OBSESSIVE POSSESSIONS

耽溺無度,我的癮、我的憂傷、和我獨自一人的角落。

These writings explicate the politics behind artistic projects, of the life itself, and of deliriums.

 

 

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

THE (NEW) TRIAL

at Theater for the New City, 2015

“We have to enter the world through theatre,” states Julian Beck, the co- founder of The Living Theatre. Theatre can be found everywhere and is mirrored in everyday behavior. Theatre is more than a space; internally it reaches directly into the mind and heart, and externally it transforms the public and transcends the social strata. Theatre achieves this by exchanging thoughts or unnamed feelings which allow us to understand the complexity of life better and further to take on actions that address pressing issues. 

 

Committed to revolutionary theatre, Peter Weiss has always aimed for changing the world through theatre by suggesting a direction, a method. However, “The New Trial,” inspired by Franz Kafka’s “The Trial,” does not strongly introduce a solution for the world that we are supposed to carry out as most of Weiss’s plays do. Rather, it represents the reality of the entire social system by depicting a mundane figure surviving and struggling in a blossoming international corporation. Different from Kafka’s world in “The Trial,” Weiss applies a Chekhovian method in his writing to replicate a reality that strikes the audience personally, and coerces them to reflect on their quotidian life, with an hope of stimulating actions on making a change, a change for a better living of the self and of others.

 

Hugely influenced by Peter Weiss in my theatrical aesthetics and politics, it is never my only intention to simply bring the world in Weiss’s plays to life. Rather, just as how Weiss treated Kafka’s “The Trial,” and as the reason for the existence of “The New Trial,” I aim for embodying my understanding of Weiss’s motivation for writing, and how to lead to social change through the latter. When confronted with the struggles of our society, it is neither one singular authority, nor one individual or one organization that can be singled out and criticized. When dealing with concepts such as  confinement, oppression, and struggle, one has to understand that systemic improvement is paramount. It is not always the others that impose upon us, but we ourselves are sometimes our biggest obstacles. In “The New Trial,” it is not every single character or the entire corporation or the society that tragedies K’s life, but K himself allows it to happen and reinforces it. Weiss makes clear that it is K himself who imposes constraint, limit, and imprisonment onto his docile body, while masochistically embracing it where his enjoyment is procreated. Therefore, to really understand the society with its problems and to speculate about a change for a new culture, we have to re-understand and rebalance the relationships with ourselves and others. This is why we create “The (New) Trial.”

FREUD OUT LOUD—CIVILIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS

at Judson Memorial Church, 2015

With all the tumult in our midst, when we oppose one another with hatred, ignorance, and eternal evil, we are always searching for a solution. Yet, we only seem to put into practice all the contradictions that are writ large in Civilization and Its Discontents—religion vs atheism, individual vs community, id vs super ego, Eros vs Ananke, etc, This oppositionality does nothing but generate more problems. We are stuck in a vicious cycle, one we feel unable to escape.  Like Sisyphus, we are always rolling the boulder up to the hill. 

 

But isn’t it the case that human beings civilized ourselves in the first place and created our own suffering and discontentedness?

 

When reading Civilization and Its Discontents, I well understood Freud’s analysis of civilization. Nevertheless I am not satisfied with all the discontents bequeathed to and reproduced by us. Actually, human beings do not deserve all these “discontents.” We have yet to discover a better way forward. We forgot that we still have one transcendental power, the power of Eros—we love and need to be loved. 

 

As a theatre director with a revolutionary vision, I strive to dissolve the many discontents civilization has produced and to  create a new culture where we share love and respect only. This is the new civilization we are aspiring to inhabit. 

 

In this performative reading with all the individual yet cohesive sections that the audience will encounter,  I am staging many of the contradictions in Freud’s text, creating double images which involve the audience. From all these double images, what we may realize or understand more fully is nothing more or less than ourselves. We may wonder why we have forgotten to employ the Eros with which we were all born. As Freud suggests, “When a love-relationship is at its height there is no room left for any interest in the environment; a pair of lovers are sufficient to themselves,” 

 

How will we re-examine ourselves in light of these double images, and start from there to make changes to civilization with using Eros? I cannot attempt to answer that question here, and neither did Freud. I simply hope from this performative reading of Freud’s text, we will all eventually start to figure it out. 

