I started writing a response much earlier today but having troubles with the Internet down in the basement of Columbus, I was forced to shelve the draft and refocus my attentions. My attentions were intractable however. Something of that mischievous little girl I once was, playing dress up in my mothers old tutus and tights and toe shoes and making a dance on the lawn outside… But today I felt run amuck on the insides, a child in the wilderness, that wilderness my own body, my costume left disembodied on the floor as if I’d liquified or turned gaseous to escape a paralytic state. I was paralyzed by paranoia, everything in conspiracy against me having solid ground to stand on, something solid in myself… Were you writing to tell me I’d overstepped, asked too much off you, expressed some expectation or desire that we had not agreed upon? As soon as I thought it I thought it ridiculous, but I kept on thinking it all the same. Is this a female thing, I wondered…? Did Aline ever feel this way? Probably not. She had it so together. Construction paper. Hearts. Bric-a-brac. (smile)
And so I’m left now, sending that original draft, and an image of that costume that lost my body, and these words too, this dance of turbulence —an uneven cadence, an inside out and outside in, a change of state, a grasping at straws, a doubting thomas desirous to believe, a looking up to see the man watching as I play so freely it looks as if I long to never again be freed from what I’m doing…
Perhaps I should wait to respond, as even on the second reading of your text I feel it lightening, but I’m having a moment of panic—maybe it was the all caps from before, maybe it was the mails I sent yesterday that felt without fullness of purpose or direction, maybe it was that other mail I sent saying those things that I “want to say” to you but to which you never replied… Maybe it’s just me being sleep deprived today because the coughing came back last night with a vengeance. Or maybe it’s just me being afraid that I’ve gotten carried away again… Like that bounding boy in a way, without purpose, or for the sole purpose of doing that which makes one joyful. I don’t mean to lessen what you wrote. It was beautiful and quite relevant as you say. Maybe I’ll speak better to things later.
Just now, standing in front of the large windows that separate the city from my desk, I watched a child run up and down a set of stairs. It was a chance encounter between my sudden glance and his joyous, irreverent activity. Neither of us expected for me to be watching, and from my perspective on the third floor, no one aside from myself was watching. As he broke from his mother (she continued down the sidewalk pushing what I can only assume was a sibling in large stroller) the men working on the church across the street continued their labor, making and remaking the architecture which holds not just the images of god, but our images, and the images of our dead, but I watched him move, bounce really, from one step to the other, and then a turn and a tumbling descent. As I watched I began to ask myself: Of what use was this action? and for what purpose?
Purpose comes naturally. It is the experience of the movement that motivates the body. The sheer joy of acquiring physical knowledge, that unknown that is only articulated through waving limbs and bouncing frames. This is the reason for moving after all, for the invention of the dance. The universal language, the occupation of time and space, in other words the nature of performance, the heart of it. Why we move? because it articulates that which is sensed but unnameable, that which is known non-consciously, the felt, the spirit. Why run up a set of stairs and down the other side? I’d just have to show you.
Use is harder. Much harder. What we do with this newly acquired information remains to be seen. This is the real work. To take that which we now known to be, as we have breathed it into life from having moved it so, this is the work. That which requires practice. While I can not tell you what we will do, even while I may suggest upon meeting a use for our insights, I can say that we will work and that through that work we will arrive at a use for the thing. A use that we will have made together. (—A)