We Will Dance With Mountains - Into the Cracks!
INVITATIONS & EXERCISES
Session I | 12 September
SAMBA! An Invitation. Before the next session, explore with your oddkin groups the story of Aunt Ciata, how in hiding she provided the conditions for the Samba phenomenon to germinate and sprout. I love the idea that their failure to rise to the occasion of citizenship was a shared one, atmospheric in quality, pleasing to the ears eventually. If we were to think of failure as flow, instead of as personal shortcoming, what might that look like? Explore this idea of failure as flow as a way of making connections within oddkin groups or other groups in formation.
In our next sessions, we will begin to enact “cartographies of failure” together. This is not something anyone can teach you. It is always a rehearsal, a local performance of errancy, a listening-to-the-world. Working with Vunja as a holding politics of radical hospitality, ritualizing our work with the making of Abayomi, we will begin this carnivalesque vocation of making sanctuary.
You might not think much of the term “failure” because of its negative connotations. Remember, however, that this failure is always contextualized – that is, failure in relation to something. Who doesn’t want to be a failed slave (also known as a fugitive), after all?
Session II | 26 September
A. Arrange to meet with your Oddkin Groups and/or preferred cohorts.
B. Create an experimental map/web of failure and errancy: that is, from your works, your professional life, your experiences, and from accounts you are aware of, tell the story (with as much specificity as you can invite) of an effort to address an issue in your community/practice that strayed away from your expectations:
- You could do this by exploring an event (one your group agrees to look at), talking about the solution, listing out all the things the solution ‘did’ that was unanticipated, or exploring all the things that the solution was indebted to or the agencies that needed to be in place before your efforts could materialize (for instance, you might list out Facebook and Microsoft as necessary conditions for the online event you created recently to virtually honour ancestors in an indigenous ceremony).
- Keep composing your web of errancy by listing out all the entanglements – linking up items with other items. You are free to design, create, or experiment with ways to do this that go beyond pen and paper.
C. Share what you are doing with others in the course.
Session III | 10 October
Read Bayo's story from the follow-up email to the third live session.
Within your groups, discuss this short story: what stands out for you? What wants to be noticed? What does this story want to say about freedom, about colonialism, about activism, about agency, and about responsibility? What feels ironic, upsetting, disturbing, revealing, curious or instructive about the characters and the worlding projects? Can you feel into where the cracks might be in this account of things?
Please share your discussions and explorations in the Mighty Networks space. Compose your responses in ways that are multi-sensorial, textual, poetic, aesthetic, loamy, dreamy, whatever. Your recipes will create an altar of study as we move along our work of meeting cracks.
In a second email I will send this time next week, I will lean into your explorations and observations to compose a richer exploration of the Afrocene, Vunja, what it might mean to make sanctuary, methodologies we can start with, and how cracks cradle practical political projects we can co-create today.
Session IV | 24 October
A Cartography of Cracks: With a Small Lexicon of Wild Concepts to Think-with. The invitations following the fourth live session are a little hard to cull out of the follow-up note and the prep note for the fifth live session. We invite you to simply read through Bayo's note which contains the practices and questions for reflection woven throughout. Find the follow-up note here.
In preparation for the fifth live session, Bayo and jiordi invited us into the following flow:
a. Remember the “Yellow H” exercise we had during our last time together? The misidentified letter in my son’s paper catalogue of crayon-coloured alphabets? I used that narrative to disturb the popular image of the stable, coherent, unified, portable, agential, identitarian self that modernity engenders, and speculate about cracks in identity. I also used the story to suggest that what we call the ‘self’ refers to practices of foregrounding and backgrounding, of cutting away and reinforcing, of “coherencing”. When we say, for instance, that “the devil made me do it” in response to the jarring emergence of some aspect ourselves we would rather censor, could it be true? Could it be that “the devil” lies in the details, befogs the sentences of our lives, and upsets our convenient claims to personhood? Could there be something about meeting some discarded pieces of ourselves?
