before dwelling into (by now still only) oxytocine filtered perception of my 2nd post, I would like to thank you on your insightful feedback to my first one. It has been a stimulating trigger in my attempt to compose the molecularly conditioned rationally-intuitive further meaning to the concept of the K-9_topology process.
The last few weeks have been filled with a lot of research, accompanied with the logistics of various every day pathologies in combination with the routine of every three hours for twenty minutes (also during the night) breast pumping, trying to execute a proper diet and hydration, altogether backed up by mood swings which start to appear every now and then. I would like to start answering your inspirational questions with the one on the name I picked up for an almost eight weeks old baby dog I am going to introduce into my pack as a new family member starting this Sunday. I have to start first with the meaning for the name behind a Blue Merle Scottish Border Collie, whom I called Byron.
By watching photos of his primal family, his mother´s breeder sent me via e-mail, I actually first got a crush on Byron´s sister. It was only when I arrived to the kennel and saw Byron sitting in the distant corner, mischievously observing me, interacting with his two Blue Merle sisters which have jumped into my arms immediately, that I knew, he was the one! There was such melancholy embodied in his posture (which reminded me later of an Albrecht Durer´s 1514 engraving Melancholia I). As if that typical hypnotizing Border Collie gaze, would trigger my emotional memory towards the very first conscious transfer I developed with the non-human; my Newfoundland dog Bas, whom my family had when I was 5 to 10 years old. The text I wrote for the „I Hunt Nature and Culture Hunts Me“ performance, was generally devoted to Bas. So when I saw this eight weeks old Scottish Border Collie puppy at the kennel, four years ago, I immediately got an association of Lord George Gordon Byron who wrote an "Epitaph to a dog" - a poem to his dead Newfound land dog Boatswain. A poem that is indeed very much romantically embracing G. G. Byron´s zeitgeist and hence deeply capturing the humanistic Nature vs Culture dualism. I called the puppy after a dead romantic poet. Ever since I wanted Byron´s name to remind me on the post-anthropocentric perspective I wanted to apply while thinking-on and interacting-with the non-human as well as the human, with the living and the non-living, and therefore not being afraid to go to subversive places!
Statue dedicated to Boatswain with Lord G.G. Byron´s poem engraving / Newstead Abbey / UK
However, I am very much aware that in order to establish a mature artistic subversive discourse on molecular performativity, I need to transfer from the realm of the individualized and sentimentalized Freudian-Oedipal animal, whose unique history and name arises from the emotional alliance with a human and therefore symbolizes intimate family relationships.
I decided to call my female Icelandic Sheepdog (the origin resembles dogs found in graves in Denmark and Sweden from about 8000 BC) first name Lady Lovelace, as a still obviously linear, associative connection to Lord G. G. Byron´s daughter, who had, based on her mother´s resent to a non responsible, irreversibly ever absent father, been systematically trained in mathematics already as child, to later become the first (female!) computer programmer.
Bas / Newfoundland dog / 1985
At the same time while deciding on choosing the name for my puppy, a coincidence happened: all the breeder´s puppies in the litter had, by the purebred dog alphabetical naming convention, to be named by the letter „L“. For every litter, a letter is assigned which is the first letter of every puppy´s name and therefore the breeder chooses the litter´s letters by working their linear way through the alphabet, from A to Z.
So when I told the breeder what I am going to name the puppy, she asked me whether I wanted Lady Lovelace to be her official pedigree name!
Since Nomen est omen, Byron and Lovelace are my non-human symbols of an art-science synergy. Nevertheless, I am adding an additional name to Lovelace in order to transfer to the second type of animal – the Jungian, “archetype” animal that has a symbolic presence in myths, rituals, and spiritual beliefs of many human cultures. Due to the specific zeitgeist regarding European crisis that coincides with the Hybrid
Family process, I am second naming her Laelaps (another „L“!) – as Europa´s mythical female dog, referring to Hellenistic mythology of Zeus and Europa.
