Saturday, 19 July 2008

an encounter is perhaps

a meeting with d.b. indos, zagreb

‘The only aim of writing is life, through the combinations which it draws’
(Gilles Deleuze)

‘Every word was once an animal’ (Ralph Waldo Emerson, via Ben Marcus)


From: David Williams
Sent: Tuesday, April 27 2004
To: Ivana Ivkovic, Una Bauer
Subject: group dynamics, zagreb

Hello Ivana and Una,
I hope all’s well. Just a quick request in relation to my participation in the Zagreb symposium: would it be possible to have some maps of the city please? Also I will be trying to intersect Ric’s workshop walks with animal trajectories: could you let me know if there is a zoo in Zagreb? Is there a natural history museum?
I would like to try to meet someone who has an animal (domestic or not): could be a pet, or could be a horse, pig, chickens, other farm animals – or even something more ‘exotic’ (like a tropical bird). Anyone who interacts with animals. Do you know anyone? Or do you know someone who might know someone? Any email or other contact details would be VERY helpful. Ideally I could get in contact with them before I come to Zagreb, and try to talk with them as the starting point of a possible network of people-and-animals.
Look forward to meeting you both.
With best wishes, David


From: Ivana Ivkovic
Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 2004
To: David Williams
Subject: Re: group dynamics, zagreb

Dear David,
We can have a good map of Zagreb waiting for you when you arrive, or would you need it in advance? There is a very good map in pdf with close up possibility here. The ZOO is where it is written Maksimir (large green area in the north-east of the city). The natural history museum is very small, but in the city centre.
I think Una has a cat :-) but I just heard of a friend of a friend who own some snakes yesterday. I am sure we can arrange something. I will ask around.
See you in Zagreb soon, Ivana Ivkovic


‘I wanted a form as obsolete yet necessary as the weather […] Who is to circumscribe the geography in which thinking may take place?’ (Robertson 2002: 21, 25).

My recent research has drawn on elements of contemporary philosophy and cultural theory in an attempt to explore the mutable parameters of performance, or its heart. It has proposed performative mappings of certain unpredictable, energetic events ‘in proximity of performance’, to borrow Matthew Goulish’s phrase: the shifting point of contact in contact improvisation; fire energetics and their implications for writing about the active vanishings of performance; place as contested and heterotopic; skywritings, a proliferative critical historiography of ways in which skies have been conceived, contested, and practised in contemporary art and socio-politics, and their implications for a performance epistemology; and in particular alterity as productive event in human/animal interactions. In these texts, I have endeavoured to explore more performative modes of writing critical histories. So, for example, I have attempted to write about what resists historiographic inscription - the qualitative, the fugitive, the unpredictable, the overlooked – and in this way minimally ‘to redirect the geometry of attention’, to borrow a phrase from Joan Retallack. Such redirection goes hand in hand with a conviction that one can never recuperate a disappeared world, one can simply try to write (into) a new one, try to find a form for what Paul Celan called the Singbarer Rest ('the singable remains'). The act of writing therefore seeks to ‘do’ or perform something of the moment(um) or affect of movement in absent bodies, or at least to rehearse aspects of the ambiguities, pluralities, displacements and ephemeralities of live performance through the conjunction of diverse modes of writing and voices, intertextual citation, linguistic slippage and fray, a poetics of repetition and accumulation, the tropes of the fragment and the list, and so on. I conceive of this writing as a material discursive practice, in which the page is a public space for enactments or instanciations of critical performance, rather than a matter of formal (or modish) ‘style’, or writing to be consigned to the ‘merely’ creative; to quote Retallack once again, ‘a space to be playful in a purposeful way’.

