Of art
and technology
Braga, Portugal

Michael Marder + Alexandra Balona

The Mystical Kiss as an Ecological Relation: St. Hildegard and the Living Surfaces of the World

Mosteiro de Tibães

Moderated by Alexandra Balona

Talk in Portuguese

Many of St. Hildegard’s mystical visions end by recommending her readers to welcome her words with a kiss. In this chapter, I put forth an ecological model of sensing and knowing the world predicated on kissing. A kiss is markedly superficial, gliding or brushing on the surface of skin (even if it is the skin of the other’s tongue), touched by the lips. In this, it diverges from knowing based on a mental incorporation, assimilation, and digestion of the known. Kissed, the words and what they conjure are not swallowed up by the knower, but loved and preserved in their independence. The “watchful eyes” and “attentive ears” Hildegard attributes to whoever welcomes her visions with a kiss point toward a way of perceiving that is similarly nonviolent toward the perceived. Extreme devotion, in turn, is understood as “the kiss of the heart.” In this talk, we go on to elaborate an ecological theology of kissing predicated on a sensuous and phenomenologically rich relation to human and non-human (plant and animal, divine and mineral) and others protected from the threat of our sharp teeth with the fleshy veil of the lips.

Michael Marder is an IKERBASQUE Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU), Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain. His writings span the fields of ecological theory, phenomenology, and political thought. He is the author of numerous scientific articles and eighteen monographs, including Plant-Thinking (2013); Phenomena-Critique-Logos (2014); The Philosopher’s Plant (2014); Dust (2016), Energy Dreams (2017), Heidegger (2018), Political Categories (2019), Pyropolitics (2015, 2020); Dump Philosophy (2020); Hegel’s Energy (2021); and Green Mass (2021) among others.

Michael Marder + Alexandra Balona
Michael Marder + Alexandra Balona

Alexandra Balona is a researcher and independent curator, based in Porto. PhD candidate in Culture Studies (all but Viva), graduated in Architecture, she is co-founder of PROSPECTIONS for Art, Education and Knowledge Production. Curator of several events independently and in curatorial teams, such as: Anton Vidokle: Citizens of the Cosmos, Openness, Intensity, Impurity. Perspectives on Marlene Monteiro Freitas’ Choreographic Work, and Metabolic Rifts. She publishes in Público, Contemporânea, and Art Press.