And He was asking him, "What is your name?" And he said to Him, "My name is Multitude; for we are many."
A period of darkness. This period is determined by context. Each context contains itself. I cannot comment. Each context requires its very own placement of temporal parameters (period) in the anticipation of the raising a light which has come to signify the beginning of, or, more accurately, a shift in experience – the navigator of that experience and conjoined or singular body of the experiencee/s. Either way, the period of darkness must be a symbol or referent suggesting, within that particular context, that this particular state of being (represented in darkness or lack of light) in which we enter this world has been the state of this world for a long (even infinite) although unquantifiable stretch. The moment of rapture, of discontinuity (represented in the introduction of light) which marks or is marked by our entry into this world is, it should be made clear in the length and pregnancy of the period of darkness that the casting of light is a mere, momentary anomaly. It is an immutable fact that after the period of lightness (which again is determined somewhat by context) the darkness will return. Not a pessimistic note as such, darkness and light are so hunch-backed with the burden of a symbolic register I don’t want to attribute to to them, not right here at least. Therefore any meaning is self-contained, ouroboric meaning, or else, meaning carried forward into anachronism or the tilted mirror of the camera obscura delving its clean, unnattachable surface into the clawing and strange depths of history.
Now. When the time is ripe, or over-ripe if you can bear it, THE LIGHTS COME UP, slow and torturous as one might imagine the sunrise would be on the morning of your execution. Once up, they linger a little, exposing the bare stage to the cruel and terrific scrutiny of a mass enthralled in anticipation, waiting to be given a hook, waiting for the world to offer up some depth.
THE HANGED MAN descends from a trap door in the ceiling.
He descends with such suddeness and composure that his whole body jolts in one rigid shockwave as he bounces on the air which absorbs him. He doesn’t react to either the shock or the audience’s screams. His face is a constant mark of quizzical. Either mocking or perplexed (don’t try to decipher which, it will drive you insane). He hangs upside down, arms crossed, entirely unnaturally across his buttoned chest, one leg bent, foot planted firmly against other leg, other leg delicately intertwined with the thick rope.
Almost immediately SHE enters, stage right. SHE is wearing black, loose fitting. SHE is either barefoot, or she wears heels (maybe it matters, maybe it doesn’t).
SHE notices THE HANGED MAN. At first SHE is afraid, SHE correctly identifies him as a portent for things to come, things ranging from unsavoury to full-blown tragic. SHE makes to leave but curiosity gets the better of her. With caution SHE approaches him. The rope descends further, accompanied by the squeak of rusty pullies, so he now hangs halfway down the stage. SHE shies away – like a cat baulking at the unnatural movements of the thing she assumes she is chasing in earnest, but suddenly realises is a toy at the end of a string- but again approaches. SHE stares at him from a few feet away for a long, still moment. Her belly protrudes like a child who is too ensconced in the world to be fully embodied. I mean, fully consciously embodied. SHE notices her stomach, and that the audience have noticed her stomach, and hastily tucks it in before pretending that this was unconscious because self-consciousness is hugely embarrassing and means that you must be awkward and in a way not real or something…
SHE edges closer and makes to touch his hair, watching to see if he will react. He doesn’t. SHE touches his hair. Then his shoulder (only because it is close and clothed and not overly intrusive). Now SHE is more confident. SHE runs her hands across his face, over his lips and cheeks and then adam’s apple.
SHE pushes him, at first timidly, then flirtatiously. He swings. It is pleasing. SHE pushes him harder. He swings higher and longer. He nearly knocks her over. SHE takes a step back and pushes harder. He swings across the stage for a long time. It is a joyous moment. SHE is distracted from the world which contains her and the audience who gaze on her.
Then SHE suddenly grabs him. Steadies him. Stops him. Maybe she is bored, or remembers where she is. We don’t know. It could be of the utmost importance if you see it that way, or remain a secret complexity of her own.
SHE puts her face right up against his. Rubs her nose all over him. Looks directly into his eyes through hers, pushes against his forehead with hers so he tilts away from her, sloping upwards at 10-30° angle. SHE keeps pushing like she’s walking up a ramp, tip-toed, pushing him upwards, away from her but still touching, then de-escalates, rocking him back to his centre.
SHE is at a loss for a second. What more is there to do with a hanging man?
SHE lies down. Directly below him, her head pointing towards us. SHE shuffles until SHE is flat as a stone, hands tucked neatly under her bum, toes pointed to heaven. SHE stares a long and languid stare. Slowly her lips part and mouth hangs just a little open. He is her constellation up there, swaying just slightly with the gravity of the rope.
After a while, the rope descends again, with the same accompanying squeak. He doesn’t drop, but roll, by degrees, quick degrees. He arrives, like a pendulum, hanging so close to her face their noses don’t touch but you may not know if unobservant, or far back. SHE is unscathed. SHE stares into his dangling eyes, unflinching.
Another context-dependent long moment passes. The sight of two faces, opposed, frozen, refusing to express their relation, one silently but unmistakably threatening to flatten the other, makes us long for the delicious, eventual time in which the lights go down again, returning us to our original state of anxiety, and of nothing.