Writing, Dance, and Desire

I can’t believe that I’ve actually been sitting here for almost an hour thinking about what to write, in the meantime alternating, with considerable languor and inertia, between YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr, and Facebook; in short, doing anything but writing. I seem to be deferring the act itself, of rendering thought material. Somehow I’ve lately been made more acutely aware of the irreparable disjunction between thought and speech; the process of transcription is so heavily modulated (by the forces or Force that be), that I’m beginning to realise that my words are so contrived – without my meaning to be. I feel depersonalized, or de-subjectified; my thinking Self slides out of the visceral machinery – the writing Self, the aggregation of physiological operations – and I watch my fingers run the length of the keyboard. My ears prick at the mechanical tapping, the morse code, the clattering of raindrop words on whitewashed pavements; marks that stain them with language and taxonomy. These eyes are glazed over, enthralled by the stream of materializing thought – the metaphysical, prephysical made physical, visual. Such an absorbing spectacle – this utterance ex nihilo, this hypnotic trance. But enough of this; I grow weary of meta-thinking, meta-writing, or meta-whatever. I want to feel as, to desire as. I don’t want to know what it is, I want to know what it is like to be.

That is why writing seems like an insufferable chore these days. I write, but there is no satisfaction, no closure, no guarantee of a one-to-one transaction in which what is spoken is what is heard. No, it is through no fault of language; if it is fallible, then its fallibility is an intrinsic property, and not a defect. We have always operated under the premise that unless speaker and listener are one and the same, meaning will always be refracted and distorted in the transactions of speech. The discrepancy I speak of, I think, lies with the speaker. The speaker that second-guesses his words, or whose thoughts cannot seem refuse to be circumscribed in the markings of the institution. It is not that he is above language, but contrarily, that he feels subjugated by its constructions. Is it paranoia? I don’t quite know – I’ll have to ask him one of these days. It seems pretty laughable, to be honest, for someone to feel like he must be wary of his own words; wait, his own words, you say? Ah, now there’s the rut. But well, even if they aren’t his own, at the very least it has been with his own volition that these words have found enunciation in writing. Still, he is not absolved of being the object of surveillance; when we deploy language, we assimilate and exercise its rules – we perform the very institution. The panopticon is within us. I am your jailor, as much as you are mine.

Or maybe it’s because of late I’ve unlocked a radically different, more instinctual sort of writing – in dance, where desire and energy are projected outwardly, immediately – intact and unadulterated in their raw form. Every movement is an expression of a fundamental desire to move, to navigate and traverse space and time. Dance does not pretend to be transcendent; it is immanent and situated in the here and now – the performance (hurhur) of the carpe diem philosophy. It is premised on the moment. Desires hitherto obstructed or inhibited are channeled into locomotive impulses; they inflect the moving physiology with a certain attitude – some call this swag. Somehow, I’ve never felt freer while dancing; but that doesn’t mean I am any less at ease or free as I am. I guess there are two modes of freedom implicit here: the first belongs to the self-reflexive/existential domain – I am aware of being free even as I operate under certain restrictive frameworks. The second (afforded by dance) is a momentary freedom to desire; it achieves the polar opposite – it demands that constructed Self is abandoned and self-consciousness is abjured. This gives precise meaning to the advice that is usually dispensed to beginners: “Dance like no one is watching”. Aye, not even your Self. And so you disinhibit this body of transcendental superstructures, and allow for the emergence of latent desires and their transient mastery over physical locomotion. By latent desires I certainly don’t mean the Freudian or Lacanian sort; I mean the ones that have been suppressed in deference to a higher social agenda (and which may essentially stem from said primordial desire). But since they are not equivalent to nor do they constitute the Lacanian primordial desire, it follows that some imposed regulation must evidently be in place despite the unbridled mobility of desire. Therefore even as one embraces this ephemeral surge of freedom, he still operates within an arbitrating framework, albeit a considerably more forgiving one that certainly resides outside the purview of the symbolic Father, or is at least several degrees removed from His damning gaze.

As usual, what I’d intended to be an obligatory, token update has burgeoned unwittingly into yet another pointless tract on (what else but) desire. I’ve realised that my writing has taken a rather clinical (and skeptical) turn of late, and it’s beginning to seem a little tiresome. (If writing is already a chore, then proofreading is probably Sisyphean). But then again, this harks back to the issue with words – their unreliability, inadequacy, exclusivity – that makes writing these days so laborious or almost meaningless. So unless I endeavour to establish some sort of ecliptic alignment – some way to steer the trajectory of thought in tandem with the trajectory of language – in which I may not simply write but write as, I’m going to find myself held hostage indefinitely in this dreary existential drama of words. And even as I write as I, I will always be writing in the third person, because it is not the existential I (author-equivalent) that speaks, but the symbolic I (narrator-equivalent) which, in virtue of being situated within the symbolic order, is forever the obsequious, desireless object – the intermediary, messenger, mouthpiece.

Like a ghost in the machine.