As much as I’ve wanted to write something every day about hell, wanted in some sense has become an obligation, and hell has proved a very difficult work to conceptually keep up with. That, or I’m out of practice with making dance. No, this week has been one of finishing rehearsals, pausing for a beer, then sticking my head upside-down into the cess-pool I’ve created and holding my breath until morning. At some stage during the last weekend, I had to become a bit more deliberate in what I’m doing, and not rely so much on the opium haze of dreams to do the work for me.
So I’m experiencing a bit of sensory deprivation combined with overload. It’s all a bit unbalanced. Just like me. And looking at a piece that is coming closer to being finished in this form, and I’m both quite pleased with what it’s turned into, and a little sad. There’s always a sadness as possibility and potential narrows down into actuality, as through the inexorable motion of the rehearsal process the work becomes itself. Whatever I imagine or subconsciously am trying to make, always over this hovers the question of, “Is this enough? Have I done what I said I was trying to do?”
Well, really it’s a bit early to ask those kind of questions. The questions of the day are, “But is it dance?”, “Do you know what you’re doing?”, and a little less easy to quantify into a smart-arse one-liner, “What’s all this sex stuff about?”.
What’s all this sex stuff about? I don’t think I’m a pervert, but certainly I enjoy a lot of moral relativity, something like a Nietzschean Beyond Good and Evil, and also I wouldn’t say that in any way my performances are a suggestion for an alternate moral foundation, though if things get any more conservative around here, I fully expect to be asked to leave my passport at the border on the way out. Actually the stuff we were doing today that has the asinine title, “lesbian sex pinching orgy” does generate many uncomfortable questions. The most prominent being, “Am I exploiting the dancers I work with?”, and what that question leads to.
The conceptual basis of hell was on one side, Dante’s Inferno, and on the other, Jean Baudrillard’s essay on death, in Symbolic Exchange and Death. The past tense signifies a shift in which Dante became fairly minor, though Botticelli’s etchings of the Inferno feature prominently. Something about the Inferno left me cold, it seemed a fairly pathetic imagination of the damned afterlife, populated by a very literal poetic justice, and something that illuminates the mediocrity and meanness of western religion. Far more fun are the rampaging hoards of the pantheon of Chinese and Asian demonology, who seem far more real, and more importantly do not delineate between life and death in the way western religions do.
From there to Japanese sexploitation movies like Samurai Yakuza. And from these back into what was supposed to be an exegesis on death, and most importantly being able to critically justify what I am doing, particularly in reference to Baudrillard’s text. So, death death death death etc. I’m spending the weekend reading Baudrillard, and working out what the fuck is going on in the middle section, in the midst of all these (apparantly) juvenile demonic incubi and semi-undead rapaciously horny meat puppets. When in doubt: Baudrillard.