Jaya Sevige. Surfaces of Air. “Sand Island”
What cleaves each muscle of wave
from its bone of ocean?
Hear the snap
of its ligaments.
Listen to the severing of tendons.
Sevige’s poem is a way of making sense of Lauren Berlant’s claim that the making of muscle involves the rupture of tendons:
Another way to think about your metaphor, Michael, is that in order to make a muscle you have to rip your tendons.
From a discussion held at the Banff Centre for the Arts: No One is Sovereign in Love: A Conversation Between Lauren Berlant and Michael Hardt – Heather Davis & Paige Sarlin, an excerpt from that discussion has been posted by NoMorePotlucks. Here is the remark from Michael Hardt to which Berlant was responding:
Spinoza defines love as the increase of our joy, that is, the increase of our power to act and think, with the recognition of an external cause. You can see why Spinoza says self-love is a nonsense term, since it involves no external cause. Love is thus necessarily collective and expansive in the sense that it increases our power and hence our joy. Here’s one way of thinking about the transformative character of love: we always lose ourselves in love, but we lose ourselves in love in the way that has a duration, and is not simply rupture. To use a limited metaphor, if you think about love as muscles, they require a kind of training and increase with use. Love as a social muscle has to involve a kind of askesis, a kind of training in order to increase its power, but this has to be done in cooperation with many.
And hence the notion of “ocean” and the deterioration of the body’s parts … mini-ruptures to effect a sense of duration … wave upon wave
One way of thinking through Berlant’s startling if counterfactual statement is to consider the tendon in its function of attaching muscle to bone. To sever the connection between muscle and bone induces a form of paralysis — it’s experienced as a form of violation. Berlant continues:
The thing I like about love as a concept for the possibility of the social, is that love always means non-sovereignty. Love is always about violating your own attachment to your intentionality, without being anti-intentional. I like that love is greedy. You want incommensurate things and you want them now. And the now part is important.
The question of duration is also important in this regard because there are many places that one holds duration. One holds duration in one’s head, and one holds duration in relation. As a formal relation, love could have continuity, whereas, as an experiential relation it could have discontinuities.
I want this metaphor to work. I turn to wave and ocean. I am in love with the image of bone, muscle and tendon. I intuit their decomposition.
To make a muscle — to focus attention upon it — is to dissect.
And so for day 2126