Gardens without Gardeners? Gardeners without Gardens?
Dr Oren Ben-Dor, Southampton
Professor Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Westminster, London
We take up the conference theme in earnest, looking at gardens as the place of questioning. We invite you to walk through, dwell in, or simply look at gardens and to share your path.
Gardens are yearned for and yet, the place in which this yearning emerges remains hidden from those who create and maintain gardens. In holding their secrets, in pointing to their secret which is in the garden, gardens continue to unfold as boundaries between the history(ies) within which they emerged and a more ancient remembrance; between the rhythms, songs, cultivations, memory, spaces of the human world, and that of the earth or nature that gently refuses to be gardened, a refusal that precisely enhances the gardenness of the garden as the mindfulness of its creators. A form of boundary, gardens are places where the due of justice dwells, pointing at the question: is there something always earlier than the garden, that remains other than mere representation, punctuation, allocation and indeed perception? Or is the here of the garden all there is to it, in its fullness of presence, without history and origin but just as a lush, viscous now?
Do gardens point to the precariousness and mystery of their beginning or do they let go of that by throwing themselves in an orgiastic blooming? Every garden is grounded yet also hanging. In gardens, humans desire to preserve something that can not be disempowered by their making and crafting. Good gardening lets the garden be, bearing witness to sublime custodianship rather than merely steering and design. Gardens, then, sustain the possibility of being on the way to be reclaimed, presencing something that cannot be designed away. So we ask: what is that which is taken refuge from in the garden? What can be unlearnt and what opens up? What is left behind and what is being returned? Is there home in the garden? Gardens demand care, and this latter is located between the crafted sayings of the jurisdictional, institutional adversarial spaces, and the “open”, self-concealing or self-pulsating saying of earth.
We invite you to walk into the garden, to encounter other bodies, organic or inorganic, and explore their connection with the surrounding space and other bodies. To imagine a just garden as well as an unjust garden. To succumb to your instincts and close it up behind safe walls or demolish the walls and open it up to whatever outside you might be imagining. To construct laws that trammel the garden, as well as laws that connect it to other gardens. To think of ethics of “gardening”, of creation and creativity but also that of letting, of wilderness and order, of the normativity of the earth and that of the imagination.
So, this stream proposes a twist: we want you to imagine gardens without gardeners – or should we imagine gardeners without a garden? We invite you to imagine moving beyond phenomenology, beyond anthropocentrism, beyond the sacrosanct human nature, indeed beyond humanism, and to tell us what you find there, and is it you who find or was there something that called you earlier than ‘you’? is it being? Is it wild law? Might it be a web of connections without centre becoming without being? Can gardens be places where nothing is? Void? Emptiness – a place of genuine beginning without re-turn? What would it be like to encounter this place? We invite you to let the garden dwell. Can a garden – however imagined – be without a gardener? Can the law be without an all-thermalizing humanism? And if so, what does it look like and indeed who is the looker? Is there a place that we can be lost without having already found our innermost owness in it?
We invite you to envisage ways of doing all this: texts of course, but also projects, images, posters, choreographies, performances, experiments.
Gardens to explore could include:
– earth jurisprudence and wild law
– the history of gardens, the gardens of history.
– garden memories and languages
– Enclosure, openness, boundary.
– Gardens as architecture.
– ecology beyond anthropocentrism and ecocentrism
– critical environmental law
– animal law
– bodies, space, laws
– microgeographies and normative order
– beginning, thinking, speaking.
– being in the garden and being of the garden
Please send your abstracts to the stream organisers
Laurent de Sutter (Free University of Brussels) – ‘Magic of Law: Random Remarks on William Burroughs’ Closet Jurisprudence’
Thom Robinson (University of Sheffield) – ‘Self-Control: Burroughs’ Repression of Nostalgia in his 1950s Texts’
Lucy Finchett-Maddock (University of Exeter) – ‘Archiving Burroughs: Interzone, Law, Self-Medication’
1 pm -1.30 pm – Naked Lunch
1.30 pm – 3 pm
Charlie Blake (Executive Editor, ‘Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities’; founder member, STD, ‘Semiological Terrorists of Desire’) – ‘Exterminate all Life!: The Algebra of Revolutionary Desire and the Avolutionary Death Machine in William Burroughs’
Oscar Guardiola-Rivera (Birkbeck College, University of London) – Title to be Confirmed
Nathan Moore (Birkbeck College, University of London) – ‘The Nomos of the Page: Writing Degree Almost Zero’
3 pm – 3.15 pm – Coffee
3.15 pm – 3.30 pm – Liz Adams & James Wilkes Poetry Recital:
‘White Subway re-imagined through the Cut-up Technique’
Liz Adams is a poet and writer. She has worked collaboratively with musicians and dancers, and is seeking to expand her poetic practice to incorporate visual art. She is currently at work on a novel mapping London as a political tapestry through the lives of its characters. Her website is: lizadams.net.
James Wilkes writes poems and scripts and has worked with scientists, artists and musicians investigating topics such as brain imaging, camouflage, radio and woodland. His website www.renscombepress.co.uk contains links to recent publications and work. He is currently studying for a PhD at the London Consortium, and is poet-in-residence at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL.
3.30 pm – 4 pm – Summary & Discussion
25 April 2012, 11 am – 4 pm
Room 624, School of Law, Birkbeck College, London
William S Burroughs (1914-1997), is one of the most influential, and yet much maligned writers of the Twentieth Century. He has been described by critical legal theorist Nathan Moore as, “… one of the most fundamental diagnosticians of the 20th century [in] the role of power and beyond.” As one of the central contributors of the Beat Generation, Burroughs’ work traverses both life and fiction: his life being one of nihilism, his characters repeating the suppurating atmosphere. His infamous ‘Naked Lunch’, known for kick-starting his use of the ‘cut-up technique’, is an exemplifier for his unique, demonic and lasting presence within not just literary fiction, but poetry, art, and sound. He dissembles, fragments, disobeying literature’s prescriptive control. The autobiographical nature of his work allows for an almost corporeal account of his characters, through the lived void of Burroughs’ ongoing experience and emotion (or lack thereof), his addictive underworld. It is for this reason, as one fundamental user and abuser of law, (and one simultaneously not receiving the established literary acclaim that he is due, as a result of the controversy of his life and works), that Burroughs has been chosen for discussion in a workshop of papers in relation to law.
How does law relate to Burroughs’ writing style, his experiences in life, and the way law is evaded, understood and utilised in symbiosis? What does Burroughs, as a gay man in intolerant times, speak to in relation to law and gender? Is Burroughs a revolutionary or a control freak? Through Burroughs’ ongoing recollection of his infamous opiate addiction, he gives us the ‘interzone’, the world between human will and its negation: “… The point at which, in the absence of the drug, speech at all becomes possible, but correlatively, the point at which the drive toward resumed addiction is at its strongest.” What is this movement in between two ways of being, and what does it say about law?
Burroughs’ work will be discussed through the themes of ‘Nova Law’, ‘Interzone’ and ‘Control’, through an exciting array of papers from: Nathan Moore (Birkbeck College, University of London), Oscar Guardiola-Rivera (Birkbeck College, University of London), Laurent de Sutter (Free University of Brussels), Charlie Blake (Executive Editor, ‘Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities’; founder member, STD, ‘Semiological Terrorists of Desire’), Thom Robinson (University of Sheffield) and Lucy Finchett-Maddock (University of Exeter). To finish, there will also be a recital of Burroughs’ work by poets Liz Adams and Jamie Wilkes, London Consortium.
Naked Lunch will be provided.