Saturday, 8 February 2014

Morning Bus to Lisbon

Thinking about the dance shows of the last two nights, I came up with rule #1 for my appreciation of dance: If they can't move better than I can, their dance is no damn good. Yes, let's go with that.
I was also wondering why dance artists, like visual artists, feel the need to offer textual interpretations of their own work, which are printed in their programs or on their walls. If they want to work with text, why are they dancing? Do they think their visual/gestural language is so unfamiliar that we need a hand through it?
I was about to say that writers don't bother with such interpretations because, of course, they're working with text in the first place. But let's see what happens when I try to explain my own writing project, the one that brought mere here to Europe and lurks behind the events and musings presented in these blog entries:
I call it Occasional Cities. The occasion is the daily writing moment. The city is wherever that moment takes place--most recently, for example, in the foyer between dance shows last night ("City of Dance") or, a day or two earlier, on a tram flipping through my Lonely Planet Portuguese phrase book ("City of Gendered Nouns"). Each city is built from the sensations I experience while writing it--those inner and outer worlds, as I always say to my students, that are ever-present, ever-begging for attention (something like the little pooch perched on the shoulder of the accordion busker on the metro this morning), ready to offer their . . . data, let's call it. Once some sort of useful attention to these worlds gets going, which it doesn't always do, I try to ride it, so to speak, as far as I can. These pieces, which I'm laying out as double-spaced prose, are rough, preliminary. They get written down in my notebook and transposed into the Cities computer file, each piece headed with its title (City of this or that), location, and date. It's all very field note-ish. Any "finishing" is a long way off. But before coming to Europe I have over the last year or more carried about 50 such pieces much further along. In the end, if there is one, these Euro pieces will slot in among pieces from Grasslands National Park, Winnipeg, Isla Mujeres, Edmonton, etc.
Did anyone walk out as I was writing all that? Thank you. I forgot to add that the voice speaking these pieces is a "We" who speaks for all of us citizens of each city.
As for the why, (1) I like the idea because it works well enough. That is, it promises more. (2) Where else can truth come from? And (3) in a practical sense for a man alone in foreign places (though it works just as well at home, since we're all always travelling, aren't we?), this project hitches me to wherever here is--a useful tonic for the helpless, the idle, the lonely.

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