Re: transdance and the occult

Susan Kozel (
Sun, 11 May 1997 17:13:57 +0000

(from Johannes)

>The break with everyday reality is a journey apart into strange lands with
>occult practices, where fragments of the fantastic whirl about in the vortex
>of the quester's disoriented consciousness, until, arrived at the
>maelstrom's center, s/he loses consciousness at the very moment of the
>miraculous, restorative vision, and then, unconscious, is cast up onto the
>familiar, but forever transformed, shores of the commpnplace world.
>Dear colleagues, if you have read along, can you imagine a response to a
>question, say,
>"is dance/technology performance an "occult practice" in the poetic sense of
>transformation mentioned above?

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.

This becomes an issue of access and demystification - like technology
within dance contexts. I've experienced reactions of awe and embarassment
when technology is mentined in a creative context on the part of people who
feel they "aren't technological" or who feel that they have "missed the
boat and can never catch up". I'm concerned that if we take on board
equations with the occult without reworking it's meaning we will be further
ghettoising ourselves into a separate realm of experience and expertise
etc... What I prefer to do is uncover workings of the occult in our daily
practices of living, eating and making work. 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 awareness. Creating
with technology doesn't have to always involve huge budgets and state of
the art gear (obtained through casting a spell on funding bodies!?) but can
happen by using lightbulbs and slide projectors, and other low tech
devices. I noted with delight that Lisa Naugle's choreographic
experimentation for Body Electric makes reference to Cassandra - I have
been loosely developing work under the theme of Multi-Medea - 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 withing 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?)

At last year's Cyberconf5 in Madrid a presentation was given by the creator
of HTML (Mark ? ... I can't remember his surname - does anyone else know?)
equating the internet with global spiritual developments of the turn of the
millenia. His presentation was gripping - the style and rhetoric of a
pstmodern fire and brimstone preacher! - but his message was that the
"occult" of technology was seeping into our lives and consciousnesses. We
did not have to hunt for it. It simply was becoming more and more of a fact
of life.


(posting from Vancouver for the Body Electric Festival)