theatrum philosophicum

day 231 – 262 – on being meaningless & ‘a tissue for my eyes’

life during lockdown:

thanks Pavane!

The Assembly adopted draft resolution I, “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo‑Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”, by a recorded vote of 130 in favour to 2 against (Ukraine, United States), with 51 abstentions. – from here

note abstention of both Australia and New Zealand.

US maintains it is a freedom of speech issue.

note also that this is not fake but mirage news.

s: who knows what the new year will bring…

c: it will just make us more nuggetty.

thanks Mark!

A controlled population is a living population

what is the role of COVID-19? to discredit democracy

what is the role of Trump? to discredit democracy

Lohraw: In the future there will be infamy every 15 minutes.

via Ttekceb: And once this first ordeal is surmounted, the next will come along, like buses…

to be meaningless is easy as long as you keep your meaning secret

Talking with an old friend I realised:

a tissue for my eyes please


[Of course, to say to be meaningless is easy as long as you keep your meaning secret is completely disingenuous. Being meaningless is easy so long as secretly you believe that you are meaningful. Being meaningless is easy so long as secretly I believe that I am not. To believe you are meaningless is difficult. … We used to do this thing in Minus Theatre where all meaning is moved up onto the surface. The more meaningful the better. The more intensity of meaning the better. And the more depth of meaning the better. The idea is not for meaning to be lost, to lose or shed meaning from that which previously had meaning and was meaningful. The idea was not to pull meaning up by the roots, to root it out from wherever it sprang. The idea was, the idea is, that once put on the surface meaning can change. To keep it secret (hidden in the deep) or to keep it secretly (because of its depth) keeps meaning the same. So it can’t change. What is meaningful remains rooted in the soil where it grows. But it only seems to grow. What in fact is happening is that meaning has stuck. It remains rooted to the spot. It has only one fixed meaning, when this in fact is only a part of its meaning. A gesture of suicide, what does it mean? Does it mean the desire to rejoin the soil–of meaninglessness? Or is it threatening death to what is too full of meaning, has too much meaning? Suicide seems to be both the absolute statement of personal meaning at the same time as it is the absolute statement of personal meaninglessness. In Minus we would make the gesture and steal it for other purposes. A man tearing out his own hair would be getting his hair done. A woman shooting herself would have suicide as part of its meaning, it would be, in other words, acting. … Acting seems to be both the absolute statement of personal meaninglessness at the same time as it is the absolute statement of personal meaning. It is where the personal changes meaning. Online personal expression fixes meaning. No statement can be made that does not stick to the one who makes it. The selfie mask sticks to the face (…the face to the mask / the root to the plant…). It is not acting but a gesture that by being made is meaningful. And it is not theatre. Or rather it is the worst kind of theatre, the theatre of feelings that are no less meaningful for being manufactured, a factory for the sentimental, a productionline for kitsch, for a politicised engagement with the personal and for a personalised performance of the political. It means taking a stand. Against this: Minus Theatre. What if your meaningful statement was more mobile and less absolute? Your political standpoint–what if it allowed of other meanings? Your personal viewpoint–it is not enough to let there be other and opposite viewpoints from which it either differs or to which it is opposed: what if your personal viewpoint meant different things at different times and places and even the opposite then and there of what it means here and now? Meaning needs to be decomposed just enough for it to become mobile–neither full of meaning nor wholly without meaning. Communication, sympathy, empathy–these are not enough: for each statement, each gesture, each action and each suicide that it is meaningless participates in its meaning. We might say that its deconstruction is present in it, an ongoing part of it, allowing it to travel not only back and forth but in all directions, towards all sorts of unintended meanings and lacks of meaning. Aporetic and ephectic, Beckett writes.]

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day 44

I’m dreaming of a theatre. Another one. This one’s doing Howard Barker’s The Last Supper, so it’s called Theatre for Breakfast. But it could equally be called, as Barker called his own theatre, ‘theatre of infection.’

I have been writing that there’s only one thing worse than catastrophe, the avoidance of catastrophe.

The avoidance does not itself constitute the catastrophe. It performs the wrong reversal. It is not a question of Think how bad it could have been! but one of reversing the threat or inverting it: How good is it!

Today at the beach two young women stood at the edge of the sea, where it sank into the sand, and one of them threw her arms up in the air and sang out: I feel so free! then both acknowledged without the demands on their time of the social or work, they had been released. They were free.

It was a beautiful day. The beach pushed right against the horizon like a knife. (Which makes one think of another Barker play, The Wounded Knife.)

What would it take to puncture that blue? associated by some with death.

To be free of the demands of work and the social, How good is it!

It is not what we have avoided but that we have encountered.

Thank your gods. But Barker abjures us to rise to them. To become unforgivable. To rise to the occasion of delivering ourselves up to whatever it is. Even our own fiction.

A fiction is preferred. Preferable. And unforgivable.

Theatre for Breakfast performs bearpit style. A central circle where the audience hurls an actor or two, or in Barker’s case, many–he expressed hatred for the economies of writing for reduced (human) resources early on. Austerity of theatres or dances for one performer, or socalled performance art. Austerity avoiding catastrophe: imagine: no art!

But art, How good is it!

So the audience hurls the actors in onto a surface of sawdust or sand to soak up whatever bodily fluids come out of them–usually just spit. But what is unforgivable? And sweat, of course. They are sweating like slaves, and panting and eager like gladiators. And hot and well-greased. And blooded like prey. (Which is the name of a book by Herbert Blau, a friend, rest in peace, or do as you will, How good is it!)

Dirty. Will it make any sense, this time, you ask? having not seen Minus Theatre, or heard about it, and heard that it was better heard about than seen.

This is the strength of Barker: one of his first unforgivable acts–beyond unforgivable in NZ–to declare his theatre elitist. But not then to let the elite get away with it. And equally not let the culturally underprivileged or underprovided get away with it either. This is just the setup. Anyway, the elitism Barker is talking about isn’t privilege as such. It’s not about money. It’s about the elitism to which art makes its appeal–not as a beggar or chugger, charity case: but the intellectual elite to whom moral challenge is as essential as air; but this necessity is really everybody’s, says Barker, only not everyone will come to theatre because of the material setup.

But is it just the material setup? Isn’t it that theatre to many is by its nature inaccessible? Not lack of access–which funding bodies always want to be reassured is being provided–but aversion.

We can say all we like it’s a matter of education or being excluded because our stories are not the ones being told. But is it both? Or is it the former? necessitating an investigation into education. Or is it the latter? necessitating the re-education of those who might be doing the excluding.

The broader question is Who really wants to be morally challenged?

Isn’t this the last thing we want? Don’t we need art, theatre the way we need drugs, alcohol, to escape too much reality?

Can a taste for one’s values being thrown into a crucible or a bearpit be developed? Barker seems to think it can and that this is the necessity of theatre.

Then, aren’t we too used to having our values simply thrown away?

Or a more extreme way of saying this: aren’t we simply used to and don’t we more enjoy our degradation? … And isn’t this the similarity between art, theatre and drugs, alcohol supported by art-as-entertainment or escapism?

And for degradation we can easily swap in numbing or the more proper word anaesthetic.

I recall in one of the many filmic portraits of him one in which Oscar Wilde made the following essential distinction: some drink to forget; I, on the other hand, drink to prolong the moment.


