time without nerves, or – unfound particles, anorganic metabolism, unpeopled parks: an exchange of letters, pt. 3

– Balthus, La Victime, 1939-1946

No. That’s not it. That’s not what I meant to say at all. I meant to say that despite the commercial interests circumscribing online interaction in Web 2.0, at the level of socalled social networking, and to a certain extent because of it, this way of being online, in a group and yet individually isolated, expresses a wish that is possibly general to circumvent obstructions, to flow around, to evade controls. The mode of content as performative, each before a screen, is in effect this flowing, this dialogue. It has the virtue of being frictionless. Such interruptions as naturally occur are instantly recuperated into the bonhommie of the flood, the good will being held in common. It has a constancy and bubbliness that never threatens to overflow, or overthrow its own good sense: the stakes are shared; regardless that the shares are not.

I am giving this by way of a circuitous preamble to what my reasons were for having exchanged the letters: Dear Visitor, this site exists for theatre; Dear Visitor, I cannot hope that there will be theatre. The hereafter has arrived and everything seems like a false start. Curiouser and curiouser. …who are actually very nice people, in a bosca oscura.

– Pierre Rousseau, The Forest in Winter at Sunset, 1845-67

I cannot hope that there will be theatre, which does not exclude the possibility that there may have been and yet may be theatre along the way. This is the problem: there can be no once-and-for-all abjuration; the objects have a habit of becoming subjects once more. I can only testify to that for which I cannot hope. There will be theatre…? Why shouldn’t there be?

What I felt I was doing in a letter asking for support for theatre work which was somehow to come out of Square White World became in May a confidence trick for which I was responsible. Albeit that there was something facetious about soliciting for donations, touting for patrons; but at least I could say, Look at what is here, already on this blog; surely something better will come!

The elsewhere invoked, in the notion of theatre, performed for the letter, by extension the blog/site, the function of a pretext… to come. Like Messianic time. Or like Oedipus at Colonus (Οἰδίπους ἐπὶ Κολωνῷ), we would share a secret, a confidence, that at a designated site, there will have been a death and this secret would defend and ensure our continuance. The grave being somewhere else than here will have provided a timely foundation for what is traditionally also a cave, like the one in which Oedipus occupied in death, theatre. Which, as I was earlier saying, is all theatre.

The trick turns the secret into something other than a bulwark or boon, a burden, a curse perhaps. The turn has the capacity to make the trick into a mere utility of commercial advance. At the turn, we find the joke on us. This recognition when it arrives, in, as I have tried to say, empty time, which was supposed to act as guarantor for the future time, breaks all theatrical conventions: the stage is invaded by the cemetery upon which it raised its board.

What I have said happens in a previous post on the subject is that the structure of Square White World is riven in two. It breaks. It is breaking. The break in a construction such as this cannot be recuperated from in simply allowing itself to flow. It ceases to perform the same trick. Letters are exchanged but the rites must be observed: time must pass; the new situation must be marked and remarked.

The loss of hope for theatre now says something I would like to pursue in talking about a theatre which does not function as it did in the context of this blog/site. Because of the new situation we find ourselves in now, you, the reader, if you are there, and I, because we are marking them and will continue to, differences may be extracted and new qualities acknowledged. Without hope so much now remains to be said.

As to where I find myself placing what I am doing here now because there is a difference which places in question the guarantorship of my performance and the reliability of my narration, I would like to shift the emphasis in a way that will perhaps sound like a cliché from being to becoming: hence between performance and installation, at the variable n of not I, or I. What we may now become is not limited by what we hoped.

– Balthus, La Phalène, 1959-1960

I would put my position in a formula with which any artist will be familiar: