The Night Lesson is the first in a series of instructional films that will be produced by Mobile Academy in the near future. They are learning opportunities addressed to nocturnal passers-by: insomniacs and the tireless, the shift worker and the lady taking her dog for a late walk and the nyctophobe. The films will be projected onto natural screens within the cityscape: mute facades, empty surfaces on houses and walls invisible places that are usually overlooked and quickly passed by. The lessons are delivered through headphones. The film parcours is being installed in one district, a particular neighbourhood of the respective city, as a writing on the wall, a palimpsest that appears and disappears in a ghostly rhythm altering the agenda of the night. The first night lesson is devoted to states of hesitation,dithering and wavering, to blurriness, obscurity and uneasiness. The German philosopher and literary scholar Joseph Vogl addresses hesitation as a state of being that implies much more than a lack of movement: hesitation makes the dimension of time and history visible and therefore stimulates a sense of possibility.
Action must be taken steadily. Procrastination, however, “accompanies the imperative of action and accomplishment like a shadow, like a ruinous adversary”. He who procrastinates questions action.
Orest. Franz Kafka. Henriette Cornier. Moosbrugger. Hadschi Ibrahim.
And with an introduction to the league of hesitation:
the lethargic one
On stutterers and stumblers.
On being allergic to action.
Furor & running amok.
Liberation from the delusion inherent in the system.
An apparatus of instances.
On pedantic and fantastical accuracy.
On the artistry and logic of finding ways out.
The end of the system.
On Hesitation, Joseph Vogl 2007:
“Like a submerged theme or anathema, hesitation seems to leave a strangely blurred trail that comes into sharp focus wherever – in the long history of the West – a culture of action and a culture of work are refracted and reflected on. Hesitation accompanies the imperative of action and making things happen like a shadow, like ruinous opponent. One could speak here of a hesitation-function: wherever acts manifest themselves and chains of action are organized, there will always be a marked slackening, a pause, a stopping, an interruption. This also establishes an asymmetrical relationship to time and history. Insofar as action, according to Nietzsche, unfolds within forgetting at the same time as bringing forth history, its shadow, hesitation breaks through this history, stepping outside of its context to evoke a specific memory: a memory of what has not been, of a past that was never present, of acts and actions that will not take place – or not yet.
Let’s turn to a different, active aspect of hesitation that distances itself from any basis in lethargy. This second aspect includes an idiosyncratic accuracy, an idiosyncrasy at odds with the solidity of global situations, the irrevocability of verdicts, the finality of solutions, the certainty of consequences, the duration of conformities, and the weight of results. Plus a well-founded mistrust of any belief in salvation through progress. Procrastination begs to differ. It is the articulation of a complicated mindset which, rather than looking for answers to questions and solutions to problems, assumes that the given answers and solutions contain further questions and that problems remain unsolved. Surrounded by solutions, one does not necessarily find the corresponding problems. Hesistation presupposes complexity: its arithmetic gets carried away with smaller and smaller numbers. It endures linearity and the monotony of the world reluctantly, if at all: “Now the fact is that this world is uncommonly and notoriously manifold, which can be put to the test at any moment if one just takes up a handful of world and looks at it a little more closely.” (Franz Kafka)
Joseph Vogl (Literary scholar and philosopher at the Humboldt- University Berlin) has translate Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault. He has written on Franz Kafka’s (who has spent a couple of his many postponing stays at the Sanatorium von Hartungen in Riva del Garda) concept of ‚minor literature’, about the extensive complex of Goethe’s poetics, about the colour yellow, about the ‚homo oeconomicus’ and lately about hesitation.
Film installation (30 min., 25 min., 15 min., 01 min.)
Concept: Hannah Hurtzig and Karin Harrasser
Film: Chris Kondek
Simultaneous translation: Carola Dinklage
Sound recording: Kassian Troyer (Berlin), Günther Friesinger (Vienna)
Thanks to Barbara Gronau, Philipp Hochleichter, Lucia Iacomella, Andreas Müller, Nico Siepen.
A project of the Mobile Akademie for manifesta7, Trento 2008, curators: Anselm Franke and Hila Peleg, Trento July 19 – November 01, 2008