Cospiration: Breathing, Poetry, and Making Atmosphere
Saturday, February 6, 2021
12-3pm Eastern (US+Canada).
“In order to enter into the dimension of continuous, single and infinite time the only way is to go through its opposite, the perpetuity of the vegetal, the fragmented and ramified time of that which is replaced, is disseminated, buds, dries up or wastes away.”~ Italo Calvino, “The Wooden Temple”, Collections of Sand
“I can’t breathe.” We first rallied around these words in 2014 when Eric Garner was murdered. We rallied around them again this past year with the murder of George Floyd. “I can’t breathe.” These two men, and countless others, were brutalized, forced to become prophetic sigils of our times, a martyrdom that black bodies are always unjustly burdened with. These words have had a profound resonance that has transcended the epidermal boundaries imposed on our sociality by the police order, as is evident to those of us who witnessed the Summer Uprising of 2020. Many of us have the knee of a cop directly on our necks, exterminated quickly and violently. Others of us experience a slow and disorderly asthma, spasmic and chronic pulmonary obstructions. For all of us breathing is labored. Our labor knocks the breath out of us. Those three words have become the battle cry of a generalized rebellion. They are a call to action. They are a call for breath.
In this seminar we’ll read some short selections from two contemporary Italian authors who begin to think the world from the perspective of breath.
For Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, breathing is a kind of mimesis with the cosmos, a way of receiving a rhythm, a “rekindling of the process of semiotisation.” However, neoliberalism has so fractured the social body and created a condition where chaosmosis, a poetic process of transcending the limits of language the world, is rendered impossible. We are stuck in an accelerating vortex of commodification and our breath cannot keep pace with the algorithmic rhythms of the world. He calls for a return to therapeutic practices of inspiration, respiration, cospiration, and even expiration.
Emanuele Coccia asks: what happens when we begin to think philosophy from the perspective of plants? Plants are the makers of breath, the makers of atmosphere. He defines the principle of breath as “that which is in me contains me, that which contains me is within me.” Plants are coterminous with the world. They suggest a metaphysics of mixture. They extend the domain of life. They retroactively produce the conditions of their own existence, and the existence of life more generally. He argues that our philosophies and our politics should take their direction from the vegetal world that makes us possible.
In short, what we are after in this seminar is to transform the practice of anapanasati, observation of the breath, from a personal therapeutic practice towards a collective political one. It is a first step towards cospiration, towards making an atmosphere where we can breathe together, where life can live.
Readings (PDFs will be provided prior to the seminar):
- Breathing: Chaos and Poetry (2019) by Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi (selections)
- The Life of Plants: A Metaphysics of Mixture (2017) by Emanuele Coccia (selections)
- “The Written and the Unwritten World” (1983) by Italo Calvino
Facilitator: Ken Scriboni is down with the dharma, a believer in the promises of communism, an Italian teacher, an ex-food-and-beverage-industry worker, and an apprentice of dialectical materialism.
Time: Saturday, February 6, 12pm-3pm. Online via Zoom.
- $30 – Member Ticket for Incite Seminars Patreon Supports at any level
- $45 – Non-Member (True Cost) Ticket
- $90 – Generous Supporter Ticket
- $15 – Student/Contingent Scholar/Activist Ticket
- Solidarity pay-what-you-can tickets are also available for those who cannot afford any of the above tiers.
Please register by buying a ticket at our Eventbrite page. If you have any questions or concerns, please email email@example.com.