a day off and still in la monnaie

I am writing out of order. We thought to go to Gare du Midi markets around lunchtime, giving us a good sleep-in, for crepes and mint tea. Instead we’d barely arisen by then. Around 15h pushed myself out the door so the day off didn’t feel like a waste. Coffee with Andrew, talking about rehearsals, yesterday, emotions, Parsifal, Parsifal in Stuttgart with Calixto Bieito and that in Brussels with Roméo, singing, blogs … Three coffees in the afternoon aids hysteria.

Earlier. Beginning here. Awake. Another bad dream. I am being overturned like tilled earth. My eyes each morning are dried and raw from the makeup. I have nothing I wish to read, so follow one thing to the next, I am reading this with eyes ablur. The senses. More than five. New words. (I keep this simple.) equilibrioception, proprioception (strange I never thought of this as a sense), thermoception, magnetoception (aaaaaa!!! And I thought I was just being stupid when I’d rotate myself to feel north.), other internal senses, But the one that caused an abrupt stop, one that led to a long conversation with Gala about the implications of it not being part of the obvious sense of touch, that we enjoyed ruminating over instead of directly going to read all about it, one that made me rethink immediately all that I’ve said about shibari: nociception, pain.

Sometimes I feel so stupid.

We engage in pain in shibari every day of rehearsal. I engage in different forms of pain with the things I love; dance, yoga, climbing, cycling, as well as ropes and sm all have aspects of enduring physical suffering. We talk about this often, what pain is and how we form a relationship with it, yet it never occurred to me to look at the physiological processes of pain as something unique, something separate from the sense of touch.

When we talk about pain being an intensity, it is so. Pain receptors are different from other sensory receptors and only activate above a certain threshold. And so this raises also the question of what nociceptors feel. Is it a singular, undifferentiated, ‘ow! pain!’, or is there a topography, as rich in substance as all touch or taste or … is? Do we, by playing in pain, by coming to be familiar with different pains cause our nociception to become more refined, delicate, tactile? How does this combine with the other senses? How do the senses of touch and pain interleave? How does pain affect us internally? With organs and viscera also awash in these receptors, how does shibari, which presents great stress on the body cause our body in its depths to respond?

It is a dirty excitement, something huge and new to learn about.

Andrew walks with me to the theatre for the next part of my day. A room of Annas. Last night, post-rehearsal, we sat in the gilded chamber eating and drinking, the techies and artistic team over one side for a while, us unsurprisingly placed directly in the line of oncoming food and drink. Anna Kundry was joined by Anna Sims breathing and voice coach, whom I ended up talking with for quite a while, and found myself, along with the other bondage-ists invited to a session at 16h.

Anna contortionist made the third Anna, and Jorgos made us five. And Jorgos! Jumping ahead here, he can sing. If someone in the men’s chorus gets shoved down the elevator shaft, he could step in immediately. His voice and watching him is really quite beautiful.

As for me, unlike my love of learning = dirty excitement when it comes to intellectual stuff, my love of learning = paralysing, anxious embarrassment when it comes to making sounds. Uh, it’s a torment. One I do nothing about and so suffer the dual curse of knowing it’s shit and it’s my fault for it being so.

Now though, I have several exersises from voice Anna (the best being ‘take a four minute break between each’), and something scary to accomplish. I’ve been doing the difficult task of ignoring that I’m thinking quite a lot about abjection, that I’ll be starting soon, and one thing I’d planned was that I’d be singing. Talking with Anna Kundry, and saying uuuuuu… something baroque? she suggested Handel’s Lascia ch’io pianga, Let Me Weep.

I wrote many notes, some of it reminded me of the voice stuff I briefly learned years ago, but some was directly against that, and as a feeling in the body, a not-trying, an un-anxiety (I have a feeling doing this alone for a while will be good for me), an ease, finding something new, how to do this, it’s like stumbling along a path at night with my (new woolen) trousers around my ankles. For a brief moment, with voice Anna behind me squeezing my ribs like bellows and Anna Kundry wrapping my head in great yellow earmuffs, I found something. Oh! It is a moment of revelation. Something, a possibility, a snatched glimpse of unknown.