To be suspended in a liminal transition - to be without a stable horizon in a free-fall - is to be in a state of groundlessness.


In his outline of post-foundational political thought, Oliver Marchart describes the “absent ground of the social.” Marchart discusses its relationship with post-structuralism, a set of philosophies in which the meaning of words and images are changing and dependent on the context in which they’re used and connected. (I think this is easily envisioned as a mind-map; a constellation of interconnected thoughts and ideas.) Post-foundationalism is experienced through events, which question or disrupt pre-assumed meanings by displacing or dislocating figures into another contingency, or context.


Post-foundationalism has a characteristic of being always betwixt and between. According to Marchart, it observes the movement between ground and abyss. Ground being the stability of connections, that everything has a place in its established systems; and abyss being complete lack of structure, in which nothing can truly relate or connect.


A basic example of this in a political context is that political decisions will always be contested from different viewpoints by different lifestyles. Policies best for an urban population may have little-to-no relationship to the context of a rural lifestyle. The contingencies – the dynamics that depend on their context – are inherently different between the two. Post-foundational thought, then, thinks and operates in-between viewpoints. There’s an “impossibility of final closure,” as Marchart describes. There’s no way to ground an argument or decision when keeping an awareness of all the different connections to a single point. Because we observe the network of connected points from above, we understand each point’s contextualized relationship with the event and cannot tether the event to one set of points without the loss of connection.


Hito Steyerl likens this paradigm of vertical perspective to a permanent free fall. “A fall toward objects without reservation,” she writes, “embracing a world of forces and matter, which lacks any original stability and sparks the sudden shock of the open: a freedom that is terrifying, utterly deterritorializing, and always already unknown.” This freedom – a dark, mystified opaqueness – presents the images and signifiers of unbound choice while detaching the individual from a grounded, localized, horizontal view. The faller can see their origin, though that connection is continuously shifting and they are no longer tethered to it. The freedom gives the faller the choice of falling towards these images, or futures, though to decide on one is to accept the loss of others.


To be groundless is to no longer see the horizon from a traditional, linear-based perspective. Rather, the suspended free-fall provides a top-down perspective. The groundless individual, rather than being locked into one coordinate position only seeing their immediately adjacent connections, observes the entire interconnectivity of the greater, globalized network.