I’m writing this while beginning a new creative project. We are so used to thinking that ‘a work’ is a ‘finished’ thing – an outcome, an output, a product, a commodity. Certainly ‘a work’ can have a place in commodity exchange, have its value expressed in numbers of various kinds, and in such ways it may ‘add up’. For some people this is central; for me it has always been an incidental. But ‘a work’ is made, forming and unforming itself, in the stream of life, as a strong symptom of what Gilles Deleuze has called ‘nomadic thought’, as a site of freedom. It turns up. Something is beginning again. Or continuing. My being’s ongoing experience of the world, now part of a habit I’m happy to indulge in, throws up the impulse to offer itself such propositions, and then is bound to follow them up, whatever ‘I’ think of the matter. In my own practice, I usually begin to think something like, “Could this be a music work; a theatre work; a dramatic work; a document?” And sometimes a title drops into view early in the proceedings, something that my being is urging me to consider. What comes to me this time is a little aphorism: The Older Grows the Body, the Faster Run the Machines.

It’s a familiar enough sentiment, but I like the way it just slipped in, and sing-songs around my consciousness. It comes because I’m a considerable way into my sixties, now, and the world of the living runs, accelerating, away beyond my attention. And the simple truth of this (we all grow older!) instills in me a powerful sense of moral indignation. It’s the kind of ditty that needs to be repeated ad infinitum, even though it might lead, if you let it, to the kind of delirium that consumes Jack Nicholson playing Jack Torrence in Kubrick’s The Shining (1980). “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” conveys both the thematic heart of Kubrick’s monstrously ironic parable, as well as reminding us that the pressing paradox of the ‘work ethic’ continues to baffle our ability to edit its endless pages of production and consumption. The Shining, at least in Kubrick’s hands, is a lot more than just a situational horror story. What does a civilisation do with its surplus, its surfeit, its ‘overlook’? How does it avoid tipping into mayhem? In my new little aphorism, the machines all around us contribute with ever more gracious economy to the idea of societary acceleration, while the physical body, whether the human anatomy and the way we grow into it, or the blue planet that spawned it through all its laboriously slow and accidental progressions, seems more and more a weight, a restriction, a liability. Humans are clever little monkeys. When we consider ‘making’, and particularly ‘creative making’, whatever the field or context, quite rightly we are temporarily exhilarated by the possibility of liberation from a cycle of life trapped within its biological propositions – “the agony of death and birth”, as T S Eliot so cheerily once reminded us. (1) “In my beginning is my end”. Is it just the plain truth that, more than ever, our machines can do the living for us?

This beginning had begun with my teenaged daughter, Leda, being away and studying art at University of California, Berkeley. I suggested, semester over, I’d come over from New Zealand, and she and I might take a trip to parts of the state beyond reach of her previously restricted time and student budget. Long ago, I used to live in California. I have a sentimental attachment to its scale and variety, its illumination and its doom. I proposed Death Valley to her, for its particular inflection and provocation, its provision of extremity. While in summer, it has recorded the highest ever temperature on the earth’s surface, it’s climate is entirely pleasant in winter. It’s aridity, it’s flaking and crumbling and accumulating skin, the shimmering void of its horizons, the sinking well of its silences – all these will be all too present and accessible. While we’ll get some physical exercise by explorations in the limited daylight hours, I suggest we can elaborate on how we might work on a project together. This is the same daughter who recently said to me, after completing a 25 km day hike over a mountain, “I never realised you could get so far by just walking!” We’ll have a little camera with us; nothing special. We’ll shoot some stuff. We’ll see where it leads. We’ll digitise.

I make no apology for being the catalyst in this process. I tell her about how in 1923 Eric von Stroheim took his actors and crew to Death Valley to shoot the final sequences of his preposterously ambitious film Greed. On line, we look at washed-out archival footage of mule-trains carrying supplies, water, and basic cinematic tools on barely discernible mountain trails. We view the last three minutes of Greed, in which protagonist and antagonist violently struggle on the salt flats under the burning sun, trapping themselves to their doom, while the burst bag of gold coins glitters back at them in the dust. In my head already is the autocratic obsessiveness of von Stroheim to make a ten hour epic on human folly apparent to his Hollywood masters. Like the movie itself, he was cut down to saleable size pretty quickly, however big his boots and bullying his tone of voice, one of the earliest examples, and a most emphatic one, of artistic hubris brow-beaten by the iron will of bottom lines.

