Carrier Bag #4 — Monthly Reading Circle

Carrier Bag #4 — Monthly Reading Circle

Venster Acties en details


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West Den Haag

102 Lange Voorhout

2514 EJ Den Haag


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Carrier Bag #4 — Synthesis I: Xenogenesis - Octavia Butler

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On the edge of being human, when human being is barely bearable, Octavia Butler’s science fiction allows her to encounter the persistence of racism, colonialism and patriarchy in a highly technologized world with uncommon intimacy and emotional power.


Historian Elizabeth Fisher’s Carrier Bag theory of evolution proposes a radical critique of how we are taught to understand history. A counterpart to heroic narratives of linearity, conquest and progress bound to technologies such as swords, chisels and laser beams, the carrier bag emphasises the fundamental importance of carriage, containing and sheltering. Ursula Le Guin made the concept famous in her short 1986 essay ‘The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction’ in which she dedicated herself to develop Fisher’s non-heroic narratology in the spirit of Virginia Woolf’s desire to reinvent language “according to a new plan”.

In our new series of monthly meetings for 2022, we extend from our year-long series dedicated to the writing and thought of Donna Haraway ‘Thick Present: Donna Haraway and the Arts’ with a programme of monthly reading circles, engaging deeply with the trouble of our contemporary condition and testing out new methods for synthesis and action. As with the foregoing series, we will explore historical and contemporary understandings of humanity, nature, non-humanity and technology. We will read aloud together from pertinent texts, summon, express and engage with our responses together. Finally we will explore the power of art and fiction to help us provisionally synthesize some of what we are learning into new narratives which fortify and nurture our work.  

Here the Carrier Bag Theory encounters what Sylvia Wynter calls the 3rd event of existence, the fact, presence and practices of language which reveals that human being is not a noun but a verb, a praxis. Central to this praxis of being human is storytelling. In Wynter’s critique, all language acts are story telling which provisionally constitute society. Wynter provides a new name for this human being, which has no hegemony over other existence and, being praxis is radically contingent, emergent and heterogenous: homo narrans. Homo narrans, the story-telling being which always requires and implies the social context of telling, listening and responding, provides a carrier bag for the concepts and practices we will examine together in this series.


The sessions are convened by Baruch Gottlieb and will be held on the last Sunday of each month. The reading circle is open to anyone regardless of previous experience. Main language of discussion will be English. Texts will be provided by email to participants a week before the event.

Please register to make a FREE reservation. The event is hybrid, you are welcome to attend live at West Den Haag or join the meeting online (the link will be send after registration).

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