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Objectivization of identity in the contemporary age and differentialism: Towards a new teleology

This week’s reading comes with a deeper look into topics explored in our Nights of Philosophy discussions, with a submission from a TU Delft Masters Graduate – Pedro Pantaleone. Take a look bellow:

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The voices in the grass —- — — the colours in the wind the –

<<excerpts from the ZINE we produced. 2019/2020>>

I can still remember the buzzy business at the faculty. The energy was always so high and around every corner people were busy with modeling or drawing or would have interesting talks. In one arm of the building, just behind the BK-Expo area and very close to the coffee place Sterk, the Argus place was situated. A good hangout space for the master students of Architecture and a place where we met once a week for our Night(s) of Philosophy discussions. 

We went everywhere – all bits and parts of the world and our lifes were discussed. In the following you can read some of the conversations we had inside, outside and during our walks, mainly through Whatsapp, Zoom or Googledocx. 


Our environment shows a decay of our current world view by natural disasters, higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and most recently: the Coronavirus. This invisible infectious agent*, bringing all action and production to a silent mode, enhanced the urgency of learning to deal with change and loss. We asked ourselves this year, under the theme of the Post-Anthropocene, what architecture would be in relation to decay, loss and death. By using the prefix ‘post’ in front of what is called ‘the human era’ indicates already that we are aware that old ways of inhabiting this planet should be reconsidered and that our existence is always tightly connected to change and loss. In the following we will dive into what loss, dying and change might mean and how we used these concepts in our walks and talks on site. 

Literally, dying means: gradually ceasing to exist or function – in decline – being about to disappear. We tend to forget that we live arm in arm with Death – we let parts of us be lost and we always change in relation to our environment. We are always dying and as parts of a bigger network our environment reminds us of this process of decline as well as ascent. (Reminder: We are not a singularity.) We tell ourselves the most beautiful stories about growth and increase, and push out its counterparts. Disappearing, dissolving, forgetting and forgotten seem to be the painful elements in this story. But how so? Why does death scare us? Why do we feel uncomfortable even around the thought? Death is a word charged with daunting connotations. Perhaps we could think of death as something more lightweight, as a periodic summary of time, or merely a period in time’s sentence. We aim to generate space to encompass this daunting connotation and recharge it, together with our understanding of ourselves (in relation to) our environment. 

On the beach, between Rotterdam and Den Haag, we will start a ritual of transition and creating a new. In this ritual we will consider OUR situatedness at The Sand Motor. This place (in Dutch: De Zandmotor) is one of the largest scientific experiments in coastal protection located at the West of the Hagues, in the Netherlands. The Sand Motor is an artificial peninsula, an adventurous coastal nature, is a human made peninsula that slowly generates it’s form. It’s shape and size is constantly changing due to the action of currents, waves and wind. The selection of the site comes to reflect on topological thinking, a way in which every element forms itself according to the demands of its occupation. The uncertainty drawn from the behaviour of the sand, current and wind is what makes the interaction with the site even more interesting. 

Together, while moving along foot by foot, our minds extended and directed by the elements along our way – helping us to enter a world of relations, of life and death, and to a world beyond human centric thinking. LET’S TELL MORE STORIES! Stories that tell about the beauty of letting go, of dust and dusk – of the moment of transition. For our first walk we will go to a place of transition. The beach is the place where fine grain stones form big sand heaps which are held together by grasses, but are constantly changing by the invisible pushes of the wind. Walking over this sand our footsteps will be faded both by wind and water. 

All in all, we believe that we should address stressing topics related to what we call the post-anthropocene. As we are not existing merely in locations (SPACE), but also in histories (TIME), we want to critically reflect which histories are captured in locations. We will do this by the act of walking on a long line of sand which holds many dichotomies: man-made beaches, observed and adjusted to protect the innerland, while beholding the natural processes in which great powers of wind and water remove traces of humans, easily. Here we will walk together and reflect on our actions, habits and habitats, together. 

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Un/zipping – Un/packing – Un/collecting – Un/folding

Thinking With Tongues walk

Performance for the Neuhaus/NoP – Thinking With Tongues walk

“‘When you say you’ve got the Cloak, and clothes…’ said Harry, frowning at Hermione, who was carrying nothing except her small beaded handbag, in which she was now rummaging. ‘Yes, they’re here,’ said Hermione, and to Harry and Ron’s utter astonishment, she pulled out a pair of jeans, a sweatshirt, some maroon socks, and finally the silvery Invisibility Cloak… She gave the fragile-looking bag a little shake and it echoed like a cargo hold as a number of heavy objects rolled around inside it.”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

In this short reflection, introducing one of the Thinking With Tongues activation tools: the net-bag, we look at subject-object relationships, net-bag networks, through poetic disseminations of the concepts of packing, zipping, collecting, and folding. We also will take some time to look at their counterparts, freeing up conceptions of barriers, containments, pondering on arrangements, and contexts of the object-subject. We could also say that we will look at lines, limits and ways to understand and free ourselves from these barriers.