One day, driven by an obsession of my own, we follow a dirt track high on the Valley flank to 23 Skidoo, the real gold-mining settlement where Stroheim’s crew based themselves, before descending to the inferno below to manufacture the dailies. Apart from a displayed 1907 photograph of main street, all that remains here are numerous neatly cut tunnels into the empty hillsides, so much abandoned testimony to so much persistent labour; sockets in skulls. Now, you can barely entertain the idea that such digging was motivated by anything resembling what might be called ‘greed’, but it was just such spadework that had brought Frank Norris’ hero McTeague in the first place to California, in the film’s originating novel. And while it was valleys to the west that subsequently manufactured fortunes out of oranges or oil or wine or celluloid or silicon, the wealth of the state, in this nation in particular of all the world, epitomised a hunger always to be ahead of the game, to translate the earth into the possibilities for excessive dreaming, at any rate before the water dried up. “Eureka!” they were hoping to cry out, to a man, to a woman, a unison shout, as in the instant, they began to lose what they thought they had found – a fluttering in the air, a lost sound in the immensity of open landscape that signalled the briefest temporality, the most insubstantial of presences.

In the way of it, I then remembered a roll of 16mm colour film I’d shot with a wind-up Bolex around 1975. Deluded by the warm air that had eventually risen from the always burning anthracite fire downstairs, a large admiral butterfly had hatched itself out into the loft of my Cumbrian cottage, in the middle of a snow-covered winter. I’d captured the image of its frantic flight towards the pale daylight that was coming through the smallest chink of window. But the Kodak roll of reversal film had remained in its box, part of my luggage, ever since, waiting to bring its frames of energy and argument into existence. When finally, after all these years, I rolled the film again back in New Zealand, the shot is much briefer than I had imagined, and the damned, totally colourless butterfly doesn’t stay centre frame. Moreover, right next to this single shot, is another, stupendously singular shot in the midst of a waterfall, which I have no memory of shooting whatsoever. But I’m struck by how the sheer motion, verticality and monochrome of this image instantly crashes into the transfixed, horizontal, and vividly coloured digital material we had by then collected from Death Valley.

My own artistic practice is hard (especially for me) to define. My training was as a director, predominantly for theatre, and my inclination was eventually to write scripts for performance, predominantly for theatre. But the theatre I practised was always much more in the spirit of ‘the art of theatre’, as my English contemporary Howard Barker has differentiated it (2), rather than the ‘theatre’ as a firmly embedded relationship between staged actors and rowed audiences, plots and individuated characters, within a commercial entertainment. This theatre art has always been to do with a dynamic shifting relationship of the choreographic, the oral and the aural, the visually scenic, the linguistically argumentative, the spatial and the temporal, within a social context drawn attention to, at its centre, by the presence (or absence) of the embodied (dis-embodied) human performer. It has been to do with the mix of such ingredients, and the search for performance foregroundings to corporeality and virtuality. What has intrigued me about digital tools, most recently, apart from their ubiquity, is that it becomes possible through them to write and create another kind of ‘virtual’ theatre, to which the human performer is quite central, but always, in the corporeal sense, absent.

In Death Valley, Leda became the body in the proposed work, simply by standing, motionless, in the light and space, on the salt-flats at Badwater. But the configuration of notions that had placed her there, in the flesh, came not from her own volition or intention, but at my invitation. It is not that in the end that, as parents, we cease to care about our own children’s fate, and how circumstances beyond their personal capacities will contribute to that fate, though we know only too well how quickly such things move beyond any reliance on parental control. But we are conscious of something we might recognise as a responsibility beyond our instinctive animal sense of individual protection and nurture. We do, in the end, bequeath to our children not only a fair proportion of the temperaments and dispositions that enabled or disabled our own experience of ourselves, but also the reality of the environment we ultimately abandon them to. All children are born and grow into their historical moment, but we ourselves, unsuspectingly and irrevocably, have contributed to the creation of that moment. Only self-certain and assertive parents consider they know what this legacy is, fabricating their own versions of evidence and loot. More typically, we feel guilt and helplessness about it. It is something gradually we sink into. The mortal condition, I suppose, of love. Death Valley, through the geological push and bend of California’s tectonics, slowly sinks even further beneath the level of the distant sea, while that sea level, in all the oceans of the world, is loudly rumoured to be set to rise. Focused and filtered by whatever lenses, the heat from the sun is anticipated to increase. So is the salinity of the soil, as rainfall patterns obtusely decide to shift, and storms, with sudden violent disregard for comforts, to blow and wash it endlessly away.

