The yearlong multidisciplinary ICI Project ‘Constituting Wholes’ explored the critical potential of remobilizing the notion of the whole. In which ways are wholes constituted and how do wholes constitute, determine, and control their parts? Does the constitution of wholes necessarily involve an exclusion – not only of some parts and of other conceivable wholes but also of some aspects of its constituting elements? When wholes are said to be more than the sum of their parts, this ‘more’ contains both a promise and a threat. The workshop proposed that such promising, threatening excess should also be thought in terms of de-constitution; and its three panels investigated different modes of negativity under the headings ‘Haunting’, ‘Eclipse’, and ‘Plasticity’.
Wednesday 9 July 2014, 16:00-20:00
Part 1: Haunting
Moderation: Nahal Naficy
Haunting is a method for exploring how objects, processes and affects make themselvesknown in other than obvious terms. By pointing to forms of historicity, violence,and dispossession, haunting disrupts the naturalness of evidence and the transparencyof ‘things’, knowledge, or experience. Space and time cannot remain intact when the tactilityof everyday life is mediated by the labor of the negative. Indeed, thinking through hauntings haunts you back. It suggests an aporetic immanence that obfuscates any capacity for a totality, or whole. Informed by psychoanalytic, feminist, queer and post-colonial perspectives, this panel seeked to trouble the unforeseeable, the unknown, the absent and theinvisible in methods, archives, and systems of justice, desire, and death.
Thursday 10 July 2014, 11:00-19:00
Part 2: Eclipse
Moderation: Filippo Trentin
Eclipse is an event without history, an event that nullifies the visibility supplied by a narrative. If day and night mark the turnings and passages of the world, the world rightly told, then eclipse is the event of this ‘everyday’ world’s wrongness. Seeking to think not about eclipse but according to eclipse — not ‘in light of’ but ‘in eclipse of’ — this panel explored the methodology of thinking within the wrongness of the world, a wrongness for which even the word ‘eclipse’ may be wrong.
Part 3: Plasticity
Moderation: Daniel C. Barber
The notion of plasticity challenges the idea that wholes are constituted through subsumption and that such wholes ought to be resisted according to a logic of exemption or excess. Plasticity names the transformative nature of immanent processes of the giving and receiving of forms, thus allows to consider the question of wholes beyond the dichotomies of components and composites or object and context. Yet the concept often conjures expectations of individual adaptation in a neo-liberal order and thus calls for a critical assessment. Exploring the potentials and pitfalls of the concept in diverse fields, the panel asked whether it is possible to proceed not from the “constituting” of wholes but their de-constitution in morphosis.
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