April 2008

sugar on my tongue, I say

– Roland Barthes

many say that sugar is mild, but to me sugar is violent, and I call it so

– Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, trans. Richard Howard, Vintage, London, 2000, p. 91

– Talking Heads

“Sugar on My Tongue”

– Talking Heads, 1975

Food riots have already occurred in Haiti, Indonesia and in several African countries. 37 countries currently face food crises, according to the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, Jacques Diouf.

As to what has precipitated the global crisis, the decision to reallocate crop-growing land to bio-fuel production in short-term answer to Peak Oil is a primary contender. However, this flow-on effect, albeit that it is worldwide – rice is being stockpiled in rich countries – is equally the result of an effort to sustain the illusion that there is no worldwide crisis, whether energetic or climatic.

The spring is wound up tight. It will uncoil of itself. That is what is so convenient in tragedy. … The rest is automatic. You don’t need to lift a finger. The machine is in perfect order, it has been oiled ever since time began, and it runs without friction.

– Jean Anouilh, Antigone.

Supply of oil is being incrementally constricted, prolonged by economic measures as well as the expedient of growing bio-fuels. The collapse of the sub-prime market in the US has had a greater shock effect, has met with more immediate reaction and called forth more activity in mitigation, than the global energy crisis, because of where it takes place: purely in the episteme of the market. As an object of knowledge it can be managed, economically. Attempts to manage global food shortages economically have so far failed.

This is not Greek tragedy where fate is decided by the gods and humans can do nothing about it.

– Jacques Diouf, FAO, 23 April 2008

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ιερογαμία

Hieros Gamos, painting by Dino Valls, 2000

THE THEATRE’S FUTURE IS PHILOSOPHICAL

– Louis Althusser, 1929

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for the distinction between a thanatology and a necrology

What were the Kalahari Bushmen doing right now? Nothing. How about the Quebec separatists? Also nothing. I think it must have been the only time every single human being on planet Earth was unified in purpose, in that they were doing nothing more than nourishing the scavengers. Being Nutritious…

The Jews were as dead as the Christians, the Muslims as dead as the Buddhists, the Hindus as dead as the atheists. Nobody human was saved. The Pope was as dead as Nietzsche…

– Nick Sagan, idlewild, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2003, p. 179

Garden of Death, painting by Hugo Simberg

Nutritious and Delicious.

Nutritious protected and nourished, creating vast extraplanar hierarchies with stable interactions and coded laws. Delicious perverted these hierarchies to her own ends.

The Ionian Awakening was Nutritious. The Marx Brothers were Delicious. The Salem witch trials were a little of both.

– Ibid., pp. 177-8

in this first of a trilogy, the primary character, Halloween, takes North America, literally, on some kind of familiar obdurate flight away from the recreation of civilisation. Whether towards the New World or a further thanatological rejection remains to be seen.

And the protective software in the VR world’s called PACE. And:

Did they know that as a lowly caterpillar, the monarch butterfly eats a steady diet of poison? Milkweed is a strong poison but the monarch can take it. On the other hand, a bird that swallows the monarch will swallow the poison, get sick and quite possibly die.

– Ibid., p. 274

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figures of speech, vol. 4

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group operations, vol. 3

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T-CELL: draft project proposal

The problem would be: If theatre is the art of representation par excellence, can we make a non-representational theatre? I suggest such a theatre would be one siding with art against representation.

Dorothea Olkowski holds up Deleuze as the philosopher most responsible for and answerable to the ‘ruin of representation.’ [Gilles Deleuze and the Ruin of Representation, Dorothea Olkowski, Uni. of California Press, London, 1999] Can we make a theatre of ruined representation (that’s not Tim Etchell’s Forced Entertainment) with Deleuze’s philosophy as our guide to thinking it through as far as it will go?

Dorothea Olkowski asks, Can a feminist read Deleuze? We ask, Can a theatre practitioner? Can theatre use Deleuze?

