This invention nestles in an eclectic intellectual pillow landscape. Speaking empurpled here shall prepare the reader for a mildly esoteric invention, leaning on the – in affect theory frequently quoted -Baruch Spinoza, “No one has yet determined what the body can do”. The Singer of Tales investigates the potential of cellular memory. What do I remember – from the pre-neolithic times? And I might remember quite a bit. Considering the dense matter in the moment of the bing bang, having not even the size of a needle head, yet containing every molecule that exists today and ever has. Nothing has been added or subtracted. Everything that was, still is: in me, in us, in the world. It has always astonished me that the Pentateuch actually delivers a accurate description of geophysical development in the book Genesis, the beginning of earth with an inhabitable atmosphere, of original land mass separating from the primordial ocean, the evolution of the species, a little off in timing, but still remarkable – how could the writers have known? How could the description of the eviction from paradise actually describe the Neolithic revolution – do we remember without remembering?
The endeavor to remember is highly speculative – and that’s why forms a perfect field of artistic research – through the study of emotion and affect. It may be like Lauren Berlant contends:
“Hence, affect’s always immanent capacity for extending further still: both into and out of the interstices of the inorganic and non-living, the intracellular divulgences of sinew, tissue, and gut economies, and the vaporous evanescences of the incorporeal (events, atmospheres, feeling-tones). At once intimate and impersonal, affect accumulates across both relatedness and interruptions in relatedness, becoming a palimpsest of force-encounters traversing the ebbs and swells of intensities that pass between “bodies”.[i]
[i] Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism, in The Affect Theory Reader.
Another method of trying to remember besides tapping the affects, is description. I am quoting here Peggy Phelan – in a way hijacking a statement that she had made in regard to writing about performance, and not in the context of my research question, yet she says: “The description itself does not reproduce the object, it rather helps us to restage and restate the effort to remember what is lost. The descriptions remind us how loss acquires meaning and generates recovery – not only of and for the object, but for the one who remembers”.[i] It is a phenomenological exercise that in writing has been proven effective many times, and that contributes to answer the question of whether or not patriarchy is coming to an end – by describing it.
The Singer of Tales works in both directions, the past and the future. In both cases it shall use music and dancing. To tap into the past is to excavate possible recollections that are stored in the body, and it may bring aspects of the patriarchal beginnings to light that then can be evaluated and reversed.
[i] Peggy Phelan, Unmarked, The Politics of Performance, (Routledge, 1993) 147.
To point into the future one function of The Singer of Tales is based on the fact that law, money, logos – all patriarchal means of power – are based on written language. “In the history of mankind, words were heard before they were seen,” wrote Albert B. Lord, the author of The Singer of Tales. Thus instead of writing, the final invention teaches a new mantra to people orally – a collective learning by heart. The body serves as recorder, copy machine and preserves knowledge. It will be a collective undertaking – just like Buddhist monks orally forwarded Buddha’s teachings over 500 years by chanting, before the texts were written down, consisting now of multiple volumes. To be certain that a text will be transferred correct and secure, a large number of people have to learn, to chant over and over again the identical text, produce backup copies, editing, copying-hacking … all aspects of data storing and sharing apply … but two: the aspects of music and storytelling, that may be crucial in allowing the human brain to store huge amounts of data and knowledge for a long time.
For the purpose of this recording, I don’t know yet what text will be chosen to be recorded by bodies – within the framework of the theatrical, most likely musical performance. What will be taught? Who will teach? I surmise that the learner will chose, just like in pop culture we chose to learn a specific song or it happens to stick with us. Knowledge finds the seeker. And maybe – hopefully– it may be that the research conducted in the framework of 21st Century Fox’ Den will generate knowledge out of which a new narrative can be generated – and be recorded in such a manner.