These probabilites have as little to do with the topographical character of Death Valley as they are centrally symptomatic of the fact that in my own lifetime, the human population of the Earth has increased from under two to over seven billion. What is inside us, within the relentless pulse of our bodies – a human being is a gene’s way of making another gene – can find no other outlet to its imaginative energies than directly into what is outside us; our environment. The Valley of Death, and ‘yea, though I walk through’ it, was, I suspect, buzzing as more than just metaphor through the reckless, even bi-polar, sensibility of von Stroheim in 1923, as he strove to use real California locations, as well as Wagnerian scale and duration, to heighten the moral and the spiritual, as much as the commercial, ambition of his melodrama. ‘Greed’ may be as innate as appetite, a step or a sophistication of a strategy for animal survival, a force written into matter that knows how to squander surplus in its fear of scarcity, one that the speed of the technologies of production aid and abet, admire and condemn, all in the same rush of images and rhetoric. But there is no mistaking von Stroheim’s tragic sense of where the buck stopped, even back in those Californian heydays that had been triggered by the scent of gold in the hills. In the final sequence of his film, the mule is dead, the water bottle punctured, the bag of coins burst, the isolation total, the overhead sun remorseless, the one man still standing handcuffed to a corpse. This has been no action confined to the mere theatre of a studio back-lot, but one traduced through his camera’s all-seeing eye as evidence and document of the world photographing itself to death.

Cruising a hired Ford Fusion over well-engineered roads that have traversed the seriously mono-cultured valleys of the Eureka state, our own journey here might have many times crossed over that survivalist frontier, as just another tourist destination. But the exhortation that von Stroheim had printed onto the silent skin of celluloid now needed, I thought, the young woman standing there on the salt flats to flesh something out with her voice. To articulate the predicament afresh. “He showed me a bit of this really ancient movie, where these two dudes are fighting each other in the middle of this weird desert”, she might begin, though by the time we come to the end, she will have been handed the agency of the discourse herself. In this context she might begin to say, “I told him instead that the rain fell steadily through the night, so that the dawn river once again flowed strongly, full of fish, leaping into the air between its vertical walls.” Too pretentious; more likely she herself would say, “Lighten up, dad; let’s have holiday fun.” Language is a problem. It’s not just that the eye that can be dazzled. It’s more the ear that’s being reasoned with. I want to speak to Leda, and I want her to speak with me. I want us to measure our words, to each other, and then, eventually, to others. I want these words to invoke the valley in which we find ourselves, and to express the love that holds us together, because we have nothing else. But it is a tone of voice, too. Something voiced. So I’m listening to all these girl singers, trying to hear these different kinds of voice. Before I write what I write. Before we write what we write, to be spoken. Two voices. Two new setups, to be shot, for opposing and interacting screens. A mouth and a microphone. An ear and a headset. The father speaks at the outset, the daughter listens. Then, in short dialogue, they are both speaking. Then the daughter is speaking, the father listens. Distanciation through voice; immersion through the visuals. And, because this is a musical work, between the voices and the visuals, fragments, there probably should be samples of a music that builds through the ground-base of a smouldering, difficult self-consciousness, as well as anticipating the melodramatic orchestration of the coming century’s cinema, the Californian century. Alban Berg’s four and a half minute Passacaglia (1913) becomes the dance that will provide the measure of the fifteen minute looped performance. This is a sudden impulse. Which I’ll probably abandon as the work grows.

Already, all these elements are beginning to fight for compositional space. This is the performance that is beginning to seem possible; the ‘story’ that the father is bequeathing to the daughter, and asking what does the daughter make of it, considering how it is that she will have to continue the story, and take it out of the valley. And if there is to be a performance, this is what it will ask of others to enter into, to witness, and attend to.

In this business of beginnings, I’m reminded of the character Grand in Albert Camus’ novel La Peste. He is discovered in a state of constantly re-writing the first sentence of a putative story. Around him, the real city he lives in is consumed by plague. His sentence is about something beautifully remote, faraway; a young woman is riding a horse; a memory, a desire, a fear of loss? He re-orders the words. He cuts out all adjectives. Day to day, he is in the front line in the fight against the plague, and eventually he is contaminated by it. But, miraculously, he is the very first to recover from the deathly infection. Even so, when he gets back to writing, this first sentence still displeases him. He continues to chip away at its improvement. By now, all around him, the city is celebrating its survival.

