Moments of Tension, Moments of Completion

From Tim Ingold’s Lines: A Brief History:

Unlike wayfaring or seafaring, transport is destination-oriented. It is not so much a development along a way of life as a carrying across, from location to location, of people and goods in such a way as to leave their basic natures unaffected. Even the wayfarer, of course, goes from place to place, as does the mariner from harbour to harbour. He must periodically pause to rest, and may even return repeatedly to the same abode or haven to do so. Each pause, however, is a moment of tension that—like holding one’s breath—becomes ever more intense and less sustainable the longer it lasts. Indeed the wayfarer or seafarer has no final destination, for wherever he is, and so long as life goes on, there is somewhere further he can go. For the transported traveller and his baggage, by contrast, every destination is a terminus, every port a point of re-entry into a world from which he has been temporarily exiled whilst in transit. The point marks a moment not of tension but of completion. (77)

I will attempt a more fully developed review of the book later. I picked Lines up this summer curious about his explanation of the trace, of tracing. Ingold discusses traces and threads in the second chapter. But in the passage above from the third chapter, certain qualities of the trace (vs. the thread) bleed over into a contrast he draws between wayfaring and transport.

There are moments in this third chapter that click with so many different things, perhaps because the idea of lines and line segments is ubiquitous (methods, course sequences, careers, travel). Yet Ingold’s division comes off almost too sharply, holding wayfaring and transport too strictly apart, which leaves me wondering whether the taxonomy is adequate, whether there are blended states in which these two are not only compatible but mutually sustaining.

Where is he? Where is he? Where is he?

Concerned with drift-states and their ends, Ramin Bahrani’s short movie Plastic Bag traces one tote’s voyage along currents, circuits, and snags as it makes its way home to the Trash Vortex, the whirling gyre of rubbish accumulating in the Pacific, which I was reminded of by Timothy Morton’s blog yesterday. Drift logics are not monolithic, then. “Adrift” is not a baggy, inclusive state, no generic circum-stance. Consider precious< - >toxic differences between drifting glass (e.g., messages in a bottle), driftwood, and drift plastics. The film’s synthetic protagonist (plastagonist?) reminds us, when hitched eternally on the reef, about a condition, for better or worse, of drift logics: they stick-unstick and thus sever (or otherwise obfuscate) and also momentarily verify trace-correlations between consequences and preconditions. And this must pose a methodological quandary for tracing the “adrift.”