Much of this thinking.doing has emerged from auditing Dance Practice-as-Research a module co-lead by Simon Ellis, Efrosini Protopapa and Emilyn Claid at Roehampton Dance. The writing below is Part I which I imagine, in time, to become a performance-lecture in its own right and/or a ‘frame’ for Part II.
I and I is we, us
I am the 9th letter of the alphabet. I am the Roman numeral for 1. I come from the Greek iota meaning a small amount, a jot. I am a pronoun. I am the subject or object of myself. Here is one hand. Here is another. Now there are two external objects in the world therefore an external world exists. This is philosophy.
French philosopher Bernard Stiegler claims that history cannot be thought according to the idea that humanity is the “subject” of this history and technology simply the object. When it comes to the relation between the human and the technical, the “who” and the “what” are in an un-decidable relation. He argues that technics have entered into a state of permanent innovation. There is an on-going divorce between the rhythms of cultural and technical evolution symptomatic of the fact that today technics evolves more quickly than culture. It is as though we are today “breaking the time barrier” a fact which suggests that speed is older than time.
Wash the dishes, clean your desk, throw out the garbage, change the baby’s nappy, mend the fence, keep the customer happy, write the report, correct the typos, don’t littler, pay bills, flush the toilet, stay young.
When Jeanette Winterson was asked is Oranges an autobiographical novel, she replied “not at all and yes, of course.”
Located within and arising out of the second-wave feminist movement autobiographical performance was regarded by women and other marginalised subjects (lesbians, black, gay etc.) as means to reveal otherwise invisible lives, to resist marginalisation and objectification and to become, instead speaking subjects with self-agency; to speak up, speak out, make visible, ‘talk back’ performance, then, as a way to bring into being a self. Autobiographical performance has long been the considered the performance of possibility, transformation, change and equally criticised as egotistical, solipsistic, a virus of ‘I-did-it-my-way’, self-indulgent.
Steigler suggests technics as both poison and enabler. Homeopathic medicines are prescribed according to a natural law known as the Law of Similars. i.e. “like cures like. Is there a self or is there not a self? The Buddha was asked many times. Sometimes his answer seemed to be a No with a hidden Yes and you wonder why the Yes is so hard to pin down. Ultimately, it is mistaken to think that Buddhism is a philosophy that asserts or rejects self. Neither is so. All that exists is mutual arising. Therefore if I leads to my long term benefit then conceiving a self is skilful. When I leads to my long-term harm conceiving of self is unskilful. There is no self, there is no not-self, there is only interdependent origination.
The Saami people in Northern Finland say to know anything you have to let it grow inside you. The mere provision of information is no guarantee of knowledge let alone understanding. The idea is that you know as you go, not that you know by means of movement but knowing is movement.
Part II – I and I: a correspondence with selfs will be shared tonight, at Feedback Forum, Siobhan Davies Dance, 7:00pm. Free (booking essential).
Feedback Forum is Independent Dance’s choreographic feedback studio sessions for professional choreographers to show work at any stage in its process, to get appropriate feedback in the process of developing their work. The sessions are led by an experienced facilitator, following Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process.
Haddon D, ‘Autobiography in Performance: Performing Selves’ Palgrave Macmillan 2008
Ingold T, ‘Making’, Routledge 2013
Sangharakshita, ‘Know Your Mind’, Windhorse Publication 1998
Stiegler B, ‘Technics and Time’, Stanford University Press, 1998