Academic journal article Liminalities

Deconstructing/Performing the Commute: Proto-Poststructuralist Theory and Individual Motility

Academic journal article Liminalities

Deconstructing/Performing the Commute: Proto-Poststructuralist Theory and Individual Motility

Article excerpt

This performance of individual motility reflects a conscious drifting from and toward social and spatial structures that territorialize everyday life, notably the necessity to earn a living, the desire to identify with the process, and the practice of moving between. This essay and corresponding video is a trajectory, a commute toward leisure and from work in an effort to perform a deconstruction of identity based on leisure and labor. Recognizing the hierarchies prevalent within this distinction, I interrogate the ways in which my own spatial subjectivity has been appropriated as a precarious working academic and practitioner of the everyday. By exploring the practices and routes that inform this identity I hope to move from static conceptions of class identity and toward a fluid subjectivity of individual resistance through a visceral example of working-leisure.

The Commute is a quotidian journey through the San Francisco Bay Area on my way to work. By striving to understand the liminal spaces within identity formations, somewhere between the competing perspectives of work and leisure, home and office, I explore the dialogic production of my own spatial practices. Considering the tensions within these everyday relations, actualized by specific movements through a generally conceived space, I theorize drifting, as movement outside of the boundaries of conditioned urban routes. Noting drifting as a metaphorical and literal transgression of totalizing constructs, both theoretical and spatial, I also use the work of Max Stirner to mark a proto-poststructuralist inception and shed further insight into this premise. In an attempt to turn from my own daily commute as a rational, efficient, and diurnal routine I uncover certain spatial influences that in turn partially configure subjectivity. In doing so, I also move toward a re/conception of quotidian journeying that involves a situational identity formed through contextual gesturing. In this essay I A) discuss a performance gesture The Commute noted as a performance intervention (the italicized text in this essay mirrors video text) while B) situating my identity as a fragmented poststructuralist place of resistance through the work of Stirner and other poststructuralist thinkers and C) present a way of viewing leisure, noted as working-leisure, as political labor and the foundation of a precarious working figure.

Every day, practitioners perform the commonplace tasks of getting to work, of returning home, of getting from here to there. Along the way places are established as important points during the journey, arranged according to a spatial schemata of efficiency, leisure, safety, and desire. Along the way people change, become, practice, cool-down, and prepare. Moving through various spatial and social climates, these practitioners develop a conception of the eventual destination while partly determining who will arrive there.

Gesture

On my way to work one morning I begin walking down 19th Avenue in the Sunset District with a stand-up-paddle surfboard balanced on my head, paddle cradled in hand. Passing a bus stop at Taraval Avenue pedestrians glance as I walk by. Arriving at the edge of the Bay's waters at the Presido, I enter the San Francisco Bay at Fort Point and paddle across, alongside the Golden Gate Bridge, to the Marin Headlands. Immediately standing up on the surfboard I proceed to paddle to the other side. I am rigorously and consciously drifting, paddling continuously to avoid being swept further in towards Alcatraz and the East Bay by the currents of the Pacific Ocean wrapping around Fort Point. Allowing me to be in view of the camera on the bridge and potential support if needed and reach the designated video camera location on the other side. From this, I have partly determined a visual theme by purposefully positioning my body with/in space from a certain visual standpoint and predetermined an ideal destination. In many ways this journey is every much as planned and efficient as the routine I hoped to disrupt bringing the act marked as leisure closer to that of labor. …

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