A Burst Water Pipe and Valentines Day as ‘One In The Other – Illustrating a Neobaroque Paradigm

One of the things I try to avoid my Blog becoming, is a diary. Nevertheless, as I sit down to write, trying to clear preconceptions from my head about what I might write today, I can’t help thinking that it is both valentines day and the day on which a pipe has burst in the yard. Water has been pouring out for quite a while, until, that is, the mysterious stopcock was located, and now things are under greater control. As for valentines day, it’s a sweet event, rooted perhaps in the distant European past, to mark a time of couples and couplings as the longer days and sight of crocuses begin to herald Spring; when natural forces within and without us conspire to make hearts swell (at least I certainly feel I have been coming back to life in recent weeks).

Now I have given myself the absurd challenge of creatively linking or intertwining these two apparently unrelated and possibly incongruous events – a burst water pipe and valentines day. So, let me first say that they ARE both events, and that it might be wise to perceive and evaluate life and experience in terms of events rather than, e.g. ‘things’.

I did with, or got done with things a long time ago. In fact I even wrote and gave a lecture, which was subsequently turned into an article in a journal, under the working title ‘I Don’t Believe In Things’ (an editor replaced this, unfortunately, with something slightly less interesting). In that article I referred to that well known French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and his vision of late 20th century complexities as ‘neobaroque’. By invoking the 17th century aesthetic of baroque, Deleuze asks us to see our environment according to a pre-modern paradigm. In introductory terms, if you look at baroque painting, architecture, sculpture, music or dance you will see a kind of flaw, as in a misshapen pearl (from which baroque takes its name),; a flaw that is also a movement, a sign of a change, a differentiation, without which we would have stasis or a rigid kind of order (which some of course prefer). Baroque is nothing but complex and Deleuze seemed to believe that modern aesthetics were not complex enough to encompass and describe late 20th century experience.

So, valentines day and a burst pipe in the yard are both events. They don’t exclude each other but each is included in the other. ‘One in the other’ is a phrase that Deleuze sometimes used (it was also the name of a small, independent, London art space for a while), and here you can see differentiation from a ‘thing’-based paradigm, in which one thing excludes another or might not be able to occupy the same space as another. I should add: ‘They don’t exclude each other but each is included in the other’ – and so all is ‘and’: and, and, and (neobaroque paradigm), rather than ‘is, is, is (thing-based paradigm). In fact, somewhere Deleuze wrote that we should never say ‘the tree is green, but rather ‘the tree and green’ (perhaps that is also helpful to painters).

It always charmed me that, in an interview on this subject, Deleuze once said words to the effect that: ‘my favourite sentence is: “There will be a concert tonight” ‘. It’s possible to discern what he means in terms of an event-based paradigm that is always laden with promise and which acknowledges that we are never in a fixed position of knowing but always on the curve, in the baroque turn, or curl, of changing events about which we really ‘know’ little. Knowledge here cedes to experience and we all become surfers of a swirling baroque time.

I was going to write something about altruism being the basis of long-lasting relationships here, but I don’t want my Blog to become a kind of advice column either. Suffice to say that the burst pipe is no-longer gushing; I made my partner a nice card; as well as managing to write my Blog for the day and for this week, and so, these events, which might have seemed incongruous or in conflict might be seen, in neobaroque terms, to include and not exclude each other – ‘one in the other’.


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