Blob-in-itself

A Willful Misinterpretation of an Incomprehensible Event.
Gabo Camnitzer

 

An object arriving unannounced, without preconceptions, without a label, without a creator to describe it, is a rare occasion in the age of instrumentalization. Seemingly every element of the world has been prodded and dissected in the name of our understanding. A positivist world where the only way to know something is to control it. A reductionist world where our chosen mode of research is dissection. What of innocent objects that float on the horizon, bobbing amorphous forms which withstand and elude our taxonomy, defying signification, those things that stand outside consciousness and language, peering in, through a crack in the door. What do the blobs think of us, are we just objects with frisky appendages, and them subjects, inert, detached and ambivalent. And who is it that has added these objects to the repertory of the world. Perhaps it was the objects themselves?

When this armada floated ashore, was it as colonizers of a naive world, or merely as liminal objects, tenuously outside, but soon to be subsumed into our knowledge. Was their act an unintelligible attempt at communication, an olive branch, a declaration of war? We know what they consist of but neither what they are, or from where they came. And what of their teleology, where are they going and what is their purpose? What is the chain of command? A bag full of them was given to me. I accepted them as gratefully as I have accepted anything. This, perhaps because for the first time I was receiving something that I knew I would never know or control. Not unlike a birthday present that could never be opened.

The unarticulated objects placed in the bag as many, eventually become one. Borders are erased and reconstituted. These objects will always be in a state of becoming, and therefore can intrinsically mean that I too will always be becoming, or unbecoming, in their presence.1 But what of my human senses that in their clumsiness, fail to grasp this object now held enclosed in the palm of my hand? The object is subsumed, yet remains so tantalizingly out of reach. Is this reciprocal, or are we existing on two separate planes, the blob and I? Is imbrication possible? Can the ontological divide be closed? The object and me. The object in me.

What am I if not a blob, a heterogenous clump of individual components, haphazardly thrown together, then bruised and battered by the repeated, yet unpredictable bombardments of the currents, and ebbs and flows of outside forces. Contingent forces that shape me over time. We are comrades, the blob and I, united by our incongruence and mutability. And perhaps my inclination to grasp my nature can be surmised as a “Blob Drive.” But what to do when confronted with “the unreasonable silence of the world?”2 Perhaps when the object is felt yet the subject’s grasp fails, - the truth lying beyond its intentional comprehension7 - another object can be enlisted to decipher the first object’s underpinnings. One object to another, not as a medium, but as a litmus test or harbinger of the object’s intelligibility. A provider of a sign that the object is in fact knowable, even if I will never know it. I enlist the dog, that most loyal of human objects whose senses have long been exploited by their featherless bipedal overlords. Yes, it was a dog that found the objects on the beach, and perhaps in the ensuing confusion, was the place man forgot to look. No one consulted their discoverer. If it’s true that it was the dog who domesticated our savage species, what can be said of their house training abilities. And what of their pedagogical ability. Man is still hopelessly dependent on them. So I seek guidance in this most uncertain of moments from the discoverer of these blobs, however unreliable she may be. This, not because I want to know, but because I want to know if it is knowable. That would be enough.

 

 

1“The thing is inseparable from a person perceiving it, and can never be actually in itself because it stands at the other end of our gaze or at the terminus of a sensory exploration which invests it with humanity.” Merleau-Ponty, Maurice, The Phenomenology of Perception, London, 1998), p. 320

2“The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.” Camus, Albert, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays, (1955: New York: Vintage, 1991), p. 18

 

 

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