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Work session, 3/4/09

present: Jeff B., Barbara, Dale, Marc, and eventually Edward

Dale brought and posted the Invocation he wrote a couple of years ago, imploring our patron saint, Edward D. Wood, to grant us delusion and/or success in our efforts.

Marc plunged right in with the giraffe piece: reading/reacting to the text, chanting it, memorizing it, working through some Vocal Sequence stuff.

Eventually Jeff joined in, taking the piece in the direction of an interrogation, or at least a questioning. Marc keeps intoning, responding.

Jeff asked about a note Dale had scribbled on a copy: “This needs to be a video.” Dale said he thinks that the original graphics could be used to create a creepy video to illustrate a soothing, yet creepy, voice reading the piece.

(Here are the original graphics:



Marc had moment where he was riffing on the two squares line where the word square turned into squeer, which would link nicely into the We’re Queer routine.

The line “Put your finger on…” became important. Marc obeyed the “Pause and assist” line and put Barbara’s and Dale’s fingers on their heads. Fingers became giraffe horns, numbers.

From “Guide the students in answering the seven questions,” Dale created an ad hoc list of seven questions:

  1. Why wasn’t it there before?
  2. When?
  3. Are you naked there?
  4. Is it gone?
  5. What do you see?
  6. How many giraffes are looking over the fence?
  7. What have you done?

These became part of the texture of the performance.

Jeff and Marc entered into a mirror exercise while Barbara picked up the text. Dale continued making notes and occasionally throwing out one of the seven questions.

It then became a kind of fugal exercise with everyone overlapping questions, Projecting Atmosphere, making connections, finding none…

Jeff picked up Dale’s draft of We’re Frauds and somehow we exited the giraffe piece and looked over that text for a moment.

Then we debriefed:

  • sense of threat; Dale saw a hooded figure strapped to a chair in a spotlight; the interrogation focusing on the giraffe questions; we dicussed that at some length
  • Dale talked about the ominous quality he found in the original math worksheet, especially in the “Pause and assist” line.
  • Marc liked the moment when near the end Dale stood and once more enumerated the seven questions; the audience should be anxious that we’re going to ask them these impossible questions
  • Marc pointed out the “sound machine” we worked ourselves into at one point
  • Dale liked the moment when Jeff and Barbara were “doing’ animals and the ambiguity of giraffe/elephant became part of the sense of unease at one point

At that point Edward Canada joined us. We began to fill him in on everything-he-needed-to-know. The nude performance piece came up. Despite Dale’s urging, Jeff refused to recap what he and Kevin had worked on previously. Dale performed the piece instead.

Jeff and Barbara made their exit; Dale and Marc continued to feed Edward information. Edward make a couple of salient suggestions for the graph: the role of alcohol (ritual/music/entheogenic substances) in releasing the artist from “the box” and into the flow of creativity; sex as a prime motivator.

Marc suggested that next week we play again, but then deliberately stop and create one-minute mini-performances based on what we’ve played with.

NEXT: MAR. 11, 6:30, NSOD

  • TEXTS: giraffe piece, new bear piece
  • PATHS: Vocal Sequence; Contact Improv


  1. Dale wrote:

    It occurred to me that the Seven Questions had a sense of The Prisoner about them.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink
  2. Dale wrote:

    We have a lot of loose ends on the graph. Just making a note of it, not saying we need to do anything about that.

    Wednesday, March 4, 2009 at 9:14 pm | Permalink
  3. marc wrote:

    I am not a hippopotamus, I am a free man!

    I’m looking at the “original illustration” and I’m thinking, “Where are these friggin squares?”

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 7:59 am | Permalink
  4. marc wrote:

    I realize the “squares” are probably cut from green felt by the educational implementor.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 8:05 am | Permalink
  5. marc wrote:

    Part of what we can do during a recapitulation is become the video documentation. We can replay the recording in our words and interactions. And color the playback with our own subjective notions of what might be going on, etc. I encourage us all to be ready for those “moments of Zen” when the event just is and through its own “isness” inscribes itself in our memories as an “event.”

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 8:11 am | Permalink
  6. marc wrote:

    Let me paraphrase Barbara’s very germane observation: This is difficult.

    I agree, but I think we can cut ourselves a lot of slack, too. We can lift the burden of maintaining a certain kind of rational connection in our performance play. We don’t always need to be accountable to that. We can let watchers worry about it, or other performers. Or we can examine it afterwards in a more connective vein. I hope it doesn’t just seem like I’m playing with grammar and semantics when I suggest that thinking while trying to perform is more exhausting than merely performing as thought itself.

