Exemplary Essays from The Proceedings of ESTAR(SER) 2001–2021 – The Brooklyn Rail - Writing Essays Online

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Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Exemplary Essays from The Proceedings of ESTAR(SER) 2001–2021 – The Brooklyn Rail


D. Graham Burnett, Catherine L. Hansen, and Justin E.H. Smith, ed.
In Search of The Third Chook: Exemplary Essays from The Proceedings of ESTAR(SER)
(Unusual Attractor Press, 2021)

In Search of The Third Chook (edited by D. Graham Burnett, Catherine L. Hansen, and Justin E.H. Smith) is a e-book devoted to those that attend. Going by way of the greater than 750 pages that compose this anthology requires that you just, as a reader, in actual fact achieve this—that’s, attend. First, it requires that you just take note of the thing at hand and, second, that you just stay current whereas participating with it. Maybe, the dedication can also be signaling to the verb’s etymology and constitutes an invite to recollect the Latin attendere, that means “to stretch one’s thoughts towards one thing.” And there’s no higher strategy to stretch one’s thoughts than by way of questions—In Search of the Third Chook has loads of these. The primary couple of which come up simply by taking a look at e-book’s the duvet.

For starters: what/who is that this third chook we’re looking for? The reply, we study, goes again to Pliny’s Pure Historical past, extra particularly to the passage the place we examine Greek grasp draftsman, Zeuxis, and his portray of a boy carrying a bunch of grapes. In response to the story, the grapes have been executed in such a talented approach that a number of birds, mistaking the picture with the world, pecked furiously on the portray, trying to eat the fruit. Zeuxis, as a substitute of admiring his expert depiction, reproached himself for his failure to correctly painting the boy as actual sufficient that the picture would scare the birds away. However the third chook we’re looking for is to not be present in Pliny. It appears to come back from a coda to Pliny’s story, penned by Latin poet Ausonius.

In response to Ausonius—or, higher, in line with students of the Third Chook that cite Ausonius as a foundational supply— Zeuxis got here again to the portray after the chook incident. He devoted himself to perfecting the boy and, when lastly glad with the picture, he set his portray outdoors and hid to look at the birds’ reactions to it. Three birds got here. The primary noticed the boy and flew away in worry, deceived by Zeuxis’s creation. The second ignored the boy and pecked on the grapes, simply as different birds had finished earlier than. The third “stopped earlier than the pill and stood within the sandy courtyard, trying fixedly on the picture, and seemingly misplaced in thought. ‘What a curious chook!’ mumbled Zeuxis, however the chook didn’t transfer to fly.”

In Search takes this third chook as its object of examine—however actually not from an ornithological standpoint. The e-book, the duvet additionally informs, is a set of “Exemplary Essays from The Proceedings of ESTAR(SER),” therefore spurring the next two questions: What’s ? And, what are these Proceedings about?

Partial solutions are to be discovered on the copyright web page. ESTAR(SER) —The Esthetical Society for Transcendental and Utilized Realization (now incorporating the Society of Esthetic Realizers)—is a world analysis collective involved with the historical past of consideration and attentional practices, specifically these thought of “sustained.” The Proceedings, in flip, are the venue for the publication and distribution of the outcomes of ESTAR(SER)’s scholarly pursuit, usually within the type of strong, completely researched, and cogently written educational essays.

The introduction to the amount notes that, for years, the Society’s central concern has been the so-called “Avis Tertia,” or “Order of the Third Chook.” This reality, naturally, prompts the following query: what is that this “Order of the Third Chook” that so potently captures the eye of respected students and insightful researchers?

Taking its identify from Zeuxis’s “curious chook,” the enigmatic and sometimes obscure Order is, we study whereas studying In Search, a unfastened group of people that apply consideration in line with a protocol—usually composed of 4 distinct phases: encounter, attending, negation, and realization. An eminently utilized group, the Order’s apply is characterised by a really intentional bracketing of judgment, actively avoiding that means and experience, and suspending interpretation. This evanescent group, also referred to as Avis Tertia, constitutes for some, rightfully so, an enchanting object of inquiry—and it’s exactly this fascination that characterizes the work of ESTAR(SER).

