Exploratory essay writing as an aesthetic-phenomenological research practice
The focus of this practice—the focus of very slow aesthetic observation through exploratory essay writing—is a concept. Each process of exploratory essay writing is focused on one single concept. The starting point is always a disposition of not-knowing  in relation to the concept to be observed. Not-knowing is not to be understood here as ignorance or, simply, as a lack of knowledge. Instead, not-knowing means a willingly adopted approach to the concept to be observed, achieved through a suspension of the meanings that this concept might previously have for the practitioner, and a neutralization of her knowledge about it. Not-knowing allows the concept’s own phenomenal agency, which arises from the morphology of the term that expresses the concept and the senses and meaning that may emerge for the practitioner through practicing, to structure spontaneously the intertwined actualization of all agencies at work. The commonalities between not-knowing, or more precisely, the act of achieving a condition of not-knowing, and the epoché  are evident at this point. In fact, not-knowing can be considered as an aesthetic epoché. The difference between the aesthetic specification of this concept and its original meaning in the framework of phenomenology is to be found in the terms of the transition that is fulfilled in each case. Whereas the epoché realizes a transition from a natural to a phenomenological attitude, not-knowing implies a passage from self-centered, will-based and target-oriented modes of action to aesthetic action.
The concept of aesthetic action allows also for a specification of the notion of “observation.” Aesthetic observation is understood here as a mobilization of the heightened receptivity enabled by aesthetic action in order for becoming aware (and maintaining this awareness) of the open trajectories of sense transited by the concept in focus. Observation, thus, is not understood here as the “production” or “construction” of meaning but as a subtle registration—an intertwinement of the acts of “noticing” and “notating” —of the senses of the observed concept that emerge conditioned by writing an exploratory essay. Through aesthetic writing, the meaningless concept—the concept addressed as not-known, the concept whose meanings has been suspended or bracketed—is available to acquire progressively new significances. Aesthetic observation reflects the emerging senses on and through the written text. It “gives back” to the world the world expressed through the observed concept.
Accordingly, aesthetic observation is in a twofold sense primary reflection. On the one hand, in regard to a primary meaning of the term “reflection”: bending or throwing back, giving back or returning what reaches a surface, in this case, the organic membrane of a body. Correspondingly, reflection here excludes interpretation, although, making explicit use of the mirror metaphor, the reflecting surface is not ideally level and uniform—or, using an electrotechnical simile, it is not a perfect transducer whose output equals its input. On the other hand, aesthetic observation is primary reflection due to the incipient and inceptive quality of the reflected: the senses that the concept itself adopts, the senses as which itself appears through the encounter with the reflecting body. Aesthetic observation, thus, contributes efficiently to provide access to the “primary consciousness,” to the “core of primary meaning” to which Merleau-Ponty refers as the promised land of phenomenology: the phenomenon showing itself, principally by its own agency, under the favorable conditions provided by the agencies of the situation, the medium and the aesthetic actions of the embodied self to whom it appears.
On this basis, I consider exploratory essay writing as a radical phenomenological practice in the medium of written language. Unlike other phenomenological writing practices, it refrains from performing any logical operation and therefore from formulating any conclusions. The insights that this practice may enable to emerge are not constructed but re-vealed , un-veiled, dis-closed, dis-covered. In this sense, exploratory essay writing is a presentational
practice: it aims at presenting, without any elaboration, what spontaneously—although facilitated by the practice—“comes to the light,” or “can be seen.” I suggest the term “spontaneity” here as alternative to the usually used “passivity.” On the one hand, the new insights into the observed phenomenon are not produced. On the other hand, they do not arise from the absence of action. On the contrary, they result—according to the etymological roots of the term “result”: they “spring forward”—from the unforced actualization of the interacting, distributed agencies at work. In this sense, “spontaneous emergence” might be considered as an alternative to “passive synthesis” and can be realized, according to Husserl’s intuition , in the field of aesthetics, and more precisely enabled by aesthetic practices as systematized forms of aesthetic action.
 Emma Cocker, “Tactics for Not Knowing: Preparing for the Unexpected,” in On Not Knowing: How Artists Think, eds. Elizabeth Fisher and Rebecca Fortnum (London: Black Dog Publishing, 2013), 126-135.
 For an exhaustive explanation of the concept of epoché see (among many others): Max van Manen, Phenomenology of Practice (London: Routledge, 2016); Shaun Gallagher and Dan Zahavi, The Phenomenological Mind (London: Routledge, 2008).
 For an outline of these two concepts and their mutual relationship, see: Alex Arteaga, “Researching aesthetically the roots of aesthetics,” in Choreo-graphic figures: Deviations from the Line, eds. Nikolaus Gansterer, Emma Cocker and Mariella Greil (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2007), 255 - 263. The ideas expressed in this text are further developed in the research project Contingent Agencies. See: https://www.contingentagencies.net/ (accessed September 15)
 According to its etymology, “re-“ here is not to be understood in the sense of “back” or “again” but rather indicating “opposite of” or “transition to an opposite state” (see: https://www.etymonline.com/ , accessed September 15) . Accordingly, the Spanish word “revelar” is the term use to designate the process of developing a photograph.
 See: Edmund Husserl, Analysis concerning passive and active synthesis: lectures on transcendental logic. (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001)