The evolving trajectory of this work reflects a gradual displacement from the relatively ‘solid ground’ of theatre studies and theatre history towards more fluid and tentative articulations of the shifting ‘lie of the land’ in an expanded field of contemporary performance and its intersections with philosophy. This trajectory marks an unravelling of conviction as to theatre as the singular site of concern, and at the same time a growing fascination with present process, conditions, practices, perceptions ‘in the middle’, and ways of thinking through performance as interactive and ephemeral event. Perhaps these materials also suggest a certain scepticism about particular claims to knowledge and its ‘finishability’, and, to borrow Jean-François Lyotard’s terms, a desire to become a ‘philosopher’ rather than an ‘expert’ (Lyotard 1984: xxv), to know how not to know with interrogative momentum, to travel between different modes of knowing (and not-knowing) in a relational field.

‘Ordinary human beings do not like mystery since you cannot put a bridle on it, and therefore, in general they exclude it, they repress it, they eliminate it – and it’s settled. But if on the contrary one remains open and susceptible to all the phenomena of overflowing, beginning with natural phenomena, one discovers the immense landscape of the trans-, of the passage. Which does not mean that everything will be adrift, our thinking, our choices, etc. But it means that the factor of instability, the factor of uncertainty, or what Derrida calls the undecidable, is indissociable from human life. This ought to oblige us to have an attitude that is at once rigorous and tolerant and doubly so on each side: all the more rigorous than open, all the more demanding since it must lead to openness, leave passage: all the more mobile and rapid as the ground will always give way, always. A thought which leads to what is the element of writing: the necessity of only being the citizen of an extremely inappropriable unmasterable country or ground’ (Hélène Cixous in Cixous & Calle-Gruber 1997: 51-2).

When I was invited to participate in the Group Dynamics symposium in Zagreb in May 2004, feeling somewhat lost, my initial questions related to orientation and connectivity, and to a desire to try to register traces of the unmapped and the ephemeral: animal encounters and trajectories, secret places, small acts of kindness, dreams of else/w/here and other/wise. In what ways might one ‘collaborate’ in a city never visited before, a city where one doesn’t know anyone, in a language one doesn’t speak? What kinds of meetings are possible? Given how easy it would be to get lost, what might one find? I knew I wanted to remain connected to the symposium and at the same time fall out of it into this unfamiliar city. I knew I wanted to allow the occasion for the unforeseen by giving over some degree of agency in the city, through encounters with others (a provisional micro-version of ‘group dynamics’) and through a process of drift. A ‘purposeful drifting’ that requires patience, an attentiveness to detail, to multiplicities and connectivities. ‘The multiple must be made’ (Deleuze & Guattari 1987: 6). Knowingly not knowing what it is ‘about’ at the outset, what is being looked for, just staying close to whatever rule/game/attempt structures are in operation, or whatever ‘desire paths’ open up, and attending to figures and trajectories and repetitions and alliances as they occur, listening actively, letting them take shape in a relational space. Tracking something emergent, trying to go for the ride, knowing it will always be a few necks ahead of the rider. These shapes and patterns may be fictional (‘made things’), but the ways in which we represent them can have a variety of functions: aesthetic, critical, ethical, affective, epistemological, historiographic. And as Tim Etchells writes in Certain Fragments, it’s not always a matter of ‘describing a situation so much as placing the reader in one’ (Etchells 1999: 23).

'What the map cuts up, the story cuts across’, wrote de Certeau (1984: 129). Location and identity are produced as much through narration as through what already exists; they are more to do with doing than knowing. Perhaps this was an opportunity to rehearse and play-fully refashion some fragments of those heterogeneous personal mappings that we are continuously making up and over, and out of which we constitute our-‘selves’. So, a kind of fluid performative ‘auto-topography’ that could create provisional senses of self and of space and place (rather than the ‘self’ or the ‘world’ occurring preformed, as if they were pre-existent entities rubbing up against each other). Space, time, self as ‘a multiple foldable diversity’ (Michel Serres), a field of flows and intensities: spacing, timing, selfing. Here a dynamically spatialised (and fictionalised) self-in-process can perhaps fray just a little the dualist territorial imaginaries of inside and outside, of self-identity in opposition to alterity. So, a philosophy and practice of passage, rather than of ground or territory. If the continuity of identity is secured through movement and the capacity to change, rather than the ability to cling to what is already established, then my interest here was to explore simple strategies for loosening the grip of the logics of mastery and opening towards an engagement with the transitional passages, networks and inter-subjective flows of an ‘animal geography’.