The reader of In Search encounters an exemplary pattern of ESTAR(SER)’s scholarly pursuit of the Order and its practices. The anthology is split into six sections, that includes three essays every (apart from Part VI, “Stays,” that features just one textual content). The essays on Part I (“Preliminaries”) function an introduction to each The Order and the work of ESTAR(SER)—a triad of texts that handle their historical past, their connection to different disciplines, and the saliency of the W-Cache, the archive that grounds ESTAR(SER)’s enterprise and whose entry is (alas!) restricted to dues-paying members. Part II (“Consideration and its Objects”) is worried with the issues that Birds take a look at and the totally different sorts of objects which have merited the Order’s consideration. Part III explores a phenomenon that’s everlasting elsewhere and, consequently, requires demise, however that solely happens in a brief style when engaged in birdish exercise: metempsychosis, or the movement of a topic to an object. Part IV, underneath the title “Rogues and Renegades,” is devoted to circumstances that illustrate the Order’s tendency to schism and boundary-crossing, seen, as an illustration, in its need to detach from (and even despise) erudition. Part V, the final one that includes three essays, is devoted to birdish gatherings and explores the methods wherein need constructions the relationships between birds themselves and the objects of their consideration. Lastly, Part VI, “Stays,” works with the residue of the W-Cache, as if presenting materials for brand new work and reminding us that there’s some kind of entrancement out there for many who really attend.

Which brings me to a different query, one which accompanies your entire studying of In Search and, maybe extra importantly, one that’s on the core of the thoughts stretching that attending necessitates: is that this all true? Is the Order actual? Does it matter?

As a reader attending In Search, I usually felt like I used to be witnessing a volée—an energetic cohort of members of the Order that coalesce to concentrate. There’s something fascinating and delightful concerning the volée that’s laborious to pin down. A part of it has to do with the communal but particular person energy of attentiveness that means trying on the world to come back again to the self after which return to others for sense-making (some have seen right here a really Kantian affect within the Order)—birds observe in teams, then retreat, and later come again collectively within the “Colloquy,” the place they attempt to rebuild their expertise, participating in “a joint narrative reconstruction of the states of thoughts and senses throughout the span of their energetic consideration.”

Given the secrecy of the Order, catching a glimpse of a volée (for all of us non-birds) is kind of a peculiar expertise: you end up taking note of those that are paying consideration (it issues little whether or not or not you recognize they’re members of the Order) and, whereas doing it, you wish to perceive, partake, see what they’re seeing, see how they’re seeing. You wish to be part of them, to be a part of their group and also you understand that lack of consideration (to the world, to others) erodes being collectively.

This was partly my impression when studying In Search. When approaching these extremely erudite essays, usually written collaboratively, one can not assist however really feel a bit overwhelmed. “The Literature of Amphibious Ecstasis within the Americas, 1948–1968” (Half III, Essay 7) is emblematic of this impact:

The “short-lived” Kansas-based Inexperienced Overview […] would appear to belong definitively and eternally to the capacious crypt of unborn literary quarterlies. And but, a hitherto unknown physique of correspondence and manuscripts, just lately surfaced within the “W-Cache,” shed new gentle on each the peri-history and undead afterlife of this uncommon non-publication. In what follows, we’ll argue that correctly interpreted, these paperwork—referred to as the Greer Papers—provide compelling proof of Pan-American migrations throughout the Order.…

As readers, our belief within the veracity of the analysis is summoned from the primary traces of just about each essay—if solely by the sheer impossibility of confirming the obscure findings that floor the arguments. The essays mimic a extra conventional scholarly argumentative arch that guarantees entry to some kind of information. Readers aware of educational prose will establish the resonances: an surprising, obscure discovery associated to an much more opaque object of examine that involves contradict generally held beliefs; the acknowledgment that the discovering sheds gentle on a number of instructions; the express articulation of the argument that follows; and so forth. A few traces later, the authors of the essay avow to “go additional,” to “grant unprecedented entry right into a veritable black gap of wrapping density on the heart of the Birdish cosmos.” And, to shut the introduction and take the educational promise house, earlier than really growing it, the reader will get a style of what’s to come back—a sign of the essay’s authentic contribution to the sphere:

It is going to be the competition of the current article that the Greer Papers secrete a set of jewel-like allegoric depicting this most important Birdish dynamic [metempsychosis]. The sharp and exhilarating strike of a wonderfully pitched gong will mark our conclusion: Julio Coratázar’s nice story of amphibious transport, “Axolotl” (1956), ought to, we suggest, be learn as a Third Chook conte-à-clef.

