[-empyre-] Links as meaning, private lives as meaning,

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Fri Oct 19 06:55:03 EST 2012

dear Deena,

thanks for these careful answers, the dialogue, and for the challenges you articulate through telling us about "Chronic", your writing, your memoir and your personal experience. 

And it would be wrong of me to say that i don't agree to some extent, that of course you can write about your body, of your pain and how you deal(t) with it;
- and this list this month, this dialogue is then, as Alan remarked, difficult or sensitive; and we talk to ourselves. This was a small question I had, how such an "online" virtual space operates in the sense
of a public forum, an 'agora' if we talk to ourselves. 

I'd then need to learn how this sensitivity evolves amongst us meaningfully. The recent comments on trolling made me expect that it would happen too, that there would be more cabaret.

I agreed to participate in this month's debate, thus I'm open to such dialogue and your asking me how I would    >>relate to a work--if not through the lense of your own experiences and what you know of the creator's experiences?
Why do we create/consume (for lack of a better word) art--virtual or non-virtual--about pain and suffering, about death and dying?>> [Deena]

I can relate to work and to writing and to direct physical experiences in all kinds of ways, and yes most likely through the lens of what i comprehend and know and have experienced before;  traumatic experiences if not known before then operate like the sublime? they over-throw you? extinguish you?    

the matter of my extinction in front of a event much larger or incomprehensibly large ---  this is however not the catharsis Ana had invoked earlier? is it?    and i began to look for some notes, and could not find them, on theatre and catharsis.

In the introduction to this month's discussion, art was not even necessarily mentioned.... it just appeared on the scene (with Monika's installations). 
And Alan sends us back, via link, to Ana's report/writing in http://this.is/jenin/index2.html :: "Voices From Jenin....written and photographed 21st and 23rd April 2002."
A harrowing piece of writing, and what can one answer to it.  There is no saving grace i would think, no memento would make sense or heal?   is it about healing oneself (one's shame?), absolution sought? 

It's perhaps not necessary to dwell on a theory of catharsis. It's too abstract for you. (my notes, if i remember, were on René Girard "Violence and the Sacred" and Allen Weiss's book on Artaud and Phantasmatic radio, and i also 
remember some years ago feeling very taken by Anthony Kubiak's  book on "Stages of Terror: Terrorism, Ideology, and Coercion As Theatre History."
The pity and terror --  I rarely feel it, or experience it in art, or in writing, i have grown too sceptical, too disaffected, and my death or my pain is uninteresting.  So that is my problem here, the dis-affection from the empathy craved by art that empathizes or spills itself out, empties itself confessionally into me, demands my empathy. 

I realize the value of witnessing a testimonial, but art or a simulated 3d space like in VR or Second Life do not quite generate or provoke the same dislocation, expulsion effect for me.  What is this violent, terrifying expulsion - from the agora, from the polis - that this catharsis effects?

What is terrifying in the virtual?

[[ Initially, we were ask to ponder that >>pain, suffering, and death itself are troubling, appearing in various forms in virtual environments ranging from Facebook to Second Life. ......  we will examine the issues that arise here, including the representations of pain and death within the virtual; the social and political consequences of naive technophilia; the illusion of digital eternal life; and the very real space of the body itself in the midst of social and other media.[October 2, day 1]

Deena replies to my mention of Diane Gramola and Yacov Sharir's performance that : >>Diane Gromala’s Dancing With the Virtual Dervish IS her body, it IS her experience. As someone else in chronic pain and with an intimate familiarity with MRIs, I admire the courage it takes to put your very bones and tissue out for public viewing. >>

I am not able to follow there.  Yacov's dance inside the 3D space is not HER experience, nor do i know what HIS experiences was, since in interviews he comments on dancing, nor did i know that the virtual space was to be taken as a literal representation of someone's (pained) body or internally affected organism. It could not have been literal. Thus is could not have been her body.

[Alan schreibt]
>> And the matters aren't private - that's the heart of it. Our experiences, your experiences, everyone's, are private, and the experiences are at the core of what we consider pain, or death, our own projects or horizons or undergoings. At least here, pain is not an abstract subject, it certainly  is not for me, and the emergent problem is, how do we communicate pain and 
death, from ourselves, from our habitus, and place it within the political  or cultural, whatever? I think the art discussed here, the texts, are a way to do it, as are the writings into the email list itself.

I need to think about the contradictions here. The matters are and aren't private you are saying, as pain is not abstract? It is very real of course for the experiencer, and in its effects also for those in relation to him or her.
In regard to writing and theatre and performance and art and ritual, the question changes; the expulsion, as Girard would argue, happens on the level of mimesis, and it gets very complex when Girard raises the spectre of (the theatre, the state) executing its presumed right to unanimous violence at the expense of the one to be expelled.    

It is the violence in the catharsis that worries me. 

I had asked Stelarc come to my seminar this morning, a theatre module I teach.
He talked about his suspensions pieces of old, when he hung there on fish hooks attached to his skin, swaying in the wind, and his more recent work on expanded operational & anatomical architectures (of body), his organs without bodies inside SL,  and then he brought up his "Talking Head" or Virtual Head, which is equipped with AI and can answer questions if you pose one.  So i asked the head how it experienced pain it its virtual world, and it paused for a bit, shook its head a bit, and then answered  (first line was muttered and unintelligible), "I can never feel human emotion."

I'll try to continue tomorrow

Johannes Birirnger

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