Certain core questions recur throughout this work: How might one interact with another whose difference is recognised as an active event, rather than a failure of plenitude? What are the productive qualities of alterity? In what ways might one work (in) an existential in-between and perceive other-wise? How, in Jean-Luc Nancy’s terms, might one ‘think on the limit’ (Nancy 1997:70) and ex-pose oneself to the event/advent of meaning? In other words, if the ‘animal’ comprises a constitutive outside of the ‘human’, (how) can this limit-horizon be experienced as ‘not that at which something stops but [...] that from which something begins its presencing’ (Heidegger 1971:154)?


‘There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are the things we don’t know we don’t know’ (Zizek 2004: 9).

I’m quoting the words of that rather slippery philosopher/cartographer of modes of knowing, former US Secretary of State for Defence Donald Rumsfeld. As Slavoj Zizek points out in his book Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle, Rumsfeld forgot to add a crucial fourth term – the ‘unknown knowns’, the things we do not know that we know – in other words, very precisely the unconscious, the ‘knowledge which does not know itself’ – ‘the disavowed beliefs and suppositions we are not even aware of adhering to ourselves’ (ibid: 10). These can’t be controlled, because we’re unaware of their very existence. Perhaps attentive immersion in certain activities – talking, writing, playing, drifting, dreaming, the event of encountering an-other – can generate frictions and short-circuits to unsettle or jolt them, allow us to glimpse their contours out of our peripheral vision. Perhaps one can learn how not to know what one is doing and still keep on doing it, knowing that the unconscious will always make a fool of the expert. The ground will always give way.


From: Una Bauer
Sent: Tuesday, April 27, 2004
To: David Williams
Subject: Re: group dynamics, zagreb

Dear David,
Hi again, I just remembered something that was sort of, right in front of my nose. There is this wonderful artist Damir Bartol Indos working and living in Zagreb, and he has a dog, and is, in general, very much interested in animal behaviour (doing his new piece of wolfs/dogs). He would be a great person to talk to – I already called him to tell him you might be contacting him … I realised most people I know are into cats, but domestic cats that don’t leave their houses, I don’t know if that’s a problem. JT is a friend of mine who has 2 cats … and then there is also a good friend MS, who is also very much into cats – just talked to her – she would also like to be part of what you are doing
Is that ok for the beginning?
Best, Una
p.s. by the way, I live very close to the zoo … if not in one.


From: kugla
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004
To: David Williams
Subject: RE: re. visit to Zagreb

dear david
must be tuesday or friday, we shall use school bus. i have phone from laguna, i am every day in contact with una. my phone-mobile is …
see you, dbi


‘An encounter is perhaps the same thing as becoming […] an effect, a zigzag, something which passes or happens between two […] intermezzi, as sources of creation’ (Deleuze & Parnet 1987: 6, 28)

It’s just before dawn on a Friday morning in early May, and I take a tram across Zagreb to a meeting with Croatian performance maker Damir Bartol Indos. People heading to or from work, the murmur of the city waking up, and my head still thick with sleep. The tram takes me east along Ilica through the city centre at Trg bana Jelacica, with its towering equestrian statue and its flapping explosions of pigeons, and out past the twin temples of specular mythologising and aestheticising - the zoo and the glass folly of the Dynamo Zagreb stadium, home of the Bad Blue Boys - towards the terminal point of tram line 12. All I know is that I have to look out for ‘a big man with a small dog: you can’t miss him’. In the preceding days, whenever I’ve mentioned to local people that I will meet Indos, who has a reputation as a performance maker in Croatia, some reactions suggest that he is perceived as something of an anomaly, someone on the ‘wilder’ edges of the contemporary Croatian performance scene; almost all reactions convey a sense of respect and a certain wariness, as if I don’t really look as though I know what I’m getting myself into (and I don’t). He is to be taken seriously, it’s clear. As I wipe the sleep from my eyes, and try to unfold into the day, it feels a little like a test of my resolve, this request to meet so early and so far away. And it feels like a falling off the map.

