Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Two-Bit Operation

Today I thought I'd look over my essays from this year's PhD program applications (fourth time's the charm?).  I turned in the last one a week ago and haven't looked at them since.  I was curious to see if they would look any different now that I've shed the yoke of deadlines (or accepted my defeat by it).

Unfortunately, they're not as different as I'd hoped they'd be.  But there are a few excerpts I thought I'd share because they help explain why I write this blog.  Enjoy!

As an undergrad, I was focused on inhabiting the present-tense-ness of performance through the creation of art—specifically, art that discomforts, that makes you painfully aware of the slowness of now, that seems to drift outside time, that insists on the body.  As a playwright, I found an expanse of time in a moment of expressing the need to touch.  As an actor, I let loose the aural and physical wail in a syllable.  As a director, I forced audiences to gaze at a female body and then to deal with their gazing. 

But I struggled with my urge to create.  I didn’t just want to discomfort others; that felt too easy.  I hungered to live with discomfort, to let it churn and evolve in my mind, to deal with it both as an expansive experience intractably bound by the present tense, and as a compartmentalized event to be captured, dissected, reconstructed.  That is for me the joyous contradiction in which I found the highest expression as a critic.  My answers to criticism's most basic questions—What is the project of criticism?  When does it succeed?  When does it fail?—are constantly in flux.

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