[-empyre-] on performance and terror (post by Manjunan Gnanaratnam)

Johannes Birringer Johannes.Birringer at brunel.ac.uk
Mon Dec 1 03:46:39 EST 2014

dear all
after these weeks of discussion, I sometimes wondered how similarly or how differently we live or treat the personal (and our creative, artistic practice) to the political,
how directly terror has shadowed us or not, how we let anguish or despair affect us, and how is work we do marked.

I asked a composer friend recently about his thoughts, and he sent this and allow me to share it here:

You ask a profound question;
this is a subject matter to which I have mostly had two reactions. One, a deeply personal one, due to my own experience, as a Tamil,  at the receiving end of two race riots in Sri Lanka in 1978 and 1983 [ Google "Black July"  and select images for visuals] and my reactions to those experiences, now mostly private fleeting reaction's of initial helplessness and then relief and gratitude of being able to be here and now, breathing............ and the other, the analytical observations on the word "Terror" of which the "War on Terror" being the most intriguing where the word "war" and its impact is supposed to apply salve on public emotion [and it did for some] when the very nature of a "war" in itself elicits horrendous human acts.......It is difficult to forget scenes from Pekinpah's film "Cross of Iron" where flesh and bone dispersed in every direction upon the impact of a bullet.........well...Human nature at it's best ....and worst....
My personal "Terrors" [taken in similarity to  "tremor's]  are private, having chosen after my arrival in the US in august of 1983,  to not make those experiences public knowledge lest I become identified as an artist with an axe to grind [No disrespect to those who do grind axes in their art, both literally and figuratively] and be received with empathy, pity etc etc and extended associated benefits to those experiences of "victimhood" and be expected to expand upon that in my art in turn or investigate the nature or the "Om" moment of creativity in my psyche taken root from the unending curiosity to deconstruct [ Thanks to my father] and the creative gene [thanks to my mother and I only have a fraction of what she has] and the syncretic traditions of Sri Lanka [Being from the Colonies one has to give due credit to Colonialism here] and the magic [or mysticism] of Sri Lanka  which drew Arthur C Clarke, Stockhausen, Bowles and Neruda there, and Jung referring to it in his dreams................I chose the latter..... glad to have done so......
......... I chose to not login to Empyre to familiarize myself with contexts of this discussion since I decided that this can only be a dialogue between two friends, you and me, not colleagues or professionals.....This is only the second time that I have made any public references to my personal experiences with  "terror" and the noun, verb ad-verb versions of it....
i'll leave it here.....finished and unfinished......


Manjunan Gnanaratnam

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