As the tram trundles along, I look in my notebook at some preparatory fragments I’ve listed about wolves, two of which now stand out: an old Italian good luck saying, In bocca al lupo! (Into the jaws of the wolf!); and the fact that Dante placed those who had committed the ‘sins of the wolf’ in the eighth circle of hell in his Inferno - seducers, sorcerers, hypocrites, thieves – I wonder what version of ‘wolf’ is being constituted there ... And I look at an image of the Earth sent to me by my friend Sue, taken from the Challenger space shuttle shortly before it broke up on re-entry in the skies over Texas: at the cusp of night and day ('between dog and wolf', as is said in French), a beginning and an end, constellations of lights in West Africa and central Europe, Greenland and Iceland adrift like clouds in the dawn sky …

When the tram eventually comes to a stop around 5.30, I see big man and little dog on the other side of the road, and wave, delighted they are there. We shake hands, and Indos introduces me to Indi, the former street dog named after Indiana Jones. The bond between Indos and Indi is self-evident, and the dog creates an instant connectivity for us two men. Both interested in philosophy, performance, animals; both born in the same year, thousands of miles apart in opposite hemispheres. I am suddenly fully awake and we head off through the cold morning air.

As the sun comes up, we walk the dog in the grounds of a local school for more than an hour. Round and round a paving circle, through the grass, past the graffiti on the playground walls: a swastika and a scrawled ‘fuck off’ in amongst the indecipherable tags. Man and dog as machinic assemblage, ‘the shift of a centre of gravity along an abstract line’. As we walk, Indos tells me about Indi’s earlier life as a stray, about the forthcoming performance of Man-Wolf (now less than a week from its opening) and past projects with his company DB Indos: House of Extreme Music Theatre (HEMT), about his interest in animals, the friend of a friend who lives in Zagreb with two wolves, his horror at the condition in which some animals are kept at the zoo, the story of him cycling past Franjo Tudman’s unfinished folly of a football stadium shouting ‘You are fucking crazy!’... At one point, he stops and says, ‘I will talk for two hours about me: and then you will talk about you’ … Later I tell him a little about Donna Haraway’s Companion Species Manifesto (which I have brought with me to Zagreb), about Deleuze (he’s heard of him, but not read anything), in particular the notion of becoming-animal and his critique of Freud’s ‘Wolfman’, as well as my interest in the animal discourses of performance, criminality and social conflict ... And I tell him about Antoine Yates who lived with a fully-grown 350 kg tiger in his Harlem apartment until he was badly bitten while trying to protect a stray cat he’d adopted – he pulled the tiger’s tail when it attacked the smaller cat, and it turned on him and sank its teeth into his thigh (or did I tell that to someone else in Zagreb? I was brim full of animal stories in Zagreb, a whole mob inside me, in pursuit of what?) …

The stuttering meander of our conversation is continually (and pleasantly) interrupted by Indi and his encounters with other dogs and their owners: always a formal and polite introduction by Indos of the ‘English man with an interest in dogs’, and then easy exchange around the dogs as they play. Lola, recovering from sickness and foolishly friendly; Koya, who has had gastritis and colitis, with her young maths teacher owner on a bike. Indi is delighted at every meeting. When no other dogs are in sight, Indos pretends he can see someone coming and calls out other dog names to Indi; the dog stops still, ears cocked, and scans the park for the newcomer, then realises it’s a game, and bounds off again. ‘And if I see a dog running, it is just as much the run that is dogging’ (Bataille) … Then we drop Indi home, Indos organises breakfast for his parents and daughter, before we join her on the school bus that will take us across town to the Waldorf/Steiner School near Novi Zagreb. Every day for the past seven years Indos has worked as a volunteer warden accompanying his daughter and other kids on their way to and from school; he makes this journey twice a day, and everyone knows him. He says this is ‘soul-work’. At the school, there are ducks in a pen, and a rabbit struggling in the arms of a young girl. I ask if I can take a photograph, and girl and rabbit are momentarily still. Bobo, a teacher at the school, talks me through the year 4 introduction to animals through looking at morphological variations; he shows me exquisite pastel drawings of a human, an octopus, a mouse, an eagle. Through illustrations of the relations between form and function, the Steiner pedagogy invites a recognition of both connection and difference. Meanwhile, Indos is collecting bottles of what he calls ‘apple acid’ for his personal use: home-made cider or juice …

