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On not seeing Worstward Ho!

Paris, 2006

The gloom is thick and slow as suet, glutinous on eyeballs, eyeballs out on sticks already, in fact. They’ve both come for dance, for exhilarated movement, a demonstration of this relation: body-earth and something beyond the ecstatic impatience to disappear, to fly off volatile, oh ladies up on pointe, no they want a demonstration of the relation: bloodpump-speed-gravity, going down with it, pleasuring earth, the springing self-exhilarated, yes, Piquet wants it faunesque and animal elastic. But here they want her to understand that leaps are something far-off, secret, still festering in a forgotten byway of the gut, longing for Nureyev or Nijinski’s Faun, but this already is stuck in so slow, is it hallucinated, is it only glimmer in the gloaming, a caterpillar crawling with shimmer in the thick dark of the grave place they’ve made them all in the dark share, it turns a bulbous excrescence, a foot, far away, an outgrowth of some inner awful thing, a face pumped out until all features surrender to the pressure-to-be-sphere, the call of the abscess, all is becoming-abscessed, oh Christ, she thinks, does Sam have to inflict his boils of protestant martyrdom on us forever, but the relentless softness of the even voice-under placing end-stopped sentences end-to-end reporting on the subjectless state on the outermost limits of the innermost world, on the infinity within the strangling constraints of this grave place, in which analysis reports there is also infinite stretch, and shocking gravitational concentration, think concertina: within the small place like a book, you find that infinite stretch and gravitational concentration are one, but messages come in slow, so slow from the outer reaches, foot gone now rotten through and nevertheless, less and lower than nether, a message comes from nerve terminus travelling back to the centre and in its bowl of bone, will there be extinguishment or brain collapse, is that another finger of light seeking obscenely the aperture in the black retreat, and them all straining like an eyeless bog-thing in the dark, waiting for dance, aching for dance, when will this thing twitch towards dance, and Beigesang, lost in the dark, thickness thicketing against the way she too would express herself, the will in the dark-lostness to see this thing, what was her voice in the dark, but only for a minute or so, fifteen at most, has she retreated, or not, this one-time companion, in the infinite folds of darkness at the back, or not, of the steep auditorium, perhaps she has even slipped out to the street dark, running, panting in panic through Pantin and eh putain, and left Piquet here to mark her time as the life ticks out of her, as the planet finally cools, and contracts, alone in the undifferentiated mob to ask what crippled fused thing made of womb and tomb suffers down there on the stage space a velleity of movement in the dark, in the festering compost of crawling subjectivities in dissolution-fusion-compaction, no, it is more like dripping, oozing in the composted-festering dark, all these naked eyes on stalks, yeux ecarcillés, Samuel says, in the dark and the undifferentiated mob’s controlled coughless breathing, its pious in-out, suffocate that embryo laugh, that itch to mirth at the back of the throat, down down, don’t let it rise to hysteria at all the collective pretension before the spectacle of the-nothing-moving-breathing-in-the-dark, but the last remnant of community, of any company, might well be this old man-self stuck to the boy-self, or is it another, he’s forgotten where self ended and other began in the dark, you remember when Samuel and what’s-her-name his wife, Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, divided their apartment, his half naked as a puritan bunker or prison, down to mere taciturn, nay monosyllabic function, like a holed tennis shoe worn back to the limit of sole, just before erasure, and her half choked on bric-a-brac and heavy soul-suffocating furniture, was it Louis XIII, full of roped entwinements, immoveable objects stuck in connotation, and here, perched on the edge of one of the last racks in the dark stack of seats, Piquet sits with her bag caught on her shoulder and she daren’t shift because of pious suspension of breath de rigueur in the dark auditorium with or without her companion, Beigesang, who is she now, who is she really, and what is her will to watch this invisible show, this immobile dance and Piquet knows that she as ever is sitting-duck to anyone’s will, in this case Beigesang’s, to watch the minimal turn to nothing and have her also watch immobile in the dark and this is it, the amalgam of viscera crawling, eyeballs out on stalks in the dark, is Samuel moved by a blind will to subject us to the misery of his uncompromising bleakness, for crawling minutes end-to-end infinitely in this limitless and endlessly pulsing wombtomb, where endlessness enfolded compacts and suffocates and her companion, the lively one with her hilarity, with her will to laugh and run, is