In such a way, one spends one’s whole life working on this first sentence (no pun intended). For more than fifty years or more now I’ve been approaching and retreating from this endlessly renewing task, in what can be called a practice and not necessarily a profession. Arguably, there is no beginning to a work. More a kind of continual resumption. There is a process of working, and how that process results in outcomes and products, publically displayed, is always arbitrary, incomplete. The beginning of the work is a notion, and the end of it is a notion. But they are two different notions. What is interesting is the space between those two notional points. How that distance can grow and how it can contract. This is where work happens; not to make a product, but to engage in the process. Production technologies, of any kind, are present in this frame of work, but are time-consuming, less than essential. They are, and always represent, technologies of completion. The work of making is a process of finding doors to open, and sometimes being able to open them. Technologies of production close doors, and once there are spectators and audiences allowed to be present, leave them bolted. Then it is already an industrial model. To be bought and sold. Promoted and transported. Awaiting an explosion of applause, or the curses of condemnation. How many stars out of five? Talking about the beginning of a work, and the process of a work, occasionally the question is asked, and genuinely puzzled over; “Where do you get your ideas from?” From the age of the body, might be some kind of a proper answer. The speed of the machines is no more nor less than the speed of the machines.

The adeptness of the machines is to create an image of the body, with a beauty created on the instant, with the right look, which, in the instant, an image can be seen to possess. Think how we abhor and reject (and erase) the body, our own as much as those we love, when we make a machine image of them which does not match these criteria. This is a subject that Vivian Sobchack has eloquently opened up; how the experience of the real body, my body, runs up against the insistent flow and incessant persuasion of body image. In her 2004 book Carnal Thoughts, she writes:

“It is not only personally but also politically important that we inform critical thought and cultural studies with a phenomenological understanding of the body that includes and resonates with our own bodies – that is, bodies not merely objectively beheld but also subjectively lived. Unlike the beheld body, this lived body provides the material premises for meaning – giving ethical gravity to semiotic and textual production and circulation, serving and far too often suffering as their very ground. In sum, we need to remind ourselves that our bodies are lived and make meaning in ways that inform and include but also far exceed the particular sense and image-making capacities of vision.” (3)

The best we can say about the speed supplied by the technologies of production is that it provides a graffiti aesthetics, marks and scores that celebrate the trace as both a smear and a signature of the body’s temporary presence. Formalised, corporatised and proliferated, speed technologies bypass ‘ethical gravity’ through the sheer seduction of the ride. A ‘digital cinema’ is the one we have long been promised, through which we are positioned as both authors and readers, actors and audience, immersed within a pervasive specular reality, in which the liberating sensations provided by ‘special effects’ all the more reinforce the ‘affect’ of a social reality, brimful of permissions and transgressions, whether via the latest James Cameron film, the new 3-D, or the X, Y and Z-box. Whatever else is true about that vertical surface in a public place, and whatever we wedge around our eyes, ears, and anatomies, in order to enhance our sense of both possibility and impossibility while experiencing at it, the visual thickness remains only two-dimensional and screen/skin deep, given sensory dynamic mostly by the dimensionalising of sound. However much the cinematic technology makes play with free fall (and it is no exaggeration to say that the special effect most worked over is the one perpetually attempting to convince us that the absolutes of physical gravity can so easily be switched off – we can fly, we can land on our feet, none the worse for wear, not dead, and barely even bruised!), we must always really come back to ourselves, pinned into our own weight, our chemistries, our responsibilities, our rituals and habits and dispositions, our mortality. Not only that; the more gleaming and brimming with virtuosity the succession of flights, the greater the wrench back into the subjective body, the more existentially stunning that reminder delivered as a blow to the back of the nervous system, the more resented the time now to be spent in the exile of self. How much better if we didn’t have to! Built out of the precise and specialised kinds of measurements that engineers, financiers, and managers bring to their separate roles of design, manufacture and dissemination (numbers, if we didn’t know it, are at the heart of everything they do), these images homogenise every fluid that flows in the cause of cultural life, adding up to what Richard Sennett, in his comprehensive study of social withdrawal and the cult of the individual in Western society since the eighteenth century, The Fall of Public Man, calls “industrial advertising”. That very Special Effect provided by accelerating production technologies “….works by an act of disorientation, which depends on this superimposition of imagery, which in turn depends both on a distinctive mode of production, and on a distinctive belief about the universal presence of human character”. (4)