He has bought sandwiches and some water, and, skirting a dead dog in the middle of our path, we eat our breakfast as we walk towards a vast rubbish tip a mile or so from the school, the site of Zagreb’s detritus since the Second World War. Indos calls it ‘the mountain’: an apocalyptic place, as if something terrible has happened’, he says. The repressed and abandoned of the city, its waste trundling out here in incessant convoys of trucks. A chaotic archive of the broken, the unwanted, the redundant, the forgotten: a monumental collection of fragments, shards of memory, the residual traces of the city’s discarded pasts. A fleet of earth movers scurry across the slopes of this wasteland, burying the most decayed material beneath a thin layer of soil. Layered temporalities and rhythms: the trucks, countless seagulls wheeling overhead, some huge pigs feeding on the flank of the hill, the invisible and attenuated processes of decay. ‘They plant grass, trees: in winter it is perfect for snowboarding’, Indos says with a wry smile, then: ‘It makes something conflicted inside me’. Bird song and gull cries as the trucks rumble. He tells me about methane build-ups within this mass of refuse, how some years ago a huge explosion scattered rubbish far and wide across the Southern suburbs of the city. We talk about the toxic stench that drifts across his daughter’s school and on to the concrete blocks of Novi Zagreb; about the leaching of toxins from the tip into the market gardens at its edges and into the River Sava. Then he tells me of his desire to make a performance here, and points to a spot high on a crest. I imagine him dancing like Tatsumi Hijikata, almost naked in a sea of trash, peering through his glasses at the birds and the other mountains on the horizon behind the city.

As we walk towards the concrete housing projects of Novi Zagreb en route to Indos’s studio, we pause to watch a chicken and a cat sharing a piece of bread on the street. The gulls circle overhead ‘like shoals of fish, like water’, says Indos: a multiplicity and a singularity, a molecular aggregate. Then, with a laugh: ‘That is group dynamics – many in one! That’s the real symposium, up there!’ The conference of the birds. ____________________________________

From: Una Bauer
Sent: Thursday, April 29, 2004
To: David Williams
Subject: a poodle

Here is another guy who wants to talk to you: Adam S – a musician, he has a poodle
Best, Una


‘A flight of screaming birds, a school of herring tearing through the water like a silken sheet, a cloud of chirping crickets, a booming whirlwind of mosquitos … crowds, packs, hordes on the move, and filling with their clamor, space; Leibniz called them aggregates, these objects, sets […] Sea, forest, rumor, noise, society, life, works and days, all common multiples; we can hardly say they are objects, yet require a new way of thinking. I’m trying to think the multiple as such, to let it waft along without arresting it through unity, to let it go, as it is, at its own pace. A thousand slack algae at the bottom of the sea’ (Serres 1995: 2, 6).

From: Una Bauer
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2004
To: David Williams
Subject: animal thing again

What do you think about a child taking part in your animal thing? I thought of M’s daughter who is 8 or so, and she has a turtle? I haven’t asked M about it, but perhaps …


Do you know which animal you are in the process of becoming and in particular what is becoming in you […] a whole mob inside you in pursuit of what … ? (Deleuze & Parnet 1987: 76).

