Thuistezien 156 — 24.01.2021

Dr. Fiona Hanley
Vilém Flusser Symposium

As part of the 2015 Vilém Flusser-symposium ‘Synthetic Thinking’, dr. Fiona Hanley presents a plea for a different way of reading. ‘Encountering Bibliophagus: An Aesthetics Of Reading’ is an ode to the inarticulable, where we read not in an attempt to understand, but where we read in an attempt to experience. Connecting it to Flusser’s concept of ‘Menschwerdung’, as a way to become thinking humans and truly create a humanity, Hanley proposes that in reading lies the possibility to leave behind habitual living. Habits make everything nice and quiet. Yet, even in the everyday, especially in the everyday, there is a strangeness that ever so often pops up in doubt, wonder or perplexity. Strangeness or uncanniness is actually the ordinary that is awoken to itself. It is the feeling of the familiar lacking familiarity.

The task of the thinker is to peel back the blanket of habit and expose, emphasise, our mode of wonder and creativity. Writing would then be changed from a wielding of language to letting language be an organ of perceiving. And reading would be an exercise in living. In this way of reading we do not analyse the meaning of the text, rather we take the aesthetic approach that is more concerned with the effect of the text. This is an attempt for dialogue, where we allow ourselves to be changed by the text. To transform the communicability of language from the effort towards what is or ought to be, to demanding a creative response from the reader. The use of language here lies less in what is said, than in how. Provocation, rhythm and resonance are all challenging elements to pursue for the writer to implement and subsequently the reader to digest. Eventually we might be able to relate our experience of reading to the concrete experience of ourselves and other – an opportunity for freedom and humanity.

Dr. Fiona Hanley has a background originally in English Literature from UCD Dublin. Hanley's interests have always been poetic in nature. In 2008 she received an MSc in Cultural Studies at the University of Edinburgh with a dissertation entitled 'Practicing Poetic Theory: Speaking Nearby Trinh T. Minh-ha' and she has received her PhD in Cultural Studies with a thesis entitled 'Towards a Language of Inquiry: The Gesture of Etho-Poetic Thinking'. Drawing upon phenomenological approaches to inquiry and in particular Heidegger's articulation of 'Care', this work attempted to sketch-out the poesis of a thin'king that cannot be divorced from being.

Text: Yael Keijzer