“Everything under heaven is chaos, the situation is excellent” said Mao – Oh no, is Spangbergianism doing yet another loop into communism, “We’ve had enough of your leftist jargon!” – Tahaa, nope I’m not, cuz think about it, this is exactly what every politician that is not a present day communist sais. As long as there is chaos the world needs politics and politicians, the moment all units are go go and house music has turned omnipresent we don’t need politics no more. Politicians have a shared hidden agenda, to never let stability rule the dance floor. Hence, chaos equals excellent independence of your political aptitude, and “Houston, we have a problem” is precisely all units are go go.
But admit it, it’s pretty cool to dare to say it like Father Mao, instead of pretending to be a well-meaning maintenance unit, like present day politics and its staff members. They aren’t nasty enough to be called politicians any more. Politics has come to face the same destiny as architecture, in the old days – you sentimental fuck – architects had ambitions, their job was to build cities, societies, worlds, futures; today architects only desperately hold on to cornerstones that are no longer attached to buildings, but they still do because what else is there: selling out to construction companies that think that Greenpeace is a fertilizer. The problem is just that what else is there that has already happened. Greenpeace IS a fertilizer and the harder you tighten your grip around those old grab handles the easier it is to overtake you. You are not Ayrton Senna, but just because you’re not, does not free you from the obligation to be in control.
Contemporary politics issues a clever double play on the basis of identity. In particular in respect of expression, politicians uphold the position of the architect of the society, a proud yet humble servant with an ear to every citizen, but on the level of production the story is quite another. Politicians have uncovered the wail of today’s capitalism and realized that politics is not formed around consequence or repercussion but has become a play with values. It’s not a matter of staying in control, nor of trust in the classical sense, or even presenting a reasonable political agenda, it is about risk management, based on risk understood as commodity.
However, when Mao proposed his chaos-theory it was obviously excessive of ambition and power: personal, collective, global and pretty much amazing. It was smooth, chaos as the absence of horizon, a chaos to be civilized, to be brought out of the shadowlands of capitalism. And he managed, and we all helped out. Today the excellence of the situation is rather to maintain chaos, and preferrably without theory, but smack packed, filled to the brim with affect, i.e. unconditioned possibility. But watch out this is not potentiality, but exactly its commodified neighbor. The real deal of contemporary capitalism is this corporatized affect. Life in the mainstream is no more about reliability, trust, generations and a football team connected to your business, it’s about the ability to change, to never coagulate, never gain identity proper, but to always show up somewhere else without negotiation, without storage or real-estate, without employees or products. Let’s circulate.
For a while there we lived the dream and thought that change, mobility, becoming, rhizome, BwO, wart-machines and other assemblages were the Eigentum of a conceptually advanced population but, oups – how wrong we were, today all those terms are the building blocks, or rather the soft-subversion with which every company, organization and community builds their multifaceted identities. Capitalism of today doesn’t give a flying fuck about identity, it lives on and sells individuation. It’s not about upgrading or a new models but about innovation pure and simple.
“Everything under heaven is total chaos, the situation is excellent” and I’m still wondering why am I doing good work, and why are we all trying so hard to make good work. If everything it chaos and that is excellent why do we make such efforts to produce order, we do we make things that are not chaos at all but are trying embarrassingly hard to be transparent, linear, balanced, stable and dramaturgical. In fact I think most dance works if they were to be filmed would look pretty much like The Lord of The Rings, filmed outside Brussels.
Dance and choreography, and art in general, is to an overwhelming amount creating images, movements and situations that have lost every compatibility to present-day political reality and reproduce imagery that is only there to comfort the audience, that embraces like a grandmother in a long skirt, smelling of butter, a somewhat liberated version of Jane Austen. The utopian, dystopian or whatever –topian is just so feel-good and Haagen Dazs that nothing can ever happen, up or down. Dance is a kind of well-behaving bulimic.
We, the dancers and choreographers, the immaterial workers of all times, the champions of post-Fordism we don’t have to any more, we don’t need to feel intimidated about our vague syntax, we don’t have to insist on composition but should, perhaps even with a smile and some high-fiving, leave these terms behind and celebrate that everything is total chaos, to open our eyes to the excellence and allow ourselves to be as enigmatic as our expression. Stop making pieces about anything at all, and especially not about identity, gender, differently able bodies, immigrants or Katrina. We should of course make pieces exactly about these issues but only all of them and at the same time, or without any proportion. But look, if you make a piece about something make sure you don’t celebrate that thing, cuz you know, celebration is always for those that celebrate not for the celebrated.
In fact we have a responsibility here, and there is no second option, we have to leave something behind – the desire to become architects, the builders of society. We should look only forwards and engage in the excellence and the chaos but not in order to generate order and stability but rather to make sure chaos is getting even more chaotic, for excellence to be a word that speaks about pushing positions. Causality, must be left behind. Causality is like sex-toys, we think it expands our opportunities but in fact makes us even more conventional. Sex-toys are for sentimental souls, it makes you feel imaginative and maybe you practice some group sex with your boyfriend, only the two of you.
To maintain excellence it is a good idea to leave the notion of the body of works behind. To make totally unrecognizable stuff. It is not your works but the fact that they cannot be connected, that produces the right kind of fear: a fear that makes people move and stop holding back. Maybe even act a bit out of the frame.
In order to stay within the chaos it would be favorable to leave consensus behind. To be judgmental all the time but never judgemental concerning the centre. Getting obsessed with details and not only the good ones. Be extremely enigmatic with your opinions, and change them without warning, make pieces that you rearrange every day and yet make them very formal. Read the wrong books by Rancière, and stop feeling guilty about reading novels. Hyperstition is the notion for the creation of intact worlds that have no compatability to our reality.
It is time to stop thinking about yourself as a brand, to forget your Hollywood dreams. There are no riches there for you to administer, so let’s bring the chaos on ourselves and start making really foolish things. No, this has nothing to do with being unprepared but perhaps about new modes of understanding satisfaction and joy. It has nothing to do with those too long too slow rehearsal periods when nobody dares to have an idea, and it has nothing to do with speed. There is nothing subversive in being slow or fast, speed is something we consume, not produce.
We have nothing to lose except chaos and excellence, so let’s keep it alive. Let’s take it as our responsibility to cultivate it. We must take seriously the fact that capitalism has asked us to return affect, and turned it away from potentiality or the virtual. We can’t rely on Deleuze and Guattari no more, we need new concepts. But you know, I think innovation is not enough, inventions, neither, cuz they all build upon the previous and are constructed in respect of transformation. From day to day, and we hardly notice how inventions enter our lives and change them. We must become immigrants – curse interdisciplinary practices – we must immigrate on a daily basis, we must immigrate for every piece, we must break with the past, must break even more with our known and friendly relatives and landscapes. We must immigrate in order to be solidaric.
Change your mind for no particular reason but just because. Be as enigmatic as you can, but this is not vain. Renounce vanity like Tilda Swinton, be modest but totally without consistency of opinion, and from time to time, make sure you don’t fall in the trap of becoming totally void of outlines. Make up stories about why and when, and change them all over on a daily basis. Make projects that are totally hermetic. Refuse risks, they are corporate anyway. Turn over a rare Ming vase at a party, and forget to spend your subsidy. Affect is for beginners, experience isn’t much better than enunciation. Embrace your inner chaos, change with it. I’m scared, the situation is excellent.