ESR 8 Blog May/June 2023: Marteinn Sindri Jónsson

Spring morphs into summer and the process of writing thickens. I have gradually been tending to more practical tasks related to finishing a manuscript, finding a proof-reader, and establishing whether my script needs line editing or copy editing, slowly streamlining a wealth of experience along coherent lines of narrative and argument, thinking about which darlings to get rid of, how to thicken descriptions, how to choose which final rabbit holes to dive into.

Also, tending to the even more practical matter of where to land when my contract ends at the end of this year. I belief I was the first researcher to start their project, which means I will also be the first to arrive at the end of my term. It is a fascinating horizon, this point when one project ends and another begins, a horizon intimately familiar to so many working in the expanded field of the arts, and one that I have been hovering around theoretically for some time now in relation to one of the chapters I am currently working on.

This event horizon reminds us that the ontological category of the project denotes something that is inherently temporal. The dialectics of freedom and necessity that this temporality bestows is at once liberating and frightening and intimately tied with post-Fordist paradigms of evaluation and justification. The temporality, of course, is conveyed in the word ‘project’ itself, denoting that which is ‘thrown forth’.

In some of my early blogs I played with the tool of translation to highlight the discrepancy of meaning between the dominant paradigm of English and a minority language such as that of Icelandic. It is noteworthy, that there is no temporal dimension in the Icelandic word generally used for ‘project’. The Icelandic term ‘verkefni’ simply means ‘material for work’.  In some sense then, it grounds the transient character of that which is thrown, which in my mind at least highlights a trajectory, rather than a materiality.

While the trajectory of a project is in some ways envisioned before hand — even if only in the abstract sense of knowing when it should come to an end and a thing or two about its formal structure — a process of writing (or any other way of making) is grounded in the material for work which is honed and expanded on with each operation. A project without the material and the work is only a trajectory, it is through material and work that it becomes reality.



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