reviewing a further comment on a preceding post: Uri Khein on “towards day 16 @ sf: the dancer’s role in RJF project, pt. 2”

Inevitably, that gesture of definition IS the argument.

– Uri Khein, comment on preceding post, all further quotations are in italics.

The gesture of definition anticipates an argument.

Here I am happily bastardising my little understanding of Gilles Deleuze on the order of a risk (material) and a challenge (anti(philo)sophical) and you come along and scientise the presuppositions of the stage. What recourse for me but to betray my sources by returning to them. Gilles Deleuze writing with Felix Guattari:

… the relationship of science with philosophy is less a problem than that of its even more passionate relationship with religion, as can be seen in all the attempts at scientific uniformisation and universalisation in the search for a single law, a single force, or a single interaction. What brings science and religion together is that functives are not concepts but figures defined by a spiritual tension rather than a spatial intuition. There is something figural in functives that forms an ideography peculiar to science and that already makes vision a reading. But what constantly reaffirms the opposition of science to all religion and, at the same time, happily makes the unification of science impossible is the substitution of reference for all transcendence.

– Deleuze and Guattari, What is Philosophy, trans. Graham Burchell and Hugh Tomlinson, Verso, London, 1994, p. 125

… the argument is … about a fundamental apprehension concerning where the actor is. By where the actor is, I mean where he or she is, prior to the generative deduction (or the false lead or impasse) prior to coherence-optimisation-emergence, prior to the assimilative and originary processes that would seem to intimate a something that is entering the psyche and transforming it, as well as galvanising body and mind. The question then is whether that priorness, that immanence, can rightly be called the generality ….

I would rather pin an actor to the boards, and have done so, or so I have been told, than claim on his or her behalf conceptual access to a generality which precedes him, or her, and is prior. “Priorness” I take to be a mere slip away from ‘priority.’ To be clearer: the question is the benefit in calling what is prior to processes proper to an actor generality. Even if we say the calling is done because of an immanence presupposing certain other things, as yet obscure, the question is a passive position but an active preposition: to whose benefit “rightly called”? The reason I say you make the call and stake the terminological claim on behalf of an actor, and not directly on your own behalf, as your right to rightly call, is that an actor ought neither to be the object of a subject in generality which precedes him or her, nor the object of a science, a definition, that has priority. The call I’m making is that as far as I can tell there is no immanence of the stage planular or otherwise without an actor. It is certainly not prior. An actor might arise from immanence but would at the same time as the place of generality becomes discernible. Which is no more than saying that before the mise-en-scene and character there’s an actor and a stage.

… in specifying the generality as plane or screen of immanence or abiding significance …

In seeking to describe an immanence rightly belonging to theatre, whatever it’s rightly called, what are we doing but addressing ourselves to the presuppositions already at work in the history of theatre, to works and histories? It’s our job to find out what has “abiding significance.” Certainly, I don’t think you mean to give generality the rightful authority to decide for us, however, in giving immanence significance you install a signifying regime, which regime is explicitly said to preexist an actor: I’m saying it therefore preempts, prescribes, actor and director and writer in the theatre since all significations they might make have already been submitted to the one general abidingness.

… I do not intend to imply “a condition of an all-pervasive representation.” Rather, that the generality is necessarily pre-conditional, imageless, non-summative, non-representational: prior to but—and this is the key—neither causative of the gestures or ideograms of representation, or of any particularity, nor reducible to the mass of indistinctions that are prefigurative of representation itself. In other words, the generality has nothing to do with the stream of equivocations that cling to nothing, not even to themselves; nor is the generality an integral unit or function of cohesion! All in all the generality is not the generality of a something. It is generality itself. It is irrefutable not because it is imposed or because it imposes itself but because it is not, and cannot be, imposed and does not, and cannot, impose itself. The general is, in every possible sense of the word, appositional.

Whether representational or not, generality thus defined does impose itself. It imposes itself by prescription. And, I would add, by relying on a plane of reference “that already makes vision a reading.” [Deleuze and Guattari, loc.cit.]

The generality simply abides—as the very condition of the stage itself. … The inherent indefinability is perhaps, above all, what the generality is.

This may be so. But as the condition of the stage what does generality have to say about the condition of the stage?

The impulse to reverse out of, or better said, recoil from immanence is the human impulsion of identity and differentiation itself.

Here, I think you equivocate. Immanence may still have consistency, the consistency of chaos. And identity and differentiation are confused. Identity invokes generality. Differentiation revokes the specification of the human, the unification of the drive, the definition of generality.

.. it is almost always the impulse of the actor to release the problem of identity and differentiation—or simply to suspend it, for at least as long as is required for another emergence to occur.

In the event, difference provokes just such an emergence, doesn’t it?

… the generality, the stage, the plane of immanence, the primary or primordial significance …

I’ve already stated why I object to making significance primary. I’d opt sooner for a primordial insignificance.

… what is immanent or innermost and even pervasive is inevitably consciousness …

Consciousness! Here we come to the reason for my inclusion of the excerpt from Deleuze and Guattari above because I can only assume your vision of consciousness involves a spiritual (or scientific) reading. You may as well have said that what is immanent or innermost to theatre and even pervasive in it is theatre, so often is the analogy made between consciousness and theatre. I would argue theatre can be the best critic of consciousnes because it has this analogy in its history, in its works, and wants constantly to spit or piss it out.

… why would the generality be perverted and why would it be maintained as a something to be opposed for the sake of making sense or of staking out a position?

The question is not why but how. That’s the question: To make sense, stake out a position, which will be the position of the parts of a theatrical production, including the actors, and the whole piece, that perverts – or shifts, one might say, from screen to screen – the generality as the “pre-conditional, imageless, non-summative, non-representational” and “appositional,” exactly as it is maintained, and oppose it for the sake of ridding theatre of significance, especially that dreadful acquiescence, that awful and awesome receptivity it has – its first power – to ideas, ideas that want to make of themselves its precondition.

… it is sufficient that the particularity simply plays itself out upon the generality, the screen of immanence … the very and indefinable thing that may appear to be holding the performance literally in place. It is something greater than praxis. … One couldn’t say how it works or why it works, only that it does work.

Michel Foucault writes: to know how a thing is made so that we know how to unmake it. So I think we need to find out how it works if it does. And that this necessarily entails fieldwork while praxis is still a means of discovery.

If … there is recoil from the generality, then particularisation becomes distorted. In that event, significance will be inevitably attributed to what is insignificant. … There is no malady of significance inherently and none at all of generality.

Deleuze, writing with Guattari, in One Thousand Plateaux, diagnoses two maladies: semiosis and signifiance.

… for the child, language is an inheritance …

The child is different in language from what he or she is outside it. Language inherits the child. But even in this inheritance things aren’t so simple. Parts remain of what the child was before language throws the symmetry of language off-balance to the point of decentering the identity of linguistic consciousness. Language is not ideal. It’s rife with symptoms, crazed with cracks; strange folds appear just when we think we’re ironing it out.

… significance itself will obtain not merely to a given significance or significances but to the literally meaning-less ground wherein radical or primary significance is always pre-eminent. And even if such radical or primary significance should not be fully or apparently available, that selfsame significance is yet guiding the actor as nothing else can or will.

Do you have in mind here significance as a transcendence? To refer back to the excerpt above: the scientific reference happily vetos the spiritual transcendence.

… the actor is free to allow the ideal or originary gesture to appear as the primary resource from which performance can be actualised and in which significance may beget significance.

Ditto. And an actor’s act of allowing strikes me with the same force as the acquiescence, the pusillanimity of the historical stage. If an actor is free then an actor is free. But in practice an actor is not. The character squeezes into whatever space is left after we take into consideration everything else an actor is and does. All these demands on an actor’s attention! Don’t we want to free him or her in order that an actor is able to pursue certain lines… certain experiments? Not for the gesture to be originary or ideal but for the sake of the gestural; not for an actor to “appear as the primary resource from which performance can be actualised” but for the appearance of an actor in performance to be the primary fact. (To clarify: the virtual resource of the actor becomes in the actual performance the fact, the event, articulated by appearance for appearance’s sake.)

If the generality is taken as a given …

If the generality is taken as a given it is a cliche.

… the truth is that the actor is projected. The actor is a prominence of consciousness, uniquely displayed in the sacral space of the stage itself.

Sacrums and fundaments, here is a foundational myth! The truth is in the lie that tells it, on the screen which hides it, in the erection from which it’s cut; the truth is in the act acting it, on the consciousness covering it, below the prominence from which the ground’s taken and, if displayed under arc-lamps, no more than the subject of a desire which annihilates.