Dreaming the End of Dreaming /fragment

Usually dreaming is something that happens to us, not so much something that we perform. According to Jennifer Windt and Thomas Metzinger, we live our lives and the majority of dreams as "naive realists", having the "impression of being in direct contact with external reality" and being unable to recognize "the simulational character of consciousness". The dreaming operations are hidden, we experience just their results. A question for further consideration and experimentation is what happens if dreaming becomes explicit or if the implicit dreaming is speculatively doubled with a consciously performed one? What happens if an excess of dreaming is applied to a reality, if we overdream the world in which we are caught?

Maybe there is an optimum degree of dreaming for a reality to remain a reality, for a world to be natural. Probably if some limits of dreaming are surpassed, the natural solidity and coherence of the respective reality is shaken. Windt and Metzinger noticed that somehow an ability to exercise supernatural powers is linked with "the availability of the dreamlike nature of one's ongoing state of consciousness on the level of behavior." An intervention at the level of dream creation seems to be a necessary perturbation in the complete coincidence with one's own nature, the step that must be made not to be totally inscribed in nature like an animal. Or from another perspective a way for nature to accelerate itself. At least this seems to be the vision in this Buddhist prayer: "Do not sleep like an animal. Do the practice which mixes sleep and reality."

A possible way to follow the prayer is to constantly consider the eventuality of being asleep, dreaming what is happening. The "reality checks" of lucid dreamers can be amplified to a habit of radical doubt - from time to time to doubt that you are awake and that you are perceiving a reality. One of the consequences of amplifying this kind of doubts could be the sensation that everything is a dream. This is usually seen as a degradation because dreams are considered weaker forms of reality. But this degradation has its advantages - when the world is a dream, it becomes available to dreaming practices. Another consequence of the fact that you are dreaming is that you can wake up. And when you wake up you wake up in a superior reality. A hierarchical relation between realities is created through a retroactive degradation of experience - after you wake up you can acknowledge that your previous experience was "just a dream".

A complication of this dynamic is that dream from which you continuously wake up in another dream, till you end up in reality - a reality that could be seen as the most stable available dream at that moment. But nothing guarantees that you will not wake up again, even from the most solid "reality". In one of these types of dreams I was scared because I didn't know where to come back, I felt that I could choose from more realities and I didn't know where to wake up. I woke up in the wrong places and I was struggling to return, anxious about the idea that maybe there is no way back. It is a strange homelessness to feel that you are everywhere in dreams, nowhere in reality. But an alienation is a necessary consequence of a transversal navigation between realities or worlds.

In another one of my dreams I woke up in the same reality as that of the dream. In a paradoxical way, the awakening, what Windt and Metzinger call the "shift into another global state of reality-modeling", was felt as just a different way of being in the same world. The awakening, instead of being a switch between realities, was just a subtle change in quality. The minimal aspect of an awakening seems to be a sensation of an increased lucidity more than a switch of realities. For Windt and Metzinger, we are more aware in a lucid dream than in waking life because the system "is able to grasp the simulational character of its overall state". The awareness increases even more in the lucid false awakening "because it combines both concurrent and retrospective insight into the dream state". If we radicalize this perspective, we can say that the maximum awareness is a series of lucid awakenings, a falling from a dream to another dream.

On the other hand, this can only accelerate and make continuous a retro-degradation of existence. For Bergson "a dream is this: I perceive objects and there is nothing there. I see men; I seem to speak to them and I hear what they answer; there is no one there and I have not spoken. It is all as if real things and real persons were there, then on waking all has disappeared, both persons and things. How does this happen?" Retrospectively everything is just a dream, just nothing, it doesn't exist. To fall from a dream to another dream is an endless catastrophe, an infinite falling into a black hole. You kill realities one by one looking for an exit, haunted by a overwhelming feeling that you have to escape, but there is nowhere to go, just a serial exiting, an empty awakening. Seen from the other side, a repeated waking up is a continual falling asleep, because any waking up means a falling asleep somewhere else.

Sometimes a nightmare, a dream of the end, an apocalypse can give a sensation of waking up, in another dream. This is particularly relevant now when many signs indicate that we may be in a process of extinction, when our personal and collective realities are ending. It is important to imaginatively and practically speculate about what happens when the worlds are ending. Maybe, following a Vedånta twist - “the world is included within the state and not in the world the states occur” - to make the serial births and killings of worlds as easy as waking up and falling asleep, a meta-state is needed. A meta-dream in which you constantly wake up only to realize that you are actually in another dream. A meta-dream of endings, of falling from a dream into another dream, dreaming the end of dreaming.

