Attn: Intention


Part of the work Portrait of a Young Artist in the Age of Knowledge Economy

Attn: Intention

Dear Intention,

I hope this letter will reach you, even though I don't know how I should approach you: as a term, a phenomenon, a friend? I will try being direct and imagining our eyes are at the same level, as if we were standing face to face – you and me. Although I have no clue if you have eyes and if we will ever meet directly.

I am curious about your being and our co-existence. I wonder if you are within me at all times? Or are you outside me, not embedded in my body and existence, doing and thinking? Are you pushing me forward, holding me back or standing still in the air waiting for me to move? At times I would like to think that I can lean on you. Comfortably, trusting that I have you behind my back. But can I trust you in that?

What drives me is a strong wish to zoom in on the why behind any given action, rather than the what for. Crucially, my question is: Is it possible to do something intentionally yet without wanting a specific outcome? I humbly hope that you can help me answer this question, I really do.
I would also like to know if you (once you've showed up and nourished my longing to act) stay put all the way through my actions? Or do you leave me at some point in the beginning?

I wish to avoid your openness becoming trapped in the drill of productivity. Because you are even when I do not move or respond to you. By saying ‘productivity’, I refer to the command/response tendency I perceive in my contemporary society. A demand for always acting with a rational or specific aim in mind. This I am critical of, but is it possible to do something without an end?

If we are indeed able to act without there being an end to our actions, then let's grab the precious opportunity to explore the vast possibilities of un-productivity. We are offered an invitation into an open land, ruled by the freedom not to produce graspable, exchangeable objects and this is an outstanding deviance from the norm of productivity.

This gets me thinking about Odradek, who you might know. I've recently been introduced to Odradek by Franz Kafka who must have met or dreamt of (let’s just call him ‘O’ from now on; and yes, it is a he, Kafka gave O the gender, which is peculiar – why gender, when no lungs?). The family man in Kafka's short story Die Sorge des Hausvaters is haunted by O who unexpectedly and unforeseeably shows up under the staircase of his house.

So what is O? Kafka describes him as a star-shaped spool, with small wooden sticks coming out from the middle as it stands upright as if on two legs. To me, O is a timeless non-being who I definitely think still inhabits our staircases today. I find O captivating because of his stubborn way to insist on his meaninglessness in the midst of the family man's bourgeois life.

This insistence and resistance that O displays is definitely something I ascribe to you too, Intention. O, as I see it, invites us to view actions and conversations without them being means to an end: events that are here for no apparent reason and yet are ever so meaningful. It is here I would like to stand: between reason and purpose, to be able to grow on this fertile ground. Is it possible? Would you join me? What do you see there? Do you feel anything?

It seems to me productivity is presented to us as our common faith and master. Do you feel this too? With this letter I hope to take the first step on the road of avoiding to be a blind subject to a system I'm born into. To be strong enough not to follow the stream and slow enough in order to resist the capitalist centrifuge.

On that note, dearest Intention, I leave the letter and questions in your hands (do you have hands?) and I sincerely hope to hear from you soon.