10 July 2011

Lecture: Steven Connor, "Intact"

On the 20th May of this year, Steven Connor presented the lecture "Intact" at the Fruitmarket Gallery as part of the John E. Sawyer Seminar Series for IASH (see this post). The text of that talk is now available online in html and pdf formats from his website.

Seguing between the three general themes of touch - "tact" (from touch to manners), "gleam" (texture and light) and "acheiropoietos" (formation without touch) - Connor speculates whimsically on intactness and the particular devaluing nature of touch, edging subtly at the close of his talk into a possible strategy to negotiate (tactically) an ethical economy of touch through a tactful restraint.
"Intactness is touch's self-limit, its recoil from its own appetitive and injurious appropriations. Intactness is the most important form of the tactful tactics whereby we have begun to learn to keep the world immune from us. ... The sense of the intact is not the opposite of touch, but an intimate detachment, or intactibility, which has passed through touching and borrows its shape from it. It is in this sense that human associations and, even beyond this, human associations with the nonhuman world, may be thought to depend upon intactness and the active principle of intactility that sustains it."

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