Her excessive visual presence both disguises and disclaims her assigned absence within the social sphere…. in her overstated assumption of the mask of femininity, she indicts the very power politics that her body economy suffers. She plays the clown.
[Charcot’s] “leading ladies,” whom Sarah Bernhardt studied and mimicked in preparation for her tragic melodramas, were praised for being sublime comediennes…. the… swollen language signified how both hysteric and clown magnify and slander our concept of the ordinary. For instance, both exercise a curious belabored gait that comments on the meaning of ground, of support: astasia-abasia (the “hysterical gait”) is a walk in which the patient appears to be trying to fall. She performs it only when she knows she is being observed: her deliberate performance of instability is as much a commentary on her condition as it is the condition itself….. To stand firmly would be to acquiesce to a stature stipulated by a social gaze that is both overdetermined and hostile. To falter is to take another ideological position or “standing,” one that is hopeful in its deliberate unsteadiness.
The very nature of spectacle makes “a spectacle of inappropriateness” oxymoronic. Spectacle itself is an act of self-mockery, a replacing of subjectivity with something so grand, so oversignified, as to suggest hypersubjectivity.
The word “mask” comes from the Arabic word maskharat, meaning clown or buffoon. And the “buffoon” means “to puff.”
…[I]n order to be liberated from the powers that speak for me, I must become all they bid me to be. I become the joke that torments me.; I am the phobia incarnate.
Women and animals are seemingly trapped in a place of endless misrecognition where they cannot gain access to symbolic space or to a re-cognition that proffers verification in a discourse of power.
Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of masochism infers the process of “becoming animal.” A deal is made wherein one’s submission and contractual subjugation release one from the constraints of the law; lawless ecstasy results from the performance of one’s humiliation.
I am suspicious of the angry woman. I am weary of the discourse of female pretense as power when delivered in progressively verbose waves of new feminisms. I’m bored with futile attempts to redeem vapid, anti-committal postmodern ambiguity and obscurity from its entertaining but safe epistemological theories. Instead, I let precariousness and speculation riddle my body.
…Cordelia and the fool merge in the king’s imagination, and in their becoming one he realizes, as we have known all along, that they signify the only thing that should have mattered.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
More on Buffoonery
The following quotations all come from Mady Schutman's A Fool's Discourse: The Buffoonery Syndrome, which I first quoted five years ago on this blog. Their relevance to my practice should be obvious. Thank you Mady, you rock.