Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas 2014

I’m on the flight back from Japan. Surrounded by my fellow passengers, all watching things on little screens. The in-flight entertainment offers the illusion of personal choice, but I suspect that everything fundamentally is the same.

The screens all communicate the same ideas and the same values. The idea that life is essentially competitive. That in this world we are all essentially alone. That civilisation is just a veneer for the fundamental violence of the human species. 

That men are the centre of interest. That women are there to be looked at: but not listened to.

That sex is dirty. That heterosexual sex is the norm and anything else is even dirtier.

That violence is entertainment and human weakness is to be laughed at and scorned.

That nothing will ever change.

I so hate what I see on these little screens. I so hate that what I see is the same as what I see in television sets in hotel rooms and living rooms and on cinema screens just about everywhere.

I close my eyes in my aircraft seat, which so insistently tells me I am a commodity, only marginally better than what is on the screen in front of me: marginally better only because I consume.

I keep my eyes tight shut instead. And I keep on trying to dream…

And next day I’m in a rehearsal room in south London with six young male actors and a director (Chris Goode) and a dramaturg (Maddy Costa) and together we’re trying to fashion a small act of resistance.

The actors are wordlessly improvising on the queer body, asserting the dignity and the honour of queerness, exploring its anguish and contradictions, and I am here to perform Nova’s speech from Peter Handke’s THE LONG WAY ROUND:

“The spirit of the new age speaks in me, and this is what it has to say to you. Yes there is danger. and it is only because of the danger that I can speak as I am going to - words of resistance…”

And the young men are mostly naked, and the room very hot, and I have a sudden impulse and take off my bra and my top, hello breasts, breasts that aren’t as a man’s are supposed to be nor even as a woman’s are either: but my breasts, my trans breasts, and I refuse to be ashamed of them.

“Whoever and whatever is known to you through television is not known to you…”

“A tree top is the true weapon of liberation. Convince yourselves - follow the bulletless line of flight - look up. Watch the drifting clouds…”

And I so love the feeling of these words in my mouth, and all kinds of improvisations are going on all around, and then someone snaps the lights out, but I go on, and someone snaps on a spotlight from their phone, and I go on

“Shake up your thousand year bed. Bestir yourselves. A bedridden life is not for you. Your art is for the healthy, artists are those who are capable of living…”

And suddenly the phone light has gone off, but someone else has pulled back the blind to let light come in from the window, and I move towards it, and suddenly catch a weird and shocking glimpse of “normal life” going on. Shoppers are passing, looking miserable…

“Behold the fruitful countryside, and don’t let anyone talk you out of beauty. Overwhelming is the beauty created by us human beings…”

And I realise someone passing could look in and see me bare-chested. Well. Let them.

“Better for you to be dead if you cannot love yourselves. People of this moment, get close to one another, discover one another as gods”.

And there’s a beautiful naked young man very close to me

“Blessed be every kiss, however brief…”

And so I kiss him, and what joy to feel his lips on my lips, and his naked body next to mine,

“See the pulse dance of the sun and trust your seething heart. The quivering of your eyelids is the quivering of the truth. Let colours glow. Let this dramatic poem be your guide. Go for ever towards. Take the long way round.”

And I’m travelling again.

“Take the big leap. Be the gods of change. Everything else leads to nothing - Nothing else leads anywhere now. Joy is made possible by helpfulness to friends, and friendship dances round the world….”

These words are vibrating in my heart and soul, and next day I’m with my daughters and my son-in-law and my wee grandson and we’re decorating the Christmas tree.

He’s pointing: 

“Tree”, he says, “Tree. TREE…” and he’s laughing with the power and the joy of being able to name it, and his joy touches all of us.

And I know. We are not alone. We are made to love. There is a power within us we know nothing of, but are maybe slowly discovering…

And despair is not the truth. And the world is changing…..

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