We conceive the notion of urgencies, which are presently unfolding between affect politics and ‘loss of control’ in a similar way—in order to understand urgency rather as a dynamic field than a political program.
In order to conceptualize the above mentioned ambiguities it seems to be important to take a deeper look into the current outline of transition—referred to at present as a time of multiple crises and/or as an interval between two historical epochs—not so much that of thinkers like Agamben’s permanent state of exception, but rather as a potential productive force, which may lead to a ‘politics of care’ rather than one that aims to accelerate techniques of detachment and new forms of masteries and universalism. Urgency may become a genuine concept when it poses the possibility of thinking the delay or interval between organism as a sensory-motor apparatus and the world that is mapped according to its own measure.
Our understanding of place and the ‘local’ is a ‘field of intensities’ as Jane Bennett describes it in her book “Vibrant Matters”, which is a particular way of relating to the affections that surround an assemblage. It engages with the forms and formations that are contingent, emergent and mutable. Looking into transition again -which is amplified between two or more realities, what in mathematics is described as the in-between, the passage of force fields and in ethnography as the liminal stage, the betwixt and between status of something, which has separated already from the former state and has not yet achieved the new state – we have to at the same time recognize the blurry field of affections. Or that what Derrida calls the ‘out-of-field’, which refers to what is neither seen nor understood, but that is nevertheless perfectly present.
Vita Activa (as Hannah Arendt calls our age) has produced a maximum distance between us and ourselves. We invented tools to detach us from earth by creating almost a cosmic exile, from which we can observe ourselves with satellites looking down at us day and night.
In his book The Parasite Michel Serres's primary argument is that the relationship between a parasite and its host serves as a useful model for all forms of social, cultural and technological mediation. Instead of conceptualizing social relations according to the model of exchange Serres argues that all acts of exchange are actually based also on exploitation, because for him "exchange is always weighed, measured, calculated, taking into account a relation without exchange".1 The French word "parasite" also signifies noise or static, which enables Serres to extend his argument to communication systems. Instead of seeing communication as a two-way process the author argues that every channel also contains an element of interference, which constantly threatens to disrupt the signal. Such disruptions are potentially productive, as they result in the formation of a new system. Serres extends this metaphor to biological systems by arguing that evolution similarly depends on "mutations" within a system. The value of the parasite as a concept, therefore, is that it encompasses such a wide range of fields, including anthropology, biology and communications.
The model of parasitism, to summarize the book, is to have no model. Its relations are always local and “ready mades”.
How do we ‘know’?
‚Knowing’ should be replaced by ‚knowing more’, as environmentalist Thom van Dooren describes the difficulty of caring. ‚Knowing more’ for him articulates a ongoing, deep and at the same self-critical conceptual knowledge, a vital practice of critique, which Michel Serres theorized with the problem of ‚exchange value’ and the role of the parasite and of what Donna Haraway referred to as the „God Trick“ of academic ‚good judgment’, that claims to provide foundations but denies its own contingency. Caring for her means becoming subject to the unsettling obligation of curiosity, which requires knowing more at the end of the day than at the beginning.
‘Knowing more’ is an essential practice for thinking about critical approaches to time-telling, knowledge-making and care-taking that might be called for by way of response. How might we learn to be affected in new ways; how might practices of passionate immersion create new avenues for narratives, which interfere with tidy images, coherent truths, or tales with clear edges? We rather opened onto questions, nuances, and contingencies. In this understanding what we do is not so much Field Work but Field Causality Work of a dense fabric of (co-)lateral relations, correlational associations, and chains of activity that mediates between the scales and material tendencies of environments, individuals, and collective action.