Blog 16 – 25 February 2022
Conversation with Godofredo
Our work conditions and relation to R13
And decision to spin
It’s Friday, 25th February.
We had our first conversation piece and it was with Godofredo Pereira.
Our project continues to spin.
The alternative title ‘la toupie folle’ or the ‘mad spinning top’ reminds us that the project is not just about content, but also about the devices or mechanisms that we put in place to produce content. ‘The mad spinning top’ as Patrick noted points towards a practice of involuntary spinning and rotation, a surprise element and a rotation. We discussed that I should take over the blog from Patrick now – do the first spin – and we should spin it again when it feels right.
We have some freedom to experiment, which is unusual in academic research. We have proposed to make a pragmatic genealogy of concepts. This means inventing a way to capture the life of concepts beyond the text, exploring its resonances with life, or its social life, as we have called it elsewhere. This requires studying how concepts are appropriated socially and collectively and in turn transformed by the same appropriation. Such project demands paying particular attention to reports, collective discussions, looking at social life and making interviews.
My contribution to the project has been affected by life and work conditions. I recently moved abroad, my family had Covid and I lost a series of research funding applications which would have given me some peace of mind to dedicate to this project and others, and so the last 6 months were particularly difficult.
Patrick and I talked about this and how the different work conditions impact on our project and therefore should - in the spirit of CERFI - be acknowledged and not be hidden from sight. On a parallel thought, it makes me reflect on how the work conditions academics are under now are so different from the CERFI context. For a book project on the CERFI I am working with Godofredo (I will write a separate post about this in the future) I have interviewed a series of CERFI members and in an interview Michel Rostain (who was in charge at some point of the accountancy and the administration of the group) told me that work groups were constituted around specific funded projects and that if there was no money there was no work. It seemed very simple when he said it, unpaid work was not even a question. Indeed, CERFI was created as a research cooperative to allow its members to earn a living, first and foremost, as a group. Today, we spend so much time writing comprehensive funding applications – all of us – that last several months, subject to incredibly competitive panels and yet all of this for a mere application to funding. At its best, these applications turn into veritable collective works in themselves. After all you discuss what topic is worthy or not of study today and why and hence it’s a pity when you receive a no. But indeed, for some of us the work is already in motion. To use our own terms, it has already a social life and thus it continues …
Going back to Recherches 13 -the fact that the conditions of work and the tensions lived in the research process enter so explicitly in the text of R13 is a value. The inclusion in the issue of the dialogues between the researchers allow us to understand with great insight the stakes involved. How deeply involved the ‘researchers’ were affectively with the research process or research group and how affect and research were intertwined.
The conversation with Godofredo was the first time we discussed La Toupie Folle with someone else. Godofredo has been working on CERFI for the last 5 years on a book project looking at CERFI at large and particularly how it experimented with analysis in the programming of oneself and collective equipment. Presenting the project to him was great in the sense in which he knows the material very well and we could exchange ideas and received advise and suggestions, but he also had good insights in terms of the research process and working methods. We plan to transcribe the conversation and publish it under ‘dialogue pieces’ soon.
Summary of the conversation with Godofredo Pereira:
It’s important to make a genealogy of desire / need in Lacan in relation to its use in R13
we should think more about ‘the mad spinning top’ and incorporate elements of rotation in our collective methodology, radicalise it as working method
how do we refer to the work produced on R13, who is the author, CERFI, R13, the genealogy group? – think about this and perhaps write a piece about it. Patrick remarked how he had the same question writing the blog posts.
Godofredo gave us the idea of tracing which concepts used in the research articles of R13 enter into the militant discussions included in chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, or which concepts live in these militant discussions; qua have life outside theory. He gave an example of his work with students when they go to fieldwork.
(Transcription to come of this conversation.)
It seems to me that the dialogue as a working method is also another ‘spinning’ device…
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