Introduction to ‘Quiet Conversations: a celebration’.

Elusive, mercurial, the unconscious is not a place, not a state, but a dark ironic brother, an echoing sister, reminding.

James Hillman On Paranoia

During the pandemic I have been working on a project called “Quiet Conversations: a celebration’. The conversations it imagines are, with some important exceptions, between people who have never met and take place in the particular whispering-gallery that makes up the cultural underpinning of any individual. However just as we are physiologically co-constituted with and by other beings, for example the bacteria, archaea and eukarya of our gut ecology which link us to innumerable external ecologies, so we are co-constituted by internalising and digesting the thoughts and feelings of innumerable others. This process of mutual exchange between the traces of multiple lives informs, colours, and nourishes the emotional and mental life that helps constitute us as particular feeling and thinking beings. 

This work, which I’ll add to until all seventeen images are up, celebrates something of the process by which we each build a degree of psychosocial connectivity and sustainability. 

Some of the conversations imagined in these images relate to personal friends, some to people I have been fortunate enough to meet, others to those whose work is been important to me. Taken together they map a network of influence and value that, while personal at one level, is illustrative of a common process at another. Each image is accompanied by a text that identifies the conversants and, where appropriate, by a note that allows the viewer/ reader to glimpse the connecting currents that make up an interweaving of relationships as a whole.  

Preface: in the Terrestrial zone

‘In the end, what counts is not knowing whether you are for or against globalisation, for or against the local; all that counts is understanding whether you are managing to register, to maintain, to cherish a maximum number of alternative ways of belonging to the world.’

Bruno Latour Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime

The Terrestrial