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Collaboratory #1 – a mini-symposium with Jill H. Casid and Frederic Neyrat exploring performativity and philosophy as dynamically intermeshed sites of serious play – was, by all accounts, a smashing success! Forty people attended throughout the day, spanning disciplines from Art History, English, and Theatre to Chemistry, Engineering, and Public Affairs, as well as non-UW-affiliated participants from Madison, Whitewater, and Milwaukee.  Each workshop performed philosophy and philosophized performativity with a dynamic integration of theory and practice!

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In his workshop “NIETZSCHE MACHINE METAPHOR,” Frederic Neyrat explored “metaphoring,” or the act of making metaphor, as the “continuous flow of imagination,” the “rise of the form,” and the “bridge above the void.” Frederic asked, “How is it possible to maintain a real philosophical creativity without turning metaphysical statements into lethal propositions about being, the world, and meaning?” and suggested, “Philosophy has to become a ‘trans-action,’ both becoming and returning, progressing and regressing, creative and destructive at the same time…Anti-productive, polishing the negative, seeking metaphors able to raise conceptuality without freezing it.”  Weaving together Nietzsche, Godard, Heidegger, Leibniz, Novalis, Ginsberg, Coleridge, Bataille, and Kierkegaard, Frederic discussed his philosophy of metaphor’s forms of representation, conditions of (im)possibility, and leap between theory and image. Following his talk, he showed a recent digital video he made, “Kierkegaard in San Francisco.”  A lively conversation followed, exploring the role of the video in the presentation as philosophical or extra-philosophical as well as topics of transhumanism, ontology of the void, and eternal return.

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In her workshop “Doing the Deformative,” Jill Casid explored “the deformative,” or “negation as an incisive critical gesture.”  Grounding her philosophy of deformative speech acts and negative tactics in Freud, Sedgwick, Berlant, and Edelman, Jill posed the burning question, “How to think and play in the negative?”  She discussed her recent experience taking photographs on Fire Island – a space of gay intimacy and public sex – as a locus to think about exposure, contagion, risk, and locations of desire.  She suggested that the performative is shaky ground, that the performative does us, that legibility emerges through citation of norms, that “to appear” is “to appear as,” and that “being” is constructed through lack.  From this space of restrictions in language and desires exceeding the normative, Jill proposed that the deformative provides a range of tactics for negotiating damage in everyday life. She showed Rashaad Newsome’s “Shade Compositions” and discussed the live performance’s “tactics of throwing shade” via gestures, sounds, and attitudes. Next she asked us to “get into it,” prompting participants to blindly select triggers from card decks featuring sexuality, war, and abjection.  Based upon prompts such as “Where is your never?” we inhabited the space of the deformative by writing and drawing in reaction to, or from the perspective of, our chosen trigger cards.  In three lightning fast rounds, we wrote and drew the negative, the never, the not now, the unspeakable, the no.  Jill invited us to share our responses around the room, revealing a rich, complex array of negative, deformative tactics.

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