    And yet, the reflective layers are there for us to express and explore, also. Perhaps part of what is exhausting is that we are still learning what we owe to one another as performers. Last night, I tried to “perform” my reservations and fears about getting underway in response to the atmosphere of expectation and uncertainty that I was experiencing. I just began, and then I began engaging with text, still uncertain about how to connect or how it would be received. What we owe to one another, I think, is the immediacy of performance. We don’t need to tell one other anything to “prepare the soil” when we are working. We owe each other acceptance, which we demonstrate, I think, already. We owe each other a tolerance for whatever process we explore for however long. If I suddenly step out of an engagement with someone and become a reflective watcher, it’s not a betrayal or abandonment. We don’t need to be concerned about one another’s feelings in that way: that will free us to examine issues of feeling within the work and not what’s orbiting around the work as unspoken worry.

    As for process, for me, Vocal Sequence is an opportunity to “go big.” And that creates its own kind of thought and energy. It can be hot rather than cool. My lack of interest in the cool end of the spectrum is just a choice. I’m going to be more unapologetic about that. I’m not trying to say that’s the way all of our work should be. It’s my own mode of exploration. In a way it’s easier for me to work my way down to something more contained and truly emotional in an encounter by starting big. It’s the abyssal mystery of encounters that is the most difficult, for me, to navigate. We are also emotional detectives. I tried to model that a bit last night when I spoke of my ambivalence about participating in the student (special ed?)-teacher dynamic. That kind of emotional data is also material for us to share with one another and follow-up on through more performance. I also had mixed feelings about playing the non-literate beast. Why did the work bring that out?

    Just me offer things based on past experiences.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 9:10 am | Permalink
  7. marc wrote:

    I’ve got lots of dumb errands today, but something else hit me. This is a job for Theory Geek!

    Dale’s mention of S/QUEER alongside SQUARE is inspired. I’m reading a lovely little “explication du Lacan” by Ed Pluth entitled Signifiers and Acts: Freedom in Lacan’s Theory of the Subject. One of the things Pluth is attempting (in very non-off-putting language, I might add–good, clear, thoughtful presentation) is parse all the different ways Lacan speaks of “the act” through his years of theorizing and teaching, particularly in an effort to delineate the “psychoanalytic act” as something particular and different from two other kinds (I’ll spare you the details).

    This “act” involves use of signifiers. In fact, it opens a possibility of creating signifiers, new ones–ones, and this is the kicker, that are not sanctioned or recognized by the Other (as Law, convention, social contract, etc). The act participates in a certain fundamental meaninglessness within the signifying material, teasing it into something from a Real (unsymbolizable) manifestation, perhaps in the body, perhaps responding to a confrontation with some signifying impasse.

    Okay. My “squeer” was an impulse that played with the sound of a word that figured in the text we were exploring, “square.” Let’s call it my attempt to occupy in some small way a place in the Real (I wasn’t trying to mean anything with my effort). By hearing a linkage to “queer,” another significant concept in our work, Dale has performed the kind of act that Pluth is trying to articulate. It involves a certain material deformation of signifying material and creates a new meaning that we can set up over and against what the Other sanctions. He has fashioned a new word in our own private, creative universe. It’s made all the richer through other meanings that can, in fact, be found in the Other. But it twists them out of the Other’s control. Even the word square participates since in hipster slang it signifies the opposite of “queer”. So it “squee(r)zes” out a certain kind of irony that works in our creative (subjective?) universe.

    That is what makes this approach to performance special. We can actually perform these very particular, microscopic, particle exchanges. And Dale’s “act” came about through recapitulation and reflection. After the fact. In response to the Real of our efforts.

    Ending with a Lacan quote: When we address ourselves to the other, we are not always going to express ourselves in witticisms. In a way, if we could we would be happier. (Seminar V)

    And just for fun, another Lacan quote:

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink
  8. marc wrote:

    Ooops. Just one quote.

    Thursday, March 5, 2009 at 11:12 am | Permalink
  9. marc wrote:

    No head giraffe sees in the fence?

    Put the finger on the giraffe here.

    If pause and it is help necessary.

    These two squares display the giraffe.

    No head hippopotamus sees in the fence?

    If pause and that necessary help.

    Doesn’t the head elephant see in the fence?

    These two squares.

    Doesn’t the head zebra see in the fence?

    Specify the reply of seven questions to the student here.


    Multi-discount giraffe search in scope?

    Now places your finger on giraffe.

    If the need, pauses and assists to solve.

    These two squares represented the giraffe.

    How many hippopotamus search in scope?

    Pause and assistance, if need.

    Multi-discount elephant search in scope?

    These two squares.

    How many zebra search in scope? Now bootstraps the student to answer seven questions.

    What of search of zebra of scope?

    Here the student the bootstrap is done in order to answer to seven questions.

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 8:56 am | Permalink
  10. Dale wrote:


    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 9:27 am | Permalink
  11. marc wrote:

    For me the most menacing, existential and kinky of the above is: Answer TO seven questions.

    That and: Now bootstraps.

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 12:50 pm | Permalink