To put something inside something else, a bag, to reach a status of holding something, carefully placing or pushing outside into the inside, is to impose a limit of some sort and introducing a special environment. These limits can be soft, blurry, cushioned, or hard, leathery, sticky, breathing. A bag can be seen as a constellation of its containments, a space larger than the sum of its parts. A bag can be a democracy, a multiplicity, or a resistance in the shadows, an unknown statement inside. Or it can be a container, especially visible if it’s a net. Visibility as equality, visibility as judgement, visibility as sanitization.

A bag is an invention, humagineered after bags, pockets, sacks seen in nature, as humans sought ways to free themselves from carrying in their hands, cupping, cradling, towards using both their hands to sow, pick, shake. In a similar way, walking on two legs has afforded us to start carrying in our hands instead of our mouths. To disconnect from instantly licking what we pick up, thinking with tongues, and start talking: thinking with our tongues.

The leap from using our mouth to carry to the bag fulfilling this purpose can be aligned with the leaps of design, evolution, that contribute to our individuation. Our designed vessels, different from the hairs on bees used to transport pollen, are conceived as stable, impermeable. No wetness allowed, airtight and firesafe. Bags are engineered machines, ranging in complexity, technocratic tools. Bags can zip objects inside. Zipping files, carrying information, bits of the known world, making efficient. Bags fold something bigger inside a container of materiality. A bag is a building, experienced wholeness., composition, arrangement. An ongoing conversation between the outside-inside, inside-outside. Picking up the object, letting go the subject. Collecting the subject, dropping the object. And we give the fragile-looking bag a little shake…



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Tune In

Embedding in the post-Anthropocene

As we are preparing ourselves for the coming walk(s), we are keen about trying out different routes, times, places and ways of walking. Our previous walk was early in the morning, when we started to harvest some delicious plants next to the road around the Delftse Hout. It had started dry but soon it would start drizzling. We enjoyed our little expedition, where we tasted grasses, weeds, raindrops and nettle with our mouth and skin, and we felt tuned to our surrounding ecologies.

Sitting on grass, my fingers through the soil, my feet itching from the nettle I did not see, I sink in the world of connections… The weather changes, faster than ever. I wonder and question the heat and cold switching off like a light switch. Open – closed – cold – warm – cold again, a wakeup call from ancient lessons – the weather gods spell out the need for a new direction. 

Our living on this planet is a quest for embeddedness. Embeddedness suggests a certain acceptance of a situation. Embedding oneself creates an idea that there is no escape, there is no reversal – no possibility to move an opposite direction. With the naming of the post-Anthropocene it calls for the embedding of ourselves within this epoch – with the multispecies surroundings. As Colebrook suggests, the reversibility of a situation would only be a dream. And a dream occurs in the absence of action and possibilities; when there is a lack of ability to propose and construct other options – reducing the clinical unease. 

Let’s transfer our perspective from the reversible to re-making and resisting alternatives. While it seems we enjoy the dream state of a reversible option, yet, at the same time complexity generates an ever higher possibility of entropy – with consequences affecting our imagination. Only acknowledging the irreversibility of our actions gives a deeper layer of relatedness to our planet. When tuned in we could experience the environment as more than merely ‘things, matter, stuff or energy’ – leading to an understanding of changing processes which are created by us and at the same time create us (Colebrook 2014, 51).

I stand up, pick a plantago leaf, start squeezing and rubbing it on my feet. The itchiness disappears, only the little white dots on my red skin remain. I am still sitting on the grass as the weather changes. It changes me – my mood, my vision, my behavior – and my surroundings. It is all about this co-creation of the nettle remainder, making me aware of my present within this changing weather.

When we start to see the co-creation of our culture with our ecologies, we can start establishing different relations by using a different ‘means/end rationality’. How do we want to inhabit our planet? Which tools construct our habits and how do we take them at hand? Or, as Stengers indicates, how do we shape the game? 

‘If relevance, not authority or objectivity, had been the name of the game, the game would have meant adventure, not conquest. If we had seen this [the environmental crisis] before, we would never allow the extension of a practice which maybe means a possibility of disembodying. […] Redefining it in relation of the question it should answer. It would then include an intrinsic indifference or the prospective witness’

(Stengers 2014, 33:00)

The architectural practice creates habitats, and habits par excellence. The matter is not ‘self-organized’ and suggests the possibility to organize it differently, or as Colebrook (2017) suggests: ‘change would occur not just by the whim of fate, but emerge from making, building and transforming (p 18).’ Rehabilitating within the post-Anthropocene would suggest to frame climate changes not as disturbing the human life, but rather as an altering of ‘the very unit of “the human” (Colebrook 2014, 56).’ It would frame the continuation of human life without any further calculation or prediction of future events and start with building new concepts. 