… good wine of necessity is wine no matter what its quality that acts to prolong the moment …

… in some cases so good it engenders states of clairvoyance …

Tonight we watch Kelly Reichardt’s Old Joy with Daniel London’s eyebrows and Will Oldham’s legs (really, quite incongruously), Yo La Tengo’s understated score and an extraordinary song using the word congregation to mean something like popular will: we are sometimes with the congregation; sometimes it is against us. Watch out when the congregation is against us. [Please let me know if you know what, who done it.]

I want to make 100 movies in New Zealand where nothing happens.

It would take 100 to get the message across–to turn around the “cinema of unease” by which NZ cinema is and has been damned to be a thing without its shell twitching every time it’s poked with a sharpened stick.

Electrodes attached to it never able to relax in its skin.

Skin off salt rub.

100 movies in which nothing happens. A woman at the lip of the sea says I feel free. A cinema free of the congregation so free of the necessity to jab it with home truths and watch it jump.

This cinema would then be the opposite of Barker’s theatre. All it would say is chill out people! It’s OK! Stop trying so fucking hard!

Then I feel as though I am in a desert again among the deliberate acts of ugliness and abomination that compose our indigenous architectural landscapes, our relentless uneasy culture and its treasure trove of icons.

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we must in a world we cannot, days 10, 11 & 12, 13

I have moved some of my comments onto the <<empyre>> listserv this past several days, named a soft_skinned_space by Melinda Rackham its founder, in Melbourne, 2002, now based at Cornell.

I was moved to pass on Levi Bryant’s article “A World is Ending,” and to point to what I had already written into and out of squarewhiteworld.

Bryant wrote a beautiful book on Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, with the best explanation of the three syntheses of time.

“A World is Ending,” rather than a philosophical response, is the response of an academic professorial chair to COVID 19, a chair the pandemic, in its impact on Bryant, had made so spikily uncomfortable, “A World is Ending” talks of a before and an after, much as there was a before and after to history, according to Fukuyama, to which the attacks on New York’s Twin Towers come after.

“A World is Ending” does talk philosophy. Kant’s shadow falls heavily over the whole thing. And it is because of him, his transcendental framework, and Heidegger’s world worlding, that we can get anywhere close to one ending.

The carpentry of the world is coming apart. The unity and continuity on which we can support objects has gone skew-whiff, like a set of shelves, or, the heart of the girl in Lloyd Cole’s song, like crazy paving, upside down and back to front.

And not least the things at the market have taken on some alarming characteristics: each one is morbidly fascinating, as it steps up to threaten us, in its own right addressing itself to us with the demands of its potential toxicity. It has become unfamiliar and alien.

Rather than transcendental it is now in Levinas’s terms transcendent. A world is ending when common things transcend our ability to comprehend them.

This is not to say I don’t love the reading of the super market in fragmentation. But it is the case in exactly a transcendental sense. At least this is what I think Deleuze describes with his failure of time’s third synthesis, the synthesis of the future, which would ground the first two syntheses of time, and orientate the world to the continuity of the future, to it being continuous with past and present, a time making sense of our life’s journeys retroactively–but it can’t, it can’t make this kind of sense, if anything new is to come out of something as big as a world ending, or even for a window to open a crack, letting in a little fresh air.

The super market. The wiping of hands. The wringing of hands. And the breath restricted to recirculation in our masks. Our masks.

An empyre contributor, Gary, came back with this paragraph from Merleau-Ponty, in a letter to Sartre, 1953:

I have in no way renounced writing on politics… What I have decided to do since the Korean War is a very different thing. I have decided to refrain from writing on events as they are unfolding. This has to do with reasons that belonged to that period, and also with reasons that are permanent. … I have suggested a number of times that what the journal [Les Temps Modernes] should be doing is not take hasty positions, but rather propose lengthy studies. … What I had in mind was to act as writers, a type of action that consists in a back and forth between the event and the general line, and which does not simply consist in confronting every event (in imaginary fashion) as though it was decisive, unique and irreparable. This method is much closer to politics than your method of ‘engagement continue’ [continuous engagement] (in the Cartesian sense). Indeed, precisely in that sense, it is more philosophical, because the distance it creates between the event and the judgement one passes on it defuses the trap of the event…

And they are clearly right, Merleau-Ponty and Gary. This advice is something Sartre would never follow.

But I was moved to ask Gary through the door opened by Bryant’s world ending, his chair against the door, whether the notion of politics when applied to today’s conduct of politics by governments might not, like the before and after, and like Fukuyama’s history’s end, be an exaggeration? An emplaced exaggeration, and I would say for that reason a theatrical exaggeration?

(But this is to follow on in a groove I have spared you from, writing in my other writing.)

Time has intervened, synthesised, opened out again, chairs have moved on the decks, deckchairs, dreck has shifted. To one side. And we’re offbalance again.

We watched Funny Games. If you recall, the action ramps up quite rapidly.

It’s eggs. Eggs dropping from whitegloved hands. Sound familiar?

Communications cut off for our hero family unit. George the son. The failure of the pater familias to read the writing on the wall….

It should remind you to retrace, retroactively making sense of, the course of events: Is the significant lapsus the father’s to pick up on the signals the mother is sending?

Is this what launches the entire family unit into tragedy?

Very quickly, in Anouilh’s definition of tragedy, the spring that is wound up tight uncoils. Fate becomes ineluctable. Delivered as if by a clockwork mechanism.

The philosophically inclined will see here the cosmos in its clockwork continuity. Chairs rotating. Musical chairs. Before … the playing of dice with the universe. Indeterminacy. Or uncertainty. Bohr or Heisenberg.

But it should remind us to take care.

Or should it?

This is not Heidegger’s care.

It is the crayfish noticing the water growing warmer.

The mother getting some kind of formal organic inkling that things, that oceans ought not be warming, that this big stainless steel pot of self isolation and social distancing, in which we have let ourselves be immersed, ought not be getting awful hot…

What I had to say on <<empyre>> to Gary, and Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Heidegger, Kant was that there is a representative layer, a gestural level, to this whole boiling water thing going on underneath.

There are signs of it in the apologetic tone struck by our own PM: government departing from the script, economies fragmenting: between the economies of the many and economies of social atomies.

But more than this more than this when is it clear we have to get out … ?

And quite apart from the moralising imperatives of the We must kind, who say, after this We must save the planet… We must…love each other well… We must…act like it’s after and not before, like history has not ever ended before and re-started. We must see finally see neoliberal we-musts for the ideological interpellations they always already were. (Even Trump says this.) We have seen the global economy get stopped. We must acknowledge that… We can make it stop. This endless despoliation of the globe. This endless devastation of the social sphere. This pointless endless pointlessness.

We also watched Paolo Sorrentino’s The New Pope.

It is in every way sublime.

Not the Kantian sublime.

But care, take care, the forces are heating the water, despite themselves, good governments and bad governments, are apologising… lost moral compass… all those moral values we have been asked to call in to Crisis Line… when they are all middle class values.

Can we live in a world, I don’t know if I can, in which politics does not concern itself with the tragedy unfolding, says it cannot, cannot, while all around the critics and the commentators, less the media these days, but, well, that’s sad, another sadness to have to bear, all of them, tell politics what we must do and that we must do it … and that current events have shown we must.

With the blood heating or the blood cooling, the atmosphere, not even the atmosphere, is keeping pace with the global political climate: which is a climate, since 1946, scared of its own possibility, and the failure, and the prevarication, are as nothing compared to … the escalation, the mechanism wound up tight, ready for the spring to release, the water to heat…

Have you heard the screaming of the crayfish?

White gloves.