b. I would like you to think about those discarded lives that make you “you”. I want you to think about your questions, your most pressing questions, the haunting ones that breathe in your bones. Perhaps these questions brought you here to this course-festival. Perhaps you picked up new ones during our adventure. Whatever the case, think about these questions.
c. Navigate your surroundings, your familiar spaces that hold the rituals of your everyday, while thinking about these questions.
d. Find pieces of discarded/trashed material, clothes, fabric, anything that can be cut, woven, handled, and transformed. Allow these materials to hold your questions, your confusion, your joys, your insights, your attempts at integration (you may choose to inscribe words on the material, if you wish).
e. Come with these materials to the session and join Nega Duda in an exercise of fabricating integration with the threads of disintegration.
Session V | 7 November
- Together with your oddkin, discuss the concept of cracks, what it does, what it opens up for you, what it doesn’t address. Make a list of cracks your experiential path has brought you to. What might ‘staying with/in’ those cracks look like as an art of making sanctuary?
- Return to the digital altars composed in our live session on November 7th. Pick a board that you have not already contributed to and add a new crack.
Session VI | 21 November
Awkward Encounter of Hospitality. On Sunday, we were joined by my precious elder, Munir Fasheh. His words, piercing and potent, lyrically disrupted the grammar of empire and imperial continuity. I wish he spent some time elaborating on the concept of Mujaawarah, the neighbouring technology that allowed him and others to thrive in the stateless conditions of Palestine. However, I am glad he spoke and shared what he needed to share. And I thank you for your hospitality, for hosting him well from your corner of the world.
Here’s what I feel called to share now: I think I can speak as a matter of fact that we would be failing Munir (as well as this course) if we agreed with everything he said. Our work is to read insights into insights, diffractively, holding the tension of their incongruity without reducing disagreement into diametrical opposition. Munir’s beautiful invitation to “go within” is language I would never use, but I celebrate. For me, the “heart” is the more-than-human intelligence that disrupts the cognitive insularity of rationality, suggesting to us that our bodies know, think, do, and feel in ways that are no less potent than the headiness of academia. Munir didn’t get to speak about this a lot, but he has shared with me that his fragile articulation of Mujaawarah is always premised on new relationships with ourselves, with others, and with soil. This is a helpful framing for our attempts to research into the fabric of the wound, of the crack.
As we move into our final weeks together, I’d love to invite you to start speaking with others, to share about what brought you to this course with someone on the course or someone outside of it, to invite them over for a cup of tea or a bowl of soup or something else.
Here’s my prompt: perform an awkward encounter of hospitality with someone/some-folk in your world before December 5. Host them in some way.
Session VII | 5 December
Preparing for a Strange Party. Forge an alliance with the abundance of discarded things around you, and – like the tortoise borrowed feathers to become a weird tortoise-bird hybrid – create an alien-monstrous skin. In this way, we ritualize the becoming-animal that the Enlightenment project of the Human ironically desires.
As you compose your skin, give art/tension to what disables, the crippling failure that is the occasion for your becoming-animal. Your disability is a cartography of loss and novelty; the place that breaks your gait is the site for new kinds of mobility. Disability is always a meshwork of relations, not a property of pristine and independent organisms. Let your “skin” honour your prickly spots, your thorns-in-flesh.
For the closing session, start sniffing around for your skin components. Greet your familiar surroundings in new ways. Ask how they want to assist you. Pray fugitive prayers to moss and wind and pixels and spoons. We also invite you to cook your own meal and eat with your own people – sharing across networks. We’d like you to bring your loved ones close (those you are already exposed to or can be exposed to) and join hundreds of others in a digital spiritual meal of eating each other for our final session on Sunday, December the 19th.
Session VIII | 12 December
No invitations from this live session.
Session IX | 19 December
No invitations from this live session.