Sources differ in details regarding Europa's family, but agree that she is Phoenician (of a civilization centered on the coastline of modern Syria and Lebanon 3200 BC to 300 BC). She is generally said to be the daughter of Agenor, the Phoenician King of Tyre which was a capital from 1000 – 333 BC (the city still exists by the same name, located at the seashore of Lebanon); … Europa was seduced by Zeus transformed in the form of a bull, who breathed a saffron crocus (a meaningful plant for the project to which I will return in more detail during future posts) from his mouth, and carried her away to Crete on his back. In 2012, an archaeological mission of the British Museum led by Lebanese archaeologist, Claude Doumet Serhal, discovered at the site of the old American school in Sidon, Lebanon currency that depicts Europa riding the bull with her veil flying all over like a bow – a further proof of Europa's Phoenician origin. From the collective mythical perspective as well as based on facts, Europa is therefore of a Syrian - Lebanese origin!
Phoenician coin: Europa with the bull
Back to the myth summary: after revealing his true identity, Zeus gave Europa a necklace made by Hephasteus and three additional gifts: Talos, a javelin that never missed and Laelaps - a female dog who never failed to catch what she was hunting. When she was later used to hunt the Teumessian fox, a fox that could never be caught, a paradox occurred: dog who always caught her prey versus a fox that could never be caught. The chase went on until Zeus, perplexed by their contradictory fates, turned both to stone and cast them into the stars as the constellations Canis Major (Laelaps) and Canis Minor (the Teumessian fox). In 1650 Sir Thomas Brown wrote: "To England they (Icelandic Sheepdogs) are sometimes exported from Iceland ... a type of dog resembling a fox …“
Laelaps and the Teumessian fox are the embodiment of an irresistible force paradox discourse: "What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?" The irresistible force paradox associates me with the Agamben´s paradox of sovereignty: ... the sovereign is, at the same time, outside and inside the juridical order. I see the current European refugee crisis which coincides with the Paris attacks catastrophy as a part of the same paradox. What has been experienced in one night in Paris, has been a daily life for Syrian, Iraqui, Lybian … civilians for the past 5 years. This is what they are escaping from. To Europe. … and yet another paradox within the humanitarian cynicism of Europe, that (also) builds up the current Europe crisis occurs, since we are the ones fighting terrorism even though we are the ones that have created it in the first place. With, or without our consent.
Being cynical (the word derives out of the Greek word kynos = dog) in the following paragraph, I am now speculating: maybe European collective grieving for Diesel, instead of, for example, dwelling on the very problematic fact that some of the Paris attacks terrorists have been French and Belgian citizens, and therefore asking ourselves: what kind of post colonial, socially non-integrated living can a young person be experiencing in Europe, getting so messed up to say the least, to decide to execute such a horrific radical act? Maybe the grieving for Diesel the dog instead of, for example, empathize on the fact that on the same day 19 people in Baghdad died by a suicide bomber at the funeral for a member of the volunteer paramilitary force known as the Popular Mobilisation units. Maybe through the transfer with the smart, beautiful Diesel, the ultimate cynicism of Europa embodied in the most Freudian - Oedipal sentimental way. And sentimental is always dangerous, since it emerges out of pure narcissism, pure self-indulgence.
I need to stress at this point, and to be absolutely clear: I am not regarding to people that were traumatized at the very spot of the Paris attacks in any manner or their very loved ones, with who I empathize deeply. I am regarding to the collective Europo-centric conformist majority humanitarian position, by quoting a line from "A Brief History of Neoliberalism" by David Harvey: The first lesson we must learn, therefore, is that if it looks like class struggle, and acts like class war, then we have to name it unashamedly for what it is. … and therefore last, but by far not least; maybe for Hasna struggling in a class war was beyond feminism.
21st November 2015, Place de la Republique, Paris, France
How to think the European crisis through a molecular perspective then?