So, while standing still with the plantago in my hand, the grass still tickling my feet while the wind is bringing them into motion, I breathe deeply the air of resistance. Attentively looking around, I breathe the air of re-making. I start liking it as there is this deep vibration and energy in it. The nettle is still itching a bit, but the encounter is part of me now… 

  • Colebrook, C. 2017. “Irreversibility.”
  • —. 2014. “The Sustainability of Concepts: Knowledge and Human Interests.” In Death of thePostHuman, Essays on extinciton, Vol. 1, by Claire Colebrook, 29-46. Michigan: Open Humanities Press.
  • Stengers, I. 2014. “Cosmopolitics, Learning to think with sciences, peoples and natures.” To See Where It Takes Us. London: St. Mary’s University.
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Writing-walking as artful practice

one night in April 2019

Our previous walk through the landscapes of Hoek van Holland was an enunciative practice. Steps, chats, a rope and different landscapes made us unite in a bodily experience with ecological systems which we inhabit. We passed differences and inter-acted loosely with our surroundings. We wanted to capture this experience in a collective writing. We asked several questions, and answered by silently drawing lines – stories came to life.

What is Nighthoek?

Nighthoek is the exploration of anthropocentric landscapes surrounding the port of Hoek van Holland, under the cover of Night…

The location merged sea, soft dark dunes, non-glowing greenhouses, empty roads, hidden bunkers, and a land looking towards the future.

A line {connecting} us all, an experience getting is closer to the unknown, …

Nighthoek is a listening ear to stories of diaspora, beeps of cargo ships, and to silence. Nighthoek is getting caught in the flow but also becoming aware of it … resisting it.

Nighthoek explores difference, poem lines, being horizontal, walking on sand, grass, paths, concrete, sand, sand, water, sand. Different lights, dusk 1, dusk 2, dusk 3, night, moon vibration.

Nighthoek was a moonlit night walk, moving close together, holding on a rope, to each other.

Nighthoek is a place and movement to meet new landscapes, people and idea’s. It is a place beyond your common habitat. habits.

Habits of humanity are engrained here… extended daylight, year-round caprese salad, push back against the sea.

Lines are drawn, are taken and handed on. The line moves, takes shapes, hoeks and leads us, together – along.

And get we lead the line. Without us and our movements, the line would not exist, or move, or link.

The link lines low and light, to and fro, separating us a bit less than life normally does.

What does Post-Anthropocene mean in Hoek van Holland?

The post-anthropocene is a state of transition in(/of) Hoek van Holland. Landscape shifts, walks are erected, goods flow from this corner of the world to another corner.

A borderline, a mixture, and in-between. A place offering perspectives beyond.

Wanting to be horizontal can mean to disrupt the logics of 24/7 potential production landscapes, taking a nap between the dormant plants in tall glass houses. Post-Anthropocene can mean to flow through neatly delineated plots, to move, to not-settle, to move like a snake made up of so many collective bodies, a rope glowing gin twilight.

A place that has become dominated by human need, human greed, but not the human themselves.

In between the grains of sand, small worlds evaporate into the mist of the night; soaked up by the plants whispering stories to each other.

Hoek van holland is a machinaal of human consumption on the edge of {human habitat}, {away from human?}

What is Flow?

Flow is the transitioning aspect of material, flow is time, velocity, network unseen.

Nighthoek moved around our ability to fully grasp the scale of global production, global capital, global flow, and its violent histories, it meant meaning getting lost in translation, lost in the sound of the wind or the waves, but still something remains.

Flow is the desired state of instability. Flow is when things move and happen towards a pleasant ….

State of entropy. Flows rush to one another, repel one another, construct borders against and paths across.

Over and under, or through. A symbiose and synergy taking place. A state – being.

A temporary state, only meaningful in relation to its part or its future. Against that which stays still around it.

What is light?

Bright and without heaviness. Particles, matter, an object, travelling. Slow and fast, the same moment.

It is the opposite of dark, allows us to see and use our eyes. In this same instance, it priorities our sight, somehow dulling our other senses.

There are many shades of light, bright, twilight, fast as black night.

Light is what makes thing visible, but no light is the same.

Light is always looking outwards, seeking boundaries, filling a space, diffusing to nothingness. It is now omnipresent, a 24h 24/7 reminder of the post-anthropocene.