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21 June 2019: Akasaka – Komaba Campus Tokyo University – first day of Deleuze/Guattari Studies in Asia 7th International Conference

Today is the first day of the conference. The camp ended. J. arrived. I moved from staying at Yoyogi Memorial Olympic Youth Hostel to Akasaka, land of many reasonably priced eatingplaces and the old red light district, and Hotel Felice.

I reckoned on taking the Chiyoda line, since it seemed the more direct route than changing the local line at Shibuya, and arriving, albeit directly, at Komaba Campus Tokyo University. Together we planned my walking route from Yoyogi-Koen to Komaba. On the right would be a Doutor coffeeshop. I would walk 50 metres. At the end of the road, I would turn left, and, after 145 metres, I would turn right. At the twolane expressway, after 85 metres, turn left, for 25 metres, then right. Another 145 metress—left onto Yamate-Dori Ave. 515 metres down the avenue. Right at Tokyo University. 20 metres, then left, back onto Yamate-Dori—are you kidding? After 70 metres, right: there it is, see? University of Tokyo, Komaba Campus.

I saw no Doutor coffeeshop. Leaving the station, I headed into Shibuya, grazing the side of the area I’d been in when first I arrived. This meant I knew to turn right. Straight, let’s say is South. Komaba, is West. Is it?

I asked at a Family Mart. There is always a Family Mart. The people who work there are very helpful and friendly. They never know where you are going or how to get there.

I headed west. Young people, couples, I asked one. They looked studenty. He knew the way. And gestured vaguely nor-west. I entered an interior of two-bedroom dwellings, a residential zone. These always have curving narrow streets. They rarely have streetsigns. One remembers Barthes’s Empire of Signs.

I reach a park. There is a well-dressed young businessman—in a thin dark suit—with a tablet, not even smoking, which would have been more usual. He is standing under a tree. Is he watching TV?

He has little English, but understands my pronunciation of Komaba and Tokyo University. He searches in the browser of the tablet, without any luck. He opens a new window. Perhaps it is Google Earth, because on the screen I see, thanks to him allowing me to, the earth. With two fingers splaying on the screen he zooms in: there is Japan. Zooming in closer, we both see Tokyo. We share the joke that we can’t find out where we are without visiting the planet as extraterrestrials might, from space—to Shoto Park, Shibuya. You might even expect to see us both under this tree, if we zoom in close enough. But of course, there are many steps to go.

There is Shibuya. Far to the left of the screen is greenery, the New Zealand embassy, strangely, and appearing now, below it, to the south, one might say, is Komaba Campus. It looks to be several hours walk away. I have half an hour. As for the route, it is perfectly incomprehensible. At most I can see to reach the tip of Shoto Park and to head off in this orientation. (What is orientation if its westward? Occidentation?)

I thank him doomo arigato! Soon I reach a wide expressway with tall chimneys from the median strip, providing ventilation for the underground. A fence along the road seems to be a construction site but behind it there are trees, and where it ends a lane leads to a metal gate held ajar like a turnstile to stop vehicular access and warning signs, from which I infer only those on legitimate business should enter. Behind the gate there are areas going to weed and wide concrete paths. A young woman approaches and I ask her if this is Komaba. She extracts her cordless earphones and looks surprised I know where I am.

I have a campus map and it shows the building I should find, Bldg 18. This back entrance leads past an athletic field and a baseball park. The grounds in general, around the modernist blocks, look like they are left to grow wants to grow; and there is a central pedestrian avenue lined with northern-hemisphere trees. They could be plane trees, and must turn in the autumn. There are cyclists but no throng of students.

Finding myself in the back in an unkempt area of wild grasses and weeds a block behind the avenue, I hear in the distance a HEY! And Over here! I can’t see anyone and turn completely around. In the distance a small figure in the shadow of an entrance waves its hands. I look around to see whether I am the intended recipient of this signaling. HEY! Rings out again. Seems like it.

The figure disappears indoors. I reach the entrance to building 18, so it must be. The distances collapse—like that I saw on the map in Shoto Park intervening between there and here—and soon I am in crowded foyer. Alphonso Lingis is standing in the middle of it talking to a dancer and theorist I recognise from the camp. I hang around, but am rather swept up in the registration process, receiving a bag branded with Deleuze and Guattari’s names in Japanese, and in it a reprint of the programme, another journal, white with silver graphics, matching a T-shirt, also white and silver.

We filter through into the hall where Koichiro-san will deliver Opening Remarks. Al Lingis has come into the hall. I approach and introduce myself and we end up sitting together, the Australian dancer theorist on his left. I say, You are surrounded by antipodeans.

Koichiro-san talks on the theme of the conference: war machine conflict coexistence.

In the name of the field in which we gather the most famous conflict is that over the Continental Analytic divide. But then there is also that of Deleuze and Guattari studies with the Derrideans: “I do not like to avert my eyes from these conflicts,” says Koichiro-san. (I almost wrote ‘bravely.’)

He notes during the recent Deleuze|Guattari Studies conference in Brazil the protests against Deleuzian studies.

Here we are, speaking in English about a very French philosopher, in Japan.

This itself speaks to the third theme coexistence—over representation exists a complete injunction.

Ian Buchanan’s opening address is entitled “Society of Control (Revisited)” and of course he trespasses on that injunction I have just name making representative application of the philosophy we are set here to discuss. Perhaps we were better to conclude this no conference but an inference?

Deleuze/Guattari Studies Asia began 7 years ago in Taiwan. I forget the context, but Buchanan quotes Twain—perhaps it is an orthographical association with Taiwan?—“I didn’t have time to write you a short letter so I wrote a long letter instead.”

“Many young people,” he says, “have a strange craving to be motivated.”

(In light of the storming of Hong Kong’s Legislative Chambers today, this is more or less ironic?)

Buchanan cites the book, The Tyranny of Metrics, then Deleuze: “We are in the middle of a general breakdown of sites of confinement.” That is the prisons, schools, houses of legislation and government, places—this is really an architectural theme—where disciplinarity is demonstrated and its authority is now being contested, or, rather deposed.

The theme of the talk is open capture—in the global algorithmic field of data. So Surveillance Capitalism is also cited—one of my ‘lolly-scramble’ of capitalisms in the appendix to the presentation I will give later today.

David Harvey: “The best way to get rich is to sell something you didn’t pay for.”

Frederic Jameson: culture can be sold like nature—to exploit culture in the way we exploited nature.

(This too may be more or less ironic given the deforestation of the Amazon, that proceeds today at the rate of one ‘football field’—the source is BBC—a minute, under Bolsanaro.)

Compared to Google the surveillance of the Stasi in now nonexistent East Germany, where one in five were reputed to be informers, is “child’s play.”

On average, every time you agree, ticking the ‘agree to terms and conditions’ box to gain access to some digital and online service, you are agreeing on average to 1000 contracts: you data is being shared with, on average, 1000 services-businesses, other than the one for which you are signing up.

I successfully recall the term agnotology: the willful, not to say strategic, production of ignorance—in the consumer population.

A change is noted from central out circulation of ‘news’ to point to point distribution.

“In the open air, fake news can be debated and exposed,” but not on Facebook, where you are the product.

What Deleuze is doing in talking about score-cards in the “Postscript on Control Society” is evoking the situation we have today, for example, in education, with outcomes and metrics designed to represent them, and autoveillance designed to self-assess one’s efficacy in securing, or producing, them: score-cards are the best way of turning education into a business.

Services are sold now; and the general field of activities bought.

Deleuze says, machines don’t explain anything by themselves.

