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walking with the problem of the human

November 4, 2017

In collaboration with co-conspirators in the humanities I have been involved in ongoing discussions and artist happenings engaging the problem of the human in our work on humane technologies, human rights and climate change. We seek to wrestle to decenter the human in our work to be more inclusive of non-human and artificial life while still having care of human life and suffering and wellbeing. Our first meeting was a series of three flash talks and facilitated public dialog in small groups. Today we met again for a "reading room" with visiting scholars, Birgit Kaiser and Kathrin Thiele, who are the inspiration for this event in enumerable ways. They are two of the editors and contributors of a wonderful text: Symptoms of the Planetary Condition text and have, through their curating of the Terra Critica  group, nurtured the “reading room” practice. The practice of coming together in an intense collaborative *reading* and *thinking* felt important and even vital in these times of surface interactions and unconsidered speech. In convening this reading room, Tommy and Jenny and I hoped to generate interest in a “reading room” that could be sustained over the next academic year. The Friday reading room, thus, is an invitation to a shared thinking about the “problem of the human” as a symptom of our planetary condition. 

 

To start the practice off, I lead a contemplative “notice what you notice” walk for 30 minutes and then we took that primed state of heightened attention into our discussion. One of main take aways was the notion that participant's devised together of "walking with" as a tactic for dealing with insurmountable problems and conditions. We discussed “entanglements” and “risk” as interpreted by authors in Symptoms of a Planetary Condition. We also considered the artwork of Brandon Ballengée, who also will be at guest at OSU next term. His work we focused on is called GHOSTS OF THE GULF:  https://brandonballengee.com/ghosts-of-the-gulf/ as well as the attached short piece written by the author.  

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