Rory O’Connor

I’ve been reflecting a lot about our workshop since returning home.

After a meeting with Sita some months ago where we discussed embodiment, Nietzsche and performers living with amputations, I went to the refectory for lunch. Behind me in the queue at the food counter were two people discussing what happens when you direct a beam of electrons at a block of iridium. At my table were sitting a group of students discussing the further exploits of their University society. Afterwards, I thought that only in a liberal institution could I experience these conversations in succession.

And maybe this is why we were uniquely placed to discuss error that week in February. Each conversation we had exposed us to differing experiences and canons of knowledge. (Maybe it wasn’t Nietzsche; maybe it was Dreyfuss?) Each of us brought our professional as well as our personal experiences – getting lost in a forest as a map for finding yourself.

The outcome from the meeting, or perhaps the lack of outcome, that struck me the most was the complete lack of consensus around the definitions of error, ambiguity or glitch. I don’t believe that we even agreed a way of agreeing definitions, but then I haven’t listened to the recording and I may have missed it. Bit of an error? Maybe agreeing an outcome doesn’t matter. What would an output look like if each of us contributed to the oeuvre and it was edited by someone else from a different discipline? Would that be a glitch?

I could sense tension between members of the team over the two days that we were not progressing in a direction that seemed to be leading to an outcome. But maybe that was our forest? Maybe the outcome will be better if each of us maintains our unique perspective on these terms and we revel in our ambiguities. I would hope that the breadth of experience brought together by our network is not dissipated and we each return to our academic silos before we can fully realise the potential of the group.

Now, that would be an error.

POSTSCRIPT

The week after we came home from Coventry, I was interviewed for the Chair of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Leeds. I am very pleased to report that I was appointed. I am certain that my success was down to my soft feet as I entered the interview room…

Rory O’Conor, University of Leeds