Cybernetics connects, as Adam Curtis maintains, to Control Society.

In Anti-Oedipus, Deleuze and Guattari write that the flow of capital is always accompanied by an equal flow of stupidity.

In knowledge workers and service-information, or informatics, labour stupidity is axiomatised, meaning the self-authorising, the law-making, of axiomatics. (If the law don’t fit the rule, change it to make it, or make a new law.)

The media machine no longer needs us for it to function. (But doesn’t this already hold and isn’t this already entailed in cinema? And there theorised? Not to speak of the machines of the unconscious: they don’t need us, or what we call ‘us,’ to function.)

Facebook—here the new form of capitalism is being adduced—has approximately 4000 workers. But it makes USD500 billion.

This is because 2 billion people work for Facebook for free.

Our response? We should be looking for new weapons.

Question: how do we respond to the speed of modulation?

Buchanan: “We have lost the aesthetic capacity to respond to our times.”

This last well-rehearsed phrase warrants discussion. It does so not over the question Have we? Have we lost blahblahblah… There have been, and there will be more, too many grandstanding WE HAVE’s and WE ARE’s. As Greg and Anne pointed out earlier: this is exactly the eternal return of ontology, of the ontological: this is how we are now; I am justified in my observation for its timeliness—it is after all, after all, NOW we are talking about and now we are talking. Or, as I supposed, now about which we confer at this conference.

Does ‘conference’ always presuppose the inference of the now of the timeliness of our participation in discussion? … From which various diverse positions can be elaborated, before, in fact, they elaborate themselves in whatever consensus or dissensus is at stake.

The young man from the Philippines with the elaborate name, Elijah Joshua Benjamin D.F. Aban, was the most politically radical speaker—for which I admired him. We shared the next session, because the third presenter, Mikkel Astrup, didn’t show.

He read at breakneck speed volumethreeofCapitalisusedbyDeleuze&Guattari lack&desireaddressedinthatbook CapitaltheonlybookpublishedduringMarx’slifetime …

Revolution is still being conducted in the Philippines in the form of a protracted people’s war. It is mentioned in The Communist Necessity. Negri also cites Philippino radical movements.

I deliver my paper. (This is the link to the paper I presented.)

More—I deliver my presentation; and, strangely, although it is written, lineated, to fit as a reading within the 25 minute limit we would have if there were three presenters, it sits nicely in the allocated 35 or so.

Joff P.N. Bradley, one of the convener’s and running this session, asks the first question: Why this form? (You will see, if you follow the link, what he means.) Is it a collage?

It is written as a presentation, to be presented—and the time for these presentations is short. It is not a representation. It is not written to represent themes, ideas, concepts or illustrate them, with examples, but to present them.

Deleuze—and I have in mind his lack of good will, his being, as Joe Hughes has it, a surly interlocutor, a phrase I already used in my question to Jae a few days ago—is nonpropositional. He does not represent, or, in philosophical exposition, offer a one to one correspondence between terms and concepts: he is nonrepresentational. Multiplying voices presents another way in which his books do not represent, say, the views of their author—or of an author.

This idea is in Deleuze as indirect discourse. It takes the place here of any kind of literary criticism or interpretative approach or hermeneutics.

Rather than a collage, there were three themes I wanted to present. So there are three bins. I was tempted, upon hearing Kuniichi Uno’s presentation at the Camp, where he spoke about the figure, to rename them figures for the damage they do—a damage Deleuze ascribes to the movement of thought: fig. 1, fig. 2, and so on. But… As the writing progressed, relations among the themes developed in a reciprocal contagion, forging connections in mutual imbrication.

Why Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem? I am asked.

Because I like it, I say. …and because of its insolubility. The three-body problem is not, cannot be, solved in the novel. It is insoluble. The movement of three celestial bodies, three suns in this case, cannot be predicted.

In the novel the attempt is made in a virtual reality game, played by characters on earth. So it sets up a plane of the problematic—where the three themes can each consist in a nonpredetermined way.

There is a special poignancy about this, since, given the insolubility of the problem, earth is subsequently threatened by invasion, an invasion which it is unlikely humanity will survive. There is this movement from virtual reality to reality—from a game to the reality of the end of humans.

Also, I found echoes for neoliberal tactics—of autoveillance, of constant controls, reductive metrics, outcome-based, where price is the only organ of sense the thought collective offers to perceive the problem and in its determinations of the individual, social, the political, as well as the economic—in the depiction, at the beginning of the novel, of conditions at the height of the Cultural Revolution in China, 50 years ago. These echoes amount to a technology of the self—of selves—governed by technocracy and presided over, in China by the Party, and, for us today, by corpocracy. (I recalled that Elijah Joshua Benjamin D.F. Aban in his presentation used the name Mark Fisher, saying Rest in peace, Brother.)

Before I began I saw a figure I recognised from Stockholm, the Deleuze|Guattari Conference there: Dan W. Smith, the superb commentator and translator of Deleuze, currently working on his lectures. He approaches and says, That was really great.

If anyone was going to pull me up on points of contention, I thought it’s going to be you, I say.

Why would I? He says. It all worked together and was great.

Al Lingis attended this session, sitting next to Ruth Irwin, who liked it. Al is also all smiles. We have lunch together.

Al maintains a curiosity about people, asking each one he meets their name and what they do.

At lunch, he speaks of his birds, his aviaries, the two acres he has at home—and how Muhammad Ali used to look after rooftop pigeonhouses for dimes when a kid.

A boy he knew once went up there and killed the pigeons. Ali confronted him and, although he was bigger, took him on, and severely beat him. After this is when Ali began to train as a boxer: he knew he could not control his anger; and this was the only time, he said, he ever lost control.

Muhammad Ali kept and cared for pigeons all his life. He had several thousand pigeons.

Felicity Coleman is the next keynote speaker: “Becoming Algorithmic: Modalities of “collective interactivity” in the post-media era.”

Coleman maps the modal onto the physical where it engages an ethics. From the modal and modality I hear something of Spinoza, the mode being individual, or individuating—an individual, sufficiently individuated to interact in the post-media era.

Guattari’s notion of ‘post-media’ points forward to an algorithmic becoming of the world.

The relation of code to what it encrypts is entirely arbitrary. Guattari’s molecular revolution indicates a modal ethics, as both a future condition and a hope—for post-media.

Guattari starts to worry about International World Capitalism on the threshold of its integration through algorithms. He asks, How can the singularity of mediatic expression be recovered? When there is a paradox: it is mediatic, not singular. Yet it is necessary that it is at once mediatic and singular.

Modal logics belong to philosophical logics. Karen Barad is cited for the materialism that distinguishes matter from materialisation—that is how it comes to be and is used. Here are apparent epistemological and discursive interests: an interest in the users.

70.8 million people today are displaced—the highest number of displaced since WWII.

Coleman shows a slide of the refugee boat installed at this year’s Venice Biennale. 1000 people lost their lives on it. It had sunk and the artist salvaged it to be a monument to refugees.

Helen Storey’s work at the camp Za’atari is representative of algorithmic becoming.

Camp registration shows the number of people in the camp and their status. These are “Human Capital Data.”

Za’atari is about to achieve city status. Humans here are the assets.

The UN funds (what I note at the time under the acronyms GIS and ICT) the self-mapping of refugees for the sake of camp administrators and ‘stake-holders.’ This is a measurement of “axes of value” (Guattari).

In how the suffering mode (of “human data points”) is lived and played out, one must guard against all mechanistic automatic thought.

