The curator and I are working on parsing and organizing information, artists and films from other countries in other languages. I cannot find several of the artists. I cannot find some of the biennial websites that have already expired within a month of the show. We drink oolong tea that unfurls in slippery leaves, dark green despite how the tea is so fair and transparent. The leaves can be steeped repeatedly so we keep them in the glass Pyrex measuring cup and pour in fresh hot water again and again. I leave with a small plastic pouch of wrapped oolong cakes the size of a quarter, some flavored rose the others flavored jasmine. The wrappers are all printed in Taiwanese, or Mandarin. I cannot understand what they say but I understand the tea is good for my body.
What is good for a body if you cannot understand it?
I sit down in the front row of the back room of the bookstore to be able to watch clearly. I am listening to Siri Hustvedt discuss with Simon Critchley on the body through a philosophical physiology. She says she is interested in focused zones of ambiguity.
"How does culture become matter?" asks Hustvedt. She does not give an answer but an example, that once a language is learned the language becomes a material of the brain's faculties. I wonder if the materials in my faculties differ in texture and pattern and thickness. What culture has become matter? What culture matters?
Posing questions that don't have answers. An "open-ended inquiry into the phenomenon," says Critchley.
Aristotle claimed that matter is female and soul is male.
Female is open, and empty, and a container; matter is the opposite in its definite representation. Male is imposing, and obvious, and constructed; soul is the opposite in its figurative evasion.
"Embodiment has become very fashionable," says Hustvedt. She draws on how the placenta is an overlooked organ unlike any other, a transient space in which bloodflow is a duality: foetal and maternal; inwards and outwards. That it is a space of in-between, in transit and gestation and growth and preparing to die - it has a life of its own, it too will pass. She asks how the placenta can be used as a metaphor outside of maternal context. She says that some suicides are rational.
There could be no self without an other. To create self-consciousness you need an other's independence of yourself. Self-made cannot really be reduced down to the credit of only yourself.
Reflection requires an other, even if it is only your reflection mirrored back at you. Is that desire in your eyes?
Create your self-consciousness in your own image.
"All philosophy comes out of having thought," says Hustvedt.