So I’m gonna save the best for last and give you the worst for first.
Divorce sucks. Deep thought, I know. Had a conversation with my soon-to-be-ex-husband a couple days ago. There was nothing horrible about it, except the subject: how to execute divorce documents. Now, this whole process is as amicable as it gets. No one’s lawyering up, we’re just trying to get it done. But even so and even though we both know it’s the right thing to do, the sense of sadness at losing a long-term relationship is enormous. After the call, I needed to find the marriage certificate, which he needs to file the papers. Opening up this original document, with signatures of our witnesses and us on that day just tore me up. As readers of this blog know, that was one of the happiest days of my life, in part because I announced that I was 12 weeks pregnant, which fact was a miracle. The next day was our honeymoon in Cornwall and the day I miscarried. One of the, if not the, unhappiest day of my life. Because of that day, the happiness of the day before was wiped out of my memory, as much as I tried to not let that happen, it did. This fact did not help our marriage. We had different ways of grieving and so it goes.
The phone call at first started in a friendly tone but by the end with the divorce details, it was pretty isolating. A sense of a gulf that can never be mended – the loneliness one must bear – well – alone. This is not a unique story. But it is still a sad story.
OK, so that’s the crappy bit. But wait, there’s more…
A number of artistic adventures that are potentially very interesting and a connection made in the most serendipitous way with a fellow in Canada who is as much of a Deleuze & Guattari fan as me. This after wondering for a while now, and even more so after my stepfather Tom died – if anyone would ‘get’ me again – meaning certain idiosyncratic ways of thinking/feeling/ seeing/creating, the resounding and entirely surprising answer appears to be: yes. So hooray for that. I will tell you more about this lovely human and his extremely interesting project/s at the end (along with links to some of his work) – so hold on for that, it’s worth it.
I will focus on the most interesting artistic project, which my good friend Spencer Reece is spearheading in Honduras at a girls’ orphanage called Our Little Roses. Spencer and I went to college together. I directed him in a number of shows, including Marat/Sade as Sade. From that auspicious beginning, he has become an Episcopal priest and very successful poet. He received a Fulbright to go down to this orphanage and help the girls there write a book of poetry that will be published. However, he realized that a book would not be enough to bring attention to this extraordinary place, so he has also managed to bring a documentarian, Brad Coley, on board to film this adventure. The blog for this project is at http://ourlittlerosesfilm.blogspot.com.
This orphanage and his relationship to it is an extraordinary story that I will let you discover on the project blog. The reason I’m mentioning it, aside from the fact it’s great, is that Spencer has asked me to go down to Honduras and direct the girls in a show at the end of the year. I was kind of blown away when he asked, then frankly a little scared, the orphanage is in what is now considered the most violent city in the world. But when I heard Dr. Diana Frade, the woman who started the orphanage’s description of the place and the work they do there (not farming the girls out to whomever, but instead educating them to become independent professionals), I knew I had to go. This is not only an important service in a country in which 62% of the population lives in abject poverty (no potable water, not enough food, no real housing, no education), this is a deeply feminist project as well. When she started this place 25 years ago there was no girls’ orphanage because girls were considered disposable, better off as prostitutes and maids.
Therefore, I will go down to Honduras, listen to these girls and help them create a show that expresses their lives as they see it. I want to stay out of the way as much as possible except as a guide to help them build what they want, because what seems deeply important here is that these girls’ voices get heard. Just as in the Frontline show Poor Kids, I want the girls to take center stage not some philanthropic, good for you idea any of us have about them. So, there’s that.
I also was invited to an African film screening in Harlem and realized as I was watching this Cannes nominated film from the 1990s Tilai that I had never seen a film about Africa filmed by an African director/writer. Like ever. This is shocking and shows how much we need to see these films. It was gorgeous and showed life on the ground without any reference to white people. Shocking (yes that’s a joke). I recommend seeing this film. The director of the mini-festival Fifi-Dalla Kouyate has reached out to me about potentially writing something with her, so there’s another potential project. I would be deeply honored to do so, especially after seeing her short film of young women and girls dancing and singing in Mali. There is a kind of ecstatic thing going on that about which I would love to know more. There are also big issues of women’s rights that need to be addressed that I know Fifi is intent on seeing that happen. I believe she wants to tell her story and that’s another story worth telling and hearing.
I was also privileged to see a reading of a new play by one of the downtown masters of dark comedy Brian Parks. His new play is called House and I hope it gets produced soon. The actors were all great but Eva van Dok was spectacular. Yes, Eva is a friend, but trust me she excels even her own fine self in this role. Won’t give it away but if you see this play listed, go see it. On the surface it’s a comedy about a house, but the darker elements involving deep-seated American psychoses bubble apace and explode (as anyone who’s seen one of Brian’s plays knows will happen). In this one, though, so elegantly it almost seems like sugar until it’s too late.
And now finally to the newest brilliant Canadian in my life: John Morton. Hi, John! (I did clear mentioning him and his work with him in advance, because it’s complex and I don’t want to short change it in any way.) Because I am not going to assume knowledge of post-structuralist philosophy to read this blog, I’m only going to describe the broadest outlines of his two larger projects and let you go find the articles and links yourselves for the advanced class.
The biggest project he’s embarked on for many years involves discovering what he refers to as ‘image writing’ (a kind of embedded writing on stones done by members of the First Nations in North America). He happened upon one of these stones on a hike one day, wondered what it was and has been researching and writing about it ever since. I am only beginning to read the writing about this project and he has said he wants to update the published research so will only say this about that for now. What excites me about it is the precision of the work, how long he’s been dedicated to it and that he’s been pursuing this on his own without institutional support (which isn’t to say if you are an institution, you shouldn’t contact him if interested!). He’s been working in collaboration with and sharing all his findings with members of the First Nations. Academic venues ignored these stones and their markings at first, but he confirmed it with a number of different tribal Elders that writing is in fact what they were doing.
A related project I can give you a link to is published in the online journal Rhizome and discusses the relationship of Deleuze to photography: the text is here and photos are here. This what started us off connecting, because he put in a search engine Deleuze and photography and I popped up. Thus began our online conversation (alternating between email and Skype). I am definitely Not going to summarize that article for any number of reasons, not least of which is it’s written with philosophical precision and multiple references, some of which I know better than others…
But, the most interesting intersection, aside from our mutual love of photography and a penchant for landscapes with vivid coloration, is that both photography and theater are considered the Enemy in most post-structural philosophies because both are considered to be representational and therefore reifying (confirming the solidity/importance) of broader, more accepted structures. However, because he and I are both artists, we see in these art forms the way they can create difference and variation. In my case with levels of address and presence and his with various ideas of points of view, subjectivities and positional variance. I am only now wending my way through the article but also seeing a potential interesting intersection with the Attendant of Deleuze and the Witness in my own work (inspired by the weird twin-set of Kierkegaard and yoga practice).
I am certain I will be writing a lot more about this intersection as time goes on, but I am ending with it here for my readers who have witnessed me grieving over losses for a solid year and a half. I wanted to share with you this connection, hilariously enough for anyone who’s followed me pissing and moaning over the academy and doing a PhD, made through good old Deleuze & Guattari and my new/old love photography. Hooray!