Olkowski provides a possible way of thinking theatre with Deleuze: the ‘theatre of terror.’ [In op. cit., pp. 182-189] She explicitly connects Melanie Klein’s ‘theatre of terror,’ in Deleuze’s reading of it, and Antonin Artaud’s ‘theatre of cruelty.’ Is, however, the term ‘theatre’ metaphorical in the former case of infantile terror? Does the link then dissolve between Artaud and Klein into a rhetorical residue?

Where I want to begin is at this point. I suggested we side with art against representation, in considering theatre as ‘the art of representation par excellence,’ so as to get beyond, but, in fact, to jump to before representation, to art. Here I suggest we might overcome the obstruction to thinking posed by the term ‘theatre’ in its metaphoricity and so favour the term ‘terror,’ as a different way of thinking than that of representation, analogy, identity or metaphor.

Psychoanalysis has used the metaphor of theatre for so long and to such extent that it has practically metastasized, both in the field of psychoanalytical and theatre practice, as bodies of work and works in progress. My point of departure in privileging terror is I hope out of reach already, by way of a cordon sanitaire, of the semiotic mud-slide and sinking-sand of this psychoanalytical theatre or psychoanalysis on stage, mirror-plays between the two bodies and works.

I intend to work in a theatre in which we can treat this semiosis, treat it with the drugs which art provides, that representation merely monitors. With any such treatment things are critical. There is risk where there is engagement. But the goal is to bring theatre to Nietzsche’s ‘Great Health.’

To complicate the theatrical metaphor with a pun: a theatre will be our clinic. Our clinical findings will be expressed and recorded in the word, spoken, written and performed.

Practically speaking, I will form a theatre group from performers with whom I’ve worked already and from those interested enough for this critical and clinical approach to work. Expressions of interest and donations in support are welcome here.

The name mooted for this group is T-Cell, a name I believe, given the project as I’ve briefly outlined it here, to have appropriate resonances, to hit the right nerves.

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T-CELL: a terrorist performancell; theatre of terror, mounting the volumes… to sell

mooted, after meeting Tom today in front of a porn-shop on the K, Tom who volunteered for the clinic, volunteered to act in the lab – it might bear some similarities to the RJF project, but there were obstacles I built into that project, which I’m convinced, newly confident, we can avoid with a more modular, rhizomatic approach – mooted: T-CELL. (I’m listening to Clinic as I write this, their 2006 album, Visitations, the eponymous track 12, in fact.) We will justify the clinical term with an outward-looking – yes, RJF looked inward – and critical engagement with the disease. The disease is terror and terror as the current rule of the spectacle, of representation. Mooted, then, performance modules – clinical; theoretical texts – critical, called T-CELL. It would be the work of a groupuscle, the word of a group-subject. The texts to appear here. The performances… who knows?

What I need at the moment is the money to proceed (to live and so that T-CELL becomes active). Tom said he was at Winz the day before. I said, Funny. So was I, said, I’ve a meeting with PACE next week. Does the mooted project fall within PACE’s criteria? Ideally the clinical work would and the adjunct critical pieces go towards doctoral research: T-CELL would join the two strains, critical and clinical, the written word and the performed, because neither on its own is presently strong enough to fight the disease.

I said, This would beat the Invisible Theatre we have now. Tom said, Stage an invisible play. Thing is the play’s in progress. And we are invisible. To become visible we need the sell. To sell we need the spectacle. To represent or reprazent we need terror. So a terror-cell to sell theatre. We will come out and with us out the truth, the error of representation, the deathwish in it, the disease. In it of it … in the middle of it! We have to represent as the violence in the middle of the representation. A theatre of morsels. A feedback from the guts of the audience to the matrix of the spectacular terror inside representation. The cathode-ray nipple as Franti had it in the good old days of Hiphoprisy is attached to a breast to which belongs the urethral and anal sadism of Klein’s maternal, matricial theatre, the matrix itself.

