sum nine – 3/5/14

Sum Nine

Ninth weekly sum of daily notes, in the run-up to Silence: 2014, a cross-border artistic witness. See the Soulographie site (soulographie dot org) for the day-to-day.


Silence: December 2014.


Artists worldwide to practice silence through the month as they will, in different ways, to deepen global contemplative capacity cross-culturally, and demonstrate mass solidarity.




Piety, even sanctimony – I’m done yelling at myself for these… Sometimes a little Bing Crosby etc. is just what I need to get over a bump or around a tree; am reminded.




John Cassian: Sane, thorough, friendly and accurate. To the last paragraph – silence can distract us from silence (theater can distract us from theater). Relates to Ash Wed.


A worker takes the trouble to get hold of the instruments that he requires. He does so not simply to have them and not use them. Nor is there any profit for him in merely possessing the instruments. What he wants is, with their help, to produce the crafted objective for which these are the efficient means.


In the same way, fasting, vigils, scriptural meditation, nakedness, and total deprivation do not constitute perfection but are the means to perfection. They are not themselves the end point of discipline, but an end is attained through them. TO practice them will therefore be useless if someone instead of regarding these as means to an end is satisfied to regard them as the highest good. One would possess the instruments of a profession without knowing the end where the hoped-for fruit is to be found


And so anything which can trouble the purity and the peace of our heart must be avoided as something very dangerous, regardless of how useful and necessary it might actually seem to be. With this for a rule we will be able to avoid the lack of concentration which comes as the mind follows highways and byways and we will be able to go with an assured sense of direction toward our longed-for goal.




On Fridays the Acting Together class works with students from Central Falls – a group facing some challenges in getting enough credits together to graduate. We’re building a performance together. This – from a recent group-writing exercise… Silence is falling to/through a center?


Born in Providence

Raised in Pawtucket

And now I live

In Central Falls


My goal is to graduate

I was raised in Pawtucket

There seems like so much

I was born in New Jersey


Done being born

I did a lot of living

Now back being born

I’m the youngest, adored


Living and living

The youngest, adored

I found my soul

Bigger each year


I was born in Providence

Moved to NC

Now I’m back!

I found my soul


I ball instead of study

Love marriage two kids

I found my soul

I live in Central Falls


There seems like so much

I was born in Alberta

Started exploring

And that’s how I study


I am from water

Born in Cape Verde

I grew up in Dorchester

Then moved to Rhode Island


I was born in Seattle

And I still exist

I keep on growing

A family jam circle


Salt coast leave love

Off the red line

Gumbo Jam Circle

I’ve always lived in Central Falls


My goal is to make it far in life

My goal is to graduate

And I will accomplish that

My family: all loud love


I live in Central Falls

And I live in Central Falls




Nice complications of the therapeutic capacities of art… from James Thompson’s Performance in Place of War:


The TRC’s noteworthy commitment to the telling and witnessing of the experiences of those marginalized, demonized or oppressed by the discourses and practices of apartheid was based on an assumption that a transition to a better future was possible through telling and healing. The argument here is that there is a need to question whether narrative structure can be guaranteed to heal in all cases, and how issues of social justice can be distorted as well as explored via the utilization of a theological or therapeutic discourse… Such performances of reconciliation may work for some individuals but not others and may also, in some cases, benefit the overarching collective or national project at the expense of the individual. (206)


“If I say, as I think, that forgiveness is mad, and that it remains a madness of the impossible, this is certainly not to exclude or disqualify it, it is even, perhaps, the only thing that arrives, that surprises, like a revolution the ordinary course of history, politics, and law.” (Quoting Derrida, 208)




From the Ancrene Wisse:


So the good shall always have a witness, especially for two reasons. The first is so that the envious cannot lie about them without the witness proving them false. The second is to set others an example…  (74, in Anchoritic Spirituality, Classics of Western Spirituality)


We pull ourselves back from hubbub in a small way (December’s silence) so as to perceive speech better (inner and outer), and to witness to it – to demonstrate that what is said is heard – that what is said is not absolute, but has a place to go. We also demonstrate the act of attending/waiting-for-and-with…


So on the one hand, we are guilty by attention (like a witness in a trial, we are part of the process), and on the other, guilty of attention. By guilt I mean – we reveal our will without concealment; silence is our action.




When seized by an old wrong – when replaying for the hundredth time a bad joke I made, or my cruelty, or stubbornness, I feel my energy escalate by a process of crushing. I feel – caught.


Between what and what?


It occurs to me that I am inserting an image of myself between myself and the aggrieved or suffering other… I’m making myself the mediator, or actually judge, of my own mistake. I don’t think this is very productive (hence the endless replay, and the unproductive crushing; a severe pressure on myself to forgive myself, which I am not really able to do in the math of it all).


I can remain as wrong, but more productively judged, if I submit the action to an authority above the scene; an authority I can’t control or lie to or mitigate or cavil to…


Or see.


Or hear.


I am reminded of very basic sense: keep your thumb out from between the hammer and the nail. Preserve space. I am hoping to commend my transgressions to silence, and let that judge me, and forgive me, in absolute terms.




About assessing our work –


Would you rather be trusted or confirmed? In a trust relationship, one’s inner certainty – so inner it is unreachable by others and so certain it is inexpressible – is taken by another on faith, faith in future action. Trust is made of invisibility and silence. One may also be hired or awarded on the basis of biography, connections, statistical evaluations. These are also very deep and real (I like, for example, the letter grades in restaurant windows).


Maybe we need both; we need so much endorsement in our daily and life-long economies. But I feel stronger when I’m trusted; I also learn more and write more.


The arts are pushing and being pushed more and more away from trust and into the sphere of statistical assurance? How does a trust deficit impact, say, the nature of acting?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *