Chris Goode - The Forest and the Field
(Chapter 3. Signal and noise)
The performer’s task is simply: “Make a Salad” … in the performance of the score, the performer makes a salad. Here he is, sitting at a table, with a sharpe knife, a chopping board, a metal bowl, some salad vegetables; patiently, he chops the ingredients, assembles them in the bowl, maybe adds a little dressing if he’s brought some, mixes the salad; once the salad is made, the performance is over, the task is fulfilled.
While this is going on, a number of other micro events emerge from or arise alongside the enaction of the performance. The table is slightly wobbly, and the performer wonders briefly whether to stop and find a piece of paper to fold and stick in the gap that’s causing the wobble, but decides that he’ll ignore it. The sound of glass bottles being emptied into a recycling bin can be heard faintly coming from the foyer. The aroma of fresh salad permeates the air in the auditorium and one middle-aged woman in the audience is reminded of a picnic with an ex-lover, and suddenly this superficially banal piece of performance art means something quite different. The man sitting behind the woman is annoyed because he can’t quite see properly, and even though he knows what’s going on, he’d like to be able to see it. The lighting operator, noticing the agitated man, slightly adjusts the balance of the lighting in the hope that it will help the audience to ‘tune in’ to the performance. The performer’s knife is not as sharp as it might have been, and the slicing of the cucumber seems to the performer to be taking a very long time. A teenage girl in the front row thinks the performer is very beautiful, with his kind face and his untidy beard, and for a while her attention shifts to a private fantasy of marrying the performer, or someone like him, who will calmly make salad while the children play in the garden, and coming out of her reverie she notices that she is obviously lonelier than she thought she was. Meanwhile the fiancé she came with is not watching the salad-making at all, though he is contentedly aware of the sound of it as his visa attention is trained on the lint dancing in the face of one of the stage lights and he is captivated by its movements. The performer worries he is being boring, and becomes a bit more flamboyant as he sets about tearing lettuce leaves and throwing them into the bowl. The usher looks at her watch, at the second hand, at how the second hand never quite lines up exactly with the 12. A student takes copious notes; another student a few seats away can’t imagine what could possibly be worth writing down. It is a little bit too chilly in the theatre to be comfortable; some people keep on their coats and jackets, others don’t. The performer starts to chop a stick of celery; someone in the audience is very allergic to celery; suddenly this is, to them, a scene of mild peril. The green emergency light over the fire exit flickers slightly, and two or three people catch it in their peripheral vision; this tiny shift in concentration is enough to cause one of those people to notice that they have a toothache. The note-taking student is more and more sure this piece is a critique of commodity capitalism and private ownership; his boyfriend, who is studying fine art, sees something a bit like a still life, only it’s moving. The performer, nearing the end of the task, starts to think it would have been better to make a fruit salad, and wonders if that’s allowed. The performance will have taken six minutes all together; by the end of it, out in the world about 1600 babies have been born.
HOW DO WE DOCUMENT NON-TRADITIONAL THEATRE?
(INTERMISSION MAGAZINE, BRIAN POSTALIAN)
Meow Meow - "Fake Plastic Trees"
Yoann Bourgeois - Celui Qui Tombe
INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN BERRY
Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World: http://nyti.ms/1MVJW93
Lajos Egri - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING IMPORTANT
During the classic time of Greece a terrible thing happened in one of the temples. One night the statue of Zeus was mysteriously smashed and desecrated. A tremendous uproar arose among the inhabitants. They feared the vengeance of the gods.The town criers walked the city streets commanding the criminal to appear without delay before the Elders to receive his just punishment. The perpetrator naturally had no desire to give himself up. In fact, a week later another statue of a god was destroyed. Now the people suspected that a madman was loose. Guards were posted and at last their vigilance was rewarded; the culprit was caught.
He was asked, “Do you know what fate awaits you?
"Yes,” he answered, almost cheerfully. “Death.”
“Aren’t you afraid to die?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Then why did you commit a crime which you knew was punishable by death?”
The man swallowed hard and then answered.
“I am a nobody. All my life I’ve been a nobody. I’ve never done anything to distinguish myself and I knew I never would. I wanted to do something to make people notice me… and remember me.”
After a moment’s silence he added, “Only those people die who are forgotten. I feel death is a small price to pay for immortality!”
Yes, we all crave attention. We want to be important, immortal. We want to do things that will make people exclaim, “Isn’t he wonderful?”
If we can’t create something useful or beautiful… we shall certainly create something else: trouble, for instance.
Just think of your aunt Helen, the family gossip. (We all have one.) She causes hard feelings, suspicion, and subsequent arguments. Why does she do it? She wants to be important, of course, and if she can achieve this only by means of gossip or lying, she will not, for one moment, hesitate to gossip or lie. The urge to be outstanding is a fundamental necessity in our lives. All of us, at all times, crave attention. Self-consciousness, even reclusiveness, springs from the desire to be important. If failure arouses compassion or pity, then failure might become an end in itself.
Take your brother-in-law Joe. He’s always running after women. Why? He’s a good provider, a good father, and strangely enough, a good husband. But there is something missing in his life. He is not important enough to himself, to his family, and to the world. His affairs have become the focal point of his existence. Each new conquest makes him feel more important; he feels he has accomplished something. Joe would be surprised to learn that his craving for women is a substitute for the creation of something more significant.
Motherhood is a creation. It is the beginning of immortality. Perhaps this is one of the reasons women are less inclined toward philandering than men.
The greatest injustice imposed upon a mother is when her grown up children, out of sheer love and consideration, keep their troubles from her. They make her feel unimportant.
Without exception everyone was born with creative ability. It is essential that people be given the opportunity to express themselves. If Balzac, De Maupassant, O. Henry, hadn’t learned to write, they might have become inveterate liars, instead of great writers.
Every human being needs an outlet for his inborn creative talent. If you feel you would like to write, then write. Perhaps you are afraid that lack of a higher education might retard you from real accomplishment? Forget it. many great writers, Shakespeare, Ibsen, George Bernard Shaw, to mention a few, never saw the inside of a college.
Even if you will never be a genius, your enjoyment of life can still be great. If writing holds no lure for you, you might learn to sing, dance, or play an instrument well enough to entertain your guests. This belongs in the realm of “art” too.
Yes, we want to be noticed. We want to be remembered. We want to be important! We can achieve a degree of importance by expressing ourselves in the medium which best suits our particular talents. You never know where your avocation will lead you.
Even if you fail commercially, you might very well emerge from your experience an authority on the subject you learned so much about. You’ll be richer in experience – and if you have been kept out of mischief, that alone will be a great accomplishment.
So the gnawing hunger to be important will be satisfied at last without harm to anyone.
- Foreword from Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing
Dennis Cooper - THE ART OF FICTION no. 213
I think pornography is a very rich medium, and I’ve studied it closely and learned quite a lot as a writer from it. Porn charges and narrows the reader’s attention in a swift, no-nonsense way, and it creates an anxious, intimate, and secretive atmosphere that I find very helpful as a way to erase the context around my characters and foreground their feelings, their psychological depths, their tastes. But I’m also always interested in subverting and counteracting porn’s effect, and the sex in my books is never merely hot. It challenges the objectification that is porn’s stock-in-trade by removing the central conceit that people having sex are in a state of supreme relaxation and self-confidence, wherein their worries and individuality are muted and beside the point. It uses hotness as a kind of decoy.
My novel The Sluts, for instance, which has a lot of sex in it, brought a mainstream gay audience back to my work that had largely abandoned it in the early nineties, but there was a lot of complaining that the boner the novel’s premise seemed to offer wasn’t delivered. I think when many gay guys seek out things that have sex in them, they want to get off, period. When they see an attractive guy, they want to fuck him. When they watch porn, they imagine teleporting themselves onto the set, into the action. To me, desire and sex are much more complex than that. I’m as interested by what sex can’t give you as by what it can. I don’t see lust as a dumbing-down process. Most people fear confusion, but I think confusion is the truth and I seek it out. Sex is such a confusing situation that your ability to communicate what you’re thinking and feeling in the moment is severely hampered. If you try to articulate your thoughts and feelings in words, you’re reduced to saying the quickest and easiest epithets you can come up with—porn language, essentially, or the same CliffsNotes expressions of affection that have rushed from a million other enraptured people’s mouths—because objectivity and rational thought are the enemies of lust. That’s why, when writers attempt to describe sex accurately, the scenes all tend to sound the same, no matter what the writers’ individual styles may be. I think most writers just want their sex scenes to be realistically sexy. My goal is to try to articulate what my characters wish to express during sex but can’t and to depict the way language is compromised by sex, as realistically as I can.
Is confusion also truth outside of sex?
The truth I’m talking about is the stuff that gets distorted and compromised every time you write something down or open your mouth to speak, because your priority when communicating isn’t to represent your thoughts or feelings exactly but to make sense, to appear sane and comprehensible and appealing. I like working within that impossibility.
- Dennis Cooper, The Art of Fiction No. 213 Interviewed by Ira Silverberg
Ruth Gordon - Insufficient Happiness
"Don't piss on any happiness or kindness that comes your way. It's a real sin to decide that an act or a moment is insufficient because it wasn't the one you hoped for or most needed. I did that for a long time, and I became my own worst enemy, as we often can be. Life--when you've lived a lot of it, as I have--is a series of acts and moments, and suddenly you're in a place, a clearing in your own mental woods, and you can see what got you there. It isn't a sudden thing, an overnight thing, a planned thing. It's being kind and acknowledging the kind things done for you; it's showing up and being happy that your legs worked and someone said 'yes,' that magical word from which all things flow. You show up and you're kind and you're happy and you keep working and you keep hoping, and suddenly there's your life and there you are. You've become something, and that something is a collection of all that has been given to you and how you chose to use it. That is, I guess, my philosophy of life."
--Ruth Gordon/Interview with James Grissom/1984/
Linda Gregg - The Art of Finding
I believe that poetry at its best is found rather than written. Traditionally, and for many people even today, poems have been admired chiefly for their craftsmanship and musicality, the handsomeness of language and the abundance of similes, along with the patterning and rhymes. I respect and enjoy all that, but I would not have worked so hard and so long at my poetry if it were primarily the production of well-made objects, just as I would not have sacrificed so much for love if love were mostly about pleasure. What matters to me even more than the shapeliness and the dance of language is what the poem discovers deeper down than gracefulness and pleasures in figures of speech. I respond most to what is found out about the heart and spirit, what we can hear through the language. Best of all, of course, is when the language and other means of poetry combine with the meaning to make us experience what we understand. We are most likely to find this union by starting with the insides of the poem rather than with its surface, with the content rather than with the packaging. Too often in workshops and classrooms there is a concentration on the poem’s garments instead of its life’s blood.
My early life was changed drastically by the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, but not primarily because of the poems’ gorgeous words and rhythms. Rather it was because poems like "Pied Beauty" and “The Windhover” gave me a special way of knowing the earth and experiencing God. In the same way, Lorca was important to me when I was very young because of the mystery within the singing. There is a luminosity in those poems of Lorca and Hopkins, and for me ever since when I see such luminosity beginning in a poem, it is a sign that something significant has been found.
It may be that the major art in poetry is the art of finding this shining—this luminosity. It is the difference between a publishable poem and one that matters. Certainly one can make good poems without feeling much or discovering anything new. You can produce fine poems without believing anything, but it corrodes the spirit and eventually rots the seed-corn of the heart. Writing becomes manufacturing instead of giving birth.
I do not have a road map or a neat system to give you to help you find the luminosity in your poems—your art, but I would like to share how it has been for me. At the start, let us agree that the poet must master the elements of his craft: the rhythm, the strategies, the importance of compression, when to use rhyme and when not to use it—all of that. But at the same time, we have to acknowledge that the craft must not become the content of the poem. It must not become an end in itself. The craft must serve primarily to deliver what the poet is trying to say to the reader, and to deliver the feelings or discoveries to him with as little loss as possible. Ezra Pound defined craft as “the means for delivering the content of the poem and to deliver it alive.” However, there is always a danger in making the craft the thing to be delivered. The poet must have craft, but he/she must also locate the substance, the art within the poem, which is at the center of the best poetry, and is upon what the craft works. Akira Kurasawa, the great Japanese filmmaker, said that the script was the crucial thing in making a movie. “If you have a good script and a mediocre director," he said, “you can still end up with a pretty good movie. But if you have a bad script it is hard for a director with even the finest craft to get a good result.”