 

“My love is something valuable to me which I ought not to throw away without reflection." — Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

UPCOMING TRAIN/STOPPED CLOCK/UNTITLED WAITING

at Theater for the New City, 2013

I have been thinking about writing this play for years since college. At first, I was inspired by Walter Benjamin’s idea about traveling—when you are traveling, sitting in the train heading for somewhere, you are positioned in nowhere as if you were abandoned, in limbo. Thinking about that, I started to wonder if this liminal space, this liminal movement really has a destination that we are heading for, or we will indefinitely trapped in this liminality. Then Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” came into my mind. This question of liminality thus became the question of existence, a question that has bothered me as always, from Taipei to New York.

 

Sub/un-consciously, we regulate our quotidian life into mundanity—waking up at 8am, staying at work until 6pm, hanging out with family or friends on weekends. You might say you are creative at work, during your leisure time, or you might make more new friends, fall in love with different souls. There is always something new, something creative. Nevertheless, your life remains the same, and it is still a repetition.

When we interpret Godot as the salvation, or religiously, God, it seems we all give ourselves a possible end that. In this sense, time is linear, and we will eventually head for or end up somewhere. But, as you get to realize your repetitive quotidian body, you might really start to think if time is really linear, or would time actually be circular? If so, how is it possible for us to give ourselves a faint hope for the end, a solution to those unbearable in our repetition, in our quotidian body, and further, in the society we live in?

 

This is the question that I try to raise in “Upcoming Train/Stopped Clock/Untitled Waiting.”

 

Different from a theatre play that tells a comedy, a melodrama, or a tragedy, “Upcoming Train/Stopped Clock/Untitled Waiting” is to give the audience an experience of the time in the liminal space, and to encourage the audience to reflect on their quotidian body, and perhaps, to stimulate a possible change in life, in the society.

KISS ME, SO I AM QUEER

at Chashama, 2012

Queer, regarded as a genre of identity, has long been a mirror reflecting the imposition of ideology/stereotype upon which. It is phantasmic, deviating from the real. Queer, the existence of the deviation, is somehow stereotyped, confined by the hegemonic heteronormativity that immutates queer into the genre of identity. Performativity of queer in reflection of its “identity” as perceived today is opaque from realizing the true itself. It is one end of a scale where heteronormativity is located the opposite, polarizing the sexuality. Certain performativity tends to practice the stereotype/ideology so as to confirm its negation against the sexual hegemony, whereas relapses into the binarism so as to maintain the balance of both ends. Queer is simply  strategically hidden by its quasi-identity and pseudo-performativity that Muñoz claims “we are not yet queer.” That how one becomes queer, and the fluidity of queerness are simply disregarded, or further, forgotten. Performativity henceforth totalizes queerness as an institution of pseudo-identity in its forgery along with its incompleteness, instead of an idiosyncratic one. This project performance, Kiss Me, so I am Queer, thus aims to manifest how certain ideology/stereotype is coined and further is imposed on queer identity. Afterwards, the collective pseudo-idiosyncrasies will be denied by performing how the queer becomes. The objective of the performance is to practice and reassert my queerness, and also to raise/deny the queer potential of the others who are involved in the project, and finally to suggest the essence of queerness.

The performance is divided into three parts. It undergoes the process of abject and contingent contact in order. In the first part, a short film dictating the queer body will be looping for the audiences for better understanding how queer is perceived and who I am as a queer. With the looping film, the performer sits/stands as a mannequin with his head covered by a paper bag, indicating the one’s dysfunctional sensibility, which coheres with the idea of the origin of stereotype/ideology. Afterwards, the performer’s quotidian life is displayed. In the second part, the performer dressed in white encourages audiences to mark their ideas about queer and perceptions of the performer as a queer on his clothes. The performer then enacts whatever is on his clothes. It represents how the stereotype/ideology constructs a queer body which actually manifests its pseudo-identity. Following that, in the third part, what is aimed to argue as the objective of this project is that queer identity is actually constructed by the self sexual desire within the queer body. The desire is manifested by requiring audience (specifically male) to kiss the performer. The performer’s queer identity as well as the engagers’ are reasserted/denied by practicing the such queer intimacy. Further, the clothes on the performer, which symbolizes as the pseudo-identity, will be cut into pieces with scissors. The performer at last ideally shows his naked body indicating his primal state of queerness that there is nothing embedded but his sexual desire.

