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In Conversation with Nick Trotter: Hospitality & The Grey Area Between Life & Life

In Conversation with Nick Trotter: Hospitality & The Grey Area Between Life & Life

Nick Trotter is the only proper name that is published in the text, or the only proper name that appears in the text is Nick Trotter.  In the original event that spawned the 99 Problems, Rosemary Lee asked a trio of colleagues to provide her with stimulants for mimosa pudica.  While writing the aphorisms, Berit Jane listened to the musical stimulus provided by Trotter, thus prompting the 83rd aphorism.  Listening to Nick Trotter has always been difficult to discern from listening to herself and the conversation between Nick and Berit Jane sometimes manifests itself more as a two headed something-or-other instead of a separation of individual interests for the questions they ask each other are questions they ask themselves.  It is through and by this platform that the two have been developing, along with a selection of other colleagues, a core discussion that will eventually be launched publicly under the nomination Visceralists International, but like many things that are left to their own organic growth, more about that at another time...

*a note on the text:  Hovering about the edges of the following conversation is Nick's battle withmysterious allergies and crippling reactions to an extensive constellation of foods and which no one has yet been able to provide a full satisfactory explanation or cure from doctors to therapists to nutritionists.


BSH
This project started out with both of us providing something for plants....

NT
It did.

BSH
But while I ended up providing a stack of aphorisms you made music.  Did you approach the project in a certain way having a plant audience?

NT
Yes.  It was sort-of my first preoccupation with the project.  What do we have to give to plants? It is hard, as I think your piece explores really well, to think of plants not for us... there is a distance there that is different from other things, people, sources of energy... So my first approach was towards an offering of hearing what silly shit 'we' do.

BSH
Ha, yeah, that was kind of my initial approach as well, except is was with the silly problems. When someone tells another their problems it can fall on deafer ears than a plant's.

NT
Certainly... and what does this sort of stimulus do!  When we 'turn deaf ears' there is already something projected there for us...

BSH
Redaction in action.

NT
Many people talk to their houseplants, sing to their gardens... but to offer something in relation... in an exchange, but one that isn't economic.  This is more of an offering in exchange for lessons on responsiveness the green world gives us. To offer something 'useful'... isn't this what makes conversation work? That I can say something you can hear and respond to?

BSH
Economy in conversation, usefulness… There is something in addressing these topics –this attempt to get something out of it...  I think talking to oneself was brought up in a conversation last night.  That there is always something gained by bouncing an address off different corners. But perhaps it is a different arrangement than what we think of when we speak of economy?

personal collection

personal collection

NT
Surely there is something to be gained by the work involved and invoked in a recitation, a 'working out' of one's thought without an 'audience'...

BSH
A different arrangement of what is considered of use and in what time frame it is useful?

NT
Yes, certainly an economy... but I was thinking of attempting to recognize the parasitic relation we often have with 'our' things... which certainly brings to mind use and time frame. How to be hospitable TO a plant!? This is the wildest thing... what sounds to make for something with 'no' ears, but something that is certainly receptive as all hell. We know to feed and water and sunlighten 'our' plants, but that is for 'us' in exchange. What to offer the plant that has everything it needs? And where to measure 'need' from in this context?

BSH
The question of hospitality and plants is already turned on its head, don't you think?  Since we remain small within the world of plants and other things besides ourselves.

NT
What beyond successful growth is there for a plant? What beyond conveying an idea is there for a conversation?

BSH
These questions kind of have a why embedded in them... Why grow, why share ideas.... Any answer to a why question is bound to be arbitrary.  Whys ask for something in return, no? It is a hungry question.

NT
And just like... 'what do we prepare for your vegan friend when they come to dinner?'  Whats ask for something in return, too... a way out, a way in.

BSH
This might be personal but have you ever been satisfied by an answer to a why question?

NT
Yes, and no. On the rather personal side, the 'why am I ill?' an almost constant question

BSH
True, I didn't think of that.

NT
And its often answered, badly...

BSH
You haven't had very many successful what answers either...