Coleman asks, What is the point of the human species?

What is the point of the human species—as it undergoes an algorithmic revolution that is equal to the industrial revolution.

This question consists in asking after the modes of life—of an algorithmic humanity.

“Becoming algorithmic” is “to be completely subsumed in the dataset.”

For Coleman, Guattari’s notion of minor is over. The minor is over.

The molecular revolution didn’t happen.

“I think desire has been completely obliterated in this global moment.”

Asked about AI, she respond, “I don’t think AI is what the media would have us believe it is.”

code is neutral (should this have a question mark?) – algorithm is not.

The minor is over, therefore a new scale of organisation of subjectivities is called for (Coleman makes clear she does not see this happening at the scale it would need to—to produce results).

Elijah Joshua Benjamin D.F. Aban asks, What can be done to recapture the potentialities for revolution, given that algorithm is in utero? (That is, the totalisation of the field of humanity as data assets or data points is not yet fully effected.) He invokes a “capitalist mindset” and it is unclear whether Coleman’s presentation is part of it.

“I can’t possibly answer that question because it’s 2019 and I’m a feminist,” she says.

She namechecks at the end Barad, Claire Colebrook, and another whose name I don’t get, whom she calls—although I might have misheard—an abolitionist. This is a thinker, or these are thinkers, whose belief is that the earth should be and presumably will be better off without humans. It’s not a nihilism. Then again presumably it is a feminism adequate to 2019.

I am reminded of The Three-Body Problem. Once it is established the Trisolarans are on their way to earth, there are those who work with the master species to hasten the demise of humanity.

Is a feminist thought adequate to 2019 one that works with the earth to abolish humanity? Of necessity?

I also think about Deleuze’s “open a window, to let in a little air.”

As I’m leaving the hall, I say to Elijah Joshua Benjamin D.F. Aban that I liked his presentation and that I thought he should be asking about possibility in the light of algorithmic becoming.

Torsten Jenkel is presenting in the next session—three are running concurrently.

Torsten’s work is on Macunaíma, a novel written in 1938 by Mario de Andrade. He is writing his PhD on it. On the way to the National Noh Theatre we talked about it. He is unnecessarily self-deprecating.

Mario de Andrade is also the author of the Anthropophagic Manifesto, in which we read: “Only cannibalism unites us! Socially Economically Philosophically.”

The specific cannibalism in question is that of the Tupi tribes, in Brazil. “Tupi or not tupi, that is the question,” he also writes.

Torsten’s presentation is a philological excavation of bibliographical sources.

He speaks of the St. Thomas legend—which is how the Portuguese on their arrival interpreted the legend of the indigenes about a white man who preached peace many years before their arrival. He left footprints in the rock and had a cross as his emblem.

Theodor Koch-Grünberg illustrates the telling of this tale by an indigene. In it the white man is well-dressed and placed above the indigenous informant, who is silent, semi-nude, and listens to the white man rather than telling his story. Koch-Grünberg’s written description completely belies this pictorial depiction. The indigenous informant is well-dressed, the white man listens.

I think of Cabeza de Vaca, his journey, how it mirrors that of this St. Thomas.

Torsten talks of the whitening policy—through intermarriage, an active policy to whiten the indigenous population through miscegenation.

In Macunaíma the capitalist is a mythological cannibal giant.

Torsten talks of Macunaíma as a schizo movement, a picaresque, its logic “not being logical” as Mario de Andrade says.

James Martell’s presentation deals with Beckett as diagnostician of these Trumpian clown-times.

Trump: “I know words. I have the best words.”

Beckett’s diagnosis gives us a war machine—“absolute mindlessness” as the ground of thinking or where thinking cannot quite be, yet be or any longer be—this definition of the virtual—distinguished from the ground, Schelling’s Ungrund. … “bottom of thought rises to the surface where an individuation cannot give it form.”

“Wreck it, like Beckett”—sing Scottish band Therapy.

… “the sound of the surface being broken”—Beckett.

Deleuze: Beckett’s l’épuissé—being the emblem of the exhaustion of possibilities. (But this is quite unlike Coleman’s absence of possibilities and foreclosure. Again the problem and therefore the distinction devolves on this (or that) being the case, on a grounding, as is the focus of Christian Kerslake’s book, Immanence and the Vertigo of Philosophy, taken from the title of an early series of lectures (1956?) delivered by Deleuze, “What is Grounding,” itself recalling of course Heidegger. That is this distinction between knowledge and being, or the problem of sense, as Deleuze puts it, after Hyppolite.)

Tingting Hui speaks on Lewis Carroll’s Alice. (What is it about Logic of Sense that has so captured attention at this time?)

Or, as Tingting puts it, “what is more serious, to eat or to speak a word?”

All three presentations deal with different kinds of mirrors:

– Torsten: the mirror of history or mythology that is literalised in history.

– James: mirror of Fallon and Trump; again something literal here in the repetitions of Trump, in portraits on the walls, and the interview of Trump in a dressing-room mirror by Fallon as Trump.

– Tingting: mirror of the looking-glass.

Logic of Sense comprises 34 series of paradoxes.

Question of oral regress, regression intrinsic to the mouth where what is said and the edible switch places, ingestion and expression.

Agamben et al. pair language and silence, and depth.

Louis Wolfson called himself a schizophrenic working in language—he feels as guilty after eating as after hearing his mother’s voice. He is unprepared for the division of interiority and exteriority.

Again, it is interesting to note that Wolfson, Carroll and Artaud all appear together in Logic of Sense, where literal language is that of surface and schizophrenic language is that of depth, speaking food, devouring words, by Artaud, leaving only skeletons.

The questions for this session, for each of the presenters, are taken together.

I am interested in the idea that it is the indigenous and mythological component of Macunaíma for Torsten that perverts its logic. There seems to be here an impulse that wants to ground the transgression of logic, the trans-sense, of indigenous mythology, as it is taken up in Macunaíma,in a kind of ‘indigenism’ diagnosed by Mexican philosopher Emilio Uranga as being a cultural nostalgia for an historically ‘more native’ understanding that never was, was never absolute, but could only appear relative to a later cultural formation.

Tropicalísmo by contrast works by way of the smallest difference, by calculating a cultural differential, a shift in rhythm, that is all the more disruptive (although this word has been cheapened).

Esposito might also read cannibalism into immunity? A morsel of the other is taken into oneself.

Macunaíma‘s transgressive force is the rupture of laughter? That is to say, its immanence?

Coffee. Then it’s all happening again: I choose the session with Dan Smith, not just because he said nice things about my presentation.

Janell Watson is with Kenneth Surin. Were they both then in Stockholm?

Michel Serres, reports Watson, attributes his work to the problem of violence: all his writing is about Hiroshima.

Were Deleuze and Guattari, as Badiou says, just a couple of desiring anarchists?

Is axiomatic commodification more cruel, as they say, in Anti-Oedipus, than acts of barbarism and savagery? Really? (I hear Watson’s singular intonation on that emphasis.)

There is a fathomless abyss between the flow of capital and wages and purchasing power. Capital increases exponentially, while money in the pocket is a trickle.

Capitalism is “no longer the age of cruelty or the age of terror but of cynicism, accompanied by a strange piety.” Piety spiritualises capital extraction of surplus value.

The state is always barbarism … capitalism requires reterritorialisation.

Jason Read—must be the same as the would-be translator of Simondon—writes on the capitalist split subject—split over: a cynical capitalist intention; with a pious state requiring the subject’s belief.