It’s not long after 9.00 a.m., and we walk along a muddy path towards Indos’s studio, at the back of a semi-derelict club once trashed by skinheads, Indos tells me, for showing communist films. ‘Skinheads are not political enough, they wear costumes not uniforms’. This leads him into a discussion of Gandhi’s philosophy of ahimsa, and of the paradoxes of non-violent protest: ‘perfect for the police or the army, but maybe one must fight with skinheads’. When we walk around the side of the club towards the work space, Indos forewarns me: ‘no toilet, no heating’. At Indos’s invitation, I relieve myself in the waste ground at the back as he opens up and prepares; I smoke a cigarette, write some notes. And some mental connection is tentatively made between Indos, this context on the margins and Brian Massumi’s resistant ‘strategies for becoming’: 1. Stop the world (becoming begins with an inhibition); 2. Cherish derelict spaces (holes in habit, cracks in the existing order); 3. Study camouflage (seeming to be ‘what you are’ in order to ‘pass on the inside’); 4. Sidle and straddle (when in doubt, sidestep, remain marginal: move sideways through the cracks towards ‘the place of invention’, the dynamic in-between of transformational encounter); 5. Come out (‘what one comes out of is identity’) … (Massumi 1992: 103-6).

Inside, a tiny semi-industrial space, perhaps a garage originally. It’s a minefield to negotiate a route across the playing area towards some simple raked seating, only 3 or 4 rows. It looks like the wreckage of some Constructivist scenography; the space is covered with wooden industrial palettes, dozens of car tyres scattered randomly or in piles, loose bits of timber and small tree branches, scraps of paper, two ancient reel-to-reel tape machines and speaker system. Indos fumbles with his glasses, puts them on in order to tinker around and then cue the sound for the rehearsal of Man-Wolf. He hands me a package of photocopied materials, which will be distributed to spectators in this ‘anti-symposium’, as Indos describes it with a smile. The bundle of papers includes a contextualising programme note in Croatian and English, listing performers, textual and audio sources, and offering a rather elliptical account of the event-to-come: ‘Performers establish their otherness using tools, shaping beauty, establish their otherness from their animal Ur-forms using psychoanalysis, transcend to a state in which they pose questions, arrive to conclusions about the uniqueness of various forms of existing and perishing’. As well as trade journal descriptions of wooden palettes and torches (both of which are to be used in the ‘lecture/demonstration’ performance, the programme note informs us, ‘in order to build a stage object: wolf territory’), here are also: cartographic representations of ‘howling sites’ (the estimated range of audibility of individual wolf cries in a territory in Minnesota); an analytical zoological text entitled ‘Use of faeces for scent marking in Iberian wolves (Canis lupus)’ – Indos pronounces faeces ‘fakes’, and completely confuses me for a moment; materials about social order, expression and communication in wolf packs, including texts with line drawings about wolves’ facial expressions (‘high ranking’, ‘anxiety’, threat’, ‘suspicion’), about wolves’ tails as indicators of mood and status, about the presentation-withdrawal of the ‘anal parts’, and a very graphic text called ‘AND FAMILY LIFE’ describing vulpine coitus, tying and ejaculation. Finally, there is an extract from Freud’s case study of the ‘Wolfman’ (‘From the History of an Infantile Neurosis’, 1918), including the Wolfman’s well-known dream.

Before I have really had any time to read this material, Indos begins to set the scene as if this were a performance for an audience of one, then proceeds to talk and run through it on his own. He runs it in sequence, demonstrating certain episodes with his own actions and those of the other (absent) performers, at times enacted in a walk-through shorthand, with fill descriptions as he locates with a gesture where specific events will take place, at times performed at a massively heightened level of intensity and energy. The shift between these modes is often almost instantaneous, the jar of sudden gear-shift quite bewildering; Indos has that disarming capacity to transform himself utterly in a split second from quiet practical description to embodied actions and vocalisations of a blowtorch intensity, a white-hot flaring into appearance, a teetering dance of borderline possession; it’s like flicking a switch between Brechtian guide and Artaudian martyr signalling through the flames. A long circling clenched dance with a song that gradually evolves into wolf-like howls. A rolling contorted action on top of a circle of wood balanced precariously on an uneven pile of tyres: ‘the surface is alive’, he remarks. A sequence in ‘what we call English gibberish’ – a hilarious nonsense parody of a chewing-gum American draaaawl. These actions interspersed with taped sound of a wolf keening, a layered wolf chorale, a crackly recording of Yvette Gilbert singing in French about a woman walking along the street followed by the dogs she attracts, extracts from an audio-lecture by wolf zoologist Fred Harrington describing his encounters with timber wolves, a variety of bird song samples and a frog …

