Collective Reading, Affective Reading

Katharina Zimmerhackl

“I’m interested in redoing and producing a new notion of the social where feeling is not opposed to thought, where feeling is not immediately or essentially connected to authenticity, where subjectivity is understood as collectively produced, where emotions are understood as being collectively produced.” — Gregg Bordowitz

Reading a text is not only a process of understanding but includes a moment of re­possessing affectively one’s own subjectivity and its historicity. This means that any knowledge gained includes an underlying layer of references and affections that influence how knowledge is actually gained. Theoretical knowledge is never impersonal, objective or neutral, it is in a constant mode of appropriation. What happens however when we start reading collectively, when knowledge is constructed within the process of talking about a text? When the voice is speaking instead of a letter? What is the bodily aspect of reading? Following Walter Benjamin’s concept of a “magical language of things,” I am interested in how collective forms of reading can bring alive a new “collective body“ with the potential of a different “collective knowledge.” The starting point for this reading performance will be ideas of protagonists of the early Russian cosmism-movement who theorized collective bodies and the dissolution of the subject within a collective.