Thursday, October 9, 2008

trompe l'oeil, butoh, and the similarities between oysters and stories

I'm reading, in bits and pieces, a collection of Rudyard Kipling's short stories as chosen and arranged by W. Somerset Maugham. The story that I'm reading right now is called "The Village That Voted The Earth Was Flat," which is an irresistible title, but so far seems to be a strange story about a wild bunch of newspaper men who are out to discredit an irritating M.P.

Maugham says something very likeable in his introductory essay though. "No one," he says,
is obliged to read stories, and if you don't like them unless there is something in them more than a story, there is nothing to do about it. You may not like oysters, no one can blame you for that, but it is unreasonable to condemn them because they don't possess the emotional quality of a beefsteak and kidney pudding. It is equally unreasonable to find fault with a story because it is only a story."

Tomorrow, well, later today actually, I'm doing a second workshop with Shinichi Iova-Koga. He is teaching us about butoh. Last time, my understanding was that butoh is a dance that is motivated from the interior, ideas bleeding out gradually to the outer layer of your skin, where they become visible to anyone who is watching... but I think that the definition of butoh is a bit liquid, and I'm sure it'll mean something else today.

I may not know what butoh is, but my neck muscles are very sore from it. Mainly from trying to not use my muscles, which my body apparently interpreted as hauling itself upright by the neck.

And I have discovered a new favorite artist. I have a postcard that my friend sent from Belgium many months ago up next to my desk because it has a pair of boots with water fountaining up from them, and it only occurred to me tonight to look up the artist responsible for the mind prickling image. His name is Roman Signer and he does many extraordinary things, often involving explosions. There is a video of his work, "Action With Sheets of Paper," here, but I like the still photograph because it looks like a grove of white trees with people wandering between them, and it's only when you look closely that you realise it's a shower of white paper falling on a crowd.

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