Liking loss more than fulfillment

Possibilities development still 04b

Possibilities for a Pleasant Outing, a performance I’m currently developing for What remains… Anatomy of an Artist: a festival of 10 new works which takes place at Siobhan Davies Dance in May, is an attempt at making tangible a body of research  — both in terms of the strands and traces of biographical/archival information, and also the provocations arising from the process of research: the particularities of navigating a queer archive (that of dancer and choreographer Fred Herko), the responsibilities — or otherwise — of dealing in ephemera, gossip and rumour, as well as mistakes and misinformation.

Two excerpts from Fred Herko: A Course Packet, Part 2, edited by Joshua Lubin-Levy

Heather Love, Wanted: Failure

In the case of Fred Herko, the lure is almost irresistible. The image of the beautiful loser, the doomed but endlessly appealing outsider, emits what José Esteban Muñoz calls “burning queer incandescence.” Add to that the fact that we have so little evidence of Herko’s life, that he worked in an ephemeral medium, that it is so hard to touch him, and you will see why doing queer history might require liking loss more than fulfillment.

Ara Osterweil, Vanishing Acts: Meditations on Fred Herko, Andy Warhol, and What Disappears Beyond the Frame:

Writing queer history, or writing history queerly, asks us to ponder a series of vanishing acts, and the forensic traces they may or may not leave on the scene.

All along I’ve been pursuing failure as a possible strategy, and it remains — if this is not too much of a paradox — a vital tactic (how might the actual limitations of my physicality contribute to the work?). However as I spend more time in the performance space, an effort towards engaging (ie attempting to understand), and locating “body knowledge” must also come into play. This is not a separate route but a reworking and strengthening — a bolstering — of the one I’m already travelling down.

 

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A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be

Ursula K. Le Guin, A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be:

Utopia has been euclidean, it has been European, and it has been masculine. I am trying to suggest, in an evasive, distrustful, untrustworthy fashion, and as obscurely as I can, that our final loss of faith in that radiant sandcastle may enable our eyes to adjust to a dimmer light and in it perceive another kind of utopia. As this utopia would not be euclidean, European, or masculinist, my terms and images in speaking of it must be tentative and seem peculiar.

Non-European, non-euclidean, non-masculinist: they are all negative definitions, which is all right, but tiresome; and the last is unsatisfactory, as it might be taken to mean that the utopia I’m trying to approach could only be imagined by women — which is possible — or only inhabited by women — which is intolerable. Perhaps the word I need is yin. Utopia has been yang. In one way or another, from Plato on, utopia has been the big yang motorcycle trip. Bright, dry, clear, strong, firm, active, aggressive, lineal, progressive, creative, expanding, advancing, and hot. Our civilization is now so intensely yang that any imagination of bettering its injustices or eluding its self-destructiveness must involve a reversal. …To attain the constant, we must return, go round, go inward, go yinward. What would a yin utopia be? It would be dark, wet, obscure, weak, yielding, passive, participatory, circular, cyclical, peaceful, nurturant, retreating, contracting, and cold.

I have not been convincingly shown, and seem to be totally incapable of imagining for myself, how any further technological advance of any kind will bring us any closer to being a society predominantly concerned with preserving its existence; a society with a modest standard of living, conservative of natural resources, with a low constant fertility rate and a political life based upon consent; a society that has made a successful adaptation to its environment and has learned to live without destroying itself or the people next door. But that is the society I want to be able to imagine — I must be able to imagine, for one does not get on without hope.

The full text can be found here.

all their days have rendered ludicrous their judgements on the night

Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren:

They play me into violent postures. Adrift in the violent city, I do not know what stickum tacks words and tongue. Hold them there, cradled on the muscular floor. Nothing will happen. What is the simplest way to say to someone like Kamp or Denny or Lanya that all their days have rendered ludicrous their judgements on the night? I can write at it. Why loose it on the half-day? Holding it in the mouth distills an anger dribbling bitter back of the throat, a substance for the hand. This is not what I am thinking. This is merely (he thought) what thinking feels like.