We sat at midsommar
a company of fifteen
in a Norwegian churchyard.༡
An ancient Tibetan ritual, she said.༢
An experiment that isn’t innocent.
I was to invoke you by locating you in the depths of my body.
Pain isn’t plain.
It bears colours, texture, temperature.
It has perspective.
I sat and started,
enticing you with that sparkle of pain
I am aware I bear
yet only you can spot.
I remained closed eyes expecting you would feel safer
to appear in a darker setting.
There came forth an undefined feeling,
a sense of presence:
a shiver in the guts,
a mouthful of cold metal.
The inexpressible expresses, inexpressibly, in the expressed,
What isn’t said, cannot be known,
But you seemed to be relying on other means:
Our eyes know something we don’t,
you once confided to me.
And indeed you a read.
You know exactly what lies in the deep deposits of our selves.
You find subsistence in the cavities of our minds,
whose paths remain hidden from most of us,
whose paths, if we dare, lead us to where one can’t return
without losing a feather.
And right now, you were reading me.
Two eyes opened in the dark, staring.
I realized these eyes weren’t two but a thousand.
Butterfly eyelids opening and closing;
never more than two at once gazing.
I felt you were made of eyes and nothing else:
a faceless-eyed mouth preying,
seizing by seeing;
avidly consuming, without any desire for satiety.
I could feel you,
although no contour were to be grasped.
I heard myself saying:
“If I am out at this hour and in this place, I must want something, and that something I’m sure you might help me with; because you were here on this spot long before I came by, and will be here long after I’ve gone, and that’s because you’ve got what those who pass by here want, which is like carrying a weight you have to unload on whoever does pass…”
with the awareness that these words༤ weren’t coming from me
but at me;
as if their utterance was of threatening circumstance.
And so I said:
“I summoned you to give you substance,
your existence implying the disappearance of what I know as I.
How will you feel when I surrender to your desire?
If submission seems to be the condition,
I will respond to it with attention and dedication.”
(I was shit scared.)
Stillness is a verb.
The heart is an abyss.
Things are here before and after I will have ceased to happen.
I looped these sentences in my head
as I surrendered to being undone.
The deep sorrow of contemplating my finitude turned into a sense of resourcefulness beyond self: a feeling of continuity amongst discontinuous forms of being. Eventually holding you for a second changed everything.
“I gave you what you wanted,
quenching your aching need of a body,
becoming your host and substance.”
In a low voice I demanded your naming and your dwelling.
“Your heart will forever be my quarters”,
“In exchange, I will be guarding you;
I will enact my most hidden parts.
I will be the One Thousand Eyes lodging in the abyss of your heart.
You don’t need a name if you know my address.”
I wished for a second it would be one of those dubious esoteric trips
we do in the summer in Vienna.
Embodied anecdotes without consequences.
But I know you are here.
I can feel you:
A spider of the size of my hand walking along my body,
guarding its dwelling.
And if I don’t know your name,
I do know how to call you, let your thousand eyes
become the reader.
༡ This event happened in Porsgrunn, the city of the hundred churches, during Scene Bluss | The Hell Mouth Edition, a project of reenactment of Buffy The Vampire Slayer tv series into a 7 hours performance role play in an amateur theaterfestival in 2018.
༢ The Chöd practice (in Tibetan: གཅོད , which means to sever) consists in invoking demons and to offer oneself as their feast, until a mutual becoming. This ritual is a spiritual practice found primarily in the Yundrung Bön tradition as well as in the Nyingma and Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism. When introduced into this ritual, I was ignorant of any context or historical linage of the practice. It was approached as a psycho-somatic experiment as is often the case in dance practices: we are giving it a body, and through the process of embodiment we learn about the implications that weave our body with the bodies that constitute that practice, understanding our differences without separability.
༣ Ludwig Wittgenstein (misquoted)
༤ Bernard-Marie Koltès (altered).
I would like to thank Chloe Chignell, Stefan Goovart and Clara Amaral for their freandership