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POETRYETC  2001

POETRYETC 2001

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Subject:

Re: Levinas's door/ collaboration

From:

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Reply-To:

Poetryetc provides a venue for a dialogue relating to poetry and poetics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 7 Jun 2001 17:54:31 +1000

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Nicholas wrote:

>Alison, would you agree that this sounds also like a way of engaging with
>the roles and
>performances we play in life -- surely this one reason why theatre can
>engage us so
>profoundly.
>After all, the decentred self (at least in postmodern theory) is often
>referred to as
>emerging "collaboratively" within engagement with society, even AS nothing
>other than the
>process of such relating, rather than as anything even en route to the
>other extreme of
>ultra-individuality virtually self-authoring itself.
>
>I wonder if your comments (also elsewhere in this thread) on the
>collaborative function of
>theatre have a wider relevance when the "roles" we find ourselves playing
>in *life* are
>found to be far more manageable than the centric notions of self would have
>allowed...*provided* we keep on playing (is there any other show in town?)

I don't know any roles which are "manageable" (!) Any theatre which is
interesting these days has abandoned post-Stanislavskian adherence to
"psychology" - ie, the idea of a cogent "character" which acts in a
consistently character-driven way, even if some actors tend to hold onto
that...  Some theatre has taken this to extremes - truly post-character,
I suppose, and recognisably post-modern in the terms of Baudrillard et al
- but even theatre less consciously postwhatever posits a self which is
highly unstable, alterable by perception/place or even heading towards
mystical enigma (the character Roberto Zucco say in Koltes' play of that
name, or any of Becektt's theatrical characters).  Certainly, as a
personal reaction, the theatre which bores me stupid assumes a stable and
central Self in the characters it portrays.

I don't believe that we are only the sum of our relationships, nor do I
subscribe to the other extreme of self-authored individuality, which
sounds like the cult of Genius.  There is such a thing as an individual
self, even if it is less important than some Romantic poets liked to
think (Buchner's character Wozzek is a much more real take on this
question say than Wordsworth Intimations of Immortality).  Theatre, if
it's to be taken as a metaphor for society in its actual process,
illustrates that quite well, I think - an actor's performance will be
both from interior and exterior impulses and abilities.  Same as any
human being is the result of the interactions between innate influences,
genetics etc, and his/her upbringing, social and historical status,
personal history and so on.  As for _roles_ - I find myself entirely
ambivalent towards the idea of roles.  Even in the theatre.  By far the
most powerful performances I've seen have absolutely nothing to do with
pretending, or role-playing as such: much more with a kind of excess of
being which a particular person is capable of revealing in public.  And
I'm not sure that living or interacting with people has that much to do
with role-playing, even though we all know that role-playing is part of
it.  But all these questions are much subtler and more interesting than I
can express them here, which sounds a bit pat and obvious and isn't quite
what I mean.

>McHale's "Mock Hoax" (the third level that "make[s] art out of
>inauthenticity"). This is
>quite reminiscent of Baudrillard's  third order simulacra which "mask the
>absence of a
>basic reality" in order to challenge the illusion of a "real" that power
>requires us to
>accept (_Simulacra and Simulations_, 1981).

This sounds like a wordy version of Picasso's pithier: "Art is the lie
which reveals the truth within us".  But Picasso's take on reality was
that it was erotic, which I like rather more than Baudrillard's anerotic
absences.

Best

Alison

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