There are two pieties:

1) Obama—metropolitan globalist piety

2) Trump—ethno-majoritarian piety

Despotic residues haunt the capitalist state.

Deleuze and Guattari: “the state desire, the most fantastic machine for repressing is still desire.”

This fantastic desiring machine is Lacan’s objet petit a—a little machine driving all desire.

Tauel Harper works his Habermas virtuous communication bubble sociological positivist nice guy schtick. (All the good will Deleuze’s surly interlocution abjures, for all its affirmation.)

He sounds like High Performance through High Engagement—the course the PSA has foisted on council employees… that nods to Interest-based Problem-solving, only because it is a repackaged course bought some five years ago: all that Habermas virtuous communication bubble sociologically positivistic view of society schtick, that ended when Thatcher said “There is no such thing as society.”

Tauel Harper says, “Brexit is the biggest thumbing of the nose to international capitalism I have seen in my lifetime.” Trump with Brexit he coins as Truxit, not Trumpit or Brexump.

In his presentation I hear this word repeated “represent” again and again.

Dan Smith takes the desk, presenting.

Deleuze says explicitly, “powers of the false—come from time”…

  1. form of the true contrasts with the power of the false—the universal and necessary universality of right
  2. form of time—what could possibly undermine the form of the true? Deleuze’s answer is time. Truth changes in time, but – this is just a change in contention – it doesn’t change the form of the truth Error is only an effect of the true. The form of time is independent of its contents, puts the form of truth in question. The form of time is nonchronological.
  3. What is it that the primary form of time is is coexistence – if it is true that a naval battle may take place tomorrow: then, two paradoxes. The paradox of possible propositions, each become necessary. 2nd logically impossible cannot be derived from the possible. This is the paradox of contingent futures.
  4. The falsifier—his master argument allows Deleuze to paint a picture of the falsifier, as he who “imposes a power of the false adequate to time.” (Deleuze) – allows falsifier to give direct appearance of time: incompossible present. – Borges’s “Garden of Forking Paths” in which all possibilities occur at once. Pure form of time frees form of false from subordination to time: False is no longer not true – but raises the false to the power of metamorphosis – stands opposed to the eternal and the true.

Philosophy – creates concepts in time

– concepts don’t have an identity but a becoming in time;

put time into concept—intensity changes AND so the form of time is introduced into Deleuze’s concepts.

False no longer means not true because form of the false has been freed by the form



One still requires immanence.

The truthful person is the first falsifier.

The concept is an invention.

Art: 3 great texts

– Melville’s The Confidence Man

– Fourth Book of Zarathustra

F for Fake, Welles

… “The forger does know how to change. The forger relies on the expert who recognises the true Vermeer.” All the forger has to do is to study the criteria of the expert. The expert always has a forger in him. Both forger and expert engage judgement.”

Science: is not dogmatic, willfully fallible—a theological notion

– asymptotic progress towards the form of the true.

Kant – God expresses the ideal of absolute knowledge that is the goal of science.

Mononaturalism: precisely because of its fallibility most of the propositions of science will be shown in the future to be false

– progress of science equals that of falsity to falsity

– the movement of science embodies the power of the false as a power of metamorphosis—and of the multiple.

Through Popper’s falsifiability science becomes a patchwork of ceteras parabas—all things being equal

from Deleuze we have an autonomous power of the false freed as the not untrue

Nietzsche’s critique must be borne in mind: “What if we want untruth?”

– Deleuze shows true is in fact secondary to the truth subject to the pure form of time.


Anne: where time is no longer eternity, the form of time is also metamorphic. The form of time is itself not ontological.

Dan: Deleuze says reality, time—it’s all a problem. That problem is a pure variability. It is continuous variation.

Greg: You are looking for a true form of the false.

Greg (to Janell Watson): the reference to piety is also a reference to Nietzsche.

Dan: belief is the relationship to a proposition. This is most readily seen in the question, Do you believe in God? – as where we are asked about a relation, our relation, to the proposition.

3 modes of time—




—get rid of a developmental idea of evolution

coexistence in Anti-Oedipus of capitalist state form with barbarism and savage states (or nonstates): between them there is neither evolution nor progress; not a succession but they are coexistent.

– static genesis

– dynamic genesis

pure form of what is not eternal (a Platonic and non-Platonic form): the pure form of things that change.

Language of dynamic genesis is within the static genesis. It is dynamic because of a mobility of language. (And appears, again, in The Logic of Sense.)

Kenneth Surin: Does the power of the false operate on the conditions of the proposition?

– the proposition requires representation.

Deleuze means to have done with judgement—of Kant: so Deleuze will have done with propositions. Because of the truth and the false. Heidegger says we need to take questions as the model for propositions. We should have done with propositions as the model for thinking.

Dan: We need to get to a nonpropositional level of sense. Carroll on surface. Artaud’s screams and breaths can’t even … too hard … to get to sense.

Underneath sense lie the depths of bodies.

Logic of sense comes from the depths of bodies.

The question is How do you get sense out of that?

Gregory Flaxman’s keynote: “The Screen is a Brain: On the Techno-Genetic Evolution of Images”

This rests on the problem of the monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

3 million years in the past a clan of hominids scavenge at the tail end of a drought that has been going on for tens of thousands of years.

An alignment of the planets always accompanies the appearance of the monolith.

Organisms constantly instrumentalise their bodies but nothing prepares the relationship of the hand with the hammer. A secondary technicity is required.

3 million years of technogenesis in a single cut: the bone-hammer leaves the hand of the human ancestor. A space station floats in orbit around the earth.

Artificial life was always going to be the most likely way extraterrestrial makes contact with terrestrial life—given cosmogeological timeframes.

1. obelisk manifests intelligence and intention

2. radio signal suggests the monolith was hidden to be found. Its planned discovery indicates the triggering is by evolution

3. sign of evolution—Kubrick precedes the triggering, from the moonbased monolith, its second appearance, of the radio signal, with the appearance of a camera. This triggers the sign.

There is no more profound sign of the evolution of our development than the capability of envisioning technosemiotic awakening in moving images.

The point is made that in 2001 there is reflexivity and a self-consciousness—of a film positing the development of this capability of the technosemiotic. The film-making knows itself to be about and stages itself upon and as this technical, genetic—because evolutionary, although not necessarily human, because technical—and semiotic threshold.

If you look at the scene in 2001set in the excavation in which the monolith stands centrally, you witness what seems to be an insignificant moment in which the scientists are lined up, are making smalltalk, that the camera is there to record: the camera operator turning it, as if resetting it—is it clear that it is a moving-image in question? It is at least clear that this specifically unmomentous moment triggers the monolith to emit a highpitched signal, which the headsets in the suits worn by the scientists pick up—initiating the chain of events that the rest of the film will follow: the long journey of the long ship with HAL, the AI, onboard to the next giant monolith, the one to which that on the moon was sending its signal—in a chain of technosemiotic events.

Of this threshold being reached, the idea of conspiracy, of faking in film, attests to the same one.

What does it mean to have conceived a film as history of the universe? To have reimagined the cosmos as a moving image?

Greg mentions once again Matter and Memory.

Cinema creates a cosmology with which we go can go beyond nature and the human—the immanent plane extending to unfolding of the cosmos itself.

Deleuze understands cinema as cosmogenetic or cosmocinematographic.

As in 2001 so too in Terence Malick’s Tree of Life.

The power of cinema is to provide an automatic movement and nonhuman perception.

Husserl: all consciousness is consciousness of something.