NT
No. But beyond that, to make some move forward... or any action, I often have to pose for myself possible answers to hold open an experiment with, and perhaps in the end the whats/whys/hows are all fairly limited in offering what they 'offer'. But a 'thing' a 'reason' a 'process' these all do have different lives and the 'reasons' of why certainly consume in a way that is perhaps more voracious than the others.

BSH
Do you imagine your illness as a thing? One of the parts of the text I still am thinking about and am not entirely satisfied with how I handled it is the inclusion of Aristotle's problem about health.  Disease and motion and health and rest....

NT
I think I did for a long time... all the years of therapy and the first handful of years thinking of "what" was happening to me as 'depression'... had certainly patterned that, as well as all the problems of disease naming and norming 'health'... (some rather crap why-answers) ....  Yes, I was really struck by that moment... And it is an astounding thing to think. But of course, not all illnesses move either. And 'health' can certainly 'move' in terms of proscriptions of excursive or less deleterious ways of life being handed around, offered.

BSH
And to attempt to offer health unto another...  Doctors don't give health—do they?  Most often they take disease away, no?

NT
Almost all Socrates talks about when he talks about health or food is the doctor and vice versa. In Chinese medicine apparently it is quite common for doctors to think of themselves as providing health instead of curing diseases.

BSH
But there's this critical movement of techne in the doctor, the doctor that can heal herself...

NT
I think it really does stem (incipit another shitty why-answer) from the practice of measuring against ideals.... can you say more about this self-healing doctor?

BSH
I believe this is from a Hamacher seminar and I may bastardize it a bit, but through a reading of Aristotle – a doctor is a being who has skills of healing, no? But if the doctor is sick, there is something lacking in this being, it isn't whole in a way. But the doctor has the capability of healing herself even though she may be ill, and this is a way to think of being, in a way. Because we've never completely being, but we are completing being all the time.

NT
But then we are all always (attempting) healing ourselves constantly aren't we?

BSH
I always get caught on healing

NT
But what is sating 'hunger'? Is illness really a lack?

BSH
Right. It can sometimes be very difficult not to let these answers fall to the baseline of survival. We have to eat, etc.

NT
But what is survival if not fighting of the stopping of one or more of our vital functions?

BSH
With our understanding of microbes and viruses, we could say illness is a life in the way of another life.  And in that light, what survives when we survive? Survival is quite interesting to me in the domain of visibility and invisibility....  we consider our bodies invisible much of the time (until we must be conscious of its workings when they are inflamed or not working properly—the whole good design is invisible thing). What survives when I survive? What survives when a person survives?

personal collection

personal collection

NT
The who's who of what am I feeding.

BSH
Which goes back to the hospitality question, what we host (whether we like it or not) ... or fertilizing...

NT
But what gives us our ability to even host? Without our 'commensal' bacteria we couldn't digest a damn thing.

BSH
Or mitochondria—in each one of our cells—originally "foreign."

NT
Without mitochondria... yes, our energy production would have to be vastly different.  So yes... there are tons of 'availabilities' for things to arise in the wake of 'our' existences. And all these folded collections keep folding, keep finding new routines, new patterns, new aspects...

BSH
And the dead move with us though, no?

NT
The dead? 'Our' dead?

BSH
I mean, just as our bodies are made up of what we would consider foreign objects, they are also made up of dead objects.

NT
But how dead is dead?  Most of the dead things I can think of are just further along in 'decay' (the life of other things) than other things....  We don't eat what is 'spoilt' for it might impair our health. Or threaten our survival, exactly! But is this line "use" a solid one?

BSH
Well, another way to discern spoiled is that it already hosts other critters or bacteria that have already claimed the food for its own.

NT
It seems pretty squishy to me.... But claim how? Already taken in?

BSH
When something spoils.... For instance, milk...

NT
Or sauerkraut!

BSH
All sorts of pickles. Much of our food is on the way to being "spoiled" or decaying, we just eat it in a window

NT
Certainly... we've taken up the flow of microbes and organized them for 'our' 'use'. We've made foods 'last longer'.

BSH
Preservatives, like for pickles or sauerkraut rely on bacteria...

NT
Yes..  but I think this 'window' is exactly the grey area between life and life, right?

BSH
What survives, teeming...

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