Keyhole, Threshold, Breach ?️

Han’s Hyperculture ends with

The human of the future will most likely not be crossing thresholds, his face contorted in pain. The human of the future will be a tourist, smiling serenely. Should we not welcome that human as homo liber? Or should we rather, following Heidegger or Handke, remain a homo dolores, petrified into a threshold? In his Phantasien der Wiederholung, Handke writes:

When you feel the pain of thresholds, then you are not a tourist; the crossing is possible.

Hyperculture, p. 83

Oh, there in the how-long-from-now human future, these threshold-crossers, their dispositions, their expressions. Are they in pain? Are they joyful? Are they free? Are they sorrowful? Are we them, and they us? Hyperculture, published in German in 2005, then in English in 2022, hints at cultural accelerationism, and I truly have not resolved how I feel about that. Like, it’s going this way, so let us cut out the lollygagging. I admire, and also sympathize with, the sorrowful threshold-crosser more than with the tourist, perhaps because I have known them, or have believed sites harbor something not available in the same ways with the hyper-/siteless. Something elemental.

I suspect I’m not the only one.

And yet. The serenely smiling tourist, being-in-the-whizzing-flatlands-or-whatever, maybe is more carefree-casual than free, per se, liber leaving room for nuances, and maybe the smile, then, is from the prevailing winds at sea combined with flacid risorious muscles. “It looked like a smile.” And, too, smiles have been known from time to time to shield sorrows. I don’t know. I am not looking for trouble. But sitting with the puzzle, Han’s questions, and enjoying the time they take to think through—this puzzlement is its own kind of tourism, I suppose.

With this point about the sorrow known by threshold crossers, Mieville’s The City and Eht Ytic (2009) comes to mind, and especially the contingencies and strangely doubled boundaries of cross-hatched zones (notably not contact zones, despite their co-occupancy and shared coordinates) and the breach, who are able to exist across the dimensions. With cross-hatching and the breach, I am more or less satisfied with these models for a both-and response to Han’s questions: yes, to the tourist smiling serenely, but yes, also, to the sorrowful capacity of the human who still carries a key to a home that is no longer, or whose shoes carry imprints of pebbles underfoot whenever ago. The both-and, liberdolores, the breach, in an indefinitely cross-hatched and continuously redistricted world makes for a more interesting human, and a more openly possible future.

The City & ytiC ehT

Late last week I finished China Mieville’s latest,
The City &
ytiC ehT
. TC & CT is a detective story,
but
it’s not just any detective story (what
Mieville calls
a "police procedural"
). In terms of theoretical richness, this one holds
even with Perdido Street Station and The Scar. Mieville creates a
pair of cities fraught with boundary in.discretions. Citizens from Beszel and Ul
Qoma pass by each other every day, but as they do so they must unsee people and
things from the other city. Even where the borders become confusing
overlaps, in cross-hatched zones likely to draw heavy traffic from autos and
pedestrians, unseeing remains a necessary tactic (sort of the opposite of
panoptic conditioning; unseeing here as deliberate, uneasy negligence).
Political, jurisdictional consequences are of course tied to this cities-wide
condition. Within this intricate third-spacious scene, Mieville works up a novel
that jets along with surprising acceleration: mystery elements, hazy figures,
and ethereal domains, also detective work that relies on the knowledge available
even while deliberately unseeing and smudge-remembering what is present
(that is, a kind of audiovisually unconfirmed felt sense).

I’d say more, but I already returned the copy to
Collin, who both recommended it and lent
it to me, and since it was a borrowed copy, no margin notes, no dog-eared pages.
But this entry is to say, pick it up. It’s a lively, quick read, very much the
sort of thing you still have time for even if you feel summer fading to fall.