Transcript: Sarat Maharaj on Dynamic Creativity: Remaking Art and | May 27, 2006

Sarat Maharaj stands behind a lectern with a laptop on top. He’s in his mid-fifties, clean-shaven and with short straight brown hair. He wears glasses and a mandarin collar black jacket.

He says FOR ME, THE
QUESTIONS REALLY CENTRE AROUND
TEASPOON SHAPE OF THE ART AND
DESIGN COLLEGE.
WHAT IS THE SHAPE OF IT TODAY,
AND WHAT IS THE SHAPE OF THE
ART AND DESIGN COLLEGE FOR THE
FUTURE.
ALONGSIDE THIS IS THE QUESTION
OF HOW SHOULD WE TAKE THE SOUND
OF THE COMMUNITY OF DISCOURSE
WE WISH TO ARTICULATE IN THE
COLLEGE OR THE ACADEMY.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Sarat Maharaj. Art Historian, Lund University. Art Colleges: Islands or Laboratories? Ontario College of Art and Design. March 27, 2006."

Sarat says WHAT IS THE
SHAPE OF THE ART COLLEGE TODAY?
AS I LOOKED THROUGH THE PAPER
THAT HAS CIRCULATED IN THE
COLLEGE, I FELT THAT THERE WERE
TWO ITEMS THAT REALLY CAUGHT MY
ATTENTION.
THE VARIOUS SCENARIOS AND
POSSIBILITIES FOR THE FUTURE OF
AN ART COLLEGE, AN ART AND
DESIGN COLLEGE.
THERE WERE
TWO CONCEPTUAL AND IMAGINATIVE
DEVICES THAT THIS PAPER SEEMED
TO GIVE US, WHICH WERE VERY
CONCRETE, AND AT THE SAME TIME
VERY THEORETICAL IN THEIR
FORMATION.
TWO PROBES... ONE CALLED THE
ISLAND, THE OTHER CALLED THE
LAB.
THESE ARE TERMS THAT, IT SEEMS,
ONE FINDS ACROSS THE WORLD
TODAY IN DEBATES OVER THE
UNDERSTANDING, OR THE SELF
UNDERSTANDING OF THE
INSTITUTIONS IN WHICH WE FIND
OURSELVES, THE VISUAL ARTS
PRACTICE INSTITUTIONS.
WHEREVER I HAVE EXAMINED THE
STATE OF VISUAL ARTS IN THE
WORLD, I HAVE BEEN, IN FACT,
STRUCK BY THE ENERGY WITH WHICH
PEOPLE ARE CONCERNED WITH THIS
QUESTION, WHAT IS THE SHAPE OF
THE ACADEMY TODAY, WHAT IS THE
SHAPE OF THE ACADEMY TO COME.
WHETHER IT IS IN CHILE, WHERE
STUDENTS IN THEIR HUNDREDS
TURNED UP TO ASK THE QUESTION,
WHAT IS THE SHAPE OF THE
ACADEMY AS WE LEAVE THE ERA OF
THE DICTATORSHIP, AND ENTER THE
WORLD OF THE DEMOCRACIES, WHAT
WOULD ART KNOWLEDGE AMOUNT TO
IN THIS TRANSITION.
HOW WOULD ART BECOME A PROBE
THROUGH WHICH WE ENQUIRE INTO
THE WORLD AND FIND A WAY OF
LIVING AND A WAY OF
ESTABLISHING OUR VALUE IN THE
WORLD.
IN CHINA, IN THE CENTRAL
ACADEMY AT HANG ZHOU, IT WAS
EXTREMELY INTERESTING TO SEE
THE CLEARING OUT, LITERALLY
CLEARING OUT OF THE FURNITURE,
THE ACCOUTREMENTS AND THE
GENERAL APPARATUSES OF AN ART
EDUCATION THAT HAD EVOLVED FROM
THE CULTURAL REVOLUTIONS, VIA
THE DOCTRINES OF STALIN, INTO
THE LATE 20th CENTURY, THE
ACTUAL LITERAL CLEARING OUT OF
THE LIFE DRAWING ROOM, WAS AN
EXTREMELY INTERESTING
EXPERIENCE TO PARTICIPATE IN.
THERE WERE THE GREEK AND ROMAN
PLASTER CASTS, THROW IN A BUST
OR TWO OF LENIN, WITH MAO AND
WITH MARX AND SO ON, AND THESE
WERE UNCEREMONIOUSLY DUMPED IN
THE CORRIDOR, WAITING TO BE
HAULED OFF TO A SKIP, AND
DISPOSED OF, AS THE SPACES WERE
BEING CLEARED FOR A NEW REGIME
OF THINKING THE VISUAL AND
BEING IN THE VISUAL.
WHETHER WE WANT TO THINK OF
CHANGE ALWAYS IN TERMS OF SUCH
A CLEARANCE SALE, OR IN TERMS
OF SUCH A RADICAL WIPING OF THE
SLATE, IS THE QUESTION I ALSO
POSE THROUGHOUT THIS
CONTRIBUTION.
HOW DOES CHANGE HAPPEN, AND
SHOULD IT BE AS CATACLYSMIC AS
THE KIND OF CHANGE I OBSERVED
IN CHINA?
IN INDIA AND IN AFRICA, IN THE
INDIAN SUBCONTINENT AND AFRICA,
THE OLD CREAKY ART INSTITUTIONS
TODDLE ALONG OR TEETER ALONG,
OR DODDER ALONG, DEPENDING ON
HOW CLOSE OR FAR YOU WANT TO
PUT THEM TO ABSOLUTE DEMISE.
THE POST COLONIAL INSTITUTIONS
STAGGER ALONG, BUT INTERSECT
NOW WITH THE EMERGING CULTURES
OF THE DIGITAL WORLD AND THE
COMPUTATIONAL REGIMES, AND IN
THIS CASE, ARE REINVENTING
THEMSELVES, IN WAYS IN WHICH WE
CAN FIND SOME RESONANCE AS WE
SIFT THROUGH THE PAPER HERE AT
THE TORONTO ART COLLEGE.
WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY IS THAT
THOUGH THESE ARE DISPARATE
EVENTS IN CHILE, CHINA, INDIA
AND AFRICA, THEY ARE LINKED BY
FOUR POINTS THAT I WOULD WANT
TO MENTION.
THEY'RE LINKED BY THE FACT THAT
THEY ARE ALL DEALING WITH
CONTEMPORARY ART, AND THEREFORE
THEY ARE PLUGGED INTO A WORLD
SYSTEM TODAY THAT WE MUST
UNDERSTAND AS THE CONTEMPORARY
ART WORLD SYSTEM, WHICH IS
QUITE DIFFERENT FROM THE
CLASSICAL, MODERNIST, WESTERN
BASED, EUROCENTRIC NOTION OF
ART THAT HAS EMERGED IN OTHER
ZONES OF THE WORLD.
DEFINITIONS OF ART, PRACTISES
OF ART, ACTIVITIES THAT DO NOT
LOOK LIKE ART, BUT COUNT AS
ART, AND THAT THIS DIFFERENCE
THAT HAS EMERGED, POSES TOTALLY
NEW QUESTIONS WITH REGARD TO
HOW WE SHOULD THINK THE ROLE OF
ART AND ITS FUNCTIONS AND ITS
VALUE AS A FORM OF KNOWLEDGE
PRODUCTION.
THE SECOND
ELEMENT IS THAT WE ARE HAVING
TO SEE THE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN
CANADA OR CHILE, OR CANADA AND
SOUTH AFRICA, INDIA, IN THIS
WORLD SYSTEM, BECAUSE ALL OF
THESE PLACES ARE INVOLVED WITH
THE QUESTION, WELL WHAT SORT OF
KNOWLEDGE IS THE ACADEMY OR THE
COLLEGE INVOLVED WITH.
WE NOW SOMEHOW THAT THEY
UNIVERSITIES DEAL WITH
KNOWLEDGE, WE ARE SUPPOSED TO
BE THE STUPID ONES.
AND ACTUALLY, THAT'S A PHRASE
THAT MARCEL DUCHAMP USED, THAT
NEVER AGAIN, AFTER THE WAVE OF
ART CONCEPTUALISM, "NEVER AGAIN
WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE TO SAY, AS
STUPID AS AN ARTIST."

