Time for the Game

I’ve been walking these streets at night,
Just trying to get it right (Need some patience, yeah),
It’s hard to see with so many around,
You know I don’t like being stuck in a crowd (Could use some patience, yeah),
And the streets don’t change but maybe the name,
I ain’t got time for the game.

Guns and Roses’s Patience may not be on par with a Johnny Cash or Kenny Rogers tune for the philosophical aptitude of the everyday, but I think their track captures a sense of the temporality and affective relationship between waiting and participation. Patience is an important affective complex that I had not really thought about until reading Slack and Wise’s Culture + Technology: A Primer. Their book is part of a technological assemblage deployed in practices of pedagogy. Deleuze and Guattari write:

There is no longer a tripartite division between a field of reality (the world) and a field of representation (the book) and a field of subjectivity (the author). Rather, an assemblage establishes connections between certain multiplicities drawn from each of these orders, so that the book has no sequel nor the world as its object nor one or several authors as its subject. In short, we think that one cannot write sufficiently in the name of an outside. The outside has no image , no signification, no subjectivity. The book as an assemblage with the outside, against the book as image of the world. (1987, 23)

Crucially, the ‘outside’ in practices of pedagogy is not the outside of the teacher, but that of the student. Or, rather, it is a double outside, the outside of the student that is inside the outside of the teacher. So, then, how is it possible to write a book as an assemblage, or construct any assemblage for that matter, with the outside that belongs to an other (the reader)?

This is not a small issue. It is a particular example of ‘becoming-together’ as Massumi phrases it, but one where there is some sort of perception that the student comes to where the teacher already is. For me this means there is, in some sense, an act of active waiting on behalf of the teacher. It is a waiting because the teacher is ‘already there’, but also active in the affects (both positive and negative) that guide the student to where the teacher ‘is’. So the teacher may be ‘waiting’ but it is a waiting whereby the teacher travels alongside the student willing her on. Yet, in patience there is also the material ‘letting go’ of waiting that is also an affective ‘holding on’. In short, the conjunctive synthesis of waiting and acting is modulated by the affects (joy of learning, shame of stupidity, interest, boredom and excitement with texts/teachers, and so on) that articulate the pedagogical assemblage with a consistency.

What I realised the other day when trying to knock up some more of my damnable dissertation is that I need to have patience with myself while writing. I ‘know’ my stuff backwards and forwards; having the knowledge is not an issue. There is a holding on that is also a letting go, an urging as I stand at my side that is also a waiting at a place I already am. All these movements are modulated by my current affective attunement, normally articulated through music, coffee, course language and maybe blogging (ok, definitely blogging;).

It is a putting into action of the relation between what Deleuze and Guattari called a ‘map’ and ‘tracing’:

What distinguishes the map from the tracing is that it is entirely oriented toward an experimentation in contact with the real. […] The map is open and connectable in all of its dimensions; it is detachable, reversible, susceptible to constant modification. A map has multiple entryways, as opposed to the tracing, which always comes back to the “same.” A map has to do with performance, whereas the tracing always involves an alleged “competence.” (1987: 12-13)

Of course, in terms of my dissertation, the ‘tracing’ is the partoicular representation of modified-car culture in Australia that I am constructing and working from. The map is something else, between the representations (‘the world’) and me-in-the-world, closer to the place I want to get to when writing. I don’t just mean writing something that will be passed, that has never been my intention.

Deleuze and Guattari say that “the tracing should always be put back on to the map” (orig. ital.: 13). What they mean it is necessary to work with both tracing and map, because the tracing upon the map has “organized, stabilized, neutralized the multiplicities according to the axes of significance and subjectification belong to it” (1987: 13). The stabilities and organizations of ‘the world’ that I have selected as representing modified-car culture in Australia actually enables my dissertation writing practice and is absolutely necessary to actually getting something done. It is the disjunction between the different rhythms and different internal representations of such rhythms of ‘map’ and ‘tracing’ that produces a distribution of conjunctive elements which will hopefully be recognisable as a ‘dissertation’ when I have had enough.

I need to have the patience to let myself learn what I need to write.