The cycle of educational inquiry is finalized: the data turns into out there, it’s studied by erudite minds, and used to reinterpret an object of examine with a view to enlarge or appropriate former approaches to it.

Such educational cadence informs everything of In Search of the Third Chook. The texts really feel, look, and skim very scholarly—they nail the jargon, the footnotes, the rhetoric—but their strangeness prevents you from totally “getting it.” You actually wish to, however you don’t. So you retain studying. And that’s, exactly, its energy. In Part V of the e-book, we study that an vital attribute of the volée, and of the Order normally, is its reliance on need. Not essentially sexual need however eros—the impulse that pulls us in the direction of others. And a basic attribute of need is thriller. There’s something concerning the object of need that, like birds, recedes from view, that is still considerably opaque. For, after all, if the specified entity was straightforward to know and determine, it will now not be fascinating.

The Order stays opaque for ESTAR(SER), and each The Order and ESTAR(SER) stay opaque for the common reader of their proceedings (you and I). It’s exactly this opaqueness and uncertainty that ensures the stretching of the thoughts so central to those that attend. And if this weren’t sufficient, the texts that compose In Search actively refuse closure, readability—continually denying our wishes for fact and completion, and actively defying verifiability. Many of the essays have an “open ending,” as if warning the reader that their seek for solutions solely prompted extra questions (identical to occurs in actual life). As a part of the closing traces of most of the essays within the anthology, we learn: “that is the subject of a unique essay” (“‘Birds’ as a Historic Drawback”); “extra analysis is required,” (“The Eads Sublation”); “we have now solely reached aporetic or, at finest, tentative conclusions,” (“The Vorkuta Antinomy”); “additional analysis is so as” “Met-Him-Pike-Hoses”); “The bigger complexity of […] requires, I worry, a unique examine” (“The Vater Legacy”); and so forth.; and so forth.…

So, what does one do as a non-bird, non-ESTAR(SER)ian reader? How does one method this very unusual and overwhelming e-book? My suggestion can be to do as birds do: to concentrate to this odd object (a murals, maybe?) however bracket judgment, resist interpretation, and refuse remoted sense-making.

On the copyright web page, we learn an uncommon disclaimer that alerts us to a number of destructive peer opinions of In Search that, “sadly,” arrived too late to halt the e-book’s manufacturing. The opinions (out there here) severely condemn the mission, revile it adamantly, judging it, refusing to undertake a birdish angle. After studying them with doubt, part of me is left with the impression that, if these opinions have been actual, “they simply didn’t get it.” Nevertheless, in all honesty, neither did I. Not totally, for positive. And, as I stated, I believe that that is exactly the purpose.

In Search could also be a recreation, however it’s undoubtedly a severe one. As such, it participates in a bigger custom of practices that use fiction as a software to convey considerate epistemological queries, whereas resisting a binary understanding that might oppose fiction to reality, or to fact. Up to date manifestations of this custom abound—the performances of The Yes Men, the International Necronautical Society, or Augusto Boal’s strategy of Invisible Theater shortly come to thoughts, in addition to a plethora of “unruly experiments with the unfaithful” that artwork historian Carrie Lambert-Beatty has termed parafictional: a tribute to Safiye Behar, the Atlas Group, or Aliza Shvarts’s items on being labeled a fiction.

In Search is in dialogue with these experiments—it’s a recreation that more often than not we watch others play (a recreation that performs with certainties, with scholarly data, with postmodernist dread, with the fantasy of constructing the world totally intelligible…). It is usually, after all, a touch upon our attention-less contemporaneity, on the phantasm of getting the world accessible in time, area, and data; of getting countless solutions to all our questions, only a click on away.

By returning us to an area of unanswered questions and sustained contemplation, In Search reminds us that uncertainty is a part of the sport of being alive and that forgetting this actual fact solely makes for stiff minds—minds which are incapable of stretching, of really attending. Maybe the largest accomplishment of the anthology will not be essentially the data it gives however the context it creates. A context that alters our practices of studying, that are, after all, practices of understanding, and, consequently, of doing.



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