narzisse

Each of the plays has a character in it that holds space for my point of view – either my sense of inculpation, autobiographical confession, or admission of my situation as witness by proxy. Hopefully different audience members will find different keys of access; the thesis of each play doesn’t require that the link between me and the action be made explicit. But – I’ll admit that Teresa in Maria Kizito is how I fit, in large measure. She’s concerned, clueless, and if her will were more interesting she would be hurtful; as it is, she’s too sick with sentiment to cause damage and at the same time aware of her stuntedness and stalled in theory. That’s a way I’m involved with an understanding of the Rwandan genocide. But I bring it up because Wroclaw puts me in mind of a line; it may be on its way out in the next draft, but the thought behind it is that when she hears gasps in a Belgian courtroom during the trial of the nuns, Teresa is surprised to realize that there are Rwandan survivors and perpetrators in the seats around her – she had failed to realize how bound together the world is.

 

Walking today I noted to my host that all ways forward seemed semi-circular. She pointed out that the roads follow invisible walls – the town was once fortified, and is still patterned on sunken architecture. Additionally, there are 112 bridges in Wroclaw. A knit city.

 

I’m trying to think of what achievement doesn’t contribute to genocide. One wants efficient transport – but that’s handy in extermination. One wants to know one’s neighbors, to have a strong sense of identity, to have a landscape flooded with light… But all this seeing can lead to narcissism – our love of knowing, firmly, our dominant sense leads to a sense of dominance – the world is about how we see it, and when the world doesn’t conform to the theories we’ve formed about it, we adjust the world more readily than we adjust our ideas (German: Narcissus is spelled Narzisse; an edit takes this to Nazi – per the film The Sleeping Girl, which was just at the film festival here).

 

What doesn’t contribute to genocide: the strong sense of the inefficient local (personal, shaped in a way that disregards conformity to a universal system), in dialogue with but not drowned out by the local (we see, we show what we see, we consent to be seen; we don’t stall out as Teresa threatens to at seeing, and rewarding ourselves for seeing).

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