Collective writing, April 2019. Nicole, Catherine, Setareh, Maarten, Ruby, Willie

Thank you for sharing your poems and walked with us Yoojin Lee & Malique

Photos by Catherine, Aska, Daniel, Willie

And Yoojin Lee – Dormant Buds On Twigs from Ja Ja Ja Nee Nee Nee

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More than walking

When we found out that we could organise walks, rather than a formal evening with panel discussions and speakers, a spring of collective energy opened up. How can we organise Nights of Philosophy that are stress-free, not just during the event but also throughout the process organising? How can we work make a space of care, working together in a way that inspires us, rather than adding another thing to our eternally growing to-do-lists? Walking together provided -an always tentative- response to those concerns. And because we are so excited about exploring different ways of learning and being together, other than the traditional classroom or auditorium, working with Nights of Philosophy – at least for me – is always fun.  

In our audition for Neuhaus, where time and space was limited and we couldn’t walk with the jury members, we instead took our pens and pencils for a walk on a large sheet of paper that covered the table. While one of us talked, the others drew intuitively. It was almost like a trance, we were moving together, adding to each others’ words and lines. Rebecca Solnit, in Wanderlust, writes that “walking, ideally, is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord.”

“Walking is losing time to make space”, Francesco Careri’s motto for walking as an aesthetic practice, proves true every time. My experience of walking-reading-thinking, both during the Polderwalk and the recent Nighthoek, is that I mostly don’t think. Not consciously, or without intent. I just am. I am aware of my surroundings, respond to it with my body – one foot in front of the other, falling, stepping. My body becomes a membrane, the world seeps in, I flow out, become larger, breathe. Falling, stepping. My mind expands, becomes the sky. A thought passes like a cloud, I let it pass. Some time lost, mind space gained.

It is another kind of thinking than what I do behind my desk. Less controlled, less pressing. Thoughts present themselves, I respond to them like the way my feet respond to the earth. In talking while walking, too, I feel that these conversations are often more responsive, embodied, becoming with each other. Agency emerges in the ability to respond (response-ability). You never know where it leads: “‘With’ demands works, speculative invention, and ontological risks… [and] [n]o one knows how to do that in advance of coming together in compositions” (Haraway cited in Walking methodologies in more than human worlds, ed. Stephanie Springgay and Sarah Truman, p.137).

Walking is more about sensing and responding than about distances covered. Alice Tarbuck describes Nan Shepherd’s writing and walking in a reflection on walking, bodies, and ableism:

Shepherd, although she celebrates the vast spaces of the mountains, does not lionise walking as an end in itself. The important thing, for her, is not the miles walked, the exhilaration of reaching the summit, the feeling of having conquered something. Rather, Shepherd understands walking as a means of facilitating other forms of sensory engagement with the world. Shepherd seeks to de-centre the ascent of mountains as their primary attraction, referring to her engagement with the Cairngorms as ‘a meditation not a manifesto … a pilgrimage and not an attack’. (…) She swims in the lochs, feels the grass under her bare feet, the hardness of rocks, the heat of the sun. She celebrates the skin as an organ of exploration, and touch as a powerful means of understanding the world (in On Bodies, An Anthology, p. 20)

Walking can be more than walking. It is often just a way of getting from a to b, something we hardly pay attention to – that is, if our able bodies do not hurt and allow us to forget them, allow us to forget our movements. But walking can also be a way of being (together), of becoming with our environment and with our minds. It can invite an enlarged, embodied, consciousness in a more-than-human world. And “walking exists on a spectrum from the purely physical to the purely imaginative” (Alec Finlay via Alice Tarbuck, p. 23) – it can, but does not have to, include vast stretches of land and physical activity. We can use our bodies and our senses in so many ways. We can touch, feel, lie down and be horizontal, together, like we did with Yoojin Lee during Nighthoek. We can listen, flow, glide, swim. We can smell, roll, get smelly. We can move together in ways we couldn’t imagine before. In the months to come, we are starting to explore our senses in different ways. During our next walk we might get to know the city through our tongues. Will you move with us?

While we don’t update our blog very regularly, we are active on instagram and post images, reflections and invitations there: http://instagram/nights_of_philosophy

Our recent Nighthoek walk:

The Neuhaus Curriculum at Het Nieuwe Instituut of which we’ll be part:

References on walking

  • Careri, F. (2017). Walkscapes: walking as an aesthetic practice. (S. Piccolo, Trans.). Ames: Culicidae Architectural Press.
  • Solnit, R. (2001). Wanderlust: A history of Walking. New York: Penguin Books.
  • Springgay, S., & Truman, S. E. (2018). Walking Methodologies in a More-than-Human World : WalkingLab.
  • Tarbuck, A. (n.d.). (2018) Walking. In On Bodies: An Anthology (pp. 17–24). London: 3 of cups press.

Walking during Nighthoek, collectively flowing through the landscape, using the rope as activation device. (more on activation devices in Springgay & Truman, 2018; photo by Catherine)