There are two elements in “finding” a poem: discovering the subject matter and locating the concrete details and images out of which the poems are built. In this instance, I do not mean the subject matter to be the ideas or subjects for poems. Instead, I am referring to finding the resonant sources deep inside you that empower those subjects and ideas when they are put in poems. For example, I am made of the landscape in northern California where I grew up, made of my father’s uninhabited mountain where my twin sister and I spent most of our time as small children with the live oak trees, the stillness, the tall grass, the dry smell of the hot summer air where the red-tailed hawks turned slowly up high, where the two of us alone at ten did the spring roundup of my father’s twenty-six winter-shaggy horses. Down below there were salmon in the stream that ran by our house, the life of that stream and the sound of it as we lay in our bunks at night, our goat and the deer standing silently outside in the mist so many mornings when we awoke. The elements of that bright world are in my poetry now when I write about love or Nicaragua or the old gods in the rocky earth of Greece, just as the Greek islands where I lived for almost five years resonate in the poems I write now about the shelter for abused women in Manhattan or how a marriage failed in New England—but not directly. They are present as essences. They operate invisibly as energy, equivalents, touchstones, amulets, buried seed, repositories, and catalysts. They function at the generating level of the poems to impregnate and pollinate the present—provoking, instigating, germinating, irradiating—in the way the lake high up in the Sierra mountains waters the roses in far away San Francisco.
Your resonant sources will be different from mine and will differ from those around you. They may be your long family life, your political rage, your love and sexuality, your fears and secrets, your ethnic identity—anything. The point is not what they are but that they are yours. Whatever these sources are, you must hunt out them out and feed your poems with them, not necessarily as topics, subjects or themes, but as the vital force that fuels your poems.
Once you discover this source, you must find the images and concrete details to make your poems visible and effective. These images and details fuel the poem from the outside and also are what help distinguish poetry from prose. It is the way we give a body to the ideas and feelings of the poem, whether the concrete images are literal or only seemingly concrete, as with metaphors and similes. Part of the art of “finding” a poem is choosing those concrete details that have a special energy and vibrancy. The best poets seem to have a gift for finding such details—a genius for choosing the two or three particulars that create a whole landscape, which manifest a city street with its early morning rain, or simply construct a room. These poets can make us see a person better with two details than prose can do with pages of description.
I am astonished in my teaching to find how many poets are nearly blind to the physical world. They have ideas, memories, and feelings, but when they write their poems they often see them as similes. To break this habit, I have my students keep a journal in which they must write, very briefly, six things they have seen each day—not beautiful or remarkable things, just things. This seemingly simple task usually is hard for them. At the beginning, they typically “see” things in one of three ways: artistically, deliberately, or not at all. Those who see artistically instantly decorate their descriptions, turning them into something poetic: the winter trees immediately become “old men with snow on their shoulders," or the lake looks like a “giant eye.” The ones who see deliberately go on and on describing a brass lamp by the bed with painful exactness. And the ones who see only what is forced on their attention: the grandmother in a bikini riding on a skateboard, or a bloody car wreck. But with practice, they begin to see carelessly and learn a kind of active passivity until after a month nearly all of them have learned to be available to seeing—and the physical world pours in. Their journals fill up with lovely things like, “the mirror with nothing reflected in it.” This way of seeing is important, even vital to the poet, since it is crucial that a poet see when she or he is not looking—just as she must write when she is not writing. To write just because the poet wants to write is natural, but to learn to see is a blessing. The art of finding in poetry is the art of marrying the sacred to the world, the invisible to the human.
Brené BRown - Shame and vulnerability
Brene Brown: Listening to Shame, TED Talk.
Wilson/Wainwright - When in Disgrace With Fortune and Men's Eyes
Robert Wilson's Shakespeare's Sonnets, Sonnet 29 music by Rufus Wainwright
Kōji YamamurA - Country Doctor
Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor by Kōji Yamamura.
From the 2014 Festival d'Avignon.
The Georgetown Boys
My grandfather was a Georgetown Boy. Starting at '7:18' - you can see my grandmother (in the blue dress) with my grandfather beside her making food.
- Brian Postalian