Making Footprints Not Blueprints

S06 Bonus Episode - Only Conjugate! That is the whole of my sermon - (Final episode of Series 6)

July 29, 2023 Andrew James Brown/Caute Season 6
Making Footprints Not Blueprints
S06 Bonus Episode - Only Conjugate! That is the whole of my sermon - (Final episode of Series 6)
Show Notes Transcript

The full text of this podcast can be found in the transcript of this edition or at the following link:

https://andrewjbrown.blogspot.com/2023/07/only-conjugate-that-is-whole-of-my.html

And here's a link to its appearance in The Idioticon, published by the Triarchy Press

Please feel to post any comments you have about this episode there.

Music, "New Heaven", written by Andrew J. Brown and played by Chris Ingham (piano), Paul Higgs (trumpet), Russ Morgan (drums) and Andrew J. Brown (double bass) 

Thanks for listening. Just to note that all the texts of these podcasts are available on my blog. You'll also find there a brief biography, info about my career as a musician, & some photography. Feel free to drop by & say hello. Email: caute.brown[at]gmail.com

It’s that time of year when, thankfully, I am able to down tools for the month of August for some rest, recreation, re-thinking and restoration, And where that last word really means, re-story-ation. Consequently, it is likely that nothing will appear on this blog for the next month. 

So, dear readers, as always, I thank you for dropping by now and then to read one of my pieces, to look at the photos I have posted or, perhaps, even to listening to an episode of the podcast. And in all cases, your continued support is much appreciated, and I look forward to re-connecting with you again in September.

But, as a holding post/podcast for August, I reproduce a piece I wrote back in 2018 as an entry in the wonderfully named, The Idioticon, published by the Triarchy Press. I hope you enjoy it, not least of all because it encourages a certain kind of slowing down, not just for the summer, but for every day of our lives . . .

—o0o—

Only Conjugate! That is the whole of my sermon

(Click on this link to hear a recorded version of the following piece)

“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die” (From Chapter XXII of E. M. Forster’s novel of 1910, “Howards End”).

Since they were published in 1910, Forster’s famous lines have been picked up, especially within left/liberal circles, as a rallying cry, not only for generally better connections to be made within society as a whole but, as his use of the words “prose and passion” suggest, it is also a plea for people to connect the rational and emotional aspects of their being. But is the rallying call “Only connect!” really the one that we need today?

The contemporary Italian philosopher, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, feels that “connection” in the modern digital age — and this caveat is important for we are no longer in 1910 — “connection” has become all about smooth, frictionless, punctual and repeat-able interactions; it’s all about creating compatibility between the machine and society’s various parts according to pre-established technical/societal standards; it’s all about speed of connection and about becoming highly responsive to fast flows of rapidly changing information. It is vital to see that, understood in this way, connection leaves “no margin for ambiguity in the exchange of messages, nor can intention be manifest though nuances” (“And: Phenomenolgy of the End,” Semiotext(e), MIT Press, 2015, p. 23). The power of the pre-determined code becomes utterly dominant. Given this, I’m sure all of us can see why the phrase “only connect” can, today, be received and promoted with gusto by certain sectors of industry and society.

Most of us can see in one way or another that the digitization and automation of our world is beginning to stop us from engaging in something central to human-being, namely a deep involvement in the countless continuous processes of slow and deeply nuanced becoming.

But the way things are unfolding for most people today means there is set aside no time — nor are we being given the resources (financial and social) to set aside such time — to engage in a reflective interpretation of our world. There is only time for “connection” in order to facilitate the constant high-speed transmission of digital information.

This is why Bifo’s understanding of “conjunction” is so very helpful. Bifo suggests that conjunction is best thought of as being,

“. . . the meeting and fusion of round or irregular bodies that are continuously weaseling their way about without precision, repetition, or perfection” (ibid. p. 22)

And, as Bifo also writes:

“Conjunction . . . can be viewed as a way of becoming other. Singularities change when they conjoin, they become something other than what they were before, in the same way as love changes the lover or the conjunctive composition of a-signifying signs gives rise to the emergence of previously inexistent meaning” (ibid. p. 21).

And this, in turn, is why it seems to me that Phil Smith’s books, Mythogeography and Rethinking Mythogeography, are so helpful because they offer us a number of practical, creative, sustained, subversive and enjoyable ways to conjugate.

So, if I may dare, I’d like to re-present to you Forster’s famous words in a fashion suitable to our own age:

Only conjoin! That is the whole of my sermon.

Or, to pick a more evocative word with the same Latin root [iungere meaning “to join together, unite, yoke]:

Only conjugate! That is the whole of my sermon.