Dead Thinking /fragment

There is an absolutely obvious, normal step, almost a command, a silent requirement to do what we should do in order to secure and improve our life. We want to succeed, to achieve something in this world. Our thinking, perceiving, behaving are shaped by a belief in (the improvement of our) life which guides us in our daily activities, in our moral and political attitudes. An alive thinking is consolidated on and on and this alive, healthy thinking constantly forms us as healthy, functional humans. And as humans we want that a healthy, alive world takes shape around our healthy habits.

William James witnessed how healthy thinking became a new religion or at least a new background for old religions in the middle of the 19th century when the advance of liberalism brought about “a victory of healthy-mindedness” over the morbidity of the old ‘hell-fire theology’. Healthy-mindedness believes in universal evolution, ‘general meliorism’, progress, and appreciates “the conquering efficacy of courage, hope, trust”. Healthy-mindedness fosters an optimistic “muscular attitude”, similar to the one implicit in ‘Don’t Worry Movement’ which has a motto that one is encouraged to repeat to oneself often: ‘youth, health, vigor!’. But healthy-mindedness brings also contempt: for doubt, fear, worry, and “all nervously precautionary states of mind”. For a healthy mind “the attitude of unhappiness is not only painful, it is mean and ugly”. It is impossible to maintain this healthy-mindedness without “zealously emphasizing the brighter and minimizing the darker aspects of the objective sphere of things at the same time . . . we divert our attention from disease and death as much as we can; and the slaughter-houses and indecencies without end on which our life is founded are huddled out of sight and never mentioned.”

Healthy thinking avoids morbidity and tries to be optimistic but this doesn’t matter too much, the morbidity is in the world itself – we may abandon morbidity but morbidity is not abandoning us.

...

Light for Levinas is the condition for meaning, for thinking but also the condition for property, which “constitutes the world”: “through the light the world is given and apprehended. . .The miracle of light is the essence of thought: due to the light an object, while coming from without, is already ours in the horizon which precedes it.” Light is about registering information, about the known and knowable, it is the foundation of healthy and alive thinking. But something unsettling is camouflaged in light itself. A strange night can sometimes be felt in the most ordinary moments of plain healthy thinking, “different forms of night” can occur right in the daytime. “Illuminated objects can appear to us as if in twilight shapes. Like the unreal, inverted city we find after an exhausting trip, things and beings strike us as though they no longer are composing a world, and were swimming in the chaos of their existence.” Not only is light always encompassed by darkness but darkness lingers there, even in the most beautiful moments, in the most delightful sunny landscapes. We all know it and maybe feel it sometimes when we are ‘weak’: “something dark, something abysmal always finds its way into the bland beauty of such pictures, something that usually holds itself in abeyance, some entwining presence that we always know is there.”

If nothing else, time will dismantle our defenses and we will become weak and permeable to this darkness that is not just a rare and special ingredient of daylight but is the reality behind the superficial spectacle of light. Not only does night come again and again but it is there all the time. Or in Cioran words: “At first, we think we advance toward the light; then, wearied by an aimless march, we lose our way: the earth, less and less secure, no longer supports us; it opens under our feet. Vainly we should try to follow a path toward a sunlit goal; the shadows mount within and below us.” In this context the source of “all of life’s evils” is our “will to exist at once imperceptible and shameless” – a too optimistic conception of life which doesn’t account for the fact that “life is what decomposes at every moment; it is a monotonous loss of light, an insipid dissolution in the darkness, without scepters, without halos.” A minimum optimism can be maintained for a while, with great costs of energy, but slowly the effort needed to maintain the hope of life cannot be sustained anymore. From this point of view the obsession with life looks like a strange disease. We have to do amazing cognitive acrobatics to be able to maintain for a while our normal ‘irreality’, our petit healthy thinking. It is a great effort to keep holding it in this way, why not just let go?

Light is a deception, what appears is always below potential, below expectations. If you enter a dark place and turn the lights on, there is a moment, usually imperceptible, of deception (and relief): everything is so much less than what it could be. The promise of darkness is always betrayed when light invades. But darkness is usually a deception as well. For Cioran darkness can be “quite as mediocre as the light”. Probably because “night itself is never dark enough to keep us from being reflected in it.” Usually we implicitly add imaginary light and sight to every darkness, constantly forcing a light-continuity into it, automatically filling darkness with what we know, projecting our world into it. For Bataille the world of objects persists in ‘simple night’ because of an attention that functions by ‘way of words’. But there is a darkness that is not the absence of light but ‘absorption into the outside’ by way of a heart that has dilated and is no longer an organ but an ‘entire sensibility’.