 

Queerness, if not constructed by disorienting self, appears to be the performativity itself. This project practices queer performativity as the manifestation of the process of becoming queer with the kiss between Dionysus and Pentheus embodying their queerness in Dionysus in 69. For the moment of kissing, queerness is the naked body cruising in the utopian amniotic fluid, jettisoning identity, the name, and the expectation.The performativity can only occur with interactions involved. Resonating with Halperin that “where [homosexuality] it and how it is” to constitute queer relationally, Chashama’s storefront window makes the engagement possible, and simultaneously, with its semi-publicity reinforces the concept of the confinement and the demarcation of the queer world which resonates Muñoz’s idea, the inevitable revelation of the existence of a queer world.

 

ESSAY

曼哈頓一堂沒有english native speaker的ESL

 

這棟大樓在曼哈頓並不算高,卻容納了五所不同的公立學校,分別坐落不同的樓層。這樣的情景對於一般紐約的公立學校並非罕見,為的主要是容易掌握各個學生的狀況,也盡可能避免校園霸凌或青少年犯罪的案件發生。

 

這所學校名為Manhattan International High School,我在五樓,走廊末端的那間10多坪大小的教室。這是一堂ESL,所有在這堂課的學生的目的是學習溝通、表達、與領會。我在那裡不是重操舊業,是透過表演技巧指導學生如何演講。在這,我所體會的學習氛圍與台灣高中的英語課迥然不同。學習如何正確使用英文理應是這堂課的宗旨,但是老師的企圖卻更大,透過英文表達對於人權的關懷,同時結合了這所學校多元族群融合的特色。只透過了一個簡單的句法:everyone has the right to,我聽到的是這些來自不同世界的學生發自真心的去告訴班上其他人,everyone has the right to marry, to have medical care, to vote, to choose their own nationality, not to be arrested and sent back to their countries, and so on so forth。當每一個人用挾著濃厚口音的英文一字一字試著清楚的唸出,你的感動已經不是他們多努力的練習掌握英文,而是他們透過這所學校、這座城市共有的語言,去訴說他們或許曾經體會、耳聞的不公不義。他們或許不知道政治的險惡,但他們單純的訴求、對於尊重的瞭解,是一個教育者該感受到的驕傲,也絕對是在台灣的教室裡的每個成員值得借鏡的一幕。

 

指導這堂課的老師告訴我,曾經當她在說明gay marriage在人權運動裡扮演著多重要的角色,某些較陽剛的異性戀學生卻在課桌下喃喃竊笑同志的荒謬。沒有責罵、也沒有容忍,這位老師走向某為信仰穆斯林的學生,她說:如果有人登門拜訪並且明確的鄙視你並要求你屏棄你的信仰,你感到難受並且生氣,希望那人能夠尊重並且支持你維護自己的信仰,那麼,你就該學習如何尊重同志對於同等對待的訴求,甚而支持。這樣的教育方式,已經不是單字該背多少,如何寫好一篇高分作文,而是徹底的回歸到人本教育。

 

還記得那時候在高中實習,才發現其實多半教科書的內容切合人本教育,希望藉由學習語言的過程,能夠更瞭解人文、科學、社會、與思想。這激發了我想要透過英文課來把這樣的教育思想徹底傳達。流行音樂文化、環保議題、科學議題,透過英文讓學生更瞭解這個世界是怎麼回事,可惜卻仍然得因為學生給的回饋、學校的考試壓力,這樣的教學方式終究讓英文成為另一種死的語言,僅限於書本上的文字,許多學生連開口表達、問候乃至於聽英文的能力都被無形的抹煞。在這樣的經驗裡,我是個懦夫,我並沒有堅強起來堅持我的理念,在寥寥無幾的讚許聲下。

 

這個星期二早晨的ESL已經不單純是一個學習的空間,而是如同布萊希特所說:theatre is not the mirror held up to reality, but the hammer with which to shape it,這是一座沒有第四道牆的的劇場,我宛如一名如癡的觀眾,深深的震撼著。

