Zoë Poluch bjöds in till den andra läsecirkeln den 5 juni 2016, ledd av Ellen Söderhult.
Get going and call it dancing*
He woke up to a burning sensation located an inch from his right nipple. Hot, it thumped like a chunk of fire, a “useless” fire, his own fault for continuing to breast feed despite its absolute redundancy. Maintenance is a drag; it takes all the fucking time. The thought passed quickly over him, barely registering, so used as he was now to his reproductive labour. The sky on the other side of the window was indistinguishably neither day nor night, either in the process of lightening or darkening. Dawn, dusk or the deepest grey of an overcast day at high noon? It didn’t matter or mattered only very slightly; it would soon change.
He heard the rumbling of a machine a couple of kilometres away. It was probably a tractor tilling one of the nearby crops. At the foot of his bed lay “Encyclopedia for Köttis – A library of knowledge in one volume”. He picked up where he had left off one or two sleep cycles earlier, surprised even by his interest. Encyclopedias reminded him of his childhood and he had since tired of this expansive and megalomaniac ambition inherited many sleeps ago from the Greeks.
…Transliterated enkyklios paideia, meaning ”general education” from enkyklios, meaning ”circular, recurrent, required regularly, general” and paideia, meaning ”education, rearing of a child”, he heard the bookish voice of an ancient teacher sermoning on the origins of the term. When did a quest for knowledge turn into a quest for truth? Or was it the quest for truth that propelled a quest for knowledge? Or more importantly – The sourball of every revolution: after the revolution, who’s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning? His thoughts were unfocused and nearsighted. His inner ear echoed “rearing of a child” and his eyes landed on his lap and his plump breast. Domesticity and reproduction begged new riddles. The question is not: is it true? But: does it work? What new thoughts does it make it possible to think? What new emotions does it make it possible to feel? What new sensations and perceptions does it open in the body?
But: does it work?
To work. His work lived in a body of unadulterated time. The clock time — chronos, the time that can be measured and perceived in units of seconds, minutes, hours — had departed. His existence, together with the babe and in that forcefield of a small room, was devoted to kairos, a manner of time that works for the accomplishment of a crucial action. Crucial action — is that work?
The machine that had rumbled some kilometres away now boomed nearer and as the baby stirred the man’s throat strained and his gathered breath flooded his pursed lips to exhale a cooing shhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhhhhhh shhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhhhhhh shhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhhhhhh shhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhhhhhh shhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhh chhhhh shhhhhhhhhh. The vibration in his chest carried the sucking babe to sleep and in turn the sighing of the babe brought him to sleep. Their limbs entangled, flesh against flesh, sweat leaked from sites of contact and weight. He woke to a wet drop dripping down his arm and his eyes slowly began to take in folds, densities, particulars. Their eyes met and something unbelievable, something in which he would come to wish he had some sort of documentation of in the future, happened. Lying in the darkish room in a bed scattered with papers and an encyclopedia with the hum of a tractor in the background the man with the burning nipple sang You are everything I never knew I wanted and the heart shaped pair of lips poised at the nipple gushed I think I’d miss you even if we’d never met. The man with the burning nipple sang with more urgency It’s been so lonely without u here Like a bird without a song Nothing can stop these lonely tears from falling Tell me baby where did I go wrong and the small babe responded with a gleeful seriousness if we have the habit of freedom and the courage to write exactly what we think; if we escape a little from the common sitting–room and see human beings not always in their relation to each other but in relation to reality; and the sky. too, and the trees or whatever it may be in themselves; if we look past Milton’s bogey, for no human being should shut out the view; if we face the fact, for it is a fact, that there is no arm to cling to, but that we go alone and that our relation is to the world of reality and not only to the world of men and women, then the opportunity will come and the dead poet who was Shakespeare’s sister will put on the body which she has so often laid down.
He roused from his slumber, soothed at first and then slightly troubled by the total intimacy of the exchange. When thinking about it later, he felt confused, even awkward, about the emerging, unequal nature of this new relationship. Much later, he would start to contest this moment’s facticity, feeling perplexed as to whether it was actually said, as to where it came from. Here, the idea of authorship and ownership gets very confusing considering maybe the act of using, naming or claiming or stealing authorship as making.
The man’s attention shifted back to the rhythmic sucking, a tidal sort of tugging at the centre of his breast. It had gathered impressive strength. He lay there in the neither day nor night, in the bed, on the sofa, on the floor, in the bathtub, on the roof, or on whatever promising surface he would find horizontal relief. His eyes rested on the “Encyclopedia for Köttis”, his ears half heartedly tracking the tractor while the percussive tugging and sucking on his nipple coaxed him back to sleep. Voices boomed in unison:
UUUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHUUUUUUUUBBBBBWWWEEERRRTTTTTTAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO SSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTTRUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMPPPPPPPPLLLLLAAAAAATTTTSSSSSSSVAAAAAAAAAAAADPRRRRRRRRRAAAAATTTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRVIIIIIIIIIIIIIIOMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMJAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGG KÄNNNNNNNNNNNNNERRRRRRRRRRRRMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGGGGGGHEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLTPPAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSSSIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVV
— or —
“I have not the pleasure of understanding you,” said she, when she finished her speech. ”Of what are you talking?”
