Heterogenesis, everywhere

by jasminmatzakow

Jasmin, burned wood

While burning wood, scrubbing it and burning it again and again, I have some time to think. The Philosophies course is still very present in my mind, but I cannot get lost in the intensity of my thoughts because I have to take care of the fire, an attention seeking element. I have space for my thoughts to roll around in the background, though. My focus returns to what my hands are doing. Even though the burner is a rough tool, I can use it quite precisely. When I cool the wood in water and start scrubbing off the charcoal surface, I feel with my hands every little bump, every line, every change since the last scrubbing. I go back to the burner and follow the same lines with the flame, either erasing them or defining them more, depending on how the water moves, comes up to the surface, and then evaporates. I think of what Felix Guattari said in The Three Ecologies about heterogenesis: “Individuals must become both more united and increasingly different” (p.45). Initially, I perceived this as an opposition. The more I think about what it could mean, and how it can be applied, the more these two elements turn into complements. When I, as an individual become more united with my community and surrounding, I am more committed to it. At the same time, when I become increasingly different, I am more aware of myself. My actions and their consequences and I become more responsible, which connects back to my commitment. Looking at what my hands are doing at this moment, I see the actions of my burning in the wood. I see heterogenesis in my work process, at this precise moment: it is the way I watch over the details in my wood, how they change, how precious they are to me, and how aggressively and firmly I burn the wood down to a small piece. Both are necessary to create the tension and delicacy I am searching for in my work; they do not oppose but rather enrich each other. These two examples, of how I can begin to understand heterogenesis, remain in my mind for the following days. I talk to friends and colleagues about it. We agree that we are very accustomed to think in dualities. It is quite a challenge to endure seemingly opposing things, feelings, thoughts, etc., to just give them space, to not judge them as two sides of a coin, as an either/or, but let them be equals, floating around. Even in this example I continue to think binary, but our world is composed of so many elements, and heterogenesis is not a dual system. So: I am not only a committed, responsible human. I am a committed, responsible and emotional human. I am a committed, responsible, emotional l and stubborn human. I am a committed, responsible, emotional, stubborn and foolish human. All at the same time and with the same right to exist. How nice.

I continue working on my burned piece of wood. It has become thin and fragile. As it is now, I do not like it because it is stuck in between different kinds of shapes and messages. Is it not dual, not contrasted enough for me? Indeed, I would prefer it to be thin and strong or thick and fragile. It is very hard for me to endure its current indecision. Is indecision the opposite of heterogenesis? Or is it a part of it? Where is the connection between a united, different individual and my abeyant piece of wood? United and different is what I am looking for in my work, not indecision. So, how can the piece move from indecisive to heterogenic? This is what I need to find out. Go.