All clocks are wrong VANDEN EYNDE told me when I said his clock was wrong – it's no coincidence that the borders were drawn across Africa at the same moment that time-zones were laid out across the globe – or rather – it's the ultimate coincidence – in that the two coincided perfectly – and at the same moment all over the world for the first time that there ever was a same moment all across the world – Once we told time by the sun and the tide he said – then the church bells brought the hour – next came the minute – then the second – then the millisecond – the nanosecond is on its way – This conversation is between four people, and is 25 minutes long.
The other conversation – with DAAN 'T SAS – is between sixteen people – and is 2.5 hours long. A timer will ring in 2.5 hours – let us know that 2.5 hours have passed – that our conversation has ended – We are prepped – told the story of a machine with ink-dots suspended in it – spiced with a little quantum physics – told physicist and author David Bohn’s theory that the real meat of conversations is the draff that we let settle – only to stir it up afterwards – the thoughts we hold back – These we ought to suspend – let float before us – examine together – The conversation will have no rules – no goal.
VANDEN EYNDE’s conversation starts with independence – we speak about our birds – he asks isn’t it cruel to buy them and keep them caged and we tell him we let them out of the cage – the cage is never closed – but then, he says, the room becomes a cage – isn’t the world a cage then I ask him – but for the birds the room has nothing outside it – is an experiential whole which – to become a cage – needs another part – inaccessible – outside it – To unite humanity – he suggests – we may need an alien race to be united against – the question becomes do we want a humanity united – or do we want independence – or are we anyway dependent for our identity on those we define ourselves against?
'T SAS’s conversation moves in stutters and bouts – we sit on the floor – we lie on the ground – we pull on each other’s earlobes – we try to find rules – scramble for common ground – we start to talk about language and conversation – what is a conversation – what is it all about, this conversationing that people do, this language that we use – we stop – Ugh. I’m so glad you stopped, someone says – we stay stopped – why are you glad that we stopped? Someone asks – we re-rout, talk about society, how can we combat totalitarianism? - types emerge – the talkative – the silent – the contrary – how can we improve our society – consensus begins to emerge – god this is so boring exclaims a lady in pink – now that we’re all coalesced – wasn’t the conversation better when we were anxious – confused – uncertain about how to proceed – before we found common ground in reciting variant on the ideological truisms of the left?
What does it mean to think together – is it to have the same starting point – the same ending point – or the same trajectory? – What does it mean to be independent? – Does it mean to exist in complete isolation – even to the extent of being your own Other for yourself? – In David Bohm’s book Thought as a System, he asks us to imagine the lines on a map – “They are not actually lines anyway... they are little dots, printed dots of ink all strung near each other... Every one of those things which corresponds in that way doesn't stand by itself as reality”. The root of the word ‘true’ – Bohm tells us – “means ‘straight’... like ‘a true line’” – And yet the straightest lines – those that divide Africa on the map – those that divide time across the world – those that divide black and white in Eynde and Moussa’s trailer – those we PLIPplot our course along – or lay between each other – often seem the most suspicious – the most artificial.
Anthony for DRAFF
Performatik 17 runs in various venues across Brussels until the 1st April.