Procedure for the Debating Chamber is conceived along the lines of a parliamentary session, religious ritual, or legal process. Since it could also be compared to a ‘theatre’ – in the triple sense of an operating room in which objects are dissected, a politico-military zone of operations, and a space of performance – we have here designated its proposed phases as ‘acts’.
Invitations: the distribution of these could itself be ‘performed’, along the lines of BLESS’ intervention in our Bureau d’Esprit. So, rather than receive an email, people would be personally delivered their invitations. A more low-key version of this is that they could be sent by post, printed on good paper with an MM-U letterhead.
Entry to the space: Guests should be met by a greeter, dressed in a particular way. The Debating Chamber will have been laid out in advance, of course.
Its main features will involve:
- A central table for prototypes to be laid out on.
- Seats to either side of this for MM-U members.
- Seating for invited guests.
- A seat for the session’s Chair (Clémentine). This ideally should be slightly raised.
- Each seat should have a name tag on it, displaying both the MM-U logo and the name of the person who is to sit on it.
- The greeter, or a second one if two are available, will guide people to their chair, in the manner of an usher. After the session has been called to order, the greeter shall act as a stenographer/note-taker.
- Calling to Order (Chair). A pre-scripted line or two should be made by the Chair marking the calling-to-order of the session. This could be preceded by a non-verbal iteration (think of the conch in Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”) – if this non-verbal iteration is to take place, Augustin should perhaps be the one to devise and make it.
- Acknowledgment of the ground on which this Chamber is taking place, its provenance and its unspokens. This could be delivered either by the Chair or by a designated deputy. It should take no more than a minute.
- Introductory outline of events to follow. Acknowledgment of agency of objects, and interpretative role of humans. Again, a short pre-scripted introductory speech given by the Chair outlining the aims of the MM-U sessions, and the ethical and ideological contours that guide it.
- Speaking of / for objects. Each object has a member speak for it, to it, from it, etc., very briefly. It should be borne in mind that this is NOT a ‘show-and-tell’ session; the aim is not to interrogate objects in isolation, but rather to set them in dialogue with one another. Nonetheless, a brief ‘naming’ or ‘exposition’ of each object is necessary in order to make this process possible, to set it in motion.
- Invitation to articulation / syntagmatisation of objects. This is where we start setting the objects in dialogue with one another. Members should, through speculation and debate with one another, propose syntactical or constellational arrangements between, and readings across and among the objects. This is the meat of the session.
- Opening of session. At this point, guests should be invited to join in the debate.
- Call for first round of general propositions arising from the preceding three moves. The stenographer-note-taker’s presence is useful during this phase: they can be almost collectively ‘dictated’ to, and their notes referred to later in the session.
- Traumatological sounding of general collection. Open discussion.
- Avenues of remediation. I.e., ‘What do we do with these objects?’
- Conclusion. This could result in a general principle of the MM-U being formulated and ratified on the spot, for example. Each session results in a solid, manifesto-like thesis or principle.
- The Chair has an important role. Apart from framing the proceeding conceptually for all participants, they will also be a timekeeper, moving the session on from one phase to the next. They should of course announce or introduce each phase. This does not need to be done in an ultra-formal manner; a degree of fluidity is advantageous. Nonetheless, if they sense that the session risks becoming bogged down, they can use their role to move it on to the next phase.
- A floorplan should be distributed to each participant (including guests), giving the names and positions of both human and non-human ‘actors’.