On The Hundreds: Collaboration, Engagement, Attention
Lauren Berlant and Kathleen Stewart
The Hundreds is a collaboration that speculates on writing, affect, politics, and attention to processes of worlding. In collaboration there’s a meeting of minds that don’t match but aspire to stay open to each other and in sync, not only with each other but with the force and implication of encounters. The experiment of the one hundred word constraint set off suggestions of things happening in consistencies of rhythm, tendencies dilating and receptivity mistakes. We made up ways of amplifying their resonance into written environments. People matter, as well as pets, domestic objects, signs, traveling smells, and atmospheres: everything’s a leftover, and every leftover a potential event. We learned to think of emerging form as a conceptual mode.
“Writing out” promotes a slower feeling out. We will discuss using writing to imagine critique adequate to the generativity of ordinary objects and processes. Description is always failing and surrounding its objects. What’s a concept or a theory if they’re no longer seen as a truth-effect, but a training in absorption and framing? What’s an encounter once it’s seen as an incitement to composition? What can be done åwith the love, judgment, structural violence and stranger intimacy appearing at the incidental scale?
Lauren Berlant is the George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Chicago. Her most recent books are Cruel Optimism (2011) addressing precarious publics and the aesthetics of affective adjustment in the contemporary U.S. and Europe; Desire/Love (2012), an introduction to concepts of attachment, and, with Lee Edelman, Sex, or the Unbearable (2014), a dialogue/argument about living with the violence of self-division. She is currently working on flatter affects like inconvenience and humorlessness, as well as an edited volume with Sianne Ngai, called Comedy, An Issue (2017). She blogs at Supervalent Thought (www.supervalentthought.com) and is also a founding member of the art/activist group Feel Tank Chicago.
Kathleen Stewart writes ethnographic experiments to approach the composition and decomp of worlds. Her books include A Space on the Side of the Road: Cultural Poetics in an `Other' America (Princeton, 1996), Ordinary Affects (Duke, 2007), The Hundreds co-authored with Lauren Berlant (forthcoming, Duke) and Worlding (in preparation). She teaches anthropology and writing at the University of Texas, Austin.