It is here, in the history of the commercial cinema at least, that the issue of genre, for example, works its way into aesthetic presence through the repetitive production of the popular text within rapidly urbanising societies, and how greed enters into its operating system, converting, in John Boorman’s memorable dictum about the movie business, “money into light” (5) (and, let there be no mistake, emphatically back again). It is this image that glints momentarily in the final reel of von Stroheim’s melodrama in Death Valley. The “universal presence of human character” is so well known to us as a result of all this ‘overlook’ and ‘advertising’ that we have little suspicion any longer that there can be changes or alternatives to that character, not a good pitch for a global society beset by rising noonday temperatures and the salination of the soils, amongst other emergencies needing urgent attention. Things that rather emphatically involve the body. “Help, I’m trapped in a human body!” was the caption on a postcard that Sobchack recalls once having in her possession, “a carnal incarceration to which everyone was condemned.” But, unlike fundamentalist impulses that can fearsomely materialise from time to time, she’s firmly against any idea of purging those images entirely out of consciousness (she’d be out of the perfect job, for one), especially images that can appear at the speed of light, morph into every shape, and invoke dimensions of time and space revealing the apparently impossible. She advocates, rather, that we “flesh them out”. And I don’t think she’s just talking about upgrading the cultural quality of what Peter Greenaway, in his 2003 lecture Cinema is Dead; Long Live Cinema described as its four tyrannies – the script, the actors, the camera, the frame. (6) In the Society of the Spectacle, she is touching, I think, as a particular contribution to ‘ethical gravity’, on the idea of intimacy.

Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio once apologised for his attempt to condense all his expansive study of human neurological complexity into an over-neat maxim, to explain how human emotions, how we feel, contribute to what we might, into the future, into the realms of our children, begin to offer as an understanding of consciousness. And so he wrote, almost as if to taunt us with sense: “the brain’s body-furnished, body-minded mind is a servant of the whole body”. (7) Neurological models give us access to initial consideration of the problem of consciousness not just as structures for subjectivity, but also for structures in the world that express the explosive arrival in phenomenological space/time of that subjectivity. In his current book, The Master and his Emissary, psychiatrist and philosopher Iain McGilchrist asserts that the cerebral hemispheres of the brain “differ in ways that have meaning”, (8) and offers this as an approach to explaining aspects of particularly Western culture and experience as a sort of “power struggle”. The hemispheres display two very fundamentally different versions of the world; the Left providing precisions on particular issues, techniques, if you like, while the Right, more directly in touch with being, is “responsible” for surveying the whole scene, channelling all incoming data. As the brain grew through its biological progressions, the specialist Left was given a set of problems by the generalist Right, and then ‘handed its findings back’ in order to inform appropriate action, in the same way, perhaps, in which ‘research and development’ is seen today, conventionally, as providing an informed balance to social and cultural understanding and modelling.

But philosopher Mary Midgeley has noted, in a newspaper review summary of McGilchrist’s thesis, “sometimes there is difficulty about the second transaction. Since it is the nature of precision not to look outward, the specialist partner does not always know when it ought to hand its project back for further processing”. (9) McGilchrist’s suggestion is that the encouragement of precise, categorical thinking at the expense of background vision and experience has now reached a point where it is seriously distorting both our lives and our thought. The appropriating Left hemisphere creates “a self-reflexive virtual world”, in which both of those old body relics, Nature and History, are effectively neglected and forgotten, replaced by a “mechanistic, fragmented, decontextualised world, marked by unwarranted optimism, mixed with feelings of paranoia and emptiness”. I can think of no better exemplars of this currently than James Cameron’s Avatar (2009) or Christopher Nolan’s Inception (2010), both of which effusively celebrate the digital release of our ponderous bodies from this ponderous Earth, within beautifully engineered industrial products, topped, tailed, packaged; complete and completed, the culminating exegesis of the art called Cinema.