A black and white picture of Duchamp appears with the caption "Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)."

Sarat says WHAT, EXACTLY
DID DUCHAMP MEAN BY THIS
PHRASE?
AND MAYBE WE'RE COMING TO TERMS
WITH IT AT THE END OF THE
CENTURY, OR WE ARE IN THE 21st
CENTURY, I'M SORRY, I'M A
LITTLE BIT LATE ABOUT THIS.
[Audience Laughter]
BUT WE ARE ALREADY AT A TIME
WHEN MORE THAN 100 YEARS HAVE
PASSED FROM THAT STATEMENT.
THESE HAVE MEANT, THESE
DEVELOPMENT, THESE FACTORS HAVE
ALSO MEANT THAT THERE IS A
CHANGE IN THE WAY WE THINK OF
CREATIVITY ITSELF.
THE LONGSTANDING NOTION THAT
EMERGED WITH THE ENLIGHTENMENT
IN EUROPE, AND UNFOLDED AS A
SINGULAR, AUTHORIAL VOICE, AS
THE FOUNT OF CREATIVITY, THE
SUBJECTIVE LIFE, CULTIVATED IN
HIGH BOURGEOIS CULTURE OF
EUROPE, SEEN AS THE SOURCE OF
ONE'S CREATIVITY.
THIS, I THINK, HAS TO A GREAT
EXTENT, DISSOLVED AND DISPERSED
ITSELF ACROSS MANY, MANY AREAS
AND AGENTS OF CREATIVITY.
THIS DISPERSAL OF THE AGENCIES
OF CREATIVITY ARE, I SUPPOSE,
PART AND PARCEL OF THE GROWTH
OF THE COMPUTATIONAL REGIMES,
AND THE FACT TODAY WE ARE ON
THE BRINK OF TALKING REALLY
SERIOUSLY ABOUT THINKING
MACHINES AND REASONING
MACHINES.
IN FACT THERE ARE PROGRAMS ON
THE WEB, LIKE SEMANTIC WEB,
ONTOLOGY, WEB LANGUAGE, WHICH
ARE ALREADY CONSIDERED TO BE
THINKING AND REASONING KINDS OF
LANGUAGES ON THE COMPUTER.
AND THE FOURTH POINT IS THAT
OUR VERY DEFINITION OF ART, NOT
AS MAKING OBJECTS AND
ARTEFACTS, NOT ONLY AS MAKING A
PRODUCT, NOT EVEN ONLY AS A
MATTER OF BEING INVOLVED IN A
PROCESS, BUT THE EMERGENCE OF
THE IDEA THAT ART PRACTICE
TODAY IS ITSELF A FORM OF
RESEARCH, THAT IT IS AN
EPISTEMOLOGICAL ENGINE THROUGH
WHICH WE ARE ABLE TO CONDUCT
CERTAIN ENQUIRIES INTO THE
WORLD AND INTO THE STATE OF OUR
OWN DEEP INNER SUBJECTIVE,
INTROSPECTIVE LIVES, TOO.
THIS IDEA OF ART AS RESEARCH,
HAD BEEN PREFIGURED, IN MANY
WAYS, BOTH IN THE WORK OF
MARCEL DUCHAMP, AND OF COURSE
IN THE PAINTERLY RETINAL
TRADITION IN THE WORK OF
PICASSO.
PICASSO, IN FACT, ONCE
SERIOUSLY GAVE US THE
DEFINITION OF ART AS A FORM OF
RESEARCH, BUT WE MIGHT WANT TO
JUST SIMPLY FLAG UP THESE
PRECEDENTS IN ORDER, ONCE
AGAIN, TO SAY, THESE ARE NOT
CRAZY BABBLINGS IN THE 21st
CENTURY, BUT PREFIGURATIONS OF
A VERY SERIOUS KIND, ARE THERE
AS PRECEDENTS WHICH WE MIGHT
CONSULT.
HOW COULD WE THINK OF THE
ACADEMY AS THIS COMING SPACE,
AS AN ISLAND OF OPEN ACTIVITY,
OF NON-HIERARCHICAL
RELATIONSHIPS.
THE ENLIGHTENMENT OPENED WITH
IT, WITH THE FRENCH REVOLUTION,
A CARTESIAN NOTION OF KNOWLEDGE
AND WITH IT, THE GREAT
ACADEMIES OF THE PAST, OR THE
ESTABLISHED ACADEMY OF THE
ROYALIST PAST, CAME TO AN END.
AT THE HEIGHT OF THE FRENCH
REVOLUTION, DURING THE THREE
YEARS OF THE REIGN OF TERROR,
THE ACADEMY IN FRANCE, IN PARIS
WAS IN FACT, FIRST SHUT, AND
DIVESTED OF ITS ARISTOCRATIC
BACKGROUND AND HIGH BOURGEOIS
BACKGROUND, AND THROWN OPEN
AGAIN FOR THREE YEARS, UNDER
DAVIDE, THE GREAT ARTIST, AS
THE COMMUNE OF THE ARTS.
AND FOR THREE YEARS ALONE, THE
ENLIGHTENMENT THREW UP THE IDEA
OF A COMMUNE OF THE ARTS, THE
OPEN SPACE, THE ISLAND WHICH
COULD-- IN WHICH ANYBODY COULD
PARTICIPATE, PUBLIC SPECIALIST,
ARTIST, NON-ARTIST, IN ALL
KINDS OF ATTEMPTS TO CONSTRUCT
THE COMMUNITY OF DISCOURSE.
BUT WHAT WAS THE PRICE PAID FOR
THIS EXPERIMENT IN THE 1790s,
IN THE EARLY 1790s, IN THE
PERIOD OF ROBESPIERRE?
THE PRICE WAS A LOT OF HEAD
CHOPPING, A LOT OF GUILLOTINE
GOING INTO ABSOLUTE OVERDRIVE,
A LOT OF BLOOD, GOING BACK TO
THE YEAR ZERO IN ORDER TO SAY,
THIS IS WHEN ART BEGINS, THIS
IS WHEN THE ACADEMY ESTABLISHES
ITSELF.
HOW COULD WE
FIND ANOTHER WAY OF STRUCTURING
THE ISLAND WITHOUT SO MUCH
BLOOD AND GORE?
HOW COULD SUCH AN ISLAND BE
CONSTRUCTED, IN WHICH WE COULD
THINK THE COMMUNITY OF
DISCOURSE?
AND I THOUGHT
I'D LIKE TO THINK THIS IDEA
THROUGH-- THROUGH THIS SENTENCE
FROM THAT UNREADABLE, IF NOT
INDIGESTIBLE BOOK,
FINNEGAN'S WAKE,
BY
JAMES JOYCE.

On a screen appears a caption that reads "Semi-Semitic Serendipitism you…you Europasianized Afferyank…."

