Paper short abstract:
What makes for a dive? So often, we "dive deep" without heed for what diving itself entails. This paper analyzes the practice of diving through its military, scientific and psychosocial relations. It concludes with a challenge to our tendency to take diving as metaphor for critical practice.
Paper long abstract:
What makes for a deep water dive? A person dons a second skin of foam (body), bites down on the mouthpiece of an aqualung (breath), falls backwards through the water's surface (medium), releases air to achieve neutral buoyancy (balance), and kicks off a countdown to resurfacing (lifetime). This script of a transition from terrestrial to underwater movement sits outside of history, geography and culture. We can ask, for example, what's the dive worth and to whom? That is to say: who goes diving (and why); who owns the gear (and why); how is it used (and why); is the dive safe (and why); who or what is resurfaced (and why)?
These questions interrupt diving as metaphor. So often, we "dive deep" without heed for what diving itself entails. This paper queries the practice of diving, as well as our tendency to assume it operates as shorthand for critical practice.
We begin with a cultural history of diving that articulates its nodes of military/ordinary, industrial/frontier, scientific/touristic, and extraterrestrial/paranormal doings. How does mine clearing relate to coral gardening, or the Cousteau Society seize upon the "underwater commons"? We then put such inappropriate contiguities (Bryld & Lykke 2000) towards a speculative inquiry into the topological qualities of the dive. Diving arranges spacetime, intimacy and collaboration, as well as relations of power and the political in specific ways. These can tell us something, we submit, about living and dying on a planet and as people born of foam (Sloterdijk 2016).
Sea theory, atmospheres, and liminality of lives