The parasites are still here: notes on an exchange of letters, pt. 1

Here is a strange troubling and personal statement in which everything is revealed and nothing is said. I love actors like my father did. I just don’t believe they should be put in charge of theatres.

– from notebooks

To satisfy ignorance is to put off writing until tomorrow.

– Gilles Deleuze

Not meaning anything.

– from notebooks

What would it mean? Not to mention in these post and pages, not to blog the changes it was undergoing, even underwent? They may not have been so thoroughgoing as to warrant mention. They may indeed have been profoundly superficial.

On May 20 I completely removed the begging letter I’d kept at the top of the left-hand margin for several years, having on May 4 made the following addition to it:

What follows is in need of updating (as of this interpellation, 4/5/9). Where I say ‘theatre’ hereunder, as in ‘Theatre is its dark round sun,’ understand ‘my father.’ Hear a new tone entering: that my father’s death changes all here written with such certainty.

What there is of me in Square White World misses its missing moiety. But I would not ask you to donate but to what you see and read that this writing and reading will be a kind of anti-theatre… More soon.

The letter had previously gone like this:

Dear Visitor,
Donations to Square White World go to theatre. This site exists as a clearing-house for works that are both treatments and projects. It also exists as a testbed for pieces of dramaturgy and satire, scripts, scribblages, ideas, notes, imagisms and lettrisms.

It is then that most a-theatrical thing: literal. I am asking for donations and I am touting for patrons because Square White World is only half a thing and made of half things. Theatre is its dark round sun. Without it this site is a vanity, a Qlipphoth.

How will you benefit from your donation or act of patronage? Immediately, from seeing and reading the results here, eternally, from joining those Medici, those citizens of the world: you will gain the only health worth having, Great Health.

The image above will take you to Paymex, a secure way of making payments by credit card that is 100% New Zealand owned.

The image below will take you to Paypal. Once there, do not be perturbed to be donating to Brazil Coffee. The small brown bean provides the other juice on which this site relies. And should you prefer coffee to patronage, please place your order here.

Above and below the text were pictures, above the sea, below the land, which when clicked on took you to Paypal and Paymex respectively. Of course the page had no function. It didn’t work. Nobody gave. So naturally nobody noticed when it was removed.

Why would I want to go into my clearly ‘personal’ reasons for making changes to what is a personal blog? Redundancy? Or vanity?

I replaced the old begging letter with a new one. You can read it here. Remember to give generously. Give a toss.

I’m partly prompted to explore this theme by the matter of the previous post, Dudley Benson’s A Performance in Openness, and partly in order to find out what I can currently say, in order, as Michel Foucault wrote, not to think it anymore. In other words, I’ve been meaning to comment myself on something that has passed without comment, on the fact of it and the fact that it has. In turn, this has something to do with a structure, the structure of this site/blog.

That the structure of Square White World comes into question can be easily discerned in the addition of May 4, where there is a “missing moiety.” Equally, this absent half possesses a symmetry with the position stated in the original letter, that “Square White World is only half a thing and made of half things.” The other half of the structure is theatre. Theatre’s place as taking up half the structure is put into question by the loss of my father. There is then a doubling of absences here, or – not here.

What is the current place of theatre in the site/blog? Is it all now to be theatre? A performance of openness such as might be being rehearsed in this writing?

I’d like to consider first another absence, the reader’s. If I were undertaking a disquisition on the model of theatre, using its metaphor, after Alain Badiou, I would concur with his view that without the spectator, which is what the reader has become, without the spectator there is no theatre. However as the original begging letter put it, theatre is not here, not online, on the interweb-thingy, not at Square White World.

The theatre of the world wide web may not exist without a spectator, but its theatricality, as in medium, certainly does. Or, to be more specific, the disclosure that without theatre Square White World is a half thing does not foreclose the site/blog from its own theatricality.

Samuel Weber conceives of theatricality the medium, beyond its generic specifications, as taking place, a taking place, in which the genetic, the ‘of’ place, is displaced, or, challenged. Theatricality has to take place, beyond the spectacular exigencies of its genre. Theatricality as the medium of theatre locates itself in the dislocation whereby acting takes the place of action. The genetic, a taking place of, concerns action, a belonging to action of place; theatrically speaking, a belonging of a place to acting. The important statement in the current context is that of a place, not a no place like the world wide web, like it claims to be.

You could say, the web being world wide (not, interestingly, worldwide), that its particular world, which the web fills, is as wide as, constitutes a unitary stage, a temporal emplacement, dislocates the actions by which it is engendered. That it is an act, a great show, world wide, because, like death, on tour worldwide, coming across the waves, to a screen in front of… whom?

You might contrastingly propose that where we are placed as spectactors is where it’s at, the theatre, the acting, frontscreen, in our respective biotopoi. And here we are beset by actions the actors of which we cannot in effect discern. Home theatre just got a lot smaller for being off- and back- and never on-screen.

These meanings may not be true of our case here, but they are interesting, less for the notion of theatre than online readership. Who do I think my readers are that they will be interested in whether theatre is here or there?

The easy way out is of course to invoke the notion of performance: I am staging all this for my own sake, psychological need, indexed off the sublimation of desire. Although, when I write this, I wonder how J.L. Austin’s performativity can be part of the same discourse as psychoanalysis’s use of theatre, or popular psychology’s view of ‘acting out.’ The former holds that the performance is hollow, the latter that it is full. For Austin, language in performance undermines and is a parasite upon normal language. For Freud, normal language is a performance in so far as it is staged as normal and yet, if you know where to look, has on its surface the holes leading into the mines, which, if you know how to follow them, lead to the gold and the shit.

Only from the analytical point of view could I be holding up my own hollowness for its fullness, that is, for what others might make of it, if they are shown where to look and expertly guided, so as to avoid pitfalls, and the parasites who are no doubt still there. Possibly the assumption is general that the other is the expert, and always willing to hunt down hidden meanings. Performance then would surely be a kind of social parasitism, where I prevail on your attention, in a surrender that is an attack and demand that you enter the openness of the performance, whether you are equipped so to do or not. Is it deep enough to stand up in? Can I hear my own echo? Are there bones?