 

如果身為一名教育官員,不能體會借鏡的要領,那麼請您請辭讓位給更能領會的人;

如果身為一名教育工作者,不懂得適時地與社會機器抵觸,那麼你不過是名工匠;

如果身為一名學生,不明白學習的意義,那麼不如把社會資本讓給更需要的人。

雙門燒

 

不謀而合的南韓跟台灣同時發生了兩起大火,一把火燒掉了南韓超過六百年的古蹟─崇德門,另一把燒掉了台灣二十多年的雲門舞集。

當時看著電視新聞播報著南韓大火,許多南韓民眾跟著滅火水柱落淚,更激進的甚至喊出南韓已死等話語。當然,李明博也不意外的出現在災後現場準備重建後事。這把火燒掉了有形的文化資產,也引出了南韓人民的愛國心。

同樣的,雲門舞集的場地被祝融肆虐也是焦點新聞,只是在新聞播報的同時,讓人意外的是,我們見不到像韓國人民的吶喊,更讓人不解的是,我們不見政府出面協助安排災後事宜。這把火燒掉了台灣無形的資產,引出了台灣當局對於文化的輕忽。

如果用鈔票來計算文化資產,六百年的一級古蹟價值雖非我這個市井小民可以斷定的,但是從災後重建所花費的價錢粗估為六億元台幣。那麼,我們該怎麼樣去評價雲門舞集的災後重建呢?這次雲門所損失的不只是一個排練場或者是幾樣道具等有形的資產,而是過去二十多年所有寶貴的資料,包括每一次的創作稿等等,林懷民甚至坦言,有些舞蹈已難重現了。

相信認識藝文表演的人一定略知ㄧ二,很多細節包含肢體、台詞等等是不可能全讓一個人的腦袋記得死牢,得由文件資料或者影帶等保存。這場大火吞噬了雲門的這些資產也讓過去驚為天人舞碼難再現。

拿雲門來說,雲門是台灣人的驕傲,他是一個台灣在國際間有聲望地位的舞蹈團體。同時,文化也能代表一個國家的國力雄厚,這樣的國力並非多少億去購買軍事武力所能夠媲美的。一個傑出的文化團體可以讓國際像你投射讚許的眼神,但是擁有強大武力的國家,誰會稱許你?從林懷民口中得知的消息實為令人感到錯愕及惋惜。今年度文建會所撥款給全台的藝文團體經費為一億元整,是所有的團體而非一團一億。這樣得經費能夠培養出像雲門這種響喻國際的舞蹈
團體實屬奇蹟,我們台灣應該感到驕傲才是。

而今總統大選將至,兩位候選人都分別提出拼經濟拼經濟的政策牛肉,但是我總認為還有教育以及文化更是我們台灣所該重視的。民主雖然在台灣才走了不過12個年頭,但是文教部份卻永遠是國家的百年大計。既然我們台灣政府不能夠替文化、替教育做些什麼,那至少我們身為台灣人、身為所謂的菁英份子,我們就應該為文化、為教育做些什麼。

多看藝文表演,支持這些無形的文化資產。

無須天堂

 

香港,一座後現代築構的天堂—購物、娛樂,舉凡世俗中出自於慾望、情緒使然者,皆能在此花花世界得到滿足。97後的他,容貌變精神卻未變,只是多了些擔心、焦慮的字眼等等,多害怕那樣異於眾多華人世界中的自處會被比鄰的大國洗褪去了自在,因而再多口號振聲疾呼都不夠收買煩心。經濟掛帥的旗幟飄揚著秋末的悲哀,更可悲如我奉上「效法」、「看齊」,乃至於「替代」、「超越」。報告說港人的快樂指數正如上了膠牢牢扒著恆生指數的漲跌;我人何嘗不是又因經濟指數、GDP這般艱澀的專業名詞而在臉上多抓皺了幾道紋路或漂染了幾道白髮?尤甚者,喟嘆出的氣息純屬金銀銅鐵一類元素。

 

 

看來,我們的確超越了某某,提早入了靡靡槁容的孟冬。

 

 