Sarat say BUT HERE JOYCE IS TALKING ABOUT
USING THE CONCEPT OF THE
ISLAND, THIS CONCEPT WHICH
APPEARS IN THE DOCUMENT IN
CIRCULATION AT THE COLLEGE, AND
HE POSES THE CONCEPT OF THE
NON-INSULAR ISLAND.
THIS IS THE MAGICAL ISLAND OF
SERENDIP, FROM WHICH WE GET THE
NOW, RATHER CLICHE TERM,
SERENDIPITY.
EVERY FASHION BOUTIQUE, EVERY
SECOND ONE IN THE '60s, I
THINK, HAD TAKEN THIS AS ITS
TITLE.
BUT THE CONCEPT OF SERENDIP
ITSELF, WAS IT SRI LANKA?
WAS IT THE SANDWICH ISLANDS IN
THE PACIFIC?
WHERE IS THIS MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
SERENDIP?
IT WAS ONE OF THE PRIME
MINISTERS OF BRITAIN, WALPOLE,
WHO ACTUALLY WROTE,
THE
PRINCE OF SERENDIP
THIS
MYSTICAL, MAGICAL ISLAND WHICH
CONSTANTLY CHANGED ITS SHAPE,
WHICH COULD NEVER BE, AS IT
WERE, PINNED DOWN TO ANY POINT
OF THE OCEAN.
IF YOU IMAGINE AN ISLAND WHICH
HAS A WINDWARD SIDE AND A
LEEWARD SIDE, AND IF YOU
IMAGINE THE WINDS BLOWING
ACROSS THE SAND DUNES ON THE
WINDWARD SIDE, AND DEPOSITING
THEM ON THE LEEWARD SIDE, YOU
WOULD IMAGINE THE WHOLE ISLAND
EVENTUALLY WOULD BEGIN TO
LEAPFROG ACROSS ITSELF, AND
WALK OVER THE OCEANS.
SO THIS IDEA OF THE
TRANSMUTATING, TRANSMOGRIFYING
ISLAND, OR IDENTITY, BECAUSE
JOYCE IS HERE BRINGING TOGETHER
THE CONTINENTS EUROPE AND ASIA,
AFRICA AND THE WORLD OF THE
YANKEE, WHICH, IN ITS PERIOD,
WASN'T SUCH AN INSULTING SORT
OF TERM, AND SEMI-SEMITIC,
BECAUSE WE ARE ON THE EVE OF
THE HOLOCAUST, IN EUROPE WHEN
THESE LINES ARE WRITTEN, AND
JOYCE IS SPEAKING ABOUT
BELONGING, BY NOT BELONGING.
OR BEING PART OF, BUT AT THE
SAME TIME, BEING PART OF
SOMETHING LARGER, SOMETHING
TRANSFORMATIVE.
AND THIS INTERCONTINENTAL
MELANGE, THIS TECTONIC BLEND
AND DISSOLUTION THAT WE HAVE OF
CONTINENTS, IS WHAT HE SIGNALS
THROUGH THOSE VERY DENSE AND
VERY OPAQUE CHARACTERS
THROUGHOUT HIS WRITINGS.
FROM LEOPOLD BLOOM THROUGH SHEM
AND SEAN IN
FINNEGAN'S
WAKE.
WHICHEVER CHARACTER WE TAKE,
THEY'RE ALL SEMI-SEMITIC, BY
WHICH HE MEANS, A STATE OF
BEING IN WHICH WE ARE NEITHER
ONE OR THE OTHER, PASSING FROM
ONE INTO THE OTHER.

A picture of Jacques Derrida appears with the caption "1930-2004."

Sarat says BELONGING BY
NOT BELONGING, TO USE DERRIDA'S
GLOSS ON THIS CONCEPT.
WHAT I WANTED TO DERIVE FROM
THIS NOTION OF THE ISLAND, THIS
MYSTICAL, CHANGING, FLOATING,
TRANSMUTATIVE ISLAND, IS THE
NOTION OF THE SELF-ORGANISING
PRINCIPLE, WHICH WE, TODAY,
SPEAK OF IN COMPUTATIONAL
THEORY, OR CYBERNETICS IN AN
EARLIER PERIOD.
IN THE WORK
OF MATURANA AND VARELA IN
BIOLOGY AND IN VARIOUS OTHER
TERRAINS OR DISCIPLINES, WE
SPEAK OF THE SELF-ORGANISING
PRINCIPLE IN WHICH AN ORGANISM
IS ABLE TO INTERACT WITH ITS
ENVIRONMENT, IN WHICH THE
ISLAND IS ABLE TO INTERACT WITH
THE WEATHER SYSTEMS THAT
SURROUND IT, AND SHAPE ITSELF
IN RELATIONSHIP WITH THE
WEATHER SYSTEM, AS, IN FACT,
THE WEATHER SYSTEM IS SHAPED BY
THE AMOUNT OF MOLECULES AND
SAND GRAINS IT WHIPS UP AND
SENDS INTO THE ATMOSPHERE.
SO THIS INTERACTION BETWEEN
ORGANISMS, THIS SELF ORGANISING
PRINCIPLE, THIS ECOLOGY AND
ENVIRONMENT WHICH IS PRODUCED
WITH THE PARTICULAR ENTITY OR
ORGANISM, THIS IS CALLED AN
AUTOPOIETIC SYSTEM, AND WHAT I
WAS HOPING IS THAT WE WOULD
THINK OF THE ISLAND OF THE ART
AND DESIGN COLLEGE AS AN
AUTOPOIETIC SYSTEM, WHEN NOT
SEEING THESE IN A CARTESIAN
WAY, AS THE ENVIRONMENT OUT
THERE, AND THE ORGANISM OR THE
COLLEGE HERE, AND THE COLLEGE
HAS TO EITHER INTERVENE...
THESE ARE THE WORDS USED IN
CLASSICAL CARTESIAN THINKING,
WHEREAS TODAY, IN AN
AUTOPOIETIC SYSTEM, WE THINK OF
A JOINT PRODUCTION, AS IT WERE,
AND A KIND OF INTERCREATIVE
POSITION.
MAYBE I
SHOULD RETURN TO THE CLASSICAL
THINKER WHO PUT FORWARD A
NOTION OF THE AUTOPOIETIC
SYSTEM, THOUGH HE DIDN'T USE
THIS TERM, AND THAT IS GREGORY
BATESON, WHO WAS A DEEPLY
INFLUENTIAL THINKER FOR THE
20th CENTURY, BUT WHO IS ALWAYS
IN THE FOOTNOTES OF ALL THE
THINKERS WE THINK ARE
INFLUENTIAL.

A picture of Gregory Bateson appears with the caption "1904-1980."

Sarat says BATESON
COMPARED THE NOTION OF THE
AUTOPOIETIC SYSTEM, OF SELF-
TRANSFORMATION AND THE
TRANSFORMATION OF THE
ENVIRONMENT AT THE SAME TIME.
HE COMPARED IT TO THE MUSIC OF
THE ISLAND OF BALI.
THERE, THE
ANCIENT GAMELAN SYSTEM OF
PLAYING, THE GAMELAN ITSELF, IS
NOT BASED ON A SONIC TERRAIN
THAT WE COULD IN ANY WAY
COMPARE TO A WESTERN SYMPHONY,
WHICH IS ALWAYS BASED ON
CRESCENDOS, CLIMAXES, AND THEN,
AS IT WERE, DESCENTS AND
ASCENTS.
THE GAMELAN AIMS AT AN EVEN,
STEADY STATE, A KIND OF
HOMEOSTASIS.
DURATION IS
IMPORTANT, RATHER THAN CLIMAX.
THE IDEA THAT ONE IS, AS IT
WERE, EXPERIENCING A PASSAGE AT
THE LEVEL OF A SINGLE PLATEAU.
AND THE VERY
MENTION OF THE WORD PLATEAU
SHOULD SIGNAL, THEN, WHERE
GILLES DELEUZE GETS THE IDEA OF
THE THOUSAND PLATEAUS, AS IT
WERE.