The question is then how to escape the luminous prison, so sharply described by Clarice Lispector: “I can understand only what happens to me, but only what I understand happens?" A possible answer comes from John of the Cross: “to come to be what you are not you must go by a way in which you are not." The problem is that the only way in which you know how to go is the way in which you are. All what you are capable of comes from what you know. And the way in which you are is the result of going on known ways. Practically, this is a prison that you cannot leave and for which there is no knowledge about how to escape it because you and all the knowledge that you (can) have are the prison. You are always on known roads to known lands, there is no outside, no darkness – everywhere and everything is too much you.

In a strange YouTube tutorial a man on an empty beach teaches the viewers how to arrive to a shadow-body showing repeatedly how: “my consciousness tells my mind to tell my body to move his hand, and the hand moves the shadow”. By showing how his shadow follows the body he demonstrates that the shadow obeys his consciousness. Dead Thinking ‘teaches’ us an opposite type of approach: to start from the shadows and let them affect the body, mind, consciousness – instead of increasing control of consciousness over the shadows, allow the thinking and feeling to come from the shadows.

Dead Thinking performance



There is an absolutely obvious, normal step, almost a command, an obligation to do what one should do in order to secure and improve one's life. A healthy, alive thinking was developed around the obsession with life. We are attached to the features of this world, but this world is doomed, we are doomed... obviously, death is much more powerful than life. A planetary decline affects our modes of perceiving, thinking and feeling. Somehow we register the changes and we are scared, but like in a stampede, we choose to reinforce and accelerate what the others are doing and what we know, our petit alive, healthy thinking. Dead Thinking is the post-political gesture that we can do in a time of extinction when politics, in the sense of organizing society and power relations between people, seems more and more a sedative for deadly thoughts. The oscillation between unknown and the worst, between dead thinking and deadly thinking could be the starting point of discussing a new kind of politics, knowledge and existence. Dead Thinking starts where the hopes end and the remaining options are rather negative, dark and dead.

To be presented at Theater Rampe Stuttgart.
Presented at Fabrica de Pensule Cluj, CNDB Bucharest, Platforma Bucharest, PAF St-Erme.
With Alina Popa and Florin Flueras.

 

Second Body /fragment

The free body -  obtained through hard experimentation with all kinds of substances, all kinds of sexuality and all sorts of techniques of freeing ourselves - got exhausted and turned up not that free after all. The enthusiasm and the joy of the freedom lasted for a while but, after years and years of self-expression, a depressive moment arrived when the realization that there is no ‘itself’ to express couldn’t be postponed. The joy and the sensation of freedom felt from getting out of the disciplined body was quickly consumed. The effort of setting free this tool-body is not enough because, similarly to what happened when this is tried in dance, what remains after the 'liberation' are just stereotypes and clichés. Our bodies are shaped by our type of culture, nature, society, economy, politics, especially in the unconscious layers, in the unknown - at the level of reflexes, habits, perception automatisms, affective circuits, etc. It’s not enough to deconstruct or to apply critical thinking to the tool-body or to the world. You need to reconstruct the body and that’s a different kind of work. On the other hand we need this tool-body too because it is what we have for navigating this world.

The familiar habits and patterns of perception and movement are silencing the inhuman factors in the body. "One instinctually arranges one’s life so that the tasks, the tools and the problems and the encounters will recur the same each day, one avoids the limits”. In this way the first body constantly confirms the world and its behaviours, the first body always encounters a known, stabilized world. The quantity of known is constantly expanding until it becomes the totality of perception, until we actually perfectly know what a body can do and what a body is. Our bodies are impregnated with a biological conception, there is a scientific knowledge that we put automatically into bodies and objects. We just know that they are made of molecules and atoms not of affects, spirits, or something similar and we take for granted that a body cannot be in two locations at the same time.

Even if this seems a very solid, grounded reality, there are spaces where this type of thinking is just an impotent fiction. It is possible that an Amazonian continues the end of the last paragraph about the impossibility of the same body to be in two locations at the same time by saying: “maybe not so much in Europe but in Amazonia it can”. Viveiros de Castro was aware that in this kind of worlds a dematerialization of the body and of the thinking was necessary: “What I call ‘body’ is not a synonym with a distinct substance or fixed shape; it is an assemblage of affects or ways of being that constitutes a habitus”. This type of Amazonian material, says Aparecida Vilaça, will allow us to discern a body that is not impregnated with a biological conception, “a body whose existence is fleeting and whose reality lies in the eyes of others”.

