I guess most of everyone who may read this would have no idea of who Carmelo Bene is. And this is fine since he was an Italian avant-garde playwright and actor who died about 10 years ago and was probably the most important figure in Theater that we had.
I mention him here, this blog, because he was inspired by a similar sets of ideas, or beliefs. At some point he worked closely with Gilles Deleuze and was interested in the complete annihilation of the “self”, intended as a conscious entity. From my point of view he essentially represented in “art” Scott Bakker’s Blind Brain Theory. He refused to “exist” and became a rather popular figure in Italy because he was controversial and every time he appeared on TV he aroused all kinds of outrage and scandal. In particular he was accused of speaking in riddles, of nothing and being just a clever trickster who kept fooling the audience with his nonsensical, artificially shocking performances, just to draw the attention. Most of everyone was against him, he was deliberately an antagonist, and had a very troubled and animated relationships with his critics, who were continuously trying to frame him, diminish him or celebrate him, depending on their credo.
But he had a point. This is what happens when you are “misunderstood”. You keep talking of THIS, but people think it’s about THAT. Your stream of (post)consciousness goes in a direction, but everyone else is on another frequency. But when you instead understand the symbols he uses, the hooks, then the ephemeral nonsense of his words transforms into absolute clarity. He then used those ideas to speak about everything: theater, literature, philosophy, politics, his work, his private life.
His purpose, if there was a purpose, was to perform a checkmate on theater and literature. Destroy and deny everything there is, going beyond the post-modern, to some non-entity lying beyond. In order to be “there”, he had to deconstruct, not as conscious analysis, but to remove himself from the scene, to transform the voice and language in a form of non-language. In order to be there he had to “turn off the lights”. To quote Erikson again, two posts down, “look away to see”.
This is not a theory, he only works on the art, and so he only tries to represent it, give it some shape. He described himself as an “actorial machine”, he himself becoming a performance. Only by channeling some demon inside he could say something true. Get closer to the whole, the misshapen lack of identity and voluntary act.
“He considered his work to be about a “constant becoming” in a perpetual state of incompletion. Bene believed that to merely repeat the written lines of famous playwrights was to murder theater. His art, therefore, is an art of repetition through extreme variation. By experimenting with classical dramatic texts, Bene became known as a notorious destroyer of texts.”
I’ll try to translate some of his ideas to better understand what feeds the process. If you’re curious you can also see here one of his performances (it seems the whole thing can be seen here, but obviously in Italian. It’s, huh, quite NSFW). Instead I extracted some of the quotes from a TV show where he spoke directly with the public about himself and his work. The public was, obviously, badly attuned, but it made the show lively.
If someone has defined the “phonè” as a dialectic of thought, then I deny being part of it. I’m looking for the emptiness, which is the end of every art, of every story, of every world. The language of the Great Theater, incomprehensible by definition, becomes completely comprehensible on a different level of understanding, being all about the signifier, and not the signified, or sense.
Language creates failures, it is only made of black holes and failures: (quoting Montale/Nietzsche) “Only this we can now say: what we are not, what we do not want.” Who says “I say I exist, I say this” is two times a stupid. First because he believes in his self, secondly because he’s convinced of saying, and even a third time because he’s convinced of saying what he’s thinking. Because he believes that what he thinks is not signifier, but signified, a sense. That happens under his authority. It’s all noise. I think conscious intelligence is misery. I refuse to consider the ontology.
I do not speak, I am being spoken.
“The gods, plural is the noun, played yourself. The gods returned you to the mythical dawn of times. They carved you empty of simulation. Freed you of codes.”
“We are but ghost lights, representation and model. You and I, in the illusion of being. Sincerity in the lie, truth in contradiction. As truth does not exist, given only in the delirium of language.”
“Voice and language, delirium of omnipotence. Delirium because it’s not there. It does not exist.”
(talking of amplification through a microphone, in theater) The actorial machine is the consequence of the Great Actor, stripped of expressive corporeal human capabilities (vocal, facial expression, gestures, etc..) to wear an amplified attire, both visual and voiced. The voice of the actorial machine is not just a simple amplification, but an extension of the tonal range, becoming a whole. The autorial machine is a fusion between actor and machine; amplification is not a prosthesis, but a further organic extension where the voice is defined by the process. In the same way one doesn’t “have a body” but one “IS a body”, so one is or becomes amplification, equalization, etc…
This amplification is not a mere enlargement of the sound. As an example, it’s as if I’m reading this page at this distance. So I see and understand. But if I bring this page very close, the outlines begin to blur. Closer and closer till they vanish, and I see nothing. At this point, “everyone has his own visions”. What is infinitely large, as discovered in physics, corresponds to what is infinitely small. A step beyond the threshold. That’s why I make myself smaller, “so that he can augment, I have to wane”. It’s the conscious “self” that needs to get smaller. The emptying of the “I”, the abrogation of subject, and so of history. I refuse to be in history. I stepped out of thought.
Art has always been bourgeois, consolatory, idiotic, stupid, it has been especially blathering, whorish and pandering. Art has to be incommunicable. Art has only to overcome itself. That’s why it’s up to us, once we get outside ourselves, to become masterworks. Exit modality to reach the place where modality ceases to be. I can only try to explain my discomfort. I can’t engage with what’s real, what’s obvious, what’s rational. The darkness. Turning off the lights. I even hate symbolism as an artistic language. Poetry is shit. We’re still within words, trying to find a way and unable to come out. I have found in myself a desert, and I speak to the desert who’s the other, and not to someone else’s desert. I possess absence. That’s all. I am being honest because I am not myself.
Universe is one, one only. The pluriverse… is. One can’t say the pluriverse is “what’s left”. The universe is just a tiny, tiny sliver of pluriverse.
(question) What can I do to not exist?
Depose your will. Cut the strings. Will and consciousness are never good. Consciousness does not exist. Look for surrender if you can. But you can’t. You can’t find it. Because when we are not in surrender, we do not realize it. Because once we are in surrender we aren’t “us” anymore. You can’t even exploit it, because you aren’t there anymore when you are there. It doesn’t belong anymore to the dialectic, it comes before and after words.