day 10 @ the soap factory

a method of continuous production – meaning that fresh ingredients are added to the mixture up above, while down below, the finished product is drawn off …

– RJF Project (pages opposite)

I might have said at some point, in respect of documenting the process of forming these texts – RJF project – into dramatic materials, that is where a more diaristic linearity – like a blog! – to posts here on squarewhiteworld might enter. I might not have, because the intention had been, rather than to record our progress through successive rehearsals as the steps towards an already imagined endpoint in production, to describe an approach, an open and non-linear process, relative to a provisional set of stations at which the work would be staged.

This process as a group process has so far foundered on or at least not flowed easily from and over the absences of one or another of the cast. It has also encountered and not assimilated as an obstacle the absence of the dancer character. Contrary to the original intention behind recording here then a backwards-forwards movement of thought and actions, I find that what we are doing is making little more than progress. You could say this is because there have up to this juncture been insufficient fresh ingredients. You could equally say that the mixture has so far failed. What one has been able to draw off down below in the way of a finished product from the mixture of textual, metaphorical and actual ingredients, from the mixture of materials, has not been sufficient to support a description of process or answer the problem of approach.

Day ten marked the addition of a new member to the group, Morgana, an actress with a background in dance. Progress! And now the problem of binding a fresh thread of inquiry into the warp of the work: how to address the sense of the work in the element of dance? The movement is double, on one side, the throughline dance cuts, on the other, the line cut through dance, by the project, dance being one among its elements.

Deleuze: We seek to determine an impersonal and pre-individual transcendental field, which does not resemble the corresponding empirical fields, and which nevertheless is not confused with an undifferentiated depth. This field cannot be determined as that of consciousness. … What is neither individual nor personal are […] emissions of singularities, insofar as they occur on an unconscious surface … Singularities are the true transcendental events, and Ferlinghetti calls them “the fourth person singular.”

– Gilles Deleuze, The Logic of Sense, trans. Mark Lester with Charles Stivale, Continuum, London, 2004, p. 118

Elsewhere, Deleuze writes of the battle as event, hovering over itself. That is, over the individual views of the battlefield – those of soldiers, officers, generals, medics or of distant centres of command (like the novelist who describes the battle) – over the empirical fields which correspond to a battle, as event, the battle hovers. It hovers exactly like the idea of the work above the work we do, of the theatre above the theatre we make. And further, the relationship between the former and the latter theatre, between theatre and the idea, theatre, is not one of the particular to the general (and not of some kind of ideal theatre through some sort of dramatic descent to its actualisation onstage), but of the singularity-event above to the heterogeneous series below. The finished product, soap, for instance, would be one in this heterogeneous series of ones, affirming the mixture in its immediate heterogeneity, in every instance, through difference in repetition, in which all odds are stack on each and every roll of the dice – or, back again to theatre, through (continuous) production in (contiguous) rehearsal (the variable = n).

I would like to take advantage of Deleuze’s choice of ‘battle’ as a fortuitous event, since it introduces the notion of a polemical process as opposed to a dialectical process. The painter, Francis Bacon, one of the figures invoked in the work with which we are currently engaged, argued against abstract painting because of its openness to any number of interpretations, because, as he maintained, it doesn’t offer anything to combat the viewer. Asked to account for the appeal of painters like Jackson Pollock, his one-word explanation was, “Fashion.”

Igor Stravinsky is of a similar mind in his view of the Great Tradition as being an argument, an argument going back through the centuries – a battle, one could say, to wrest art from fashion. (Again, Bacon averred that there exists no longer any choice but to be a Great Artist.) And not just to make new but make sense.

Stravinsky consciously threw himself into the fray, the battlefield of musical composition, in preference to throwing himself down into the abyss of possibilities, an “undifferentiated depth” which we can readily identify as Deleuze’s, the fragmented and fragmenting formlessness of a schizophrenic abyss. So the security Stravinsky said he found in traditional musical forms need not be interpreted as connoting his avoidance of taking artistic risks; these forms may properly be called martial. And polemical.

In an earlier post I have said ‘dialectical’ but neither Stravinsky nor Bacon would have felt at home, artistically, behind a stall for ideas or commodities, in the marketplace, in the agora, at the place where fashion and dialectics played. They would sooner have found an appropriate venue for their individual agonistics outside this democratic forum (or ghetto) and beyond the city’s reigning lights, “on this glacis,” as Paul Virilio puts it, at “the place of exclusion [le lieu des bannis] from the rights of the citizen.” (Or perhaps it’s simply that I would choose to put art on this glacis, ensuring the glaciation of its forms!) I am circling back around to the root of ‘polemic’ and its derivations being found in the word for battle, polemos. [Paul Virilio, Desert Screen, trans. Michael Degener, Continuum, London, 2005, pp. 5-6]