WhatsAppen met Jess Henderson

WhatsAppen met Jess Henderson

01-10-2020 (17:16) - Appen met

Het boek ‘Offline Matters’ kwam kort geleden uit. Een intrigerende titel voor wat de uitgever ‘een handboek met radicale strategieën voor creatieven’ noemt. Een wake-up call voor het digitale tijdperk. Dat maakte ons erg nieuwsgierig. Auteur Jess Henderson legt uit.
 
Dit interview is op verzoek van Jess gedaan via iMessage.
 
Hi Jess, how are you?
Hi Ilja, I’m well thanks. How are you?
 
Can you tell me what you want to say with ‘Offline Matters’?
As you know the word ‘matters’ has a multiplicity of meanings. Nouns and verbs. Particular substances, written or printed matters, the present state of affairs, or to be important or significant (as a verbe). It’s a play and embrace on all these meanings.
 
And where does ‘offline’ come in?
The book is a dialogue on the techno determinism that exists in creative work today, which was a rise observed alongside the eradication for considering doing things offline. That faded very quickly.
 
Just looking up the term techno determinism
As the book explains, it’s not anti-technology or anti-online. It’s pro-collective flourishing, pro-experimentation, pro-solidarity.
 
It needs to be more in balance?
Not per sé. It’s no longer a binary decision - in or out, off or on. Just like the concept of ‘work balance’ is no longer a possibility as it was.
 
So you offer new ways to find a new balance fit for our new reality?
This is not a book about digital detox’s or suggestions to go back to having a flip phone. It is the radical consideration of offline as a possibility space.
 
Do you give examples or is it like an essay? The subtitle of the book is: The Less-Digital Guide to Creative Work.
The state of what’s online and what’s offline is in a constant state of flux. Accelerating in its blurring boundaries like never before. This is not an advice guide on how to deal with that. It is a collaborative discussion point on the alternatives that still exist within creativity-as-work (and our lives!), which is an important discussion to have in a time where it feels as though the sense of possibility is shrinking.
 
So what can we learn from it? The publisher mentions radical strategy’s for creatives.
We can learn to speak the unspeakable. To lift the culture of silence shrouding much of the unknown happenings within creative work today. A piece of the book discusses the radical feminist practice of consciousness raising - where by sharing how we are feeling and our experiences we learn that our problems are not personal, they are the result of the structures and systems we are living under and trying to function within.
 
The first part of the book is called Reality, which is an exposé of many of the lesser known realities of creative work today, of the experiences of creatives. The second part is called Resistance, which is more of a mutual aid guide to rediscover what made us love this work to begin with, and learn to identify exploitation, find solidarity and start forming radical collectivities , and start thinking critically
Sounds good
 
But criticality is not just a way of thinking, its a way of being in the world. It means engaging responsibly , ethically and actively with the world in ways that demonstrate care and concern for others, for humanity, and for the world to which we belong. 
 
That actually is important in more ways than just the creative part
Absolutely, ‘creative’ has become a bit of a catch-all and diluted in its meaning. It’s just the name given to the work we do, the industry that stole it for its name
 
Yes but I also mean that online influences almost every aspect of our lives now
Yes of course it does. That’s all addressed in the book.
 
Is there a platform still live where people can continue this dialogue?
This book is the result of experiences shared by the creatives in my former project Outsider. It was on their request the book came into being, we made it in the thinking of ‘reading as a dialogue’. The book is ‘the platform’. It’s an opening, not an end. The dream is to spur on conversations between people, friends, collaborators, conspirators 
 
What is your background?
I was born and raised in New Zealand. When I was 17 I moved to Europe , did a study which turned out to be useless but introduced me to wonderful people and opened my world with opportunities for exchange and travel. Since then I’ve been living and working around the world, for the most part making my living within the creative industries - where I conducted the research that informed Offline Matters.
 
I’m a strategist and writer, though I work closely with people from all different disciplines. 
And also a philosopher Jess :)
I also work in academic research, art research and am expanding my practices into many different fields. Including philosophy :) However I still draw my inspiration and thought from many different traditions. For example, I love this quote from Gil Scott Heron: “A good poet feels what his community feels. Like if you stub your toe, the rest of your body hurts.” 
Smart man Mister Heron
Or from James Baldwin, who asserts that “a society must assume that it is stable, but the artist must know, and he must let us know, that there is nothing stable under heaven.”
 
Good luck with the book and all your other activities. And thank you for your time.
Thank you very much for the well wishes , and I wish you all the best on your endeavours too Ilja
 
Let’s finish with one more quote from Ursula K. Le Guin;
“All you have is what you are, and what you give.”
 
Foto: Yumna Al-Arashi