(C) 2015 Michaela Putz. Photograph: Solmaz Farhang

Nothing Happens

Michaela Putz.
Video, chairs, book

It seems that life as a patient is all about waiting. Patients wait in queues when they enter a doctor’s office or an outpatient clinic. They are asked to be seated in the waiting room. They wait to be called in, they wait for a bed, a diagnosis, or laboratory findings, for medical imaging, physical examinations, and to get healthy again.

There is an urgency related to waiting in a medical context. Anxieties, resentments and inconvenience may collide, especially when waiting patients feel unfairly treated with regards to the seemingly randomness of patients being called in, lack of transparency about the reasons for waiting and uncomfortable seats.

Waiting means that a future event is being anticipated and because no other events are happening in between, time is perceived as empty. Emptied like this, time can feel like an eternity as there is no clear end in sight. The self cannot use its time because it is focussed on the object that is not yet here. This means heteronomy. While waiting without self-reflexion is dissolution, waiting with self-reflexion is awareness of this dissolution and this awareness relates to the awareness of one’s own mortality. With this awareness of mortality – the awareness that time is always passing by towards death, which moreover is the only event that is definitely going to take place – the waste of one’s own time on emptiness is scandalous. This is why waiting, especially waiting at the hospital or at the doctor’s, has something existential.

“Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.” Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Fact Box

Nothing Happens
May 26, 2015