a performance dialogue

Monday, November 26, 2007

Structures for Feeling

I keep thinking about what escapes the 'scene' of the library and how to arrive at a primordial state of unbecoming which you have proposed Dorothy as a possible opening (returning my thoughts to the Circular Ruins). Janet Frame in her previously unpublished novel, Towards Another Summer writes from the perspective of Grace Cleave a shy woman writer whose tongue becomes stuck on words and on being invited to listen to a piece of music with her hosts becomes immobilised and distressingly bare. She writes about an experience of listening to Handel (whose composition she mistakes for Bach): "As each note surged within her ear gathering force and resonance like music blown into the secret spiral of a shell, Grace could feel the skin and flesh being gradually removed from her body until only the skeleton (what is a skeleton? The body framework of the body, the bony framework of the body) remained; then a new force from beyond the music, admitting itself in its perpetual disguise, set to work upon the human bones (...) Grace felt her bones changing in material, direction, shape, moulded by the music to one of those metal twists of sculpture set to revolve dancing gleaming in the wind, except that the gallery has forgotten to provide the life-wind; the sculpture is suspended immobile but for the occasional influence of heavy human breathing...Grace drew her arms close to her body, hunching them, like thin green metal frog's feet with her hands drooping webbed in front - bird, frog, woman. Leaning her head on the table she began to cry." (2007, pp188-189). This question of a framework which is a skeleton only beyond or behind which another kind of force of energy moves us interests me in the context of the collaboration. How the 'story' is but a framework for structures of feeling. Previously I have been interested in the idea of geometries as resonating certain states of feeling, how forms generate particular kinds of emotion and this seems to be what Grace is responding to in the music of Handel, a structure for feeling.

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