Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Objects, Encounters, Space

Taking sustained and speedy walk around Manhattan for a few days shortly after moving from Davis, California (pop. 61,000) to Decorah, Iowa (pop. 8,000) set into relief the transition I was making in how to be one object among many having some encounters in space. Furthermore, these NYC walks were largely organized around an Object-Oriented Ontology Seminar at The New School.

As one object among many in Davis moving on trajectories of my own and intersecting at times with those of others, the flow of movement entails encounter at the level primarily of occasional eye contact but very rarely verbal address or physical contact.

In Decorah, the encounter type is typically quite different. For one, the many other objects tend to be in motion at a decidedly slower pace than I-object am. But more to the point, eye contact is practically mandatory, as if eye-aversion or eye-apathy are forms of snobbery and/or threat. Add to this a high frequency of verbal address. I must admit that I find it requires a significant transition in energy-levels to move amongst other objects in this way.

In New York, (can one say that phrase without hearing Jay Z and Alicia Keys?), there is rare potential for eye contact and really zero for verbal address. Objects are moving fast yet with a high alertness to and awareness of the other objects. Trajectories are far out in front, pulling the objects projecting them out there to the projected space yet with the flexibility to elide a plethora of other objects.

I got to feeling, maybe strangely, that the New York walking was a way to think about objects encountering each other in a way more intimately than the other two. Counterintuitively so. There is less verbal discourse and eye-contact cueing, which might intuitively be the avenues to intimacy of the other moving objects. But, they can also be insular modes of non-intimate encounter as opposed to the intimacy of moving around space with other objects that project their trajectories and move along them rapidly yet navigating that space.

You can sit on a park bench and watch people, or you can walk speedily along the city sidewalks and get intimate with people, and concrete textures, and traffic light patterns, and zippy scooters…

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