Bergson want to (condemns) cinema to mimicking (mimicry). Deleuze celebrates it because it does. (Cinema gains a power of the false as well as that of a spiritual automaticity.) (This is also the reason Deleuze takes Bergson to the movies—in Cinema 1 and 2.)

Cinema is capable of “going up the paths that natural perception goes down.”

There is the absence of anchorage and postural level.

Bergson: the image is a road by which we pass in every direction … modification … and uncover the universal undulation of matter: the movement image dwells on chaos.

– through to axes

– subjective centres

to—in Cinema 2—the body without organs.

Matter coagulates into molar aggregates, refers to a living being.

Each image is afforded a double image by its registration.

…another system, in which all the images vary. Plane of immanence. Plane of light. From a system of anchorage and relative deterritorialisation—the passage of the evolution of cinema becomes the instrument of envisioning evolution itself—autonomous, automated evolution—and a new kind of brain.

Here, once more, as in Greg and Anne’s keynote at Chiyoda, Spinoza’s spiritual automaton enters. And Leroi-Gourhan’s Speech and Gesture: “the symbol and its contents are merged into one.”

That the spectator cannot intervene entails a new stage of human development—of reflective thought, before which the human is powerless, in which “individual interpretation is drastically reduced.”

“Cinema puts movement inside of thinking.”

Each stage of evolution, for Leroi-Gourhan, “creates a brain on top of the brain.”

– the potentially revelatory nature of a brain on the brain.

Questioned as to what the monolith means, Greg: we need to resist, he thinks, allegorising it. Far from being answered within the film, this is answered by the film itself. (The film is this thought.) It creates its own conditions of possibility.

Leroi-Gourhan: the body can be instrumentalised but it is not (yet) a tool (note the echo of Heidegger’s not yet thinking). Asked what is a tool? Leroi-Gourhan hesistates.

Question: Does agency in VR take away from the spiritual automaton?

The face of a frame and thereby an off-frame, this is what interests me about cinema.

I think about the regression of the brainscreen that Damasio repeats as the image of what is called thinking, and the essence of human cognition, of the neuroscientific understanding of cognition—this regression states the impossibility of an interior spectator on thought looking at the screen—the perceptual field—while this spectator is in turn observed by another… so there is a succession of little subjects, each one looking on what the brainscreen shows of the one before. But it states the view as necessary of a series of two—which is all the sense regression needs to gain its impetus, its direction—it is still going inside… This off-frame Greg Flaxman mentions as being what interests him about cinema, it seems to be is the possible direction, sense and movement of thought: to an outside.

Let me give you an example of this outside—off-frame, I am sitting at a table in a house on Waiheke Island, writing this. Another example is presented in the snaps above: the students with plywood flats belong to a music department; the sounds of applause, and stabs of music from a jazz orchestra, as well as the unison chanting of an audience, reach us through the windows over the three days of the conference. These sounds and the cawing of crows—are neither in the text or the snaps. The windows are open.

luz es tiempo
on tour
point to point
theatrum philosophicum
thigein & conatus

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what is theatre?

I liked Hofesh Shechter’s Grand Finale. I liked, but not so much, Ulster American, by playwright David Ireland, presented by the Traverse Theatre Company, est. 1963. A part of the few thoughts I have now the energy to jot down concerns the institutional setting, including the timer setting of these works in their performance disciplines–I want to say respective, but what I have to say is really irrespective of discipline but in respect to its institution. (I mean, the relation the discipline acts to form, on which the institution of the dance subject and on which the institution of the theatre subject relies, with an outside.) It is to do with what name lasts.

Shechter’s tribe moved a recollection of dance in 1972, when the tribal musical Hair came to Wellington. The bodies are lithe long and abandon themselves to dancing. I like dancing like this. But then brackets of the most disciplined and synchronised group work take place. It is random, arm throwing, exuberant–a kind of excess anyway–and suddenly everybody falls on the beat. Pops on the beat. Jigs break out. Parodies of dance. I realised we are dancing for our lives. But our lives are threatened by lightweight simulations of the monolithic stones at the Jewish memorial, Berlin. These are bureaucratic and managerial walls to break our heads against as well as Wailing Walls. Or otherwise bullet shot-up walls. In other words they are scenic devices, moving scenery, on trucks.

Our lives are not threatened by these simulations, but the dancers are onstage. They are hemmed in, and there is the brilliant choreography of Tom Visser’s lighting, a designer for whom the deployment and pattern of sources of light is as important in this production as the way it strikes the body, bodies, floor, monoliths, impression made on the audience or not made–a lighting philosophy in which I see my own and the faults in my own.

I feel most deeply the moments when the energy is highest and deepest and most useless and in recognition and in despite of the kind of machine the social has become.

The whole first half of the Grand Finale is build, Shechter liking his music as much as if not more than his dance world. The acoustic world refers to Jewish experience. But then there are elements from Maori Haka, it seems, from war dance, or sport dancing–rugby. No distance comes in to separate it out in its culturally specific reference, either on the Jewish line of descent or the Maori. Perhaps it’s not Maori. It looks like it. And it is clearly martial in theme. The music builds–the staccato rhythm of k-chick gunstock being set, loaded, in the set-up.

So there is a loading of symbolism. But the dancers seem to dance for themselves even when playing corpses, so many dead bodies, but the most striking those initial four women, their limbs kicked out and propelled by the movement of their partners, into unbelievable unison of movement–unbelievable for one half of the sum total of bodies having no agency in the movement.

The second half I wanted to edit: because of a scene set upstage, with a live band of acoustic musicians playing klezmer-like music, and the ten dancers the band’s audience. Yet the music is pumping out full volume from the speaker arrays. It should have all been far upstage, distant, the sound faint, emitted only by the instruments, without amplification, or even smaller, less, on the verge of disappearing.

What a loss there is in the loss of Douglas Wright! Subtleties and dynamics washed out in the techno-rave reading of Gavin Bryars’s Sinking of the Titanic, to which the dress suits and lifejacket, was it, of the live band seemed to refer.

People stood and clapped. A standing ovation. I liked the display of energy. But the dance didn’t so much run out of material or so repeat material or allow it to return and vary as erect a world of art in its own image. Even the heteronormativity and harkening back to limb-throwing-out dance could be put down to this, and the symbols showing as well: that it was young, ok, but that it did not open onto anything but what it contained in the way of relations inside itself already. Sealed off, in dance as it is. Nothing invented. The discovery of the movement of these long lithe corpses so generalised within the scope of the whole as to lose all the elements with which they might be referred outside the work.

The theatre piece Ulster American is even more curiously contained in this regard. (I recall some notes I made about the Christchurch shooting: that the Muslim congregations are as ungeneralisable–to the city, the nation–as its perpetrator is unindividualisable–to the lone crazy, seeing as how he represents, as a terrorist, a political cause or interest, that of the extreme Right Wing, from the support of which our own political representatives are chary about cutting themselves off entirely.)

It concerns a script of honesty and integrity and one that says and does what theatre must say and do now and for all time: this script and the nature of its (theatrical) truth is, inside the work, fought over and contested by the American ego, the directorial ego, the ego of another–that is the ego of the writer, a woman. A nice way to get around the master text’s authorship.

Like Grand Finale its appeal is reflecting on–like the critics it holds up inside itself to all the old lines of fire–theatredance and rather than presenting it being seen to represent it.