A picture of Gilles Deleuze appears with the caption "1925-1995."

Sarat says THE IDEA OF A STEADY STATE,
DURATION, SUSTAINED ENERGY AND
A AUTOPOIETIC SYSTEM, WHICH, AS
IT WERE, IS NOT INTO CLIMAXES
AND CRESCENDOS, BUT INTO A
SMOOTH SPACE, TO USE DELEUZE'S
PHRASE, OR A STEADY STATE, A
DYNAMICALLY STEADY STATE OF
CREATIVITY.
WHAT WE HAVE
THEN, WITH THIS ISLAND IMAGE IS
PERHAPS A GLIMPSE OF AN IDEAL,
SOME MIGHT SAY OCEANIC, UTOPIAN
NOTION OF A SPACE THAT IS
CHANGING BUT REMAINS THE SAME.
AND I DON'T LIKE SPEAKING IN
THAT WAY, BUT FORGIVE ME...
FOR BEING A BIT TELEGRAPHIC IN
THIS LECTURE, WITH A RATHER
COMPLEX IDEA.
AUTOPOIETIC,
TAKEN OVER FROM VARELA, IN FACT
GIVES US-- AND BACK TO JOYCE,
GIVES US WHAT FELIZ GUATTARI
WOULD THEORISE AS THE STATE OF
CHAOSMOSIS, THAT WE ARE PART OF
A CHAOS, SHAPING INTO A COSMOS,
MOVING INTO CHAOS, AND THIS
OSMOSIS GIVES US THE CHAOSMOTIC
MOMENT, WHICH IS THE MOMENT
THAT JOYCE SPEAKS.

A picture of Feliz Guattari appears with the caption "1930-1992."

Sarat says IT'S STRANGE
HOW ALL THE PHILOSOPHERS
EVENTUALLY HAVE TO RETURN TO
FINEGAN'S WAKE.
[Audience Laughter]
IN ENGLAND, BY THE 1970s, THEY
MERGED THE FAMOUS ANTI-
UNIVERSITY OF LONDON WHICH SAW
ITSELF AS THE AUTOPOIETIC
SPACE, AS SELF ORGANISING
SPACE, QUITE DISTINCT FROM THE
CLASSICAL UNIVERSITIES, AND THE
ANCIENT UNIVERSITIES OF THE
COUNTRY.

A map with the caption "The Anti-University of London" appears on the projection screen.

Sarat says THE ATTEMPT WAS TO CONSTRUCT
THE ANTI-UNIVERSITY ON THE
LINES OF THE ART ACADEMY.
WHAT A SCANDAL, IT WOULD SEEM,
BECAUSE THE UNIVERSITIES WERE
SEEN AS SO STUFFY, THE ART
ACADEMIES OF THE TIME WERE SEEN
AS THESE BUBBLING, SEETHING,
PRIMORDIAL SPACES, THESE WERE
REAL PREHISTORIC SWAMPS, FROM
WHICH EMERGED FANTASTICALLY
BEAUTIFUL MUSIC, FROM THE
BEATLES RIGHT THROUGH TO PUNK,
THESE EMERGED FROM THE ENGLISH
ART SCHOOLS.
SO THE ART WAS NOT A PLACE
WHERE YOU WENT TO BECOME AN
ARTIST.
NO, THE ART SCHOOL WAS WHERE
YOU WENT TO LEARN HOW TO THINK,
AND THAT THINKING WOULD BE
ARTICULATED IN ANY OTHER
PRACTICE THAT YOU MIGHT CHOOSE
TO INVOLVE YOURSELF, AS TIME
GOES ON, SO IT IS INTERESTING
FOR US TO SEE HOW UNIVERSITY
LEARNING SOUGHT TO APE THE
OCEANIC PLACE OF THE ART SCHOOL
OF THE PERIOD.
AND I DON'T THINK WE SHOULD
TAKE ANTI IN THE EUROPEAN
SENSE, THAT IS THE CONTINENTAL
EUROPEAN SENSE, WHERE IT WAS
MEANT TO BE AN OPPOSITION TO
THE UNIVERSITY, WHERE REALLY
THE AIM WAS TO DEMOLISH THE
SORBONNE, AND RAZE IT TO THE
GROUND.
THIS IS NOT THE TABULA RASA,
THE CLEARING OF THE SLATE
STRATEGY.
THIS IS ABOUT ANTIMATTER, THE
UNIVERSITY AS ANTIMATTER, AS
YOU MIGHT UNDERSTAND DARK
MATTER, AS A HOVERING, BROODING
REALITY WHICH CREATES THE WORLD
WITHIN, BUT WHICH WE CANNOT
ENTIRELY GRASP IN EVERYDAY
TERMS, THOUGH SOME PHYSICISTS
MIGHT GIVE US SOME SORT OF CLUE
ABOUT THIS UNKNOWN KIND OF
PENUMBRA FROM WHICH THE KNOWN
WORLD EMERGES.
BUT WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE, THEN,
ASKED THE ANTI-UNIVERSITY, HOW
IS IT PRODUCED?

A caption reads "Aufheben- Aufhebung."

Sarat says AND WE HERE
COME TO ONE OF THOSE FIERCELY
GERMAN WORDS,
AUFHEBUNG,
WHICH IS
ABSOLUTELY PACKED WITH MEANING,
AND HEIDEGGER WOULD SAY YOU CAN
NEVER TRANSLATE IT, AND IT
WOULD NEVER MAKE SENSE OUTSIDE
GERMAN, SO FORGET IT.
BUT IT BASICALLY MEANS TO
CANCEL AND CARRY OVER A CERTAIN
LEVEL OF THINKING, TO KIND OF
SAY THAT IT'S NOW OBSOLETE, BUT
TO TAKE ITS ESSENCE, AS IT
WERE, AND LIFT IT ONTO ANOTHER
LEVEL, AND TO SEE PROGRESS OF
ART AND CULTURE ALONG THESE
LINES.
BUT THE MODEL HERE IS NOT
EXACTLY THE ISLAND MODELS WE'VE
BEEN TALKING OF.
AUFHEBUNG
SUGGESTS A
TRANSCENDENT POSITION,
SOMEWHERE IN THE MIND, A
POSITION WHERE YOU HAVE
REASONED OUT A PROGRAM, AND A
FULL IDEOLOGICAL AGENDA, WHICH
YOU THEN RETURN TO APPLY TO A
REALITY.
THAT IT HAS
BEEN CONCEPTUALISED,
SYSTEMATICALLY AND RIGOROUSLY,
AND THEN BROUGHT TO THE
EMPIRICAL WORLD, FOR SOME SORT
OF-- SOME MIGHT SAY FOR THE
EMPIRICAL WORLD TO CHANGE
ITSELF AND JOIN THE CONCEPTUAL
WORLD, AND THAT NEVER HAPPENS,
AND THAT'S WHEN THERE'S AGAIN,
ANOTHER BIG BOUT OF HEAD
CHOPPING.
[Audience Laughter]
BECAUSE WE FEEL REALITY IS NOT
FITTING OUR CONCEPTUAL IDEAL,
AND SO WE HAVE TO BEHEAD A LOT
OF PEOPLE AND GET THEM TO
CONFORM TO THE REALITY.
THIS IS THE MODEL THAT I FEEL,
THE ONE BASED ON A
TRANSCENDENTAL VIEW OF
THINKING.
MAYBE-- I HOPE THESE ARE NOT
TOO FAR AWAY CONCEPTS, BECAUSE
THEY'RE CENTRAL TO EUROPEAN
DEBATE IN PHILOSOPHY TODAY.
THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE
TRANSCENDENTAL AND THE IMMINENT
STRATEGIES OF ACTION IN THE
WORLD AND THINKING.
AGAINST THIS POSSIBILITY OF
INVENTING, OF THE AUTOPOIETIC
RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SELF AND
THE OTHER, BETWEEN ORGANISM AND
ENVIRONMENT AND ECOLOGY,
BETWEEN COLLEGE AND ENVIRONMENT
AND THE COMMUNITY AROUND IT.
AGAINST THIS, WE HAVE TWO
EMERGING SCENARIOS, IN EUROPE,
IN PARTICULAR, WHICH I JUST
WANT TO FLAG OUT AS DEEPLY
DANGEROUS ONES.
THAT THE OTHER IS ONE THAT HAS
TO BE ASSIMILATED, THAT THE
OTHER IS THERE TO BE GOBBLED
UP, TO BE BROKEN DOWN, AND TO
BE SHAPED IN OUR IMAGE.
THAT THE OTHER IS, AS IT WERE,
THE OBJECT OF AN ACT OF
ASSIMILATION.
AND THIS IS
PERHAPS WRITTEN ABOUT MOST
PROVOCATIVELY AND MOST
CONTROVERSIALLY IN THE WRITINGS
OF MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ, WHO I
THINK IS FACING ABOUT SIX
TRIALS IN FRANCE FOR HIS ANTI-
ISLAMIC STATEMENTS.

