Response – ‘Exhaustion an Exuberance’

May 16, 2012

Jan Verwoert speaks in his text ‘Exhaustion an Exuberance’ about high-performers in the creative industries, and ways to defy their pressure to perform. This high performing work force, set up to compete with each other, might be said to live in the control society described by Deleuze in ‘Postscripts on Societies of Control’. Verwoert investigates ways to say ‘I Can’t’, to say stop, no more, but in a way where it is still possible to Care. Verwoert draws parallels to the punk movement, and its resistance against music industry standards. He writes that this resistance “resulted in the transgression of personal capacity by rigorously embracing personal incapacity, rising above demand by frustrating all expectations.” (Verwoert, 2010, p. 22)

This makes me think of a big protest in the streets of Berlin that a friend of mine happened upon a few years ago. He and his friends tried to ask people what the protest was about, but the only answer they got was that they protested against “the ganze Scheiß”, that is, against everything, the entire system. In his text Verwoert investigates ways to protest against the entire system of high- performing, because people are exhausted by it.

In the end of the text Verwoert then writes about what lies beyond exhaustion, what comes after protesting and resisting the system of high-performing. He finds one answer in convalescence, and suggest that the burned out high-performers use their shared experience of being exhausted to form a community, a community of convalescents. He describes it as “a state of suspension between exhaustion and activity, between the ‘I Can’t’ and the ‘I Can’, the state of convalescence is the epitome of an empty moment of full awareness. In this moment the illusion of potency, interrupted through illness, is not yet restored (…) but still the sense of appreciation is redeemed as the ‘I Care’ return in its full potential:you begin to care about life again, more than ever.” (Verwoert, 2010, p. 70).

This makes me think of the somewhat naive idea among high-performing inner-city inhabitants that the countryside holds their salvation, that that is where one can live the simple, good, life. There might be a parallel between the ‘community of convalescents’ and this dichotomy between the city and the countryside, which is what led me in to looking at the community space of bygdegården in the first place. Perhaps the inner-city high-performers will exhaust themselves, move into the countryside, and form a community of convalescents to be able to start seeing things clearly, in this “empty moment of full awareness”. We have seen this happen earlier in our modern history, and maybe the bygdegård associations will be there to pick the convalescing high-performers up when new ideas start to formulate, and they need to organize.



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