A school alit on a moment. It felt electric, erotic, uncomfortable, necessary. Because they noticed, the moment expanded, scaffolded by a low-rent materiality. They entered this temporal suspension by climbing narrow and steep stairways to the upper floors of neglected Edwardian storefronts in a decrepit downtown neighbourhood. They trundled book boxes, or helped the older ones. But beyond the architectural scaffold and the dusty scent of the hallways the school itself was immaterial, and infinitely mobile, like many of its precedents: single Black Mountain lectures sprawling magnificently across days; beerfuelled living-room readings attended by loggers, architects, camp cooks, lefty lawyers and students; the communal meeting halls of 1871 Paris in the month of March, where radical shoemakers, seamstresses and preschool teachers lectured on citizenship; the experimental chemistry clubs of 17th-century revolutionary London; the romantic meteorologists of Cambridgeshire; Fourier’s passionate associations and phalansteries; the peripatetic conversants of the Epicurean garden, where women and men shared the lively and living pursuit of philosophy, in contradiction to the discourses of the state.
In a sense, time was their medium. They wanted glamorous seminars to fling open and demolish all expectations regarding the temporal regulation. They wanted the spontaneous eruption of intense intellectual newness. Time spontaneously translated to new time. Some of them wanted to experience historicity as radically simultaneous: the medieval wandering poets would be among their most urgent contemporaries, or the epistolary writers of the long 18th century, or the gentlemen naturalists of earlyromantic England meandering up Adanac Street, or the baroque philosophers tracing their ellipses in the forests of UBC. To help the collapse of time as metrics, and encourage its transformation into a luxuriously distributed lubricant, an enticingly shimmering and moving fabric, a shared yet contested decor, the collective welcomed end-narratives: the end of femininity, the end of nature, the end of work. They believed that each ending was necessarily the site of a transformation. They were good at surviving.
They said that the task of each minute was to differentiate between the mind’s thought and the state’s thought. They said the state’s thought is an inert placebo for an actual relationship with form. Capital gives everything its emptied double—form can’t live there so relationships won’t change. Thus there are two thoughts. One took place in low-budget shadow. This
They believed that each ending was necessarily the site of a transformation. They were good at surviving.
is a theory I wish to open. In the current era of capital, it could be that the mind’s thought must live in hiding, in inconspicuous parallel to the official institutionalizations. Their shabby, difficultly accessible rooms were spiritual havens, as in the Epicurean mandate: live in hiding. Because they could recognize, originate and exchange the mind’s thought, time in the collective’s spaces and texts was the highly diversified energy of combined innovation and contemplation. Time was not the metrics of the reproduction of capital. They weren’t strivers. They scorned tenure. They had arrived at this obscure place by exercising their shared piety for horizontal discursive extremes in others. Lovingly they addressed the future. ■