The Void In-between

by bojanboric


In response to the text “The Force of Things: Steps toward an Ecology of Matter” by Jane Bennett, I would like to make an attempt to refer to some the subject of my own research the related theoretical framework.

According to Jane Bennett, the concept of thing-matter is based on the resistance of material forms, their “recalcitrance” and intrinsic vitality when observed have strong impact on humane beings. The cultural forms themselves are those “material assemblages” that place human body at the center of the political and cultural processes that shape perception of what is real or natural. For my purposes I am interested in the relation to the urban space that perhaps could be seen as the material object or at least a complex of material entities and systems inseparable from human body, activity, production and culture. Bennett’s aim is to raise awareness to the ecological relation between human beings and the power of the material environment by giving it a specific voice. I believe that in particular any human struggle for the primacy in public space necessities the interaction and a strong reliance on the material reality, objects, infrastructures of the city in order to be able to facilitate the protest, engage in the public discourse, urban politics, etc. I also think that reference to two conceptual fields, one by Foucault, the bio-politics and the other Judith Butler, the “performativity” could be viewed as crossing the boundary among biology, culture, politics and power over material structures. Bio-politcs is constract of the “bio-power” as extended over to the state power in order to control the physical and political bodies of population. It is namely a technology meant to function not as a disciplinary mechanism but a social apparatus of control. Through the interaction of the human body or a group of bodies with urban space at the micro scale or with the planet earth on the macro scale, one could discuss the notion of thing-power as a form of flow of forces, vitality, energies through human bodies but also study ways in which the human energies and the nonhuman overlap and merge. In text “Bodies in Alliance and the Politics of the Street”, Judith Butler discusses the relation between, public political gatherings, protests and demonstrations as performative actions that are inseparable from their environment. Such acts composed not only from bodies but the interaction and conscious and unconscious interactions conducted in the space between the bodies in urban space construct the public space. The notion of “public” is constructed or projected through an act or performance in space. Even further, the speech and assembly demand material conditions but also in term the public character of the public character of that materiality is produced and reproduced. The politics is dependent on the bodies and their appearance. Since the bodies are viewed here as part of the continuous flow of material things, structures, objects, even those essential for human survival such as food and water, housing. The thing power appears most relevant as the means of casting light on the political sphere od ecological engagement that in effect should and may not be viewed as separate issue from the social, economic and cultural transformations and their political implications. Butler refers to the creation of reality, she also refers to Hannah Arendt, when she claims that the “right to have rights” is not dependent on any political organizations, it is intrinsic and does not rely on the political institutions to legitimize it but instead it comes into life, “the right comes into being when it is exercised”. The very notion of reality is subject of monopolization by those who seek to exclude certain groups from the visible spectrum of reality. The human body itself a material object a thing, is an element in flow of material and non material forces, it could only be conceived as political in terms of the material space and the energy field in the void of the multiplicity of bodies in the given material space. This material continuity is essential for the material transformation of the dead materiality to the living environment, the thing-power.