A picture of Michel Houellebecq appears with the caption "Born 1958."

Sarat sats BUT WHAT HE SAYS IS DEEPLY
INTERESTING, NEVERTHELESS, IN
THAT CURIOUS WAY IN WHICH
SOMETIMES ATTACKS CAN BE REALLY
QUITE REVEALING ABOUT CERTAIN
SITUATIONS.
HE'S ASKING
THE QUESTION, HOW COULD WE
THINK OF THE MUSLIM IN EUROPE
TODAY, HOW IS THE OTHER OF THE
MUSLIM PRESENT IN OUR WORLD TO
BE THOUGHT?

A slide on the screen shows a diagram with the caption "Angiogram of coronary arteries with blood clot."

Sarat says AND HE SAYS,
THE MUSLIM IS LIKE A BLOOD
CLOT.
THIS BLOOD CLOT WILL EITHER
CLOG UP THE WHOLE SYSTEM AND
PRODUCE CARDIAC SEIZURE, OR THE
IMMUNE SYSTEMS OF EUROPE WILL
DISSOLVE THE OTHER, AND AS IT
WERE, DIGEST IT.
SO TWO MODES
OF ASSIMILATION, THIS IS THE
CHOICE BEING OFFERED TO THE
OTHER, HE SAYS IN THE PRESENT
SITUATION.
AND THE OTHER, THEN, IF NOT AN
OBJECT OF ASSIMILATION, TODAY
THE MUSLIM OTHER IS SEEN AS THE
FORCE OF ANNIHILATION, AND SO
HOW TO DEAL WITH THIS
UNEXPECTED CATACLYSMIC, AS IT
WERE, EXPLOSION OF THE OTHER,
SELF IMMOLATING, AND OF COURSE,
TAKING A LOT OF PEOPLE AROUND
WITH THIS PARTICULAR TERROR
BOMB.

A picture shows a scene on the streets.

Sarat says I'M JUST SHOWING YOU A SCENE
FROM THE STREETS IN BLOOMSBURY,
WHERE I LIVE IN LONDON, SEALED
OFF AND CURTAINED OFF, AFTER
ONE OF THE TERROR BOMBS HAD
GONE OFF IN RUSSELL SQUARE AT
THE UNDERGROUND, IN THE HEART
OF THE UNIVERSITY AREA.
SO THE QUESTION OF THE OTHER,
WHICH MIGHT APPEAR TO HAVE
DISAPPEARED WITH THE END OF THE
COLONIAL WORLD, RESURFACES WITH
THE WAY WE THINK THE WORLD OF
ISLAM, AND THE WAY WE THINK OF
THE MODERN ISLAMIC PERSON IN
OUR MIDST, IN THIS VERY CURIOUS
RESURGENCE OF THIS VIOLATION
TOWARD THE OTHER, THE VIOLENCE
EXPRESSED IN THE IMAGES OF
CONTAINMENT OF THE OTHER.
WHAT MODES OF KNOWING WOULD WE
HAVE TO CONSTRUCT, TO KNOW THE
OTHER WHO IS SO PICTURED IN OUR
SOCIETY TODAY?
THIS, IT SEEMS TO ME, IS ONE OF
THOSE ETHICAL AND AESTHETIC
QUESTIONS AT THE HEART OF THE
KNOWLEDGE PRODUCTION OF THE ART
ACADEMY AND ART COLLEGE AS WE
KNOW IT IN THE CONTEMPORARY
WORLD.
AS I LOCATE MYSELF, SPEAKING
FROM THE DISUNITED KINGDOM...

The audience laughs.

Sarat says AND THAT'S
JOYCE'S-- IT'S JOYCE'S PHRASE,
AND IT'S A PLAYFUL WAY OF
ENACTING DIFFERENCE EVEN IN THE
UNITY OF THE KINGDOM.
BUT BLOOMSBURY, WHICH IS ALWAYS
SIGNALLED IN HOLLYWOOD FILMS,
AS QUINTESSENTIALLY ENGLISH...

A picture shows a shop front with a sign that reads "Bloomsbury Halal. Food Store."

Sarat says THIS WORD IS
ALWAYS USED, QUINTESSENTIALLY
ENGLISH, WHICH IS, HOWEVER, NOW
ARTICULATED BY EVERY DIFFERENCE
YOU CAN IMAGINE, STARTING FROM
BLOOMSBURY HALAL STORE, WHICH
IS A MUST, AS IT WERE, AND THEN
BESIDE IT, THE HIGHLAND STORE,
THE LITTLE REMNANT OF THE
SCOTTISH-- OLD SCOTTISH WORLD
THAT IS THERE, AND THEN THE
PAKISTAN DRY CLEANERS, THE
PIZZA SHOP, AND FURTHER DOWN WE
HAVE THE INDIAN VEGETARIAN, AND
OPPOSITE IT, WE HAVE THE
RADICAL VEGAN, AND NEXT TO THE
VEGAN, WE HAVE THE CHINESE
AQUATIC SHOP.
AND SO THE VEGANS AND THE
ANIMAL RIGHTS...
[Audience Laughter]
AND THEN NEXT TO THAT, THE GAY
AND LESBIAN BOOKSHOP, GAY IS
THE WORD.
SO IF YOU CAN IMAGINE
ARTICULATED AND DIFFERENTIATED,
THAT THE NOTION OF
QUINTESSENTIALLY BLOOMSBURY AND
QUINTESSENTIALLY ENGLISH IS
THERE IN SOME WAYS, THERE IS NO
GETTING AWAY FROM THE BEAUTY OF
THE LIBERAL CULTURE.
THIS IS THE LAND OF VIRGINIA
WOLFE, THIS IS THE LAND OF
MAYNARD KEYNES, BUT HOW DEEPLY
ARTICULATED IT IS BY
DIFFERENCE.
SO MUCH SO THAT A CREOLE KIND
OF BLOOMSBURY HAS EMERGED, AND
WHICH, ITSELF GIVES US SEVERAL
WAYS OF THINKING DIFFERENCE AND
THE OTHER, OR TO THINK OF THE
STREET ITSELF AS THE PUBLIC
LABORATORY, SO THERE IS ANOTHER
VERSION, THEN, OF THE LAB.
BUT THIS PIDGINISATION IS
PRODUCING NOT JUST THE
STRUCTURED DIFFERENCES THAT WE
ASSOCIATE WITH
MULTICULTURALISM, THAT WE
ASSOCIATE WITH NOTIONS OF
DIVERSITY, WHICH HAVE BECOME
PUBLIC POLICY, IN WHICH
EVERYONE IS NEATLY BOXED
SOMEWHERE AND LABELLED AND
FOREVER AND EVER TRAPPED IN
THAT BOX.
HOW CAN WE SEMI-SEMITICISE
THEM?
HOW CAN WE GET THEM MOVING?
HOW CAN THEY BECOME THIS ISLAND
THAT IS TRANSMOGRIFYING ITSELF,
AS IT KIND OF SHAPES ITS
ENVIRONMENT AND PRODUCES
ITSELF.
AND THEN THE OTHER, IN THESE
FEARSOME TERMS OF THE BOMBER,
THE SUICIDE TERROR PERSON
LURKING IN OUR MIDST, SPEAKING
PERFECTLY ETONIAN ENGLISH, BUT
NEVERTHELESS PLOTTING TO BOMB
THE COUNTRY.
THESE VERY EXTREME AND DEEPLY
TROUBLING IMAGES OF THE OTHER,
ARE CONTESTED BY STREETS LIKE
THIS, WHERE, IN FACT, HAS
EMERGED NOW, A NEW LANGUAGE,
WHICH IS CALLED LONDONSTANI,
AND LONDONSTANI IS A PIDGINISED
FORM OF ENGLISH, AND A NEW BOOK
WILL SOON APPEAR, A VERY
EXCITING NEW NOVEL CALLED
LONDONSTANI,
WHICH HAS
HAD RATHER INTERESTING AND
GLOWING REVIEWS, SET, AT THE
AIRPORT IN SOUTHALL AND IN THE
KIND OF WEMBLEY AREA, WHERE ALL
KINDS OF NEW EMERGENCES AND
EVOLUTIONS HAVE APPEARED, WHERE
PEOPLE HAVE MIXED TO PRODUCE,
NOT DIFFERENCE IN THE CLASSICAL
MULTICULTURAL TERMS, BUT TO
PRODUCE THE POOL OF
POSSIBILITIES.
THE LAB, AS THE STREET LAB, AS
A POOL OF INEXHAUSTIBLE
POSSIBILITIES.

