Monday, November 17, 2008


One of my favourite authors in ANT, Annemarie Mol, has philosophized the logic of care vs the logic of choice. In on from my lamenting the loss of empathy, her writing supports the need for a focus on care and kindness. "over the years many books and articles have shown that all too often in healthcare practices there is just not enough kindness to go round. At the same time, 'kind' professionals find it difficult not to suffer too much along with their patients." She cites Arthur Frank in a plea for generosity on the part of professionals and patients. In an ANT analysis I am taking this further, the generosity also comes to academic committees deciding what is/isnt in course.
In other writing of hers, this network effect is also considered; where in the flow of a networked relationship does subjectivity start and stop? In her playful writing "I eat an apple. On theorizing subjectivities" she cites Donna Haraway with regard to humans and their relating with others, and then extends this to consider in the eating of an apple, that the apple becomes in part, her and she, the apple. The boundaries shift and even when invisible, the apple is still being metabolised, still present but reshaped.

"In the orchard, the apples. The trees carefully grafted. The colours and textures and tastes and cellar life attended to and the best fruit selected. And again. Without the work of ever so many generations of cultivators my apple would not have been. The cultivators, meanwhile, owed their lives to their apples. When and where in all these flows does subjectivity emerge? Where to stop the flow and point at it?"

In considering empathy, where in the flow do I point and say, here it occurs? Here there is responsibility. Here change can happen.
As Annemarie Mol continues she points to practices that appear incompatible, she is writing, typing, talking, not eating. The performances required would clash yet they do occur simultaneously . This reminds me of her writing in the body multiple, when practice is attended to, reality multiplies.
So I'm writing, and am still 'doing empathy'.
But it is a lie. Of course I am not eating an apple, not right now. I write. I am sitting behind a computer and my hands, rather than transporting fruit to my mouth, are moving over the qwerty letters of my keyboard. Writing and eating do not go easily together. With talking it is even worse. The practices implied in doing theory and the practices of eating clash. A body can only do so many things at the same time. But how many and which? In some place that without technical aids nobody can see, hear or smell, the apple that I had with my lunch is right now being digested.12 Is that still eating?

And like Annemarie Mol and Donna Haraway, I position myself in relationship and in relationships that span geographies as well as times. I choose to be visible in my writing and consider subjectivity.

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