The room is cavernous, the light dim. The walls are damp and there is a smell that is hard to place. He sits in the innermost chamber of a former abattoir and imagines it has something to do with meat. They slaughtered horses and then lambs here, and then years later, a small group would gather to witness rituals – miscellaneous rites of commemoration for collectivity, for the experimental embodiment of political theory, for the aesthetic pleasure of watching dancing bodies, for the continuation of the social democratic state. He sits in the darkened room with 16 sitting and lying others in a circle around nothing, a 21st century hearth. There is a lamp, a rich voice. There are beds covered with unmatching, used bed linens. The people in the quasi-circle are adult aged, from mid-twenties to mid-sixties. There are leaders that behave unlike leaders he has been led by before. They have a stack of white papers stapled into bunches of 10, decorated with black text that the circle sitters share. He doesn’t know if he’s part of this seance. Or, if he witnesses it as a dreamscape. He sits there empty handed and listens.
One of the people that knew why she was there began to speak about recycling, appropriation, transfiction, transforming words by charging in from a different position – from behind, from below, never from above. He listens to a voice, slightly hesitant, borrowing words on freedom. Her pitch catches while explaining a particular political economical contribution to the notion of freedom and he feels a gust of freedom when she says that she will read a poem. He lays down and the other person that knew why she was there starts to speak:
Each cell has a life.
There is enough here to please a nation.
It is enough that the populace own these goods. Any person, any commonwealth would say of it, “It is good this year that we may plant again
and think forward to a harvest.
A blight had been forecast and has been cast out.” Many women are singing together of this:
one is in a shoe factory cursing the machine,
one is at the aquarium tending a seal,
one is dull at the wheel of her Ford,
one is at the toll gate collecting,
one is tying the cord of a calf in Arizona,
one is straddling a cello in Russia,
one is shifting pots on the stove in Egypt,
one is painting her bedroom walls moon color, one is dying but remembering a breakfast,
one is stretching on her mat in Thailand,
one is wiping the ass of her child,
one is staring out the window of a train
in the middle of Wyoming and one is
anywhere and some are everywhere and all
seem to be singing, although some can not
sing a note.
He has drifted off, again or maybe always. It didn’t matter or mattered only very slightly; it would soon change. The voices continue. He hears the words fear, Hollywood, criticism, and again fear, several times, thinking it a bummer that fear enter this protected Sunday room full of Sunday believers. He smiles at the feeling of abandoning a commitment to objectivity, a commitment that only moments earlier had him wondering if he’d heard it all before, that the words that landed softly in the room were words he had heard or read somewhere else. He vaguely recalls that It is not, however, so much about the generation of new truths, which must meet complex and normalizing conditions to be part of the true, but new thinking.
He wakes up for a second time from, or is it in, his dream. The babe no longer sucks and he is flooded by impressions almost complete enough to resemble memories. His breast is exposed, flaccid after having been emptied of its milk, and the babe’s small purple lips lie closed touching his naked breast. There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.
I am startled by voices nearby. They seem to be engaging in small talk, amused by it because it feels so good. Also because it’s nice to talk like everybody else, to say the sun rises, when everybody knows it’s only a manner of speaking. The person standing to my right asks the person to my left: What is contemporary dance? The person beside me answers: We make up. Questioner: What does it look like? I am doing it right now.
Italics are a selection of entries from the “Encyclopedia for Köttis – A library of knowledge in one volume” edited by Josephine K-C and Ellen S. On June 5th, 2016 the choreographed reading circle, aka Sunday Circles, was proposed to read this text by its host, Ellen Söderhult. Entries used in order of appearance:
DANCE (Deborah Hay)
ART (Mierle Laderman Ukeles)
ART (Mierle Laderman Ukeles)
ENCYCLOPEDIA (Deleuze and Guattari)
ROMANCE (author unknown)
HOLLYWOOD (author unknown)
COMPARISON (Sinead O’Connor)
HISTORY (Virginia Woolf)
ART (Ellen Söderhult)
DELIGHTFUL (Jane Austen)
CELEBRATION/UTERUS POEM (Anne Sexton)
FEMINIST THEORY (Elizabeth Grosz)
END (Frank Herbert)
EACH (Deleuze and Guattari)
CONTEMPORARY DANCE (Chrysa Parkinson)