Along with Deleuze, Guattari and Foucault, here I add again the Agamben´s line of thought: Every attempt to rethink the political space of the West must begin with the clear awareness that we no longer know anything of the classical distinction between zoē and bios, between private life and political existence, between man as a simple living being at home in the house and man’s political existence in the city. Both Foucault and Agamben are concerned with bio-power – the exercise of power on and through bodies. As an artist I feel I need to use my own body (and bodies of my dogs) to re-gain the position of power. To re-gain my body. Our bodies. I find inspiration in Hellen Borrough´s comment regarding Nicola Canavan´s performance titled "Milk": … in context of the social and political landscape it (Milk) inhabits and provokes … you were unashamed and unapologetic, you were owning your body, your milk, your desires with absolute agency.
So here I am: bios hunting zoē within my deeply emotionally-physiological transfer with a dog. I do not see zoē in the dog per se. In the realm of K-9_topology, Zoē would only fully become out of the human – canine bios merge, embodied in the new species: through contagion, not filiation. In order to stress this aspect of becoming, Deleuze and Guattari refer to becoming not as “evolution” but as involution, on the condition that involution is in no way confused with regression. It has been extremely inspirational for me Jens, when you wrote I am being pregnant with a meaning.
By being pregnant with a meaning, I am becoming (m)Other!
Within Hybrid Family process and performance I am therefore building a bridge towards the final project within the K-9_topology series (with still a working title ARTE_mis), to finally transcendent beyond the Oedipal as well as the Mythical animal, by contaging myself into the third type of animal - the Demonic animal, which Deleuze and Guattari (as well as you and I, I believe) are most interested in! It is only in relationship to the demonic animal that becoming-animal can occur. Unlike the other two types of animals, and like the process of becoming -animal, the demonic animal has a molecular character. This is because the demonic animal, like the process of becoming-animal, is a flexible and ever-evolving multiplicity; it exists in a realm, a fold, all of its own. Therefore the process of becoming-animal for me involves the intimate, and the social at the same time, both realized in my intimate politics that concerns the society.
By breastfeeding Laelaps, and therefore already becoming Zoē for a brief moment, I am resisting the conservative neoliberal system of biopolitics that rules the whole umwelt as we know it, down to our every last sub-atomic particle. The molecular is associated with that which is unconscious or subtle, that which de-territorializes, that which is fluid, and that which operates on a micro level. Becoming (- animal) is a molecular process: in my case the molecular process of my pituitary glands being so much triggered by systematic breast pumping, they would get connected with hormone prolactin to accumulate milk in my body. As a side effect of that triggering, hormone oxytocine increases, which evokes empathy.
Deleuze and Guattari define the anomalous as neither an individual not a species – as part of a pack/society and an exceptional loner-leader within that pack, … thus always a phenomenon of bordering. On the other side, there are borders as a political concept. A power concept. Power is the one which decides for others, with or without our consent. I grew up at the Slovenian – Croatian (Schengen) border. Maybe that is also why I (unconsciously) choose a Scottish Border Collie as one of my canine nomad companions, with whom
I have been traveling all over Europe, through all those boundaries, accompanied by laws and rules.
At the 16th November round table titled "Europe is Kaput. Long live Europe!", which took place at South bank Centre London, Julian Assange (via Skype) stated: ...there is no exit strategy … there is no alternative ideological dream for people in Europe … I don´t see anything that can occupy the mental space for young people who long for that dream. Last weekend I witnessed borders through my oxytocine-haze filtered perception, traveling along barbe wired, heavily armed, traumatized Europa on my way from Berlin, through Belgium, to Paris, and back. Sometime in the middle of the night, at the moment my MP3 player started playing Mozart´s Lacrimosa, while driving within the very long line of cars very slowly, the armed policemen directed a blindly-strong huge reflector light straight into my face. At the border entrance to France. In that very moment I concluded: Empathy is my resistance towards the cynicism of Europa!