Reading Circle 05, curated by Malou Solfjeld

“A Room of One’s Own”
Readinc circle 05 is curated in two chapters. The first part is dedicated to the question where all the birds go to die as well as the difference between caring for and caring about, to pay a tribute to the professions who are right now taking care of others, putting their own wellbeing at risk. In discussing how to live, about 100 years ago, whether one should have a room of one’s own, or come together, to eat (and read), at a shared dining table in the living room, we learn that exactly this way of togetherness may certainly cause a revolution! Whereas the second one is focusing on “bio-politics and the decision to continue living as silver bats” (counting days with sensors in our throats).” The title is inspired from a poem by Marija Dejanovic.
listen: Kapitel 1 // Kapitel 2
Reading list 05

Kapitel 1 (chapter 1): “learning how to live and become plan(e)t”

Andrea Kopranovic reads 
“Learning how to live”, written by Adolf Loos [download]
In this essay, the architect reflects on the Settlement movement in Vienna in the years 1919–1921, where city dwellers started organizing themselves in shared communities growing their own vegetables to survive through the food shortages following World War I. Dining together at one table in the living room, as it was common in the countryside, is one suggested way and as Loos points out “will most certainly cause a revolution”. I found it contradictory, how the subtitle of the text is “Taste is timeless”, when we today have become aware that one of the symptoms of Covid-19 is the loss of one’s sense of taste. Taste must therefore be temporary, a privilege, we should remember to appreciate while we have it. I can’t wait to be able to cook and dine together with friends again, all around one big table, when we all get out of each our “room of one’s own”.

Karen Vestergaard Andersen reads
“The pandemic is a portal”, written by Arundhati Roy
“It is interesting how the virus that has made the capitalistic machinery forced to halt, is a virus that causes a condition to human beings, where the only thing one can think of is how to get oxygen and avoid the feeling of too much carbon-dioxide in our bodies. I wonder if this is a tiny, tiny insight on a microscopic scale into what it means to be a planet. To be a field full of pesticides or a sea full of plastic, trying to breathe. Maybe we, who are going through covid-19, gets the chance to feel the condition of the lungs of the planet, desperate to breathe, in our own body. This is at least what I thought when I was in the worst phase”. 

Malou Juelskjær reads
“Abyssal intimacies and temporalities of care”, written by Astrid Schrader
The selected paragraph focuses on how to care on a distance, being in touch rather than touching, feeling touched through listening and moved through reading, about the need of learning how to listen and finally she points out how reading for each other can be a way of caring for one another, showing that we also care about even the minor or those we do not yet have a relation to: “Learning to become affected also entails learning that the other, any other, is permanently ‘not yet’. A caring subject is always out-of-sync with itself – always too early or too late to be itself. While we may have to choose our particular struggles, we do not have to decide in advance about whom to care. Compassion and care as affective relations or modes of attention do not take time, they rather make time differently. What we actually care about depends on encounters that could be both entirely random and authoritatively imposed.”

Kapitel 2 (chapter 2): “bio-politics and the decision to continue living as silver bats (counting days with sensors in our throats)

Lena Rosa Händle reads
“Letters from Prison”, written by Rosa Luxemburg
I think it’s incredible how the extinction of birds was already a well known problem more than 100 years ago, and still today we’re witnessing mass extinction of so many animal species without stopping the human actions that causes it. But what also impressed me about this letter, is Luxemburg’s ability to remain positive and dream herself away, counting stars and even comforting her friend Sophie, telling her that everything will be alright. Only two years later Rosa Luxemburg got murdered, and so did Sophie’s husband. In memory of all the strong wo/men who went to prison and were punished for their writing, let’s remember Shahrnush Parsipurs “Women without Men”, we read in German and Danish the very first episode of the podcast, about a woman who becomes a tree. And do you remember that last week, Karen was reading Arundhati Roy’s “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”, where the protagonist was also somehow a tree growing in the graveyard, everyday welcoming the different animals home?

Christian Wodstrup Christiansen reads
“The Open: Man and Animal”, written by Giorgio Agamben
How is it possible for a living being that consists entirely in its relationship with the environment to survive in absolute deprivation of that environment? And what sense does it make to speak of “waiting” without time and without world?” (Quote, chapter 11)
I find it fascinating with the entanglement of these different worlds. Especially the invisible prison created by the spider, and how it spins the fly into its web reminds me of how all the big data, where we discussed how google, zoom, facebook etc. All the big data collectors are entangling us in their spider web through social addictions, and once we’re in, it’s hard to get out again. Our online identities are either stuck or at least kept in their web, which means that all the time, we thought we were spending here all alone in a room of one’s own, we’ve actually been working for these big companies, supplying them with our data. Maybe the data is being safely stored or maybe it will be brought to life again one day without us knowing about it.

Ryts Monet reads 
“Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative?”, written by Mark Fisher and “Saggio senza titolo dedicato a Jim Lowell, written by Charles Bukowski
No matter how long we’re going to “wait” in a state of suspension, we must keep living. And as you know, what makes me get up in the morning, and feel alive is being connected to all the wonderful people around the world reading with me. Today’s text reflects upon the dystopian movie “Children of Men” where public space is abandoned and wild animals roam around the streets. The movie takes place in the year 2027 where humanity faces extinction. In the text Fisher quotes Slavoj Žižek and Fredric Jameson for saying that it’s easier to imagine the end of the world, than the end of capitalism, which I think we’re all feeling these days. Another quote that got stuck in my mind is: “There is no punctual moment of disaster; the world doesn’t end with a bang, it winks out, unravels, gradually falls apart. What caused the catastrophe to occur, who knows; its cause lies long in the past, so absolutely detached from the present as to seem like the caprice of a malign being: a negative miracle.”

Marija Dejanović reads 
“Ethics of Bread and Horses”, written by Marija Dejanović
This piece is the best example of how this podcast has fulfilled its goal of creating circles of reading beyond our own imagination, beyond the walls of das weisse haus, all the way out of Vienna to Zagreb or Greece. We are so thankful, that Marija got in touch and offered to read her beautiful poems with us:
When, on the third day, I realized I was alone,
the fish got scared and gathered into a flock.
They held a meeting, where they decided
to continue living as silver bats.
They will fly towards the light, close their eyes,
and count the days with the sensors in their throats.
I decided to remain alone,
and embrace this new state
as the time of my long recovery.
I do not remember the fourth day.
I remember the fifth day well,
but prefer not to talk about it.
On the sixth day, I decided:
I will be alone.”