Re: transdance and the occult

Johannes H. Birringer (
Tue, 13 May 1997 00:42:05 -0500

Susan's very beautiful and intense response is very welcome:

>Intriguing.. i'd like to rework both the concepts/practices of the occult
>and of poetics to remove them from their respective netherworlds of
>spiritual and aesthetic otherness. The occult has inspired fear and awe for
>being spiritually removed from the practices of daily life, poetics have
>inspired intimidation and awe for being associated with aesthetic purity
>and artistic genius. To keep these concepts alive I resist their separation
>from "everyday reality", believing instead that we uncover the occult and
>poetics *within* everyday reality.

Yes, in a way, exactly, and excactly what the gist of the adapted
ethnography exploration is trying to tell us, especially since Tyler
precisely argues the intermixedness of the occult, and the ethos of poesis
(constructive pragmatics), and the commonsensical, and urges us to forget
the very constricting western notions of inside and outside, object and
observer, known and unknown, ordered (that science fiction) and disorderly.

In a Latin American context, from which my friend Abdel speaks with me,
there is of course no clear or awe-some separation of the spiritist world
from the commonsense world. Dancing (conversing) with the orichas (the
spirit saints) is common and pragmatic, and also healing and necessary, and
desirable and transformative.

Perhaps the "orichas" in Cuba are "extensions" of the body-spirit and the
culture (the popular) - body. (art nothing "high" here, nor never "pure").
In that sense, if we think of technologies or techniques, I wanted to ask
whether we are dancing with the disorderly ordered universe of cultural
common sense, connecting/transcrossing paths with others who also sense and
know the cultural fantasy-realities. To dance with virtual bodies, then, is
a matter of fact, and we intimate such an ethos, and it is
heard/felt/seen/imagined. Perhaps we exaggerate , in our of our "audiences"
their flustered reactions. We are the flusterers.

Is fantasy reality a way of looking again at "virtual reality," apart from
the techno-driven language of competition-control-vanquishing (DEEP BLUE 3,
Grandmaster Kasparov 2, and the human player cracks up, NY Times

Susan continues, very poetically, to write about the need to demystify:

>This becomes an issue of access and demystification - like technology
>within dance contexts.

>Altered states of consciousness don't have to be whirling dervish extreme
states but can be the moment when a new idea slips out from the cracks in

>my question
>is "why these references to mythological characters (women at that)?" I
>mention this here because I feel referring to Medea and Cassandra is less
>of a collapsing our own poetics into Classical Greece than it is an
>affirmation of the daily practices of mythmaking, large and small. I see
>resonances between mythology and the occult brought to a new level of
>intensity within the context of movement and technology - with a simple
>shift of perspective they can be situated in daily life, and as such bring
>to awareness the richness of the symbolic structure within which we live
>and create (Lisa, what do you think?)

I think the last paragraph is rich and self-explanatory (although I leave
the response to Cassandra and Medea to others, although I did a "Cassandra"
piece in 1990, dedicated to Christa Wolf after her denunciation by the
western media after the fall of the wall, and Medea was a prominent feminist
icon of transgression in the mid-80-s for us), except that I nowhere, in my
adaptation of ethnography, speak of whirling dervishes. On the contrary,
Tyler uses "occult" probably as another, perhaps surpassed quaint metaphor
(after science wore itself out) that need be/can be revised drastically.

Perhaps even more radical and difficult to put in logical language is a
glimpsing of
n o perspectives (that separate realities, objects, fantasies, movements),
an embrace of unspeakable paradoxes that can be awared, intensified,
conjured, lived (conjuration not as magic, nor as techno-wizzardry), and so,
there we go, when and how do we dance or move with others without awing or
fearing or intimidating or overdesigning/controlling?

Abdel speaks of thinking of changing the constricted, falsifying
psychogeographies in our western culture-vocabularies (above, below, under,
over, un-conscious, reason, rising en pointe........). So, remembering
Mark's and Richard's discussions on design and control, how can one imagine
not-overdesigning movement and its interface with. Not underdesigning either

otherwise moving, and perhaps relinquishing constricted (genre) conceptions
of "art".

that, like not-science, is part of a different experimental mise-en-form,
without that the form must make sense only along techno(science) paradigms -
grids - which, impoverished us, seem the only ones we talk along with.