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All the discussions around “waiting” on the critical geography listserve has led to a “call for papers” interest – On Still and Stillness … What better word to describe our lives? DREAMers are indeed constrained physically and temporally. Songs are also floating around on “waiting” – Do we have any poems from and by DREAMers on this? I haven’t seen any DREAM poetry, come to think of it.
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A topology of stillness haunts the space of flows. Against a backdrop of increasing research in mobilities and the mobilisation of forces of all kinds, in this issue of M/C Journal we seek submissions that attend to and reflect upon stillness. ‘Still’ might be many things: stillness as descriptor of a particular form of action, behaviour or disposition; stillness in an object sense; or still as in an action – to become still. This multiplicity, in turn, prompts many questions. How much effort is required to remain still or keep other bodies, things or ideas still? What might it be to think through ‘still’ not as a coherent and singular being-in-the-world, but something that is more fluid, diverse, fragmented and splintered? As such, what are some of the various configurations, vocabularies and politics of stillness?
Perhaps this could involve stillness as a strategy, such as to ignore or dissipate the actions of others. In the writings of idlers, or in the actions of those who refuse or cannot move into lives of permanent transit, we can see the actions of still. Here, stillness might emerge as a particular capacity in order to achieve something – where stillness becomes a productive tool rather than apprehended as a weak form of action. Alternatively, there is the still implied by delegation that comes about through trust in objects or various dispositions of delegation. Can we think about still as form of Spinozian pact, or a collective suspension? Stillness might be restorative whereby rest or being still assists with the activities of the day. Is mesmeric, dreamy stillness different from radical stillness? What about stillness that is, paradoxically, active – where it is willed, coerced or designed? What about a more passive stillness that is not willed intentionally by the body? What do these different forms of ‘still’ do to the body? What do they demand from the body? What are some of the bodily shapes and comportments that are associated with different forms of being or doing ‘still’? And since they are not mutually discrete, how are different stills related to each other?
Still in the social sciences has often been a limited antithetical relation with life, animation and ineluctability of perpetual motion: it is the arrest of photography, or the limit of a frame. Perhaps in Walter Benjamin’s phrase the ‘archaic stillness’ of text we see the power of stillness moving through time, but on the whole, still has enduring pejorative associations with passivity, the feminine and notions of negation. In this issue we seek to expand, recuperate and explore further stillness beyond these narrow affiliations. What does an appreciation of still do to our understanding of action and practice? As Paul Harrison claims, perhaps stillness is a necessary and ‘intrinsic rather than contingent aspect of activity’. For instance, contemporary networked infrastructures produce subjectivities and ontologies in which the relation of stillness to movement is not binary or negative but fully integrated into the processes, aesthetics and politics of mobility. Stillness in all its forms is more critical in contemporary life, by virtue of and not despite, increased mobility. And yet stillness remains more or less unexplored. In this issue of M/C Journal we ask what, then, is significant about still?
Article deadline: 16 Jan. 2009
Release date: 11 Mar. 2009
Editors: David Bissell (University of Brighton) and Gillian Fuller (University of New South Wales)
Journal website: http://journal.media-culture.org.au/
Please send any enquiries, and complete articles of 3000 words, to firstname.lastname@example.org.