As the sounds play, Indos is entranced, attentive, his gaze fixed into the distance. I feel at ease with the tape material somehow, and almost drop off for a moment; Indos doesn’t notice. But as my head snaps up again, I find myself once more astonished at this 47-year-old man-child-performer-philosopher-giant- old-soul playing and mapping and writhing and howling and singing in a deserted workshop, the door wide open framing a patch of early morning waste ground. I have never witnessed anything quite like this in my life. As an event, it unseats me, this something-taking-place, this someone-going-through-something. A haecceity, inseparable from an hour, a season, an atmosphere, an air, a life ... This is a landscape of the trans-, of passage. Like fire, Indos is a ‘shaking up of myriads’ (Serres 1995: 103). At the end, we sit in unembarrassed silence for a few minutes, drops of sweat falling from Indos’s nose, then he jumps up to pack things away, locks up, and once more we walk, this time at high speed, towards the city. I laugh as he pulls out one final sandwich, wrapped in foil and a paper serviette with a cartoon fluffy sheep on it: ‘the most better sandwich last!’ We pass a man training an alsatian on the grass between streaming lines of traffic, a flower memorial on the verge where some accident has occurred, and it begins to rain softly …


'The animal might interrupt writing, as if demanding something of us, but writing can’t catch the animal, though it tries. You’d think a quotation might pin it down. A quotation, after all, like an animal, is a literalism. And like an animal, according to Benjamin, quotation is a mode of interruption. ‘To quote a text involves an interruption of its context’. The writing that allows itself to be interrupted by the animal is the writing that understands the complications of context, offering itself as fractured, scattered, corrupt, misdirected, multiple, elsewhere, other. The writing that would pay respect to the animal acknowledges the animal, gives place to the animal. Except even these are metaphors, and the animal is too literal to give itself up like that. That is its dignity, ‘to be shaped, sir, like itself, and it is as broad as it hath breadth: it is just so high as it is, and moves with its own organs: it lives by that which nourisheth it, and the elements once out of it, it transmigrates’ [Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale]. Which is to say, the animal is like nothing on earth. Writing, it appears, can barely cope. Even if the animal can be trained it cannot be scripted’ (Kear and Kelleher 200: 88).


With special thanks to Una Bauer, Ivana Ivkovic, Ric Allsopp, Alan Read, Adrian Heathfield, and in particular Indos for his great generosity: In bocca al lupo!

Allsopp, Ric (1999). ‘Performance Writing’, Performing Arts Journal no. 61, 21:1, January, 76-9
Bataille, Georges (ed.) (1995). Encyclopaedia Acephalica: Critical Dictionary, and Related Texts, trans. Iain White, London: Atlas Press
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Kear, Adrian and Kelleher, Joe (2000). ‘The Wolf-Man’, Performance Research 5:2 (‘On Animals’), Summer, 82-91
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Massumi, Brian (1992). A User’s Guide to Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Deviations from Deleuze and Guattari, Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press
Nancy, Jean-Luc (1997). The Gravity of Thought, New Jersey: Humanities Press
Pollock, Della (1998). ‘Performing writing’, in Peggy Phelan and Jill Lane (eds), The Ends of Performance, New York: New York University Press, 73-103
Robertson, Lisa (2002). ‘How Pastoral: A Manifesto’, in Mark Wallace & Steven Marks (eds), Telling it Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics of the 1990s, Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 21-6
Serres, Michel (1995). Genesis, trans. Geneviève James & James Nielson, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press
Schmidt, Natalie Crohn (1990). ‘Theorizing about performance: why now?’, New Theatre Quarterly 7:23, 231-4
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Zizek, Slavoj (2004). Iraq: The Borrowed Kettle, London & New York: Verso

Originally published as 'An encounter is perhaps: a meeting with DB Indos, Zagreb 2004' in Frakcija (Croatia), no. 36, October 2005, pp. 18-35. Text published in English & Croatian - © David Williams/Frakcija

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