A Latourian Exercise


I found myself fascinated by Latour’s hypothetical conversation with his graduate student. “Describe, write, describe, write.” This, he argues, is what is not being taught to social scientists today. Instead there is an obsession with frameworks and explanations. This inspired me to attempt to write, sans frames. The following is an experiment, bear with me.

I chase a ball on a field of grass.

The grass grows. It feeds. It holds the ball. It marks my socks.

The wind blows gently and pushes against me, ball, and grass.

The ball crosses a painted line and I am penalized. I must remain in the boundaries. A box formed by grass and paint. A border enforced by whistle and threads of black and white.

Our uniforms are the same or different. They create war. On field and in audience. The goalie stands alone.

The ball strikes post. For a second they waver. The ball kisses net.

The scoreboard sounds. Lights speak out. One color of jersey is held hostage by the unwavering light. The clock counts down. The ball moves faster. Almost desperate.

Buzzer sounds and the paint releases. The jerseys go to sleep. The whistle no longer commands.

I have to admit that the process feels strange. I kept making errors while typing as I wanted to write that the Jersey colors “reflected” the competitive antagonism or that the lines on the field were evidence of the “Structure” of the game. What this especially drove home for me was how much we do use “Social” as a magic binding and not as a component of assemblages. Try it, it’s not easy. I begin to feel for that unfortunate graduate student (and not because of a shared fear of looming deadlines.)


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