Cubist, as in Cuba
I’ll start with a serious jeu d’esprit: I have come recently to define my work as “Cubist—of the Cuba kind,” i.e. with an underworld connection to Haiti and voodoo. I do pick up, of course, on some of Picasso’s “synthetic cubism” experiments, as opposed to his “analytic” ones, though some of those also invoke voodoo implications. And I include in this both my theater work (Pantheatre—choreographic theater and voice performance) and my recent return to painting.
A cubist jump; I am hesitating to buy a book on Gilles Deleuze by Christian Kerslake (it costs a fortune!) titled Deleuze and the Unconscious—after reading a superb article of his talk about “historicism”—titled “The Somnambulist and the Hermaphrodite: Deleuze and Johann de Montereggio and Occultism.”
I have resisted studying Lacan, unwilling (and ill-willing, probably) to spend time on his hyper-cryptic linguistic knots and his seemingly buffoonish “scientificity,” but have noticed nevertheless the quality of inspiration he has stirred. I am impressed by those who are unravelling, glossing, and paraphrasing his “Lacanic-Laconic sophistics,” from feminism and gender studies to current eco-philosophy, where I find some of the best excursions to the frontiers of the mind. After the disappearance of James Hillman—and I am considered a super-Hillmaniac!1—count with astonishment the number of post-Lacanian books and articles that lay around my bedside table. I live in France where Hillman is practically unknown, whereas Lacan is everywhere.
For 2015 I am taking the Myth and Theatre Festival to the Philosophy and the Voice. It is the 40th anniversary of the death of Roy Hart, who was an amazing voice and an artist-philosopher—a point I want to make, militantly. I want to propose some answers as to why Roy Hart’s voice is shunned in contemporary philosophy (and in much voice research, artistic and philosophical) while there is a huge fascination with Artaud’s voice. Here I discovered Lacan’s “devotion” to the voice, and his behind-the-scenes dialogues with Derrida’s not-so-secret love affair with the voice. Roy Hart was an exact contemporary of Derrida, Deleuze, and Foucault, yet no connections were made up until today.
I am directing and teaching voice performance sessions with a small group in Paris—which could definitely be considered “Cubist—of the Cuba kind”—freewheeling and mapping the edges of shamanic vocal acting out. Some of my ’70s “Hartean” road companions seem to hold stalwartly to the legend that Jung could not acknowledge Roy Hart’s vocal embodiment of the dynamics of shadow, implying that he could not see the value of such expressionism. I do not think Jung addresses the voice, nor does James Hillman, though he did take voice lessons with Liza Mayer during his visits to the Roy Hart Centre in Malérargues. Jung, and even more so Hillman, turn to the notion of anima as their “muse of the unconscious.” There are marked connections between Jung and Hillman’s notions of anima and the voice—especially in Lacan, Derrida, and Deleuze—with many layers of paradox. Philosophers are often astonished to hear the philosophical voice acted out, while voice performers take it totally as “body,” rarely giving it a philosophical, historical, or cultural perspective. When I started working with Roy Hart in my mid-20s (art school, conceptual and performance art, etc.) having never tried singing in my life, I was so astonished by the implications of Roy Hart’s take on singing that I thought Alfred Wolfsohn, who started the Roy Hart voice work, had “invented” the voice!
Alfred Wolfsohn (Roy Hart’s teacher) was a contemporary of Marcel Duchamp, an opposition which definitely worked for me in my art school years, but which started dissolving when I discovered Duchamp’s alchemical opus Ètant donnés.
Mladen Dolar (a Lacanian if ever there was one) ,in his book Voice and Nothing More, makes an important point when he says the voice is always a dream, he actually says it is “always a dream-voice.” Brillant Lacanian statement, like Giorgio Agamben’s “listening to the voice in speech is what thinking is about.” I include these two statements (I collect voice definitions!) because this summer’s Myth and Theatre Festival is dedicated to , a launching pad for Philosophy and the Voice in 2015.
For some years I have been performing a study on Hitler. Last summer I invited Richard Bruston, a photographer, to be part of the performance, taking photos of Hitler in the underworld. I wanted to use the photos in a series of paintings. The first titled “Charnier” (charnel-house). The second moves away from such bleakness (I had to return to sensuality) and is called, “The Treasures of Ukraine, after the Nazi plundering of Ukraine.” The figure in both paintings is me from the photos taken by Richard Bruston.
1. See www.pantheatre.com/1-james-hillman.html