The title of McGilchrist’s book, a reflection on a fable by Nietszche, suggests that the emissary of the Master, a gifted vizier and magician no doubt, has betrayed the purpose of his employment, proving himself only to be a regional bureaucrat at best, but one with his own pervasive self-interests deeply at heart. This provocation, of course, is daily familiar to us as a diagnosis of ecologies under stress – in how, for example, increased productivity relates to diminishing resources and global pollution; or how financial virtuosity disconnects itself from plain confidence and supply; or how in the world of measured and recorded movement, cinematographically as it were, techniques transcend the telling of the story; the machine-tooled Puppet replaces the Human Actor at the heart of the Drama; the performance of tricks, the ‘ride’, radically outpaces the patient stride necessarily inherent to story; and repetition and banality cement over a lost knowledge of, and even desire for, profundity. The vizier, the mage of the morph, has the ability to transmute all matter, genetic or exo-genetic, while the Master is led away in chains. Simple and even simplistic such a moral tale might be, it is there nonetheless to trouble the widest sense of ourselves – in the ways we are being troubled by the complex implications arising from the way we have sprayed our human actions, excitedly, across the world, fabricating both evidence and loot. Guilt and helplessness, longing and delusion, might be the legacy in reality we shoulder across to our children, but these need to evolve in forms beyond the exquisite, seamless finishedness of consumerist entertainment. ‘Everybody’s in Showbiz’, sang Ray Davies once, to the lilt of one of his most melancholic and ironic refrains, in which, I’m sure, he wasn’t just talking about Hollywood. Slow down. Slow down. There are living bodies in the room, and they do fall to their deaths.

Digitalisation of visual and sound images goes on producing an unprecedented palette for all of us to use; playfully, expressively, intoxicatingly. Text-making practice is brilliantly enhanced, whether to consolidate the illusion of classic cinema narrative or expand the material space of the cinematic experience. World-wide, all of us hold the camera in our own hands, dream up our own ‘works’, and move around the production studios on our own tabletops. But like the endlessly repeating testimony from Jack Torrence’s typewriter, isn’t the body in the room being confronted with a certain sense of helplessness? In novelist John Updike’s autobiography, Self-Consciousness, (10) he titles the final section of it, ‘On Being a Self Forever’, ending his account when he is barely into his twenties, as if age is to be deferred, and succeeding life to be celebrated only as a virtuoso display of energetic technique. And this you might call ‘The Californian way’, from gold to silicon. ‘Eureka!’ I wouldn’t for one moment suggest Updike himself as being ‘a dull boy’, and his avatar, ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom, is as rich a fictional creation as there is to be found in recent literature, charting a life teeming with ache and detail, a culture and a time, who all too emphatically and finally falls to earth. But Updike’s lifetime of writing has to be matched in some way to our own attention-span of reading four rich novels, written, printed, bound, and circulated. The digitalisation of production technologies exacerbate the mutually experienced paradox of the body’s coming to consciousness. Can that collective body, us, ourselves, all of whom will slow with our experience of living, embroiled within our predicaments, nonetheless simply go on accelerating our expectation, by means of extensions and prosthetics? How does that body come to terms with itself on a daily basis, and not lose touch with itself by constantly re-marketing itself through endless replacement? How does ‘Greed’ begin to replace itself with something less Vice and more Virtue? Leda, my daughter, my accomplice, you may be sure, is already letting me know how ‘slow’ I am with these desktop operations and aesthetic decision-makings, the tireless provocations of Nietszche’s Emissary.

Nonetheless, from my beginnings, if not hers, we’ll work towards what I’m starting to imagine as a modest installation in some suitable room, with a suitable concourse of people, in a suitable cultural valley where the river continues to run, greedy Cinema configured to the simpler thing, to hungry Theatre. By the time this ‘work’ is made, and before you, containing as it will, multi-screened Death Valley, von Stroheim, butterfly, waterfall, Leda and I in conversation, and when I have already moved on to something else, my hope is that what I have been describing here will be, by then, completely self-evident.

This article has been peer reviewed

Endnotes

  1. T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”, in Collected Poems 1909-1962, London: Faber and Faber, 1963.
  2. Howard Barker, Death, the One, and the Art of Theatre, New York: Routledge, 2005.
  3. Vivian Sobchak, Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004, p.187.
  4. Richard Sennett, The Fall of Public Man, London: Penguin Books, 2002, p.147.
  5. John Boorman, Money into Light: The Emerald Forest, A Diary, London: Faber and Faber, 1992.
  6. Peter Greenaway, in a series of unpublished lectures in the USA, in 2008.
  7. Antonio Damaso, Looking for Spinoza, London: Vintage, 2004, p.206.
  8. Iain McGilchrist, The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Newhaven and London: Yale University Press, 2009, p.3.
  9. Mary Midgley, review in The Guardian, January 2, 2010.
  10. John Updike, Self-Consciousness: A Memoir, New York: Knopf, 1987.

About The Author

John