last thoughts on six gestures

all of these gestures are embodied inscriptions that circulate in a culture where trust, as a value, continues to have some operational meaning. the strangeness of these gestures is itself a symptom, and mark the suspicions that must ground cultural forms based on possessive individual property relations. of course the very historical moment in which this reflection is being produced is one in which precisely trust itself is being liquidated. post 9-11 bears also the burden of being the signifier of an increase in the mechanics of suspicion: totalization and totalitarianism in a new and dangerous proximity.

if a culture embodies values, if a gesture articulates these, then a reading of gestures can give a sense of a culture. the dominant culture works so as to reduce communities to the mere accumulation of isolated individuals. the gestures produced by these individuals mark their homogeneity. community becomes structured around consumption: my affinity in this sense is for those who also like the music of lucinda williams, who watch “law and order”, who wear guess jeans… my gesture is to wear the t-shirt, turn up the music, sit silently and urgently hiss at those who want to talk in the theatre when the film has started. as seinfeld ends its run, my community dissolves and refigures itself around whatever. the fashion logic that commands consumption will tell me. these communities of consumption are so structured as to be vacated of political content. commodified culture expresses and articulates the values of possessive individualist communities. this modality of community is dominant in the world today and it is totalizing. hybridity theories would like to tell us that this is a good thing, or at any rate inevitable.

pangnirtung is one of the markers for the possibility of something else. constructed itself by, and therefore thoroughly implicated in, colonial processes — the fact of settlement itself being one of the most pervasive forces of totalizing power for gathering and hunting peoples — the people of pangnirtung are no strangers to trauma. both the trauma of colonization itself and the trauma of compulsive repetitions of its original violence are too much a fact of daily life in pangnirtung to allow for an unreflective, romanticised utopian fantasy-projection. and yet. but. however. gestures, the habits of everyday bodies doing everyday things in pangnirtung, signal and point toward what are not only remnants but new inventions, new ways of reinscribing social bonds that deserve the name community precisely because they are social bonds: what hold people together rather than what tears them apart. pangnirtung as a contested site, a battleground in the war between a totalizing power and the possibility of detotalizing socious or at least of social relations that, in order to remain apart from the totalizing field, must resist it.

imagine that the word community meant something more than a mere group of people randomly collected (the serial collectivity, to use sartre’s formulation). imagine that the community had to be built every day, rebuilt every day, could not be taken for granted but was in fact the object and direction of daily activity. imagine that your work and play, your giving and taking, played a role in building or unbuilding that socious. perhaps gestures like these would provide one with a fair starting point. perhaps the coming community comes in these forms of expressive embodied writings and embodied deconstructions. imagine.