古人常道:「萬般皆下品,惟有讀書高。」

是啊,多麼值得嘲諷的一句。多少人棄如敝屣,可內心裡奉如圭臬仍不自知,否則怎來文憑之說?早先儒家言「三日不讀書,便覺面目可憎,言語無味」。如今更惶恐讀書三日面目可憎,言語乏味。那些讀書人誰不語股市行情、投資報酬?更可憐古人以為讀書為了成仁取義,現在則是成任取益(成高官主任,取報酬利益)。讀法、學醫、成商、為政者,幾多不是為了賺進大把大把鈔票,再投資炒股炒房,企圖富可敵國,又成王、郭等偶像或神祗供眾人膜拜效仿(怎不畏人死徒留遺產爭議天天見報,黃泉之下不得安息?)。早不見文化(文化?不是一幅300萬畢卡索的星空或一只500萬莎士比亞尤里西斯的手稿?真贗消管)一如廢屑棄擲或焚化,再用單一色調如紅、藍、綠妝點畫框、書本,誇張者可將拼湊壁紙或建築幾座城堡、世界,劃地稱王,自成品味,紙醉金迷!

 

 

多開心啊!滿足了金迷的眼色,恣意沈醉於此。多驕傲啊!受朝貢的富貴名譽,不用披上龍袍便可視民如草。多貪婪啊!養肥慾望野心,斑落了僅存的屬於「人」的最後一道氣息。何須管?他他他他他,不都成了一個樣?只要再多幾件Prada、Chanel、Gucci,又可轉化為人(或較高等的獸?!)。

 

 

好吧。時間奔跑後的足跡也不會留下任何屬於文化思維的氣息。(甚麼恩格爾法則?人才不會因此滿足富裕。)這裡只是莽原、叢林,太多身著模樣一式的猛獸盤據、追逐,以及大量的低等昆蟲、菌類肖想進化而打轉著。天堂?連時間都無須去計較了,哪還有這等詞類生存的餘地?

 

POETRY

拍賣,陸。



柬埔寨的斷垣殘壁,
埋藏周慕雲對蘇麗珍的過往愛戀。
2046的列車,
承載TAK對著機器人的耳朵傾吐心事。
不知名的樹,
泥巴糊起那個某某遺留溫熱的秘密。

所有的秘密全都被埋葬,
誰都沒能旁敲側擊。

我也有秘密。
但,
我不願意埋葬,
看著秘密孤獨存活,
像我。

因此,
我欲拍賣,
與你交會我秘密的溫度,
陪我流淚或歡笑。

若你願意,請與我聯繫。

無墓誌銘​



你的神態自若、處之泰然

宣判死刑

立於磅秤的肉身

你掏走了一盎司的靈魂

徒留軀殼

無意識聽從你從容的虛情假意

 

 

拉扯、沉靜

實了允諾,獨自

刪除你多了開心的幾磅

我拋棄肉身菩薩遠走

 

最後

連墓誌銘都省了下來

索性不寫,待後人評判

是非黑白

判真情假愛

 

 

孟婆灌湯

回憶難離

落入輪迴

誰欠債誰償

誰具資格討?

 

 

現已是輪迴

見你遊走歡愉抑鬱、熱切冷漠

天道、人道、畜牲道?

是阿修羅

雙手一攤

我莫可奈何

哪兒是香格里拉?



清幽境地
微波餘韻的湖水倒映翠綠山色
白煙裊裊
是哪位女神的薄紗忘了帶走
或是她的聲聲嘆息?
他和她裹著藏紅大布
只依偎 沒有相視
可能害怕眼神藏匿不住情緒與秘密
或許依偎才有溫度的交集
我與你同他和她不同
沒有相視 更無依偎
徒留陌生,在熊熊大火燃盡同是香格里拉的餘灰
若干年後,我會造訪
造訪雲南的香格里拉
看看是否與我們造的夢相同
那時,我會再築起
且在湖畔邊植顆種子
待長成了大樹,我會攝下影像讓你看看仍缺少了什麼
會不會是那句曾說的「執子之手,于子偕老」

若你仍懷念那個香格里拉,請與我聯繫。

© 2020 by DENNIS YUEH-YEH LI