I’m really looking forward to teaching a short three-week module of workshops at the Royal College of Art in February and March.
Over three sessions, I’m hoping to introduce students to Deleuze’s central provocation — “we don’t yet know what our bodies can do” — through three mediums and moments within popular culture, imploring them to take a walk like Virginia Woolf in week one, Lee Friedlander in week two, and Burial in week three, wandering from the literary to the visual to the sonic.
I was invited to do this by the wonderful Eleni Ikoniadou and intend to use this opportunity as a testing ground for another book I’m working on, so I won’t say too much more about it here but I may reflect on the experience at a later date.
You can find a very condensed course introduction after the jump…
To be fully a part of the crowd and at the same time completely outside it, removed from it: to be on the edge, to take a walk like Virginia Woolf (never again will I say, ‘I am this, I am that’).
Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
This course will serve as an introduction to the radical potential of our most generic activity: walking. We will ask ourselves how this potential remains untapped today and how a new appreciation of our environments and the ways we move through them may offer us essential insights into the struggles facing art, politics, and the world at large today.
In their 1987 work A Thousand Plateaus, French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari write of the necessity of being more-than-one and of affirming our innate multiplicity within what the late Mark Fisher called the isolating “mandatory individualism” of capitalism. Provocatively, they would associate with counter-position with schizophrenia. Aesthetically, however, they implore their readers “to take a walk like Virginia Woolf…”
For Deleuze and Guattari, Virginia Woolf is not an individual subject. Notably, they do not say “like Clarissa Dalloway” or “like Septimus Smith” — the characters in Woolf’s book Mrs Dalloway, well known for their walkabouts. They say “like Virginia Woolf” because the author walks both characters’ paths, and countless others besides. She disappears into minds that are not her own, and drifts out again, dissolving herself into a collective intensity…
Over three sessions, this course will consider a number of entry points into this central idea and artistic sentiment, considering works of literature, visual art, and sound that explore the ways in which we might escape capitalist individualism and dissolve ourselves into the social, all through that most radical gesture: going for a walk.
Virginia Woolf fab essay “Street Haunting” captures those “shifting angles of vision” of walking’s potentialities in beautiful and provocative fashion.