forty-fifth part, called “subject matter XLV,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

subject matter

An actor who stakes her life on the squeak she makes with her gumboots, playing Rosalind in As You Like It, rubbing one rubber gumboot against the other: a very human privilege, and a privilege amongst humans. Squeak, squeak. It has even more weight than the sound of her voice, but when her voice comes it’s like it has been infected with the sound, making something else sound in her speech than the well-formed words. Giving another sense, and, de-structuring the existing or pre-existing one.

The resonance is first on another surface than the stage, an ideational surface, perhaps, ideal surface of the actor’s finding something out, which she is reporting on, all speech onstage having something of the nature of indirect speech. The words consist in a participation, participate in the script, and counter-actualise it, in Deleuze’s terms, without contradicting it. The deformation enacted is not of purpose, necessarily, of what one purposes to say. Rather it removes something which it does not replace. This removal is not to the heights, a withdrawal, or retraction; neither is it to the depths, a regression or subduction.

The removal may be said to be of the whole, for the sake of consistency. Not that saying so would be in order to be consistent, but that what is left is the play of parts which form a consistency. The sense of a whole withdraws durationally, is reserved for the subjective power of an indeterminate duration. Then again, it’s not as if we hold off from telling you the whole story until an end is reached, with which the story was, had been, was always going to be self-identical, in a sort of retroaction devised to make, or give the impression of, everything falling into place.

In each playing his part, it’s more the case of an internal cohesion of conflicting elements. The conflicts are great but effortless; and the conflicts are diminutive, at the vanishing point: because the withdrawal or removal of the whole, reserving it to a subjective duration that is indeterminate, is for the sake of indeterminacy and consistency. The body, for Bergson, is a centre of indeterminacy. It too has a centre of reception, where what is being reported on is given time for an action which is as yet not fully determined; we can say, when it is, it will be actualised. And, for Bergson, such an action that is as yet indeterminate is also a sensation, the act of sensation.

Sensation acts or interacts in and with the world at large, does not provide representation of it, or give information to us, in the way of what it is like. No likeness, action: and we have set up the surface of the stage to be a field for the grossly indeterminate. We have deemed it to have the consistency of indivisible movement, going from one thing to another without regard for the different frames or structures of reference being trespassed on: structure has been left behind. Is left behind at the first step. That is, the thing structuring the world is removed for the play of parts, where there is great division, clashes of what we may call conscience; and yet the movement is indivisible: so we go from world to world as easily as going from part to part (the reason for taking out the whole, or, and, taking it for being simply one more part: now one part less). In fact, we go from subject to object and back again.

The play of movements is reflected at smaller and smaller scales, degrees of difference, all the way down to the most minute. At the level of the vibrationary squeak, a particle is emitted. If we imagine it in wave form and blow it up enormously, we can see the peaks as well as the great troughs, which at this level are of worlds colliding. The overall, duration, is what enables the one and the other, by consenting to the formation of a single surface, having the singular consistency to comprehend, so hold in contemplation, the great play of the world with the fraction of a vestigial sound or gesture, glance, grimace. Structures clanging against and destroying each other. Then, no more than gumboots rubbing, as small as a mouse, singing.

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