Care reader by Nienke Scholts
Old English caru (noun), carian (verb), of Germanic origin;
related to Old High German chara ‘grief, wail, lament’,
Gothic kara ‘sorrow, trouble, care’
and Old Norse kǫr ‘sickbed’.
the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something
serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk
an object of concern or attention
a feeling of or occasion for anxiety
feel concern or interest; attach importance to something
feel affection or liking
like or be willing to do or have something
look after and provide for the needs of
Ambivalence of care
“Care, caring, carer. Burdened words, contested words. And yet so common in everyday life, as if care was evident, beyond particular expertise or knowledge. Most of us need care, feel care, are cared for, or encounter care, in one way or another. Care is omnipresent, even through the effects of its absence. Like a longing emanating from the troubles of neglect, it passes within, across, throughout things. Its lack undoes, allows unraveling. To care can feel good; it can also feel awful. It can do good; it can oppress. It’s essential character to humans and countless living beings makes it all the most susceptible to convey control. But what is care? Is it an affection? A moral obligation? Work? A burden? A joy? Something we can learn or practice? Something we just do? Care means all these things and different things to different people, in different situations. So while ways of caring can be identified, researched, and understood concretely and empirically, care remains ambivalent in significance and ontology.”
‘Nevertheless, specific inquiries into actualizations of care have also contributed and coexist with a theoretical discussion of care as a “generic” doing or ontological significance, as a “species activity” with ethical, social, political, and cultural implications. For Joan Tronto and Bernice Fischer, this includes everything that we do to maintain, continue and repair “our world” so that we can live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, our selves, and our environment, all of which we seek to interweave in a complex, life-sustaining web (…)”
‘… broadening consideration of the lives involved in caring agencies, still mostly thought as something that human people do. Care is a human trouble, but this does not make of care a human only matter.’
“Embracing these ambivalent grounds, not without tentativeness (…) invites a speculative exploration of the significance of care for thinking and living in more than human worlds.’
Matters of Care: Speculative Ethics in More Than Human Worlds Maria Puig de la Bellacasa
Care x precariousness
“A universalism: something that connects and differentiates us. Since even something that seem to address all of us, falls through a prism of personality, situatedness, experience, into a multitude of perspectives. At least I can state this I thought: in essence humans are vulnerable. Or actually, life is in essence vulnerable. Judith Butler writes: ‘… precariousness as an existential state designates what constitutes life in general.’ Our vulnerability makes us dependent on each other to survive. ‘Care’ as universalism, as something that matters to us all.”
‘Zorg (care) – ergens aan gaan staan’ in NY37 NY’s Encyclopedie der Nywe Unyversalismen’
“ We hear about precarity in the news everyday. People lose their jobs or get angry because they never had them. Gorillas and river porpoises hover at the edge of extinction. Rising seas swamp whole pacific islands. But most of the time we imagine such precarity to be an exception to how the world works. It’s what “drops out” from the system. What if, as I’m suggestions, precarity is the condition of our time – or to put another way, what if our time is ripe for sensing precarity? What if precarity, indeterminacy, and what we imagine as trivial are the center of the systematicy we seek.
Precarity is a state of acknowledgement of our vulnerability to others. In order to survive, we need help, and help is always the service of another, with or without intent. When I sprain my ankle, a stout stick may help me walk, and I enlist its assistance. I am now an encounter in motion, a woman-and-stick. It is hard for me to think of any challenge I might face without soliciting the assistance of others, human and not human. It is unselfconscious privilege that allows us to fantasize – counterfactually – that we each survive alone.”
The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing
“(…) Precariousness relates not to life itself, but rather to the conditions of its existence; what is problematized here is not what makes everyone the same, but rather what is shared by all. Precariousness that is shared by all can also be understood as a separating factor: on the one hand it is what we all have in common, but on the other it is what distinguishes and separates us from others.
Shared precariousness is thus a condition that both exposes us to others and makes us dependent on them. This social interdependence can express itself both as concern or care and as violence. (…) bodies are dependent on something outside themselves, ‘on others, on institutions and on sustained and sustainable environments’. Without protection, security, care no life can survive and yet it always remains exposed to risk and the danger of death. (…) especially because they [living bodies] are permanently exposed to social and political conditions, under which life remains precarious. The conditions that enable life are, at the same time, exactly those that maintain it as precarious. (…) [Some lives are protected more than others.]”
