Argos aims to circulate writing about topical matters of public and political import that is local, critical and accessible. We believe critical intellectual conversation should be heard here in Aotearoa-New Zealand, not simply published for credit in international fora for more limited and specialised audiences. Of particular interest to us is writing that grounds its concern with the public or political good of place-making in theory or philosophy.

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U of I: the university as I experience you

A. W. & Pritika Lal

alex1

‘and I experience you as experiencing yourself as experienced by me’.

– R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967), p.16.

That IS intense political graffiti – jaunty dick and balls and all. I think when you’re little, encountering messages where you don’t expect them can be really exciting (still is, but, you know, different).1 As a very little kid, I would be bundled into the back of the car when mum drove into town to pick my dad up from work. I think I was just out of booster seat mode but still in ‘fuck if we are going in the car I need to take this blanket and my favourite dog’ mode.2 The lasso goes around and around and around until the car passes and it is beyond view. I’m sure I saw a similar cowboy in town, perhaps on K Road when driving through with my folks. I just assumed that Las Vegas was the city and that whatever I saw on TV took place here. There were no boundaries for countries, no distance or time between us.
Everything was just always happening here and now.3

I immediately thought of just throwing in a kind of circular narrative of footnotes: ones that started out conventionally academic in their format and content, but then disintegrate from there into more personal thoughts and abstractions,4 even visuals/symbols beyond language as such – why can’t jaunty dick and balls be a footnote?

alex2

You’d never know it to look at it, that anything was wrong. Unless you happened to see one of the discarded pigs heads on the boat ramp.

Or the FUCK YOU FUCK FACE carved into the wooden tunnel of the jungle gym.

FUCK YOU
(jaunty dick and balls)
FUCK FACE

The ability to picture the route in his mind, navigating each segment of the journey is very weird. Like he has a block. Losing the connector paths from one building to another after decades out of Berlin, the translator left it out because she thought it was boring to go on and on about buildings and streets, later on someone else was all like ‘this is a forgotten masterpiece of retrospective flânerie’. I mean, people have written about all that since long before Baudelaire was drawing jaunty dicks and balls, surely.5 The sometimes jarring overlaps of academic language and actual life as lived / the geography were all feeling pretty relevant but it was nice to feel like thoughts could be what walking was for.

alex3

Like you said, the references to an end of an era / the sometimes jarring overlaps of academic language and actual life as lived / the geography6 were all feeling pretty relevant. When i meet someone like you and there are these shared memories from different times and places or similar types of feeling,7 I feel like a room has opened up in my mind. A room8 between us with an adjoining room. When i go in that room, you are there.9 Or maybe you’re out but you left your umbrella behind. There is crossover in our experiences, and gaps where they don’t meet too.10 I like these gaps.

You probably weren’t even born then. Or maybe just or maybe you saw the jaunty dick and balls before I did. Imagine that etched into the mind of a new baby. Just more information that does not have meaning until so many more experiences have been digested. History is so much about sharing.11 The inability to picture the route. A block. Losing the connector paths from one building to another after decades out of the city. (The translator left it out because she thought it was boring to go on and on about buildings and streets. Later on someone else was all like ‘this is a forgotten masterpiece of retrospective flânerie’.)

alex4

You and I pass in and out of the space at our leisure. There were no boundaries for countries, no distance or time between us. Everything was just always happening here and now.12 All these many gathered seemingly unimportant fragments constructed such a strong set of beliefs. I still find empty offices after hours exciting sites of potential, which they are.

alex6