A picture appears with the caption "Henri Bergson (1859-1941)."

Sarat says THIS IS HOW
HENRI BERGSON SAW THE NOTION OF
CREATIVE EVOLUTION, THAT WE
CANNOT KNOW EVERYTHING THAT IS
GOING TO EMERGE, THAT THERE ARE
UNFORESEEABLE ELEMENTS AND
EVENTS THAT WILL CHANGE THE
COURSE OF THINGS, AND THAT IS
WHAT WE MEAN BY THE POOL OF
POSSIBILITIES.
BEYOND THE
DISCURSIVE, BEYOND THE
CONCEPTUAL, A WHOLE LEVEL OF
THE BRAIN, THE PREHISTORIC PART
OF THE BRAIN, IN EVOLUTIONARY
TERMS, THE EARLY PART OF THE
BRAIN IS CALLED THE LIMBIC
SYSTEM.
I CALL IT THE LIMBIC
HINTERLAND.

A slide shows a cross section of the brain with the caption "The Limbic System."

Sarat says HERE THE CONCERN IS WITH AREAS
OF THE BRAIN THAT BECOME ACTIVE
LONG BEFORE A WORD IS UTTERED,
LONG BEFORE THE CORTEX, THE
NEO-CORTEX BEGIN A KIND OF
ACTIVITY OF THINKING, THAT
ALREADY COMMUNICATION BEGINS,
BEFORE WE HAVE BEGUN THE ACT OF
COMMUNICATION.
THE INTEREST LIES THEN, AT THIS
LEVEL, WHICH THE SWEDISH
WRITER, MIKAEL NIEMI CALLS,
"THE PEAT BOG, DEEP LEVEL OF
THE BRAIN."
AND AT THIS
PEAT BOG LEVEL, IS AN ACTIVITY
THAT WE ASSOCIATE INCREASINGLY
WITH STUDIES IN THE POST-
CARTESIAN UNDERSTANDING OF THE
BODY-MIND RELATIONSHIP.
A KIND OF
NON-DUALISTIC, TO USE THE GREAT
INDIAN PHILOSOPHER SHANKRA'S
PHRASE, "A NON-DUALISTIC
RELATIONSHIP OF CONSCIOUSNESS
AND BODY.
THESE, I JUST SIGNAL AS
ELEMENTS OF THE LABORATORY TO
COME, THE LABORATORY IN THE ART
WORLD THAT WOULD HAVE TO DEAL
WITH THESE EMBODIED ELEMENTS OF
KNOWLEDGE, NOT JUST THE
DISCURSIVE ELEMENTS OF
KNOWLEDGE, WHICH ARE TEXT
BASED, BUT INCREASINGLY CONCERN
THEMSELVES, PERHAPS, WITH WHAT
WE HAVE IN THE PAST CALLED THE
PERFORMATIVE ELEMENTS OF
KNOWLEDGE MAKING.
AND I HOPE THIS DOESN'T TOO
QUICKLY DEDUCE THE PROBLEM TO
PERFORMANCE ART, BECAUSE THAT'S
A VERY SLENDER LINK WITH WHAT
I'M TRYING TO SIGNAL.
BUT REALLY, THE INTEREST LIES
AROUND THIS STRANGE WORD, THE
AMYGDALA, THIS PART OF THE
PREHISTORIC BRAIN WHICH IS THE
SEAT OF A CERTAIN RANGE OF
COMMUNICATION.
WHAT I'M TRYING TO SAY, ALSO IS
THAT IN MODERN COGNITIVE
SCIENCES, IT IS FELT THAT 99 PERCENT,
PRACTICALLY, IS UNCONSCIOUS
ACTIVITY.
WE THINK WE ARE CONSCIOUS OF
THE ACTIVITIES WE DO, BUT THE
TENDENCY IS NOW TO SEE HOW DEEP
SEATED IN MUSCLE AND BONE, IS
OUR THINKING, RATHER THAN IN
PURELY CORTICAL ACTIVITY OF THE
KIND WHICH WE ASSOCIATED WITH
KIND OF CRYSTALLINE COGNITION.
THIS LAB, HOW WOULD IT BE
ENACTED?
THIS LAB IN AN ART INSTITUTION,
CENTRAL TO THE COMMUNICATIVE
SPHERES... HOW ARE WE TO
UNDERSTAND IT, WHAT WOULD BE
THE MEANS, WHAT WOULD BE THE
MECHANISM OF CONSTRUCTING SUCH
A LAB?
WELL WE'VE RATHER BRAVELY OR
FOOLISHLY ATTEMPTED TO
CONSTRUCT THIS LAB AS THE
KNOWLEDGE LABORATORY IN BERLIN,
AND BASICALLY, I REALLY SHOULD
CALL IT THE NON-KNOWLEDGE
LABORATORY, BECAUSE IT'S TRYING
TO DISTINGUISH ITSELF FROM
KNOWLEDGE AS WE ONCE UNDERSTOOD
KNOWLEDGE, AS A PARTICULAR
PRODUCTION OF COGNITION AND
CONSCIOUSNESS, BUT IN THIS
TOTAL BODY-MIND AUTOPOIETIC
RELATIONSHIP OF CONSCIOUSNESS,
BODY, MUSCLE, MIND AND SO ON,
IN THE AUTOPOIETIC SYSTEM, WE
PERHAPS NEED TO SPEAK OF
SOMETHING LIKE NON-KNOWLEDGE,
AS I HAVE DERIVED, AGAIN, FROM
THE THINKER SHANKRA, AND MAX
MULLER'S COMMENTARIES ON THE
PHILOSOPHY OF SHANKRA.
HE USES THE WORD AVIDYA, AND I
USE IT SLIGHTLY MORE
PROVOCATIVELY THAN THE
CLASSICAL SCHOLARS OF INDIA
MIGHT DO, OR THE CLASSICAL
SCHOLARS WHO HAVE ALWAYS SPOKEN
OF AVIDYA AS IGNORANCE, BUT I
HAVE RATHER TRANSLATED IT AS
THIS-- IN NON-DUALISTIC TERMS,
NOT THE OPPOSITE OF KNOWLEDGE,
BUT NON-KNOWLEDGE, WHICH IS AN
INDETERMINATE ZONE BETWEEN
KNOWLEDGE AND IGNORANCE,
BETWEEN KNOWING AND NOT
KNOWING.
HERE, I FEEL THAT... AND MAYBE
THIS IS A KIND OF MIX OF
ATTEMPTS TO SHOW THE RATHER
COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIPS
BETWEEN THESE LEVELS.
GYANA, THE SANSKRIT WORD WHICH
GIVES US GNOSIS IN GREEK, WHICH
GIVES US KNOWLEDGE IN THE LATIN
ENGLISH TRADITION, SO YOU CAN
SEE HOW THE ROOT IS.
GNOSEOLOGY IS RATHER PLAYFUL IT
SOUNDS AS THOUGH IT'S RELATED
TO KNOWLEDGE, BUT IT REALLY IS
ABOUT DIAGNOSIS.