she also silenced, eyes-out-on-sticks ecarquillés, peeled eggs back to the grave wall, at the back in the dark, willing the kneebone to break, willing the bone-cracking event of ages in the dark, and the laughter rising in the larynx in the dark, to roar hilarity in defiance of this pious vigilance, watching the no-dance in the night, which might be insidious monstrous mutation, but the evenness of the beautiful voice, its patience, is also a kind of terror when soft-footed endlessly it approaches without releasing, avaricious, its event, Zeno’s arrow dividing space and multiplying intervals at once in the dark, and relentlessly it proceeds, never raising the tone, the pressure of soft footfall to floor and footfall to floor and footfall to floor, but keeping still-eventness close to its chest, does it breathe, pump, do cells still divide within the dying, but we know also that it will be the death of us, this waiting will outlast us, its patience will do us in and darkness further contracts within darkness, its contours crushing when we’ve bared the eye to its extreme naked limit, to this dark, obscenely offered spherical attentiveness to any stray photon and it keeps on coming, perhaps two hundred, four hundred eyeballs out on stalks in the dark, straining here together, bulging their meniscus towards the mutating non-event of man-boy, straining for decay to end in the wombtomb of the mindbody dark, and when he turned his eye to her whose hand was always too far from his, her eye, the sky of fainting blue, what was there in the balance in the nothing air, the infinity of silence, offered back to this inching crippled huddle of utter dark, carrying the blue pale terror of the mother of no mercy, his contracted pupils his electrocuted hair, his sandshoes filthy and too small because he wanted to rejoyce himself and his body, thin as rain covered in boils on a crippled bike, boils they always call angry, as the French say manquer cruellement, cruelly lacking, and was this festering deprivation the signature of mother who never beat him, unlike the da, this ma who struck the son with spirit-blight, did Sam’s parents conjoin to write this too, which turns or fails to turn in the glimmer, Piquet hallucinates in the gloaming, in the festering dark and the legs are gone, that’s it gone, all conveyance but that of the agonising worm which she saw or is seeing in a mindflash because there is no time in the dark, this dark has invaginated time, which will never get to the point in the infinite approach and now she lurches or is it all in the mind, laughing into the night, it’s enough, the voice says, assez, and she wants to yell oui assez assez of dying in the dark to talk about all this and she will hoot into the night, where against the wall, pressed to pick up by Braille the movements of the choreographer of no-movement in the dark, her companion Beigesang reels also, enough assez, and there is mad clapping from those on whom light dawns now and the stage is bare, no remains of the always-dying event and they reel together into the lit up street, the grocery lights ablaze on its mountains of sacks of grain, their buttocky rhythms, the Babelesque pillars of cans, the pyramids of citruses, the trumpeting red of tomatoes, the dug up chantier of the little lane, its flagsgtones in piles, the new pavement sketched out in string, the modest village-scale facades, plain-rendered, square-windowed, above in the ultramarine vault the channels furrowed by the turning stars, one doona puff of cloud moving across the yellow moon, and they laugh to find night vision so vivid in Pantin, stumbling from the modernist grave decay in the murmuring doom of the theatre, along with this quick companion, who says she has like seismically through her body every one of the Worstward ho! director’s non-moves, which the director urged through her fingertips into the back wall of the little theatre, amplifying, with her will to remote control the dance laid low on the last stage in the dark, into morbid velleity, into twitching mutation, into entropic count-down and through her spine, her ribcage, shoulder blades, bony Beigesang says she felt the directorial Braille or old Morse code like a burrowing desire to inch millennially across the last black stage and with her Piquet lurches into the lit lane their shadows wild as long-legged spiders scrabbling to check caught prey, to roar out in hilarity their amazement that for an hour twenty-five minutes they’ve had eyes out on stalks watching the double-backed miscreant’s no-move in the nowhere land, transfixed by their bulging hallucinations in the starvation of vision, in their composted brains and bodies left gangrenous gone in the dark, by this nowhere no dance that has brought them reeling though Pantin and the name itself has surely come from the Beckett man and dangles before them now its broken string puppetry, twisting its last velleity to dance on the floor in the dark.

Worstward Ho by Samuel Beckett, created 6 November 2006 at the Centre national de la danse de Pantin, Paris, by Maguy Marin with and for Françoise Leick.