Humans, as any living organism, strive at the basic biological level to maintain a stable and constant inner state – Homeostasis (Cannon, 1935). We strive for stability, we attach to our love and need objects, we fancy permanence, and we are terrified of endings. We also tend to be terrified of the unknown, and feel uneasy towards the idea of impermanence because it signifies death. We’re vulnerable. We suffer. We’re vulnerable. We’re vulnerable to the instability of life, vulnerable to change, vulnerable to anxiety, vulnerable to death. But, there’s also so much strength in this vulnerability. It enables us to ‘be’. Accepting this vulnerability helps us to find courage to take a step forward despite the fear.
I was sunken in those thoughts in the wake of political turmoil, instability and polarization around the world when Moonspell suggested “Awake” to me to choreograph and dance to at their Irreligious 20th year Anniversary concert in Istanbul. We were tremendously happy to have them back here.
I knuckled down to the task: what does awake mean to me? When do I awake? – That’s after I sleep. Everytime I fell asleep, I definitely awoke. 😉
– And after every time I emotionally died, I definitely transformed into a.., new me.
Fernando is quite an open minded and inspiring character. He and I agreed on going through an interdisicplinary creative movement process to create a story for the dance. This helped us to find a common feeling and story to relate to, and it also helped us to look within in our own individual inner worlds to form a genuine and sincere communication. Interdisciplinary creative movement aims to be expressive, not therapeutic. It’s a type of self-study, first of all built on trust and sincerity. We utilize various types of disciplines of art for enrichment. We experiment in movements how to be an individual and at the same time to be with (the) other/s.
Awake is a dark song. It creates a sense of foreboding. It reminds me of a waste land where “all is dying, even the dead”
The Wasteland by TS Eliot is one of my favorite poems, which I go back to every now and then when life seems like a waste land where “all is dying, even the dead”. In connection with Fernando being an inspiring poet, and as a part of the interdisciplinary creative movement process where participants can utilize and enjoy other art forms for freedom, inspiration and creativity, I started to read The Waste Land again. In line 42 there is an allusion to Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde”.
“[…] I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Oed’ und leer das Meer.”
Empty and desolate the sea.
I had studied this poem intensively back in university as a part of my literature class at Stockholm University before I majored in linguistics. After seeing allusions to the opera in this poem I had watched the opera and read about it, which had struck me with its deep philosophical side. It’s a famous opera influenced by Schopenhauer’s philosophy of Will and Kantian Phenomenon-Noumenon (Phenomenon as the representation of the world, noumenon as the unknowable intrinsic reality). The symbols of Day and Night in the drama represent the outer world and the intrinsic reality respectively. The story is about two lovers and their liebestod/love-death, and the finale is named “Verklärung” (Transfiguration). I thought it could also be ONE individual’s inner struggle with shadow selves. Jung defines ego death as a psychic death that causes “a shift back to the existential position of the natural self”
Let this opera play in the background for extra inspiration.
So, the concept of psychic death was an inspriration for us. And the concepts of Phenomenon (observable fact) and Noumenon (thing-in-itself) gave me the idea to create the dance in two perspectives: outwardly a man and woman dancing, inwardly a philosopher’s feelings and thoughts about Death.
This dark philosopher perhaps exists in every one of us screaming within, singing deep and dark songs to us about life. Raven is a symbol of Death in many cultures. In the dance, the hybrid Raven with the noose symbolizes the theme of Death in the lyrics, dancing around the philosopher, not as the Grim Reaper, though; but as a reminder of the vulnerability of humankind. Once this vulnerability is acknowledged, there comes the gift of transformation.
Reading the lyrics of Awake one more time, my last sentence will be a common but crucial phrase from existential therapy:
“what would you do if you knew you were going to die next week or next month? How would you live differently?