A slide on the screen reads "Gyana Gnoseology Knowledge. Audio-visible-gnosible-edible."

Serat says AUDIBLE, VISIBLE, GNOSIBLE AND
EDIBLE, THAT'S JAMES JOYCE, YOU
SEE?
HE WOULD NOT ALLOW KNOWLEDGE TO
BE ENTIRELY OR INTELLECTUALISED
OR CONCEPTUALISED.
IT'S BROUGHT BACK TO THE SMELL,
TO THE SENSE OF SMELL AND TO
FOOD AND CONSUMPTION, AND, AS
IT WERE, THE ACTUALITIES OF THE
BODY WHICH WE HAVE TO TAKE ON
BOARD IN UNDERSTANDING EMBODIED
KNOWLEDGE.
AND THIS IS A PROJECT I JUST
QUICKLY WANT TO SEIZE.
ALTHOUGH IT'S CALLED, "VEGAN
JOTTINGS ON A SMELL SENT FROM
BERLIN," IT IS A SMELL SENT IN
A BOTTLE FROM BERLIN TO ME BY
CECILE TOULAS, AND THE PROJECT
WAS ABOUT IDENTIFYING THE SMELL
AND CLASSIFYING IT WITH A PIECE
OF WRITING AND DRAWING, AND
THEN EVENTUALLY SHE SENT YOU AN
IDENTIFICATION OF THE SMELL,
AND YOU HAD TO COMPARE THESE
WITH EACH OTHER.
SO THEY'RE
VERY PEDAGOGICAL EXERCISES, BUT
THIS FORMS THE BASIS OF
INTRODUCING THE WHOLE TERRAIN
OF THE OLFACTORY WITH SEMANTICS
INTO THE SPACE OF THE ART
COLLEGE LAB, AS IT WERE, SO THE
CONSTRUCTION OF THE NON-
KNOWLEDGE LAB, THE EMBODIED
KNOWLEDGE LAB, AROUND
EDIBILITY, AROUND NOSE, THE
NOSE, AS IT WERE.
THE NOSE
KNOWS THE WORLD IN ITS KNOWING
WAY, ONE MIGHT SAY SOMETHING OF
THAT SORT.
A GROANING PUN ON THE WORD NOSE
AND KNOW.
BUT HERE I JUST REFER, TO
CAPTURE THIS, THAT MAYBE THIS
WAS PREFIGURED IN THE WORK OF
THE GREAT ARTIST JOHN LATHAM,
WHO DIED A FEW MONTHS AGO.
THIS GREAT FIGURE, AGAIN FROM
SOUTHERN AFRICA, WHO, IN THE
LATE '60s, WAS A TUTOR AT
CENTRAL SAINT MARTIN'S COLLEGE OF
ART, AND HE CONSTRUCTED HIS OWN
LITTLE LAB, WHICH WAS AN
EXTREMELY INTERESTING ONE.

A picture appears with the caption "Clement Greenberg (1909-1994)."

Sarat says THIS IS A
PERIOD WHEN THE WRITINGS OF
CLEMENT GREENBERG ON ABSTRACT
ART WERE, AS IT WERE, OFFICIAL
DOCTRINE IN THE ART SCHOOLS.
IT WAS
WONDERFUL LIBERATION IN ENGLAND
TO HAVE THIS KIND OF THEORY AND
THIS KIND OF PRACTICE, AND THEY
VERY QUICKLY BECAME KIND OF
OFFICIAL PROJECTS IN THE ART
SCHOOL.
JOHN LATHAM BORROWED THE
COLLECTION OF CLEMENT
GREENBERG'S ESSAYS, CALLED,
"ART AND CULTURE," AND HE KEPT
IT FOR A VERY LONG TIME.
AND SEVERAL WARNINGS AND
NOTICES OF RETURN FROM THE
LIBRARIAN, HAD GONE UNHEEDED,
AND EVENTUALLY THERE WAS A
DEMAND SAYING THAT STUDENTS
URGENTLY NEED ART AND CULTURE,
AND WELL, THIS IS AN ODD KIND
OF A SENTENCE IF YOU THINK OF
IT.
[Audience Laughter]
I'VE NEVER COME ACROSS A
STUDENT WHO URGENTLY NEEDS ART
AND CULTURE, AND THIS IS A
WONDERFUL THING ABOUT STUDENTS,
THAT THEY DON'T NEED IT, AND
THEY ONLY NEED IT WHEN THEY'RE
DESPERATELY AGED, I HOPE...
THAT ART AND CULTURE IS NOT
NEEDED, IT IS TO BE CREATED, IT
IS TO BE MADE, AND AT THE LEVEL
OF THE LABORATORY, THE ACADEMY,
THE COLLEGE, THAT IS THE
SITUATION IN WHICH ONE IS.
LATHAM, HOWEVER, DECIDED TO
HOLD AN EDIBLE, GNOSIBLE EVENT,
A DINNER PARTY, RATHER THAN
RETURN THE BOOK DIRECTLY TO THE
COLLEGE.

A book cover appears with the caption "Art and Culture. Critical Essays. Clement Greenberg."