The main technique for lucid dreaming and for out of body experiences is to become aware of your body or a part of your body while asleep. This creates a strange feedback loop which initiates awareness and intensifies the presence in the ‘dream world’. By making the dreams real or by becoming real in the dream the 'dreaming body' appears. This kind of body-attention is an interesting way of creating a body and probably there is a key here about how the first body is constituted, and about how the second body can be created. Maybe by deviating a certain amount of attention, of affection, of energy from the first body and the first world in the direction of an intensification of the Unknown, a second attention and a second body can appear, in the same way that, by deviating attention from the dream activity, a dreaming body appears. Maybe by stabilizing this second attention, and by making it a habit, a second body and other worlds can acquire some consistency.

Second Body performance

Paradoxically, we experience an infinite openness of the real, we are overwhelmed by the vastness of the possible and at the same time the reality is more and more something to consume in pre defined bits - packages of pre-fabricated, ready made life-slots. Our lives and world(s) are shaped by our type of culture, nature, society, economy, politics, especially in the unconscious layers, in the unknown - at the level of reflexes, habits, perception automatisms, affective circuits, etc. It’s not enough to deconstruct or to apply critical thinking to the tool-body or to the world. The free body -  obtained through hard experimentation with all kinds of substances, all kinds of sexuality and all sorts of techniques of freeing ourselves - got exhausted and turned up not that free after all. The joy and the sensation of freedom felt from getting out of the disciplined body was quickly consumed. To free your body it's not enough. One needs to reconstruct the body and that’s a different kind of work. If the worlds and the natures are organized around habits it is not possible to produce other world and other body through simple acts of volition nor just through theoretical approaches. Instead of changing ourselves and developing new practices, we can add layers of unknown to what we already do, by adding  a second nature, second intentions, shadow attention, shadow processes and activities to the everyday behaviours, to the first reality. The first body cannot and does not have to be annihilated or replaced, what we can do is to grow a second body by diverting attention from the known body and feeding the shadows and the unknown.

Presented in Chisinau, Oslo, Zagreb, Warsaw, Sao Paolo 
With Florin Flueras and Alina Popa

 

We Are All Reptilians Now

We Live a Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy theories are in a special relation with reality, they are perceived either as the most radical and profound explanation of it or as pure fiction. They are theories of extremes - you make fun of them or you approach them religiously. Or at least this was the case before 2008, now it looks like they become more and more common sense, banal reality. The recent occupy movements brought the 1% vs 99% discourse in the headlines and slowly by slowly the "financial elites" moved from the weird Internet sites abounding in one eyed pyramids to the mainstream media. It is not so easy to laugh about conspiracy theories anymore.

What can we do with an Apocalypse

It is 2012 and the Apocalypse is here. The question is what can we do with it, what can we do with this concept, what is its potential? Apocalypse in the common sense means the end of the world, it etymologically means a lifting of the veil or a revelation about what is already here, hidden in plain sight.
Nowadays we have too many signs of the end and not so many about the revelation. We cross or we are about to cross some major important boundaries like climate change, species extinction, the disruption of the nitrogen-phosphorus cycles, ocean acidification, ozone depletion, freshwater usage, land cover change... Each of these rifts in planetary boundaries constitutes an actual or potential global ecological catastrophe.(1) The panic of the end is everywhere: it is in the current desperate phase of capitalism with its aggressive and destructive scratching for the last resources, using techniques like tar sands, fracking and deep sea exploitation... And, similarly, it is in the aggressive exploitation of the sensitive zones of human subjectivity - our emotions, empathy, sociability, intuition, imagination are now extracted and put to work at the center of the economy. The consequences on ecosystems, socio-systems, psycho-systems are the same – they are all collapsing.

The Inauguration of the People's Salvation Cathedral

The Romanian Orthodox Church wants to build a huge People's Salvation Cathedral. Of course with money from the state budget (around 900 millions euro). Ironically it will be next to the House of the People, the huge building made during Ceausescu's regime. The construction is on, but near it a small, simple and cheap prefab-church has been already built for temporary use, as a way to mark the territory. The Presidential Candidate organized a public campaign announcing that the People's Salvation Cathedral has been already finished and 11.11.11 was the date set for its inauguration.

For the ceremony the Candidate dressed in priest and, after a very short religious procession, he inaugurated the prefab-church as the actual People's Salvation Cathedral. He also apologized in the name of the Orthodox Church for the exploitation and commercialization of gypsy slaves by the Romanian Orthodox Church that went until later 19th century (a taboo issue for the Church).

