Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Failure Project Day Eight: Danse Macabre

one of Hans Holbein's 16th century Danse Macabre woodcuts
Today we focussed almost exclusively on the body. We're looking for what Lara keeps calling the "Big Ugly"; searching for release, movement that feels uncontrolled. We'd found euphoria, dancing for joy yesterday - and we returned to this today (when's the last time you skipped? it's hard to be unhappy when you skip) - but the darker end of the spectrum seems harder to tap into. Who wants to go there, voluntarily? But it seems worth exploring anyway.

We started with the spine, with movement that is initiated from the spine: shaking and spasms. It's exhausting, and near impossible for me to sustain for any length of time, but that in itself is interesting and strikes a chord with some of the narrative content I am considering.

And we worked with skin, and touch - comforting sensations, basic animal contact - the things that can really help a person in a depression. Do any of us get as much of that contact as we need? I'm not thinking about sexual contact. All the other primates spend time grooming each other, don't they?

From skin, we went back to bone, considering the fragility of our bodies. In one of my depressions I became so aware of my partner's skeleton, how close to the surface it lay, how vulnerable to breakage and exposure. I was terrified of losing my partner in some way, and this fear tortured me through this awareness of his fragility. I definitely think it is healthy to be aware of and to consider death - that's why I've always liked the medieval ideas of Memento Mori and the images of the Danse Macabre, like the one above. But these thoughts should be life-affirming rather than paralysing, right?

I'm finding our process interesting as well. We get stuck, and we have conversations around ideas and follow tangents and look things up on the internet. There's always a niggling worry in my head that maybe we're wasting time. Then suddenly something comes to me or Lara, and I try an improvisation that reveals a lot to us, and I realise that we've only arrived there because we took that circuitous path. It's a good reminder that creativity can't often be forced. And I should worry less generally.

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