Unreal Nature

December 14, 2019

In the Midst of Things

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:05 am

… not so much an exterior connection of rigid elements as an interior condition of correspondent movement …

This is from The Life of Lines by Tim Ingold (2015):

… Knots are always in the midst of things, while their ends are on the loose, rooting for other lines to tangle with. Tying and articulation, then, look like two ways of joining that rest on precisely opposite principles. And the carpenter? What principle does he adopt? You might think, at first glance, that he must opt for articulation. After all, whoever heard of knotting beams or planks of wood?

… the necessity of the knot is not a brittle necessity that admits to movement as both its condition and its consequence. That is to say, it is not the necessity of predetermination, whose antonym is chance, but a necessity born out of commitment and attention to materials and to the ways they want to go. Its antonym is negligence.

In this regard, the carpenter’s joint is absolutely not an articulation. For it, as in the knot, materials offer themselves to one another on the inside, yet without losing their identities in the composite whole. In cutting a mortise and tenon, for example, one piece is made ready to receive the other, such that their subsequent interpenetration, hidden away in the interiority of the joint, is an enduring condition.

[line break added] Indeed, [Gottfried] Semper’s argument regarding the joint, in the field of material relations, runs parallel to what Mauss had to say about the gift, in the field of social relations. Just as the hand I offer you in greeting remains fully mine, so the tenon cut in one piece, and that is offered to the mortise cut in the other, remains fully with the first even as it is received into the second. So it is too with the constituent lines of the knot. As with the latter, we might say that the pieces of timber are joined, but not joined up. For the adverb ‘up’ connotes a finality that is belied by the ongoing life of the thing. It is no more joined up than used up. On the contrary, it carries on.

… For the living being, the joint — which, like the rest of the skeleton, was never assembled but has rather grown with the person to whom it belongs — is not so much an exterior connection of rigid elements as an interior condition of correspondent movement, bonded on the inside by means of a linear mesh of ligaments.

My previous post from Ingold’s book is here.

-Julie

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