes they seem to surface, but then
Searching for yet another mode of entering
It is a bit dense, there—maybe you can loosen up a little
They retreat again
Creating the space for appearance
They reach towards
But then decide
Creating a different ecology of mind
To depart, to take another route
Becoming susceptible for his humour, his wit, his
Enjoy that place!
Knowing how to do
To decompose again
Give it the final touch
Is that mind extended
But with some
In the sense of being expanded?
Spatially and temporally and whatever?
Writing from the place of touch
Where sensing and thinking are touching
Or is that mind a condensation, a crystallization of coagulated minds?
Streams of consciousness
With care for the other
Begins with a care for the self
My doctoral research started out as an investigation into one of the core practices of Body Weather performance training—the so-called Manipulations.(1) Conducted in pairs with alternating roles of ‘giver’ and ‘receiver’, the Manipulations is a hands-on practice that draws on a range of diverse Eastern and Western somatic practices such as yoga, shiatsu, acupuncture, and manual therapy. As a pre-performative training practice, the aim of the Manipulations is to make the performer receptive and available to be moved by (human and non-human) agencies within and without the body.
Initially, one objective of my research was to articulate the impact of the Manipulations on the practitioner, and the bodily knowledge created through that practice.(2) The so-called research score became my main practical tool to accomplish that. The research score is a translation of the beginning sequence of the Manipulations from a duo into a solo practice: alone, the receiver recreates—with as much detail as possible—the sensation of being given. In addition and simultaneously to the task of physical recreation, the performer-researcher attends to the process of thinking and instantly articulates thoughts that arise in relation to a word or a concept chosen beforehand. The verbal articulation happens within the practice of the research score. Hence, the voice acts as a writing tool that is recorded on the spot, and transcribed afterwards.(3)
1) For a video registration of Manipulations No. 1 & 2 see theatredanceperformancetraining.org/2015/11/body-weather-manipulations-no-1-2
2) See Joa Hug (2016), “Writing with practice: Body Weather performance training becomes a medium of artistic research”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 7 (2), 168–189 as well as Joa Hug (2016), “Modes of Knowing in Body Weather Performance Training”. In: Enderlein, Undine (ed.), Zwischenleiblichkeit und bewegtes Verstehen: Intercorporeity, Movement and Tacit Knowledge (Bielefeld: Transcript), pp. 367–380.
3) See Joa Hug (forthcoming), “No solutions: The research score as a medium of artistic research”. The present piece was created on the basis of a series of six research scores that were recorded, transcribed, edited, and (re-)composed into one single track.
I am grateful for the feedback I have received by my colleagues at AREAL Berlin and at the Performing Arts Research Centre (Uniarts Helsinki) in the course of creating this piece. Many thanks for contributing in various ways, and at different stages, go to Dagmar Frohning, Liisa Jaakonaho, Riikka T. Innanen, Tashi Iwaoka, Simo Kellokompu, Paula Kramer, Leena Rouhiainen, Vincent Roumagnac, Josh Rutter, and especially to Outi Condit who not only raised the initial question captured in the title, but also pursued its taking form through her constructive criticism and persistent dedication.