The Oscillating Escalator (Excerpt), 2011

by Ohad Ben Shimon


"What in the thing is thingly? What is the thing in itself? We shall not reach the thing in itself until our thinking has first reached the thing as a thing."

M. Heidegger, The Thing, Poetry, Language, Thought. 

What follows are fragments of thoughts or rather, thoughts re-vibrated back into thought, into writing, into what constitutes the general aspect of things material and immaterial. 

There is writing as writing and there is writing-as-thinking. Both operate differently. The former: labourious, institutional, ‘dead'. The latter: instantaneous, without inhibition, ‘alive'. 

The movement between two or more polar entities always embodies an essence of lying somewhere in the middle. A writing process can potentially be traced to include itself within such a movement. If and when such an oscillation becomes apparent it destabilizes writing as writing and turns it into something it is not, something alien to itself, forcing writing to take a look in the mirror. When writing takes that look in the mirror it resembles to a large extent the myth of Medusa. The horrific realization that writing is and never will be finished, that in fact it is determined never to end, never to conclude, never to settle down. It is comparable to a doubly planned fall, for we already know that to walk is in fact to fall continuously. 

Escalators are mechanical steps, stairways, stair cases, to and from a certain destination. The motor that drives them is remote, hidden, removed from the horizon of vertical oscillation. Yet that does not stop me from stepping on them, stepping into them, laying my feet upon them. I trust the motor, the general apparatus, the belt that takes me up and down. 

Oscillation is essentially a swing, a sliding from point A to point B and back again until infinity. To write is itself to oscillate, to prefabricate our participatory interventions in, and of worldly events. Should we then view writing in its two-fold manner—just as the motor belt that drives the escalator up and down, in and of itself, moving in one direction, to then reverse 180 degrees and move to the complete opposite direction? Even though the belt goes first in one direction and then in the other, the people being transported on the escalator proceed in a linear one way fashion towards their so called destination.