[-empyre-] Introducing Erik Ehn

Erik Ehn shadowtackle at sbcglobal.net
Tue Nov 4 05:41:43 EST 2014

[ee = a playwright in r.i.; director: writing for performance, brown u.]

St. Hesychios talks about a pathway of contemplation that moves from torch, to moon, to sun. [I get this from Martin Laird’s nice, small book: A Sunlit Absence.] We start towards enlightenment by bearing our own light forward – searching by every means we can manage; managing darkness. Then our eyes adjust or the clouds clear and the moon shines; we don’t need the torches – light shines on us. As we let more and more of our own species of control slip away, the sun comes, and we slip to union. The sun is in us and through us… ending with the threatened-but-withheld destruction of the self… we are fully present and fully empty, or surrendered… surrendered without consolation – we can’t own our own surrender.

And it is difficult to tilt on the instant of this; ecstasy’s not generally durable. Then in falling back into the working world, we can tear down, in the fall, the absolute gift of near-annihilation and seize on simple annihilation – a doubt of or hate for the human form. We can also hang onto a retrogression – a lament over losing the impossible presence of the completely other; one can feel robbed. Fascism (and other totalitarian ways of winning) are sentimental returns to a lost past, a past we’ve somehow been cheated of, or a past that was stolen… this, despite the fact that the past can’t be “lost” – something isn’t the past until it passes out of our hands. This isn’t cheating, it’s just how time does business; the past is where it is; it isn’t ours. All we can sustain are our framings of it – and the frames are always about our present state of mind – efforts to tilt or twist us into positions suitable to receive an
 anticipated future (a best-guess).

After the blessed kenosis of contemplation, one sometimes suffers nihilism and bitterness. This leads to entrepreneurship, which leads to advertising.

Unhappy in the debris of contemplations tear-down, we can indulge nostalgia for making and desperation – for that time when, in the darkness, we knew that what we needed was a torch, and we knew how to make one.

To gratify that nostalgia, we need to ensure darkness. Our bitterness is helpful here. We announce the crisis in ourselves following a leap into the sun, as a crisis in the sun; the ruins of our temporality and preferences are named as ruins of meaning and purpose, sliding towards a vowed belief in the ruin of dynamic stillness or generative paradox. At the source of being – only the crash of inertia, an imitation of a broken person.

Then, with all declared dark, power belongs to those who insist on their facility as technocrats of light.

On Monday, November 3, 2014 12:08 PM, Alan Sondheim <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------

I'd like to introduce Erik Ehn, whose plays are often concerned with 
issues of genocide and torture (he travels regularly to Rwanda and other 
troubled locations), and is head of theater at Brown University. I've 
asked him and the other guests to post a short bio and then anything in 
relation to the topic.

Thank you greatly, and thanks Erik for agreeing to participate.

- Alan
empyre forum
empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
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