What is Diffractive Reading?

Diffraction & Diffractive Reading

Diffraction does not produce ‘the same’ displaced, as reflection and refraction do. Diffraction is a mapping of interference, not of replication, reflection, or reproduction. A diffraction pattern does not map where differences appear, but rather maps where the effects of difference appear.[1]

There is no separation between here-now and there-then.[2]

Boundaries don’t hold; times, places, beings bleed through one another.[2:1]

This is direct evidence of Bohrian complementarity: wave and particle are not inherent attributes of objects, but rather the atoms perform wave or particle in their intra-action with the apparatus. The apparatus is an inseparable part of the observed phenomenon.[2:2]

Time can’t be fixed. The past is never closed, never finished once and for all, but there is no taking it back, setting time aright, putting the world back on its axis. There is no erasure finally. The trace of all reconfigurings is written into the enfolded materialisations of what was/is/to-come.[2:3]

Responsibility is not an obligation that the subject chooses but rather an incarnate relation that precedes the intentionality of consciousness. Responsibility is not a calculation to be performed. It is a relation always already integral to the world’s ongoing intra-active becoming and not-becoming. It is an iterative (re)opening up to, an enabling of responsiveness. Not through the realization of some existing possibility, but through the iterative reworking of im/possibility, an ongoing rupturing, a cross-cutting of topological reconfiguring of the space of response-ability.[2:4]


  1. Donna Haraway, ‘The Promises of Monsters: A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others’, in Cultural Studies, eds Lawrence Grossberg, Cary Nelson, Paula A. Treichler (New York: Routledge, 1992), p.300. ↩︎

  2. Karen Barad, Diffracting Diffraction: Cutting Together-Apart (2014), in http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13534645.2014.927623 ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎

This affirmation about responsibility comes Science and Technology Studies, how can this be of reference to Technological practice:

Lets take the notion of responsibility, and the hacker jargon: “with great power comes great responsibility” it seems completely incompatible with the above

However, if you look closer to it: indeed responsibility is inherent to the position of maintaining/developing and having power over a system. Therefore the issue becomes: how did the one person holds sucha position. This is where the reconfiguring occurs, by stating the configuration out from the individual responsibility and understanding where collective organisation can take place.

This to me is very important to the Thx process, this is about archive and documentation, how we are keeping traces of the event what those traces will become how can we make them so they can become a variety of different things.

This is a non causal statement, there is no way to distinguish the cause we are always in the instant and in transformation, a very difficult thing to practice in technology, where causal relations are at the root of dealing with machines, even what we call “artificial intelligence” is acomplex system of causalities.
Diffraction might be a useful approach to form an explanation of the impossibility of AI but I wonder if this is something we want to do during thx or if we want to keep things more hands on.

From Diffraction & Reading Diffractively by Evelien Geerts & Iris van der Tuin, 27 July 2016.

Seeing and thinking diffractively therefore implies a self-accountable, critical, and responsible engagement with the world.

Karen Barad in Meeting the Universe Halfway (2007): For Barad, reading (and theorizing) diffractively expresses what a self-accountable feminist type of intellectual critique and textual engagement ideally should consist of: Rather than employing a hierarchical methodology that would put different texts, theories, and strands of thought against one another, diffractively engaging with texts and intellectual traditions means that they are dialogically read “through one another” to engender creative, and unexpected outcomes (ibid., p. 30). And that all while acknowledging and respecting the contextual and theoretical differences between the readings in question. This methodology thus stays true to Haraway’s idea of diffraction: Rather than flat-out rejecting what has been theorized before, the foundations of the old, so to say, are being re-used to think anew.

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