Sunday, October 24, 2010

accept what comes easily


Research is whatever you need. It’s as likely to be about remembering something you do know, as about finding out something you don’t.

For instance, what made you interested in the first place?

What appears obvious to you (it may not be obvious to anybody else)?

What are you thinking about anyway?

What are you going to do anyway?

What are you reading, thinking, watching, doing, that you don’t know why you’re doing it?

It’s all right not to know why you’re doing something.
--Jonathan Burrows, A Choreographer’s Handbook, Routledge, 2010, 43.

I got a copy of Jonathan Burrows’s A Choreographer’s Handbook, and it didn’t take time to finish it. This book is not for finishing it, but working with it, however. This is not a how-to book at all. Instead, he lists up “what” of what a choreographer is likely to think about through the creation. It’s a to-do list to make a to-do list. He composes his writings the same way he choreographs.

This book is also about wisdom. His best advice I think is, “Accept what comes easily,” which he repeats many times.

It has been more than five years since I gave up dancing in front of audiences and also making my own performance pieces. It wasn’t just working, so I dropped it, as Burrows in this book repeatedly says, “If it’s not working, drop it.”

What made me interested in dance in the first place was my clumsiness. Whatever I tried to learn, be it piano, musical composition, or language, I was very slow, lazy, and easily distracted by the other things. And I was always nervous. So one day I was determined to give myself a shock therapy. What’s more shocking than dancing in front of someone? On the other hand, now I know that it was a way I avert accepting what comes easily. A bit romantic music with a touch of jazz might have been what easily came to me that time, and I disavowed it. Anyway I liked dancing, because I didn’t have time to think when dancing. Thinking hurts. Additionally, I was also interested in making some theatrical pieces, but I didn’t want to make an opera.

What appears obvious to me is that tastes in art are mostly acquired. I don’t know if everyone views that way.

I’m thinking it may be time for me to revisit artworks I liked, do some postmortem of my unfinished and finished projects, and write a book about them. Perhaps I’ll distribute it privately. I’m going to find not only right persons to work with, but also right audience.
I’m reading some contemporary philosophers’ writings which are rather political. My knowledge about philosophy is limited, but I like those authors expressing and explaining complicated things. That’s the best language can do. Last week I finished to translate just one chapter from Judith Butler’s Frames of War into Japanese. It took a month. I just wanted to know what I could do. I occasionally watch some indie films. I recently started to watch Heroes. I still buy DVDs of 30 ROCK because there would be no chance to find them at rental shops in Japan. Masterchef Australia is interesting in many ways.

Unfinished business:

What is the idea that refuses to go away even though you know it doesn’t make sense, can’t make sense?

How long has this idea been floating around in your mind?

What would happen if you followed this idea?

Complete and utter failure is always an option.

Even the best ideas sometimes fail. Even the worst ideas sometimes succeed.

You don’t have to perform everything you make.
--ibid, 49.

A Japanese male usually uses three different first person pronouns, such as watashi (or, watakushi), ore, and boku, depending on the situation he is in, or whom he is talking to, similar to usage of the second person pronoun in French, such as tu and vous. Watashi is formal. Ore and boku are casual. Preschool age children are often told to say boku by their parents. Ore emphasizes masculinity. When they start their career, many of them become accustomed to use watashi. Women usually use only watashi.

Perhaps I’m odd, but I don’t really like using those multiple first person pronouns. Why do I have to define who I am every time I utter “I”?

I can’t find a way to develop this question in order to make a performance piece, but it has been floating around for 8 years. I haven’t articulated the problem enough.

To write a piece for a string quartet is the other idea. I haven’t been ready for that.


The composer Morton Feldman told this story: ‘Samuel Beckett, not in everything he does, but in a lot of things he does. He would write something in English, translate it into French, then translate that thought back into the English that conveys that thought...There’s something peculiar. I can’t catch it. Finally I see that every line is really the same thought said in another way. And yet the continuity acts as if something else is happening. Nothing else is happening.’
From Morton Feldman’s ‘Darmstadt Lecture’,
‘Morton Feldman Essays’, edited by Walter Zimmerman,
Beginner Press, 1985, p.185.
--ibid. 9

Let’s try it, using English and Japanese:

Ohayo Ohaio. (おはよう、オハイオ。)
Good Morning Ohio.
Ohayo Ohaio-shu. (おはよう、オハイオ州。)
Morning the State of Ohio.
Asa no Ohaio-shu no yosu. (朝のオハイオ州の様子。)
What’s going on this morning in Ohio.
Kesa Ohaio-shu de nani ga okiteiruka. (今朝オハイオ州で何が起きているか。)
What’s happening this morning in Ohio?
Kesa wa doshitano Ohaio-shu? (今朝はどうしたの、オハイオ州。)
Are you okay this morning, Ohio?
Kesa wa Ohaio-shu to iukoto de yoidesuka? (今朝はオハイオ州ということで良いですか。)
Is it fine for you to meet this morning in Ohio?
Kesa Ohaio-shu de au to iukoto de yoidesuka?(今朝オハイオ州で会うということで良いですか。)
Shall we see each other this morning in Ohio?
Kesa Ohaio-shu de oai-simasho. (今朝オハイオ州でお会いしましょう。)
Let’s meet this morning in Ohio.
Kesa Ohaio-shu dene. (今朝オハイオ州でね。)
This morning in Ohio, do you see?
Kesa Ohio-shu de. Wakari-masitaka? (今朝オハイオ州で。わかりましたか。)
This morning in Ohio. Do you understand this?
Kesa no Ohaio-shu wa wakaranai. (今朝のオハイオ州はわからない。)
I don’t understand this morning’s Ohio.
Kesa no Ohaio-shu wa nankai-da. (今朝のオハイオ州は難解だ。)
This morning’s Ohio is unfathomable.
Kesa no Ohaio-shu wa nazo dearu. (今朝のオハイオ州は謎である。)
This morning’s Ohio is a mystery.
Kesa no Ohaio-shu wa suiri-shosetsu dearu. (今朝のオハイオ州は推理小説である。)
“This Morning’s Ohio” is a mystery book.
“Kesa no Ohaio-shu” wa tantei-shosetsu dearu. (『今朝のオハイオ州』は探偵小説である。)
“This Morning’s Ohio” is a detective fiction.

I am a detective. This morning I have just arrived in Ohio City, Cleveland.
Watashi wa tantei da. Kesa Kuriburando no Ohaio-Siti ni tsuita tokoroda. (私は探偵だ。今朝クリーブランドのオハイオ・シティに着いたところだ。)
Good morning Ohio.
Ohayo Ohaio. (おはよう、オハイオ。)

(All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. I feel like becoming the writer in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. )

Breaking the rules:

Try breaking the rules on a need to break the rules basis.
--ibid. 41.

My current definition of choreography is this: ‘Choreography is about making a choice, including the choice to make no choice.’

Or perhaps choreography is this: “Arranging objects in the right order that makes the whole greater than the sum of the parts.’

Or this: ‘The meaning or logic that arrives when you put things next to each other that accumulates into something which makes sense for the audience. This something that accumulates seems inevitable, almost unarguable. It feels like a story, even when there is no story.’
--ibid. 40.

It is interesting that Barrows never mentions “body,” or “movement” when defining choreography. It seems like definition of composition of any kind. The second and the third are rather definition of “good” composition. It seems to me that, in his view, choreography means being good. The first is rather about life: “Life is about making a choice, including the choice to make no choice.”

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