State of Insecurity
Stubbornness x care as gestures of staying with
“Our task is to make trouble, to stir up potent response to devastating events, as well as to settle troubled waters and rebuild quiet places. In urgent times, many of us are tempted to address trouble in terms of making an imagined future, of clearing away the present and the past in order to make futures for coming generations. Staying with the trouble does not require such a relationship to times called the future. In fact, staying with the trouble requires learning to be truly present, not as a vanishing pivot between awful or edenic pasts and apocalyptic or salvific futures, but as mortal critters entwined in myriad unfinished configurations of places, times, matters, meanings.
Staying with the trouble requires making oddkin; that is, we require each other in unexpected collaborations and combinations, in hot compost piles. We become-with each other or not at all.”
Staying with the Trouble; Making Kin in the Chthulucene
“In October 2016 Veem House for Performance announced that from 2017 it will start working only for 100 consecutive days per year, which amounts to the running costs as covered by the State subsidy they have received until 2020 (See: Veem Press Release, 2016). Veem, a known house for production and presentation of contemporary performance, research and critical discourse in Amsterdam, made this choice a few months after the AFK (Amsterdam Funds for the Arts) allocated considerably limited financial resources to Veem although they accredited their plan as ‘excellent’. This happened in the context of massive cuts to the arts budget by the government. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s provocation made in 1915 that ‘the future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be’ (See: Solnit, 2014), Veem was ‘dark’ between January 1, 2017, continuously for 265 days. This was followed by partial opening for the final months of the year that the venue called a ‘100-Days House’. Anne Breure, the artistic director at Veem, called this blackout an ‘attitude’: ‘100-Days House’ should not become a brand that others copy but rather remain a practice of (self-)questioning that has performative, aesthetic and practical facets and that is hence subject to mutate in the coming years’ (Breure, 2017).
Dramaturgically, the limited number of working days draws attention not only to the work that could be seen, but even more so to the sense of absence and the much longer period of nonwork. Instead of making artistic compromises and cutting the program and its associated costs Veem highlighted the impossibility of constantly operating under such precarious conditions. The rationale of this decision and its political and artistic consequences have been addressed through social media and in public talks and articles by Breure and others. Admittedly, in the previous years there were times when no public programming was possible at Veem, due to lack of budget. Hence, the magnitude of the cuts and the gap between funding expectations and artistic responsibility became thematized and visible. Veem also began to address its public as housemates, therefore placing emphasis on notions of intimacy and co-habitation. (…)
‘100-Days House’: Blackout as Political Action
Care x Situatedness
‘ … gestures of care seem to be able to pre-form, or propose, or pre-enact. They are gestures that others can take over. Also if the initial beings doing the gesture aren’t there (to lead). They are in the end also dependent on others, on the communal activity that carries it on. That stands with it. That joins in asking questions. That joins in demanding attention for values that are being neglected. Who see that from within a shared vulnerability something could actually be built. Haraway: a livable world should be composed together, bit by bit, or not at all.
.. then, precariousness – as interdependency – can become visible as a web of connections that form a premise for the life we carry / care for together. Care becomes visible as performance.
‘Zorg (care) – ergens aan gaan staan’ in NY37 NY’s Encyclopedie der Nywe Unyversalismen’
Coming back to this ‘generic’ definition of care used by Ruig de la Bellacasa:
“It exposes the existential domains of care as something open ended – everything we do. It points to how the ‘ethics’ in an ethics of care cannot be about a realm of normative moral obligations but rather about thick, impure, involvement in a world where the question of how to care needs to be posed. That is, it makes of ethics a hands-on, ongoing process of recreation of ‘as well as possible’ relations and therefore one that requires a speculative opening about what a possible involves. (…) a generic appeal of care [thus] that makes it unthinkable as something abstracted from its situatedness.
(…) to consider care (or its absence) as a parameter of existence with significance to your own terrains.