(The link to the previous thought in parenthesis reposes in the playing out of a de- or anti-particularisation, generalisation, of artistic statement at the same time as an individualisation of artistic intent is set forth too: more obvious in Ulster American since the script’s very particular reference to Northern Ireland, Britishness, Fenianism, Sectarianism, and the Protestant-Catholic, British-Irish divide, is that contested by the egos as the one to generalise to universal human experience.)

It has to offer many words.

I liked seeing it at a matinee with a group in the audience who were sight-impaired. I took the cue and shut my eyes, partly because I was sick of the sight of the set by Becky Minto and the costumes, and the mugging to the audience of Robert Jack and the general state of affairs where the performer waits for his performance or hers to take affect, for the audience to laugh or take a sharp inbreath, or do the things, the dance of theatre. A dance with the audience, perhaps. But here the stimulus-response. While dealing, need it be said, with important and timely contemporary issues. But while dealing with them, by way of the script inside the play, in general.

That is: the discussion of the script around which the action revolves includes head-nodding eye-winking to the notion that theatre ought to be about the particular to reach a general, no, not consensus, as here, but application. A relevance. (But application and relevance are as soiled concepts today as signification. And the nod and wink is also to this fact, a matter of metaphysical, not desire, but irony.)

The world explored by Ulster American is theatre. Just as the world assumed by Grand Finale is dance. And, the delight of the audience at the former is more saddening than that at the latter. The words make a difference.

(I noticed recently several words that have dropped from common use: propaganda and didactic. They have become so common as not to need to be named. )

But there is something else here too. Not just ecce dance ecce theatre. Ecce festival. Not just the egoism of one form against that of another.

Both productions are energised by a kind of cynicism. It is what I find most moving in Grand Finale–the irrecuperable excess, in a kind of exchange beyond symbolic exchange, money, death, sex, and so on, with the sacred. Giving without any chance of return. In Ulster American, it is sheer exchange: language tokens for others. Performances attuned to the expectations, and recognising in them their reasons as well as their conditions, of the audience. A managerial complement. No.

More than this. Neither work wanted to give thought to what is outside it.

What is outside the timely contemporary issues of fake news and honesty and identity and rape culture and accelerated and exaggerated violence of social experience of Ulster American is not another point of view. And it is not from another point of view that it can be asserted. What is outside of these bodies hurtling through the scenography of Grand Finale, if not against its soft-prop moveable monoliths, however timely and contemporary its allusions to the musical traditions Islam and Israel share, and the guns and the bodies, and the status of these bodies as bodies in their muted migrant costumes, is not the actual events of these past two weeks, not an actual and indubitable outside.

It is the thought which specifies itself in its inside–as a point of view–by passing by way of the outside. It leaves theatre behind. It leaves dance behind.

Yet one ought to hesitate over the word ‘thought’ since it has been so denied and paraded before others to be the desirable term of exchange–that is, in the old days. Nobody should give it a single moment’s consideration in the era of outsourcing informational intelligence, these days. What good will that get you? No.

Let’s not talk about thought, and constrain ourselves to what this does and and what that does. Television does not seek consensus; it is driven by consensus. And advertising. Online content provision puts consensus, even a step before its proven drivenness, and so circles back to what is almost poetry. Just as loss-making companies can launch with untenable values on the financial market.

Theatre, what is that? And if it were to do something, what would it be?

In its marketplace, in the marketplace that stands in its stead, yes, festivalisation, as a way to make it, personal survival and the bottomline, always. Hidingplaces, like academic ones, sure. Covering its loss of institutional status–where it talks to power at the level of power–a way of talking, that’s all. A way of talking that bears no relation to the way it talks and represents itself to the conditions and powers which make it possible. Ok, but this growing identification with the managerial strata that want to kill it, not out of any ill will, but because it is irrelevant, only encloses it further in terms which it cannot articulate. For having all of language, it lacks a language.

theatrum philosophicum

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dear reader, I am writing a book. Below a tiny excerpt. If you would like to support this work, please contact me by way of the contact form, top, left hand margin.

The brain remains a symbol, with all that is entailed under this symbolic existence, nailed at some extremity—perhaps the highest plank—of the vast carpentry we have been calling the symbolic framework of reference, so long as its cognitive functions are identified with representation and so long as these higher functions are so called. Except that it express itself symbolically we should therefore show no small amazement that we cannot trust it.

luz es tiempo
theatrum philosophicum
thigein & conatus

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field recordings 2017:06:16 18:06:43 – 2017:08:03 12:37:29 including Minus Theatre rehearsing VMG at the Baptist Church and setup at LOT23

luz es tiempo
theatrum philosophicum

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I think this will be the last one of this series, it is #31


getoveryourself or you should know when to stop are not the same pieces of advice

but you are not listening to me you are looking at the image of an idiot on the screen

an idiot boy Bolaño says—right in my ear—the image of an idiot boy—and i am overcome by a feeling of wonder at how great it would be it is to be a female art

a female artist a woman first, second—they are not the same pieces of advice—you could—one justifies another—produce the most overtly sexual and sexualised imagery

you would not be guilty of sexuality—and I am fore-betrayed by knowledge, memory, belief one does not justify another duplicitous amongst the victims blending in, before a page of prose looking for even yet the flight of a bird & birdsong, time blurred like the wingbeat of a sacred kingfisher [writes Adam Roberts] and


my stomach drops

into shallow pans


of my open hands (even yet Fergus Barrowman, replied, some of the lines are simply bad)

facing a page of prose: sometimes life is shit: one justifies another and I accuse the extinguished theatre I mean professor removed from positon by concerted and personal vendetta—what one feels now the other will. INTIMIDATION seemed right closest to our theme but you should know when to stop

the recoil is lost it is political and so it is born: and once it was a child and knew getoveryourself for not having to be a female artist, of a woman first second—at the same—the integrity of the personal gesture of sexuality now the integrity of the gesture was lost

it would not be reproduced, it would not pay to reproduce and once it was a child, and at the same time it is the memory of things, not as they were, thought to be heading in a certain direction, ends unknown, all of a sudden going in a wholly unexpected direction the integrity of the gesture was lost, and the reduction to ends and desires the image of that idiot boy on a screen I see my memory at two removes extinguished theatre I mean professor and yours but you are not looking

and in no wise would it be true to say these two manners of appearing followed one upon the other but that in somewise I know not were they concurrent also Adam in The Thing Itself the thing itself might as well figure thought in the image of the hypocrite not the idiot

we are so many people in the manner of a lost world given the word or gesture of the appearance of victims and I amongst gathered together who don’t who can’t and who cannot recognise a crime who gather together in their want and in their lack of recognition and who do not ask who answers for it, for once it was a child and knew, but that in the want and lack of their recognition its answer goes unquestioned its question goes unasked

which is their question and i amongst and it is like the memory of smoke in a dream that on waking is the image of a face in sand that on looking you look does not ask anymore

luz es tiempo
point to point
theatrum philosophicum

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another week past see how much has happened to a kind of record


sometimes I feel I can take more away than they can

but it isn’t true Is it

the story ends the song goes on the dirty pacing on goes

the end the start the knot the kick at you they

are not your clothes


arms cross over

uncross cross over

uncross on goes

man in his quintessence


I feel I can take you wait

than they you wait father is gone

mother gone

in her

they have cut me in half


arms cross over

uncross you wait on goes a woman

a woman stops in half

like this there is no more

point to point
theatrum philosophicum
thigein & conatus

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a curtain not to be lifted – & other minuses – …towards a logic of sensation adequate to an analysis of performance

theatrum philosophicum

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