fifty-ninth part, called “on movement LIX,” of a series of ‘letters’ written to you, the reader, towards a book called, theatre | writing

on movement

The static: civil war: it elicits a … breach, that runs through society. It breaches, then runs in all directions at once. But this is to say that it surfaces. It surfaces as the mobile displacement of every certainty. It has that other meaning of static, white noise, and causes a superfluidity of motion, like the sea. Passes like a wave over the world, without resolving, so, also cloud-like. Vaporous. And intoxicating.

Static, it is the music that doesn’t allow you to hear. Only in the last instance will it resolve into melody, in Bergson’s terms, time. Yet at that instant, along comes a tragic figure, limping. And we should note that for Bergson there are no instants: we are always in the cloud, caught in the wave of time as duration, for as long as we can. So he supports this confusion: is it like the thought severed from itself? or severed from potency? No, Oedipus chooses for just this type of displacement, just this type of mobility.

We must ask how things differ for us when everything is in this shifting cloud of abstraction which is more like a screaming hurricane or jet engine. The difference is that we are immobilised. In those beautiful lines from La mort en direct, Eveything is of interest. Yet nothing matters. Enormous effort is expended on trying to make it matter again. This is unlike any will to power we have ever seen before. It is, as Houellebecq writes in the novel of the same name, atomised.

Each harbouring her little cut. Yes, I recognise it as a sexual image. And each his.

It will be a great relief to be able to use words again as they were intended: to enable movement. A similar relief was found, you recall, when we were talking of theatre people, about how, after the show, after the evisceration of it, happy or unhappy, about how great it was to have imposed on one the most ferocious violence of language, about how being called a cunt and a cock doubled for those organs one, happily or unhappily, had left or spilt on the stage. And this is in fact the way we have been using the language of theatre, without malevolence. To speak for movement, not on behalf of bodies, but to offer them some relief.

Another film: My Dinner with Andre. Wallace Shawn is speaking with Andre Gregory. He asks why the other gave up theatre. Gregory answers, Everybody got so good at acting in their everyday lives. Gregory, a theatre director, having given up theatre had initiated a new project he called a hive. Really just a dinnerparty where everybody turns up and we just see what happens.

With everybody so good at acting all the time, performing, as well as being their own (atomic) impressarios, entrepreneurs of the self, we experience humanity as an endless mobility. But not an open-ended one. Since each one is the end point. A stop.

And this is the word one cannot say. At least, it brings no relief to say it. Saying it is like plunging into the punctuation point at the end of a sentence.

Mobilities are of those old things, gender, race and class: the working class is on the move like never before and so has been the main victim of the various state-imposed lockdowns. Gender fluidity has been called by some performance, while those little words, the linguistic shifters, have become intransigent like never before, and we are asked to have our pronouns permanently assigned. Like smiles. Race and gender have most exercised the middleclasses even in the middle, exactly in the middle, of their crisis in values. When, perhaps, it gives relief from being squeezed. And when that class is empty, will the mobilities remain?

Yes, we are in the cloud of our own carbon emissions. Stumbling around and trying not to acknowledge how we falter. Seeking therapy not to make that acknowledgement. Or plastering over the cuts. When along comes Oedipus, not that old one we can thank for doing so much harm in the century before the last one. And not that Anti-One Deleuze and Guattari take out for a schizo stroll. This one solves the Sphinx’s riddle. By choosing to walk with a faltering step, he (or she, or both, let’s see) is two-legged, three-legged, and four-legged.

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