while there’s still coffee in my cup

The last day of this year’s calendar, the year does not so much need summing up–although I would like the time and space to mark events that have moved events, as events inevitably do–as it seems to want a few words said in a valedictory tone or register. We would want it to fare well as we farewell it; and so we would wish to those who can still be bothered to speak and to listen. Because it’s difficult, it seems increasingly, to parse meanings in a mobile world that has never been more immobilised and to listen with an ear for meanings, to speak with meaning. So many symbolic acts have been recorded to have occurred this past year, we grow sick of them.

I have been writing the continuation of work on Minus Theatre into what we did with the negotiation of that particular time and space which arises between speaker and listener, an experiment that ended in July 2017. I have been writing on the indifference of that intersubjective place where subjects symbolise and gesture, speak and listen to one another, and on how, although indifferent to what is said, to what is written, it is seldom acknowledged in its own right. Rather, the space of symbols and the time of gestures is singled out, speech and writing are singled out, and the symbolic is singled out as being of the utmost significance. That is the act of signification is more significant than the theatres and foyers of its conduct–let alone communication and the solidarity sought through it.

Were it to be considered in its own right, this place where humans engage in negotiating exchange, we might encounter better and more open questions and meanings. We might think about what we need for there to exist any place of signification and symbolic exchange and drop the needless stress on what is exchanged. We might cease as well to need to speak as if we mattered more than the indifference of the place, the global place, the local place, and the elements and terrestrial forces to which both are subject. Instead I hear we ought to make a difference, and I suppose we ought, but to the human. Nothing is achieved by standing alongside the human and negotiating the indifference of the place where we make our stand and state our standpoint. Nothing to be gained by punctuality.

We have lost this year from this place the great dance and theatre director and writer Douglas Wright. That’s a shame and shamefully unmarked, enragingly unmarked. His dark rage–part and parcel of what is most intensely NZ–should be missed. I will miss it.

Are we provisioned for the next year? Hardly. So much of the wrong kind of disappointment. In the doco made about Douglas, Haunting Douglas, he acknowledges how revelatory was the question put to him by a former lover: Is there something in your life you would like to do? He had never considered the possibility he could, that he might declare for something in his life; he had never considered the possibility one was able to, to make an answer, even to declaring for it as a responsibility and commitment, using the words: In my life I would like to …

Farewell 2018. For the new year, I can think of no better wish to make than that in 2019 you speak those words and listen to your answer.