We were talking about anxieties in our writing practice. Perhaps in this state, we can create something about anxiety, go right into it rather than letting it make us freeze. There's so much anxiety in the socio-political world that generates poetic ideas.
And why is there so much anxiety around the audience getting things? “Reaching an audience” doesn't mean they get a specific meaning. It could just be a different rhythm from what was imagined, or a spontaneous engagement with the space.
I deal with the anxiety by believing “My Paris of Nothing” is about process, about finding a process, via a series of actions. “I wanted to write actions." Actions are more active, less with over-determining ideologies of narrative. Actions cultivate a space where questions are out there and the audience is engaged in determining what is going on. That is a place that's interesting to be in - a “Paris” perhaps? Example:
(1) The character puts her documents into categories. Instead of telling a narrative, the categories she chooses open up the possibilities of a story. Montage ala Benjamin-?
(2) "The self is lost in impossible tasks" - how to turn this into an action. What does it mean to live Paris in Toronto? How impossible.
(3) Streamlining – it nice for audience to receive something more clearly. Can we place anxiety on the table? Let’s have a conversation in the performance, on a physical table. Paris a cohesion perhaps, but once someone lets a communication go, it is not theirs any longer. We pause, before entering another comment into the conversation. We table our disagreements and connections. We acknowledge, register, document, and continue.
(4) The proximity between playwriting and performance art is that with performance art there is the POSSIBILITY that the audience or an audience member WILL share in the creation. Possibility versus Will: enter the scene somehow. Possibility and Will: find themselves in Paris via the text.
(5) The gun must go off in the third act. Unless it is a cup. The cup needs to go off in the second act. Meaning – in a play, what is introduced must be incorporated or it is too much for the audience to synthesize. In performance art, it is an accumulation of images, to show it once is fine, the image is registered as part of the composition. Perhaps if it doesn’t recur, it is a minor part of the composition, but that image is still “allowed” to exist there, on the canvas, it is not deleted for security’s sake. The action is about seeing what can exist in the theatre text, without confusing the audience member to distraction.
(6) No anxiety here, not much anyway, merely thinking it over. I’ll type a smile after the "anxiety" is over, officially. When the monologue has finished. Double action, post-finish.
(7) She said that, “In Iceland, I felt compelled to tell a friend that I like Iceland way more than Paris.” I love the background here – it means to me there is a competition inherent between Paris and every other place. It’s a marker of greatness somehow, that is so sad actually. What a strange measuring stick a city makes.
(8) Try to exist when love story structure is imposed. “Not all people are in love or have been loved.” Love the stream of thought. "The reduction of every story to a love story."
(9) “But all people are in politics” and so we can talk of politics.
- "I'm afraid to talk about politics because I don't know anything"
- The uncertainty of 'not talking' because we don't know enough, is alleviated beautifully by beginning from 'where we are' - from the everyday - the position of the subject, the person, in the monologue
- The topic is something I share, and so I can speak of it no matter how much I know or do not know.
(10) A narrative with a character who feels she doesn't have a history so needs to create stories. How can someone who has no history, tell a story? What it means to be storied yet history-less, and for the production of story to be that of her history? Out of absence... presence. Where does the impulse to tell story come from when story isn't 'permitted' in childhood? Uncovering secrecy around that impulse.
(11) Maintain the impression of a stream of consciousness. Changing pacing, changing gears, changing momentums, speech rhythms, the place of silence in a monologue or on the page - "Moving from spontaneous conversation into written text." Embarrassment from reading too much. Acceleration is the thing, not speed. Noticing that the shift has happened after the shift has happened. The roller coaster: a doubling voice, familiarity with the space of a person after a while, looping hooks around story.
(12) The summative moments lending a concluding frame that allows us to comprehend our experience together, like narrative or stories or plays end - or not at all? Think about the last day of classes, it's often up to the instructor to lend that moment but the last class becomes the summation of many things for each person, spoken or unspoken, acknowledged or witnessed by others or not. If the class has overflow work, it tends to lend an air of hurriedness in the last class. In this way the last class can be an indicator of the entire thing whether or not it is inclusive of the details that stand out in each person’s mind.
( ) So what is this last moment? I'd like what last time we have to be a bit of a conversation. I think of books as attempts to be summative, to frame our experiences in a way that has particular cultural weight, and the way that we treat books as special objects shorn of context to lend our lives weight. Like those websites where people post their deepest wishes and writing a book is at the top of the most lists. Meanwhile most people collect books for their titles, never reading them. I think of this last moment as a book, an open book, tethered by the technological dramas of trying to determine actions. Or something.