The priest announced that the orthodox churches will be open day and night and will serve as a shelter for the continuously growing number of homeless people, pushed away from their homes by the harsh Turbo-Capitalism.

He announced also some possible reforms inside the Church, for example granting women the same rights as men to perform the mass and have access in the hierarchical structure at any level, not just to clean the church and sell candles. He also criticized the hierarchical structure of the Church and its hypocrisy - everything is in gold, a lot of properties and political power. The top members of Church travel in limousines surrounded by police, blocking the traffic for the rest of people. In all these facts, the Candidate-priest recognized the Antichrist - the opposite of the Jesus message encompassing simplicity, poverty, love...

Nevertheless the general tone of his preaching was pervaded by a sense of thankfulness for the honor to inaugurate the People's Salvation Cathedral. The priest was happy to help the Romanian Orthodox Church make such an important step towards christianity: choosing to build a simple and spiritual church instead of the opulent home for the Antichrist.

The official sermon was abruptly interrupted by an aggressive orthodox faction that pushed the priest down the stairs and recommended him to perform a self-decapitation immediately after he would take off the holy costume.

DORATO ACTION - PAVILION DISCREDIT

The 'Presidential Candidate' was happy when it got the invitation to participate in 'Just do it. Branding biopolitics' exhibition in Pavilion Unicredit space.
At Pavilion Unicredit one encounters:

Discussion with Franco Berardi Bifo about the Presidential Candidacy project

Bifo: You underline awareness as the "main word". Don't you think that impotent awareness is kind of masochistic? What's the use of awareness when conscious collective action seems impossible?
Florin Flueras: Probably the impossibility of conscious collective action is because too much unconscious collective action - too much production, agitation, too much immersion in the official perception of the reality, too much involvement in the consumerist-capitalist religion.
Maybe for a conscious collective action the first thing that we have to do is to make space by stoping the unconscious collective action. A moment of paralyzing awareness can be good - a total stop, a total silence, a zero moment.

Postspectacle Practice

Postspectacle practice is an ongoing questioning process that deals with performance and its political connotations. It addresses the changes that are taking place within representational arts in particular and in cultural practices in general. In a time dominated by spectacle, performing arts have to reconsider their role - and their power - in society at large. In this world of generalized spectacle, what’s the point to add another spectacle in the theatre?

Postspectacle Practice extends in 2 different directions:

1.In the theater we propose alternatives to spectacle.
- bringing in the theatre the "outside spectacle". The idea is to produce friction between contexts/conventions/languages like we did with the military performance (a military drill on the dance floor).  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dICPoZGObQ
- opposing spectacle - if entertainment dominates the mass media and politics maybe we should bring in the theater serious stuff like political theory, critique and cultural deconstruction.
- hacking the big festivals and big art events, as we did with The Romanian Dance History, trying to reveal the logic operating within art institutions and the way values are confirmed and affirmed, as well as the artists value and prestige.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AupKHQL-UgM

2. Performing on the big stages
The second direction is to use our performing skills and knowledge on the big stages of politics and mass media, as we did in the TV performance 2012 - ‘Ultima Apocalipsă’. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6qxqKXoi6Y
Moreover we decided as the third part of the postspectacle trilogy to run for president in Romania. We have, since 2009, already made a few interventions and campaign events. The elections are in 2014 but we need that time to organize, explore political practices and make it into the official realm of power as politics as a legitimate candidate. For the postspectacle practice the most important goal is to gain access to these areas and set up actions which deconstructs rituals and create awareness of these charged contexts and also (with the presidential candidacy) to affirm new subjectivity paths and reaffirm politics as an open field of negotiation.

Postspectacle wants to release the accumulated spectacle. The spectacle locked the creativity, performativity in a far away, safe, distant, inoffensive bubble. Spectacle is a commodity that you can consume, or it can consume you, in theaters, on screens, in politics, etc. Postspectacle is when the bubble is breaking and the reality comes in your face.

I'm the Romanian Dance History and I'm a terrorist

The Romanian Dance History doesn’t wait politely in line when it feels to enter the stage and participate in an important dance festival. The Romanian Dance History despises the hierarchical protocols of validation and presentation of art and chooses to terrorize all institutions, authorities and hierarchies. The Romanian Dance History definitely prefers to do cultural terrorism than art. The Romanian Dance History is not something that you should identify with or be proud of, it is more something to be afraid of: beware!
So when you are ready, go on stage and say I’m the Romanian Dance History and I want to start a revolution tonight, and do it…