Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Mobilities in everyday life; the one that is many

There are two descriptions of mobility to which I repeatedly return in my dissertation: the first is Sartre's description of Calder's mobiles and the second is this from Lefebvre's Critique of Everyday Life, Vol. 2 :

"Beneath an apparent immobility, analysis discovers a hidden mobility. Beneath this superficial mobility, it discovers stabilities, self-regulations, structures, and factors of balance. Beneath the overall unity, it uncovers diversities, and beneath the multiplicity of appearances it finds a totality. Analysis must maintain these two sociological aspects (incessant change, the disappearance of elements, nascent conjunctures - the structuring of the whole, relative stability) and grasp them in the wholeness of a single history."

In their article Rethinking everyday life, Seigworth and Gardiner cite the same passage - "the wholeness of a single history arriving in each moment" - and (re)vitalise it with this beautiful quote from Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet :

"I'm in a trolley, and, as is my habit, I'm slowly taking notice of the people sitting around me. For me details are things, words, sentences. I take apart the dress worn by the girl in front of me: I turn it into the fabric that makes it up, the work that went into making it - but still I see it as a dress and not cloth - and the light embroidery and the work involved in it. And immediately, as in a primer on political economy, the factories and the labor unfold before me - the factory where the cloth was made, the factory where the twist of silk, darker in tone than the dress, was made, which went into making the twisted little things in the border now in their place next to the neck; and I see the components of the factories, the machines, the workers, the seamstresses, my eyes turned inward penetrate into the offices, I see the managers trying to be calm, I follow, in the books, the accounts involved in it all; but it isn't only that: I see, beyond that, the domestic lives of those who live their social lives in those factories and those offices ... All of them pass before my eyes merely because I have before me, below a dark neck, which on its other side has I don't know what sort of face, a common, irregular green edge on a light green dress.

The entire life of society lies before my eyes.

Beyond all that I sense the loves, the secret life, the souls of all those who worked so that this woman seated in front of me in the trolley can wear around her neck the sinuous banality of a band of dark green silk on less dark green cloth.

I become stupefied. The seats on the trolley, made of tightly woven strong straw, carry me to distant regions and into multiple industries, workers, workers' houses, lives, realities, all.

I leave the trolley exhausted and sleepwalking. I just lived an entire life."

Nice huh?

For background see Leibniz's Monadology and Deleuze's The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. Also D&G: "There are only multiplicities of multiplicities forming a single assemblage, operating in the same assemblage" (ATP:34)

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