SArat says SO EVERYONE WHO CAME TO THE
PARTY WAS GIVEN A PAGE OF THE
BOOK, "ART AND CULTURE," AND
WAS ASKED TO CHEW IT.
[Audience Laughter]
AND THEN TO SPIT IT OUT IN A
BASIN, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE
ROOM, WHICH WAS FULL WITH ALL
SORTS OF CHEMICALS, AND IT
CREATED THE MOST EXOTIC MUSH
AND GREAT VAPOURS ROSE OUT OF
THIS BOWL, AND EVENTUALLY, A
DISTILLATE WAS GATHERED FROM
THIS VAPOUR AND COLLECTED IN A
LITTLE PHIAL, A LITTLE SCENT
BOTTLE, AND RETURNED TO THE
COLLEGE WITH A NOTE, "THE
ESSENCE OF ART AND CULTURE ."
[Audience Laughter]
I THINK THIS LABORATORY, THOUGH
IT SOUNDS A LITTLE BIT VIOLENT,
LIKE THE CLOSING OF THE FRENCH
ACADEMY IN 1791, I'M TRYING TO
MOVE AWAY FROM BLOOD AND GORE,
BUT SOMEHOW BLOOD AND GORE
FEATURES IN KNOWLEDGE SOMEWHERE
IN SOME WAY, AND HERE IT IS
ABOUT SALIVA AND SPIT, AND
ABOUT ENZYMES AND ABOUT BODY
FLUIDS, BUT WITH THE ELEMENT OF
THE PROJECT ON SMELL, ONE WOULD
HAVE TO TAKE LATHAM AS A GREAT
INSPIRER OF A LABORATORY TO
COME.
WHAT COULD THE GNOSIBLE, EDIBLE
FORM OF KNOWLEDGE BE?
HOW COULD IT FUNCTION AS A
PICNIC THAT IS OUTSIDE,
ENTIRELY OUTSIDE THE
INSTITUTIONALISED FRAMEWORKS OF
THE BUILDING, THE ACADEMIES AND
OF THE COLLEGES.
CAN THERE BE A KNOWLEDGE
PRODUCTION OF THE TOTALLY
TRANSIENT, OF THIS COMING
TOGETHER, OF THE CONFIGURATIONS
OF PEOPLE, OF THE RUBBING UP
AND FRICTIONS BETWEEN THEM AS
THEY PASS?
THIS IS A KNOWLEDGE OF PASSAGE,
A KNOWLEDGE OF TRANSIENCE I
WOULD SAY, THAT ONE IS
CONCERNED WITH.
AND I WANT TO CONCLUDE THEN, BY
SUMMING UP THAT IN-- AND THE
KNOWLEDGE-- THESE ARE
DUPLICATED AND TRIPLICATED
ACROSS EUROPE TODAY IN WHAT ARE
CALLED THE FRIENDSHIP AND
HOSPITALITY TENTS, THE
LABORATORY AS A CIRCUS TENT
WHERE COLLEGES HAVE SIMPLY GONE
OUT TO MEET EACH OTHER, OUT IN
THE OPEN.
AS THE
BORDERS HAVE COME DOWN WITH
WHAT USED TO BE THE COMMUNIST
WORLD, STUDENTS HAVE GATHERED
AND MOVED AROUND TO CONNECT
WITH EACH OTHER UNDER TENTS,
USING THE WRITING OF DELEUZE,
AROUND THE NATURE OF PHILOSOPHY
AS AN ACT OF FRIENDSHIP, RATHER
THAN AS AN ACT OF DISCIPLESHIP
TO A MASTER, AND THE NOTION OF
HOSPITALITY, TAKEN FROM DERRIDA
GOING OVER THE QUESTIONS I HAVE
RAISED ALREADY.
HOW DO WE
FIND THE DISCURSIVE AND NON-
DISCURSIVE CONTRAPTIONS OF
COMMUNICATION WITH THE OTHER.
THIS THEN SUGGESTS TO ME, IN
RESPONSE TO THE VERY KIND
INVITATION FROM SARAH TO SPEAK
TO THE PAPER, THIS SUGGESTS TO
ME THAT WE SHOULD NOT BE
SPEAKING OF, WHAT IS THE LAB TO
COME, BUT WE SHOULD BE SPEAKING
OF A CONSTELLATION OF LABS,
THAT WE SHOULD BE SPEAKING OF A
MULTIPLICITY OF LABS, THAT, IN
FACT, STUDENTS THEMSELVES
SHOULD BE INVENTING AND
CONSTRUCTING LABORATORIES
WITHIN LABORATORIES.
THERE IS NO ONE LABORATORY THAT
GIVES US, AS IT WERE, THE
MESSAGE OR THE KNOWLEDGE.
SECONDLY, THAT TODAY, THINKING
IS NOT SIMPLY A COGNITIVE ACT
OF A DISCURSIVE KIND.
IT IS A NON-DISCURSIVE
ENACTMENT, AND THIS LEADS US TO
SPEAK OF THINKING IN
PERFORMANCE AND THROUGH
PERFORMANCE, JUST AS WE MIGHT
HAVE SPOKEN OF THINKING IN THE
VISUAL AND THROUGH THE VISUAL,
NOT SIMPLY THROUGH CONCEPTS AND
TEXTS, BUT THROUGH THE PRACTICE
ITSELF.
THIRDLY THAT IN THE POST-
CARTESIAN LAB, THE BODY AND
MIND RELATIONSHIP HAS TO BE RE-
EXAMINED AND THE TERRITORY
STAKED AGAIN, THAT A DEEP ACT
OF DETERRITORIALISATION HAS
TAKEN PLACE, WHICH SEPARATES US
FROM NOTIONS OF MIND AND MENTAL
ACTIVITY OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT
AND THE CARTESIAN AGE.
THIRDLY, THAT WE REAFFIRM THE
NOTION OF THE SELF ORGANISING
PRINCIPLE OF ACTIVITY, THE
PICNIC AS A SELF ORGANISING
CONFIGURATION, AS AN ACTIVITY
WHICH PEOPLE CARRY OUT AND
BRING TOGETHER, EXCHANGE AND
SWAP, IN A KIND OF ECONOMY
WHICH CANCELS THE NOTION OF
CAPITALIST HIERARCHY AND
EXCHANGE.
LASTLY, I WANT TO SPEAK OF A
TOTALLY OCEANIC NOTION, THE
LABORATORY WITHOUT PROTOCOL.
CAN WE IMAGINE A LABORATORY
THAT IS ENTIRELY WITHOUT NAME?
THE NAMELESS LABORATORY TO USE
AGAMBEN'S DESCRIPTION OF THE
PHILOSOPHY OF WERBERG, BUT I
PREFER TO THE TERM THE NAMELESS
LABORATORY, THE IDEA, AN
UNNAMEABLE LABORATORY, TAKING
THE WORD UNNAMEABLE AND UNKNOWN
FROM THE WRITINGS OF SAMUEL
BECKETT.

A black slate appears with the caption "Imagine- as John Lennon’s Imagine- this…."

Sarat says THE IDEA OF A
LANGUAGE WHICH IS MADE UP ON
THE SPOT, A LANGUAGE FOR WHICH
THERE IS NO GRAMMAR.
A LANGUAGE
FOR WHICH THERE IS NO SYNTAX,
WHICH WE REFUSE THE SYNTAX.
THE MINUTE THIS LANGUAGE IS
MADE, IT REFUSES TO
INSTITUTIONALISE ITSELF AND
DISSOLVES ITS SYNTAX.
A LANGUAGE WHICH, TO QUITE THE
LINGUIST MULHAUSER, THERE ARE
NO NATIVE SPEAKERS.
CAN ONE
IMAGINE A LANGUAGE WHERE THERE
ARE NO NATIVE SPEAKERS?
ALL LANGUAGES ARE TIED UP WITH
NOTIONS OF MOTHER TONGUE, OR
THE LANGUAGE OF THE FATHERLAND,
OR SOMEHOW, WITH SOME SPEAKER
AT THE BACK OF IT.
BUT CAN YOU IMAGINE LANGUAGE,
PRODUCED FOR THE MOMENT, IN A
ZEN WAY, WHERE THE ONCENESS OF
THE STATEMENT AND THE UTTERANCE
WAS THE CREATIVE ACT?
THIS IS, AGAIN, THE OCEANIC
MOMENT OF THE ISLAND, BUT ONE
THAT WE HAVE TO BEAR IN MIND IN
TRYING TO FIND THE LANGUAGE
WITH WHICH WE WOULD APPROACH
THE OTHER.
HOW WOULD WE APPROACH THE OTHER
WITHOUT THE VIOLENCE THAT COMES
WITH GRAMMAR AND SYNTAX AND THE
READY MADE COMMAND AND MASTERY
OF THE LANGUAGE?

Watch: Sarat Maharaj on Dynamic Creativity: Remaking Art and