assemblage for two year olds


(consider this more of a prelude for than a summary of my presentation material…)

the other day, i was out with my son, who is now 26 months old. at some point in our path, the sidewalk we were walking along became uneven, and at a depression between two of the concrete slabs, debris had collected.

were i walking alone, i probably wouldn’t have given it more thought than a quick determination whether someone failed to curb their dog before deciding to step in or past the spot. with neko in tow, i had to respond differently. first, to his questions: “a-dat?” (what’s that? and if the word “detritus” held any meaning for him, i might have left it at that…); but also to our disrupted motion: we had stopped, no longer propelled by my need to get to the store. instead, neko was leaning forward, balancing on the front of his sneakers so he could crouch down for a better look, both pointing and resisting the desire to reach down and rifle through the collection. and for a change, i had to consider what was there and find some way to convey these to each of his “what’s that?”: dirt, layers of dried leaves now covered in a dusty veneer, flattened cigarette butts, pieces of plastic of unclear origins, jagged pebbles, chewed gum.

since the beginning of our class, i’ve been struck by the nostalgia that emanates from a number of our readings: “why did things become forgotten,” even as modernity provides the groundwork for making such an inquiry in the first place? but perhaps this nostalgia stems from something besides a diachronous view of critical theories. there could be some value to doing the work of bennett’s “naive realist”, by thinking through things as when we were two.


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