A response to the Novel Remainder by Tom McCarthy
There is no natural activity. Activity is learned, memorized, and repeated as necessary. Among the first activities learned by any human child are talking, followed shortly by walking. These acts defy both nature and gravity. That is their very purpose. They are acts of desire. Simple repetitions allied with a will that desires to manifest itself.
Activity begins only after there is first an image, an imagined picture of something desirable. The image begins to take material form through the performance of necessary actions, these actions always highly subject to the matter with which it works, for matter does not readily perform. Desire produces performativity. Only a small, nearly insignificant residual of the world’s material content contains desire, and therefore, the ability to act. The majority of matter is desire-less, immobile, abject. Desire must impose itself on matter, or else never be realized, and is therefore the universal underdog. It does this through performed action, and in doing so, attempts to imbue matter itself with a similar (but inverse) quality: formed inaction. Good form has the ability to appear real, authentic, and true. But this form is hardly sustainable. It appears true only according to the measure of truth provided it by its enactors, and only so long as its form is maintained. This is not an easy task. Matter disintegrates, decomposes, reacts, and retaliates. Cordite.
McCarthy's Story is about the infinite duel that takes place between matter and activity. A struggle that centers around the strange phenomenon experienced by humans called desire. Desire’s product is performed action, which finds its ultimate satisfaction through a strange inversion that produces what we sometimes call art, a formed inaction. Art therefore is a reflection of desire. Desire, however, before ever finding its satisfaction, can undergo an inversion itself, a counterfeit inversion, called addiction. Addiction is what remains when matter gains control of action, and, as an inversion of desire, looks exactly like desire. Another reflection.
This story is also about hierarchy, which has a large impact on the way in which this infinite duel between activity and matter plays itself out in the theatre of human experience. Hierarchy fuels addiction and immobilizes human desire.
This however, is not all so dire as maybe it sounds. This story offers a comedic insight into the way in which activity, matter, desire, addiction, and hierarchy organize themselves, and while any explanation of this complex organization is long and may easily cause you to zone out and lose yourself among the curves and arrows of the charts, tracing in them arcs and pirouettes, entrances and escape routes... This is quite enough, for in order to navigate this complex landscape, one must simply be able to recognize its form, and more so, its entrances and escapes. These are the locations where desire can act, and it all begins with desire.