To moot the problem: how to make a theatre? a theatre which attacks representation? theatre being the most representational of the arts. How?

For once, dear readers, comment! And this would also be a becoming terror of the invisible readers, yes, this would be T-CELL.

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clamps! Theatre of Terror, vol. 2

At the apex of the Terror half a million were shot and seven million despatched to the camps in a period of just over a year. Cautious estimates of the population of the Gulag by 1938 vary, but it seems that about one in ten adults were behind the wire. Why did Stalin do it?

Beyond doubt, the first purpose of the Terror was to freeze independent thought in order to allow Stalin to hold on to power. As Nadezhda Mandelstam explains,

The principles and aims of mass terror have nothing in common with ordinary police work or with security. The only purpose of terror is intimidation. To plunge the whole country into a state of chronic fear, the number of victims must be raised to astronomical levels, and on every floor of every building there must always be several apartments from which the tenants have suddenly been taken away. The remaining inhabitants will be model citizens for the rest of their lives… [quoted from Nadezhda Mandelstam’s Hope Against Hope.]

– Ian McDonald, The New Shostakovich, pp. 145-6

We can assume Robert Mugabe resembles Stalin, at least in his employment of scare tactics on a national scale, a grand enough scale, far-reaching enough, for us to invoke the now somewhat etiolated term – where, arguably, in its most bloodless sense, President Bush II couples it with ‘war’ – ‘Terror.’ Mugabe hath given Zimbabwe and so, we further assume, hath arrogated to himself the right to take it away.

From a distance, the cynic might say he’s done a good enough job of ‘taking it away’ already. But there’s little doubt he’s seen in a God-like role, albeit of the punishing variety, even by the neighbours. The application of undue force – of force in such excess that it is become senseless, exercised, for example, by a state which has no need to exceed a force active and already exerted in guaranteeing it total control – has a bit of God’s arrogant paternal style, (if not His combination of surgical wit in knowing where exactly and how much to torture, that wit so readily apparent in its US rendition). And, in this, Mugabe resembles Stalin also.

Ian McDonald points out in the mentioned work that contemporary soviets attributed the Terror of the late thirties to Yezhov, nominating it Yezhovshchina, a malignant symptom duly named for its alleged mastermind in the clinic of the whisperers, the entire general populace, who in addition removed Stalin, the monster, from culpability, denying that he could have been responsible. This is, isn’t it? the very effect of a Terror: God-like, and for His unconscionable Fury… the corporeal envelope, please, … He’s off the Hook!

They’ve – the US, the Party (Yezhov), Zanu-PF – raided/arrested/held for questioning/disappeared/renditioned/silenced/killed an organ of the Opposition. Wait until Comrade Stalin, President Mugabe, etc. … George W. Bush … hears about this!

What, then, of the impersonal atmosphere of Terror? We don’t think the Devils near at hand will be held to account. They’ll remain men and women, just men and women, in blue masks, in something like a hospital soap. And Mugabe’s clampdown will proceed, rending to us, outside His reach – that particular God, at least – the satisfaction of knowing him, and his terror, by name.

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tools for an extraction, Theatre of Terror, vol. 1

certainly an objet d’ard but why should it remind me of a tongue? until I separate its teeth, its yellow teeth, and the gaps, the startling gaps between them, from its form; like a ball of flesh in which the discernment of tooth, or hair, or tiny misplaced limb articulation, is all that gives it away as foetal: it’s a clearly partial object, from Melanie Klein’s ‘theatre of terror.’ (And feet-al(!): the heel, sole and palate; and, to follow a Keatsian symbolic-erotic morphology, a cavity cast.) Hard to say whether out of mechanical, digital focus or intrinsically, instinctually out of focus, it’s poised to wag and found at the end of an alley where it debouches onto Custom Street, central Auckland.

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