This paper takes up the onto-poetic device of the ‘subhabitual’, riffing off the Deleuze of Difference and Repetition, where he outlines three modes in which time synthesises. It proposes that, despite the ‘living present’ (the time of habit) being the most basic of Deleuze’s times, certain shared and acquired behaviours prevalent in digitalised, pandemic and/or neoliberalising moments may undermine it. This loss of the basic present, furthermore, isn’t offset by and doesn’t usher in an opening onto either of Deleuze’s other two temporal modes. The paper goes on to consider the later Foucault’s interest in practices of care-of-the-self as pertaining to ethical obligations. Foucault’s self-care practices may be read (almost slant to his earlier analyses of discipline) as pertaining to the performing of behaviours or acts that are the conditions for the capacity for ethical, even emancipatory, behaviours. Complicating this, however, Byung-Chul Han’s recent concerns about Foucault’s earlier lack of scepticism for entrepreneurialism cast a subtle light across the notion of capacity. The paper seeks to begin a disambiguation of kinds of capacity: Deleuzian-Spinozan; late-Foucauldian; and those ‘capacities’ for auto-exploitation that go under the name of being-productive in neoliberal compliance-speak. It argues for actions that might refuse (at least sometimes) to comply with, or which can abstain from, logics that — after Simon Springer — we might dub neoliberal. Creative-writing-as-practising offers itself as one of these — perhaps a practice of care-of-the-self, definitely a valid shape for practising.
This paper takes up the question of what might hinder the collaborative impulse among artists and specifically poets, and offers—as one possible answer—the complication posed by the urge of an artist for immortality, or for their (individual) name to live on. The paper begins by returning to a moment in Plato, namely that of the Symposium and its observations concerning the connection between poiesis (making) and a questing after immortality. Contrasting with what seems like Plato's broadly positive framing, the paper takes up a second reading of immortality (or the 'will-to-live') found in an early text of the Yogic canon, that of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. In this second text, written somewhat later than Plato's, the will-to-live is framed otherwise, as one of five afflictions that can be 'made thin' by practice. The paper's wager is that, viewed in this way, as an affliction, the will-to-live (or urge for immortality) deserves consideration as a hindrance to the impulse towards collaboration. Noting, however, that in the poiesis of writing poetry, where there is both the making of things and the action of making things, this creative constellation always contains the tempering solution to its own inherent lures. Writing, although providing fuel for immortal appetites (due to what it makes), also works to temper the worst of this same impulse via the contribution of practice—as dedication, craft and community-as-practice. The practice of writing, therefore, is already at play, and can be emphasised explicitly for any poet or maker who also wants to be able to want to collaborate. The practice of writing, then, and its turn away from investments in identity, works to thin out the more destructive face of an urge for a dubious eternity that can eclipse our ability to work together creatively with others in this life.