Shane Anderson who normally blogs here will be writing pieces for the Theater Treffen festival that is going on this month. Shane mentions that an editorial meeting the question was posed about ‘the possibility [of art and theater] to represent or even extend into reality.’ I don’t know anything about contemporary theater, but I prefer the notion that reality is constant creation and that therefore being is continually creative. I would like to think that they are always already as much a part of reality as life outside of the walls of a gallery or theater. Ideally one’s movements might be synchronized with a non-personal creative force surging through everything. A life could become a life as art, sort of like the figure of the Dandy, but then the Dandy internalized.
A difference of course is that galleries/theaters are organized and intended as places for works of art to be conceived/shown/take place, while this is not the primary function of other places (street, house, shopping center etc). But while I think galleries/theaters and other places reserved for the creation/display of art are essential, maybe the fact that they are assigned separate places from ‘the rest’ of life in the first place, is due to the way we organize ourselves, our space, our time, our work, our community, our energy.
What if life equaled theater/play/detours/sidesteps/surprise in each moment; different eyes for each moment? What if we experienced a person not as his/her social function (you are a bus driver I want a bus ride from you; you are a police officer I want you to arrest me, I want you to tell me where to walk; you are a baker I want you to sell me bread and wish me a nice day without meaning it), but as that which s/he is always in the process of becoming from within before s/he is molded by the movements that we are constantly being goaded into making (dance like techno, cross here cross now, sit in the bus, stare quietly demurely ahead, comply with a smile, move patiently along now please, now).
What are we always already in the process of becoming? Certainly not merely human. Both infinitely less and more than just that. We can dance like jelly, we can dance without bones, we can dance like the machine, we can dance like play, ‘of course, because dance frees the body from all social mimicry, from all gravity and conformity.’ (Badiou). We can think like dance. We can be a process of subjectification, instead of a subject of submissiveness to the roles we are asked to play. ‘Experimentation on ourselves is our only identity’ writes (Deleuze). ‘Do not ask me who I am and do not ask me to remain the same’ (Foucault).
The figure of the Dandy who aestheticizes everything he touches with his long gold-knobbed, tasseled walking stick. But more and less than the (don’t forget male gendered) Dandy, for whom beauty is still put on in the form of external attire ‘layer after layer of lace ruffles and gold embroidery and knee buckles, striped stockings, and shoes with bright red heels.’ We can, we may, we are able, we are allowed, to express beauty as a style, like a cough a hiccup, a laughter, a scream, a sigh. We don’t need ‘swords with diamond handles, two fobs, or pocket watches, and elegantly tailored waistcoats.’ I express ruffles in my breathing, I am a suede-lined waistcoat as I turn the corner of this street.
We might feel a dancing studio not as a place we go to practice ballet, but as a place we ‘ballet-dance to’ in order to practice ballet-dancing. We might feel an easel not as a place where we go to paint a canvas, but as a place to focus on practice painting, while however, also ‘painting’ our way through our day (the way the Bhagwan sect people saw work, as an act of devotion to the Lord). We might feel a theater as a place we go to act, but we are always acting, or expressing different intensities. ‘Mr Lonely’ (by Harmony Korine) is a weeird but moving film about impersonators who become, live as, the role that they play. (A movie that could have been pretentious and glib but instead is disarmingly sincere, even though strangge):
If you stand like a soldier you are a soldier. If you jump awkwardly you are a child or a fish. If you dance it can be like thinking; if you think, it can be like dancing. Thinking/dancing can be a sacred nostalgia. “If you know that I am an unbeliever, then you know me better than I do myself. I may be an unbeliever, but I am an unbeliever who has a nostalgia for a belief. (Pasolini). But a nostalgia that is the surge of bliss of desire, not for the unattainable object, in fact not for or of anything, the overwhelming surge of desire that the body is made of. Of the breath and the scream, of the affirmation, which (when the body is weak) becomes disintegration.
Often we can allow desire to breathe through us. Then there is nothing but a body becoming-invisible, and it is invisible in the sense that it no longer expresses just one thread of the infinite threads of desire of which it partakes, but has faded like a chameleon into the background (which is not the background) of infinite strands of reality entangled. Sacred infinite strands of desire. Sacredly blowing up the feeling of an ‘I’ (wo)man in your head.
But I do not believe in a metaphysical god. I am religious because I have a natural identification between reality and God. Reality is divine. That is why my films are never naturalistic. The motivation that unites all of my films is to give back to reality its original sacred significance. (Pasolini)
We can disappear into reality. Now it is in front of you. Now it is everywhere/nowhere. If we disappear into reality halfway through a step: vertigo, abyss, open space, endless desert. ‘But not a tragic or uninhabited desert. It is only a desert because of its ocher colour and its blazing shadowless sun.’ (Deleuze). We can become our movements. Bruce Lee magic. Bruce Lee in a Romantic Tutu.
Ok so we can’t always become our movements; not when we think. But maybe it happens that sometimes we dance instead of think and our movements are already our place. Deleuze writes about a desert island; how ideally we might become no more than a dynamic image of the movement which produced the island:
In certain conditions which attach them to the very movement of things, humans do not put an end to desertedness, they make it sacred. Those people who come to the island indeed occupy and populate it; but in reality, were they sufficiently creative, they would give the island only a dynamic image of itself, a consciousness of the movement which produced the island, such that through them the island would in the end become conscious of itself as deserted and unpeopled. The island would be only the dream of humans, and humans, the pure consciousness of the island. For this to be the case, there is again but one condition: humans would have to reduce themselves to the movement that brings them to the island, the movement which prolongs and takes up the elan that produced the island. Then geography and the imagination would be one. To that question so dear to the old explorers—”which creatures live on deserted islands?”—one could only answer: human beings live there already, but uncommon humans, they are absolutely separate, absolute creators, in short, an Idea of humanity, a prototype, a man who would almost be a god, a woman who would be a goddess, a great Amnesiac, a pure Artist, a consciousness of Earth and Ocean, an enormous hurricane, a beautiful witch, a statue from the Easter Islands. There you have a human being who precedes itself. Such a creature on a deserted island would be the deserted island itself, insofar as it imagines and reflects itself in its first movement. A consciousness of the earth and ocean, such is the deserted island, ready to begin the world anew.
All of which has a lot less to do with free-floating romanticism, than with the wolf-man of the TT10 poster.
Let us think of it as the wolf-man in Deleuze/Guattari’s sense. The growl, the snarl, the howl; instead of the nod, the whimper, the whine. The wolf man as a figure from whom multiplicity surges forth. Pure multivalent speed, instead of the prudent drag of one sensible direction. ‘Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit.’ (Brian Massumi). ‘The wolf, as the instantaneous apprehension of a multiplicity in a given region, is not a representative, a substitute, but an I feel. I feel myself becoming a wolf, one wolf among others, on the edge of the pack…it is not a question of representation: don’t think for a moment that it has to do with believing oneself a wolf, representing oneself as a wolf. The wolf, wolves, are intensities, speeds, temperatures, nondecomposable variable distances. A swarming, a wolfing ’ (Deleuze/Guattari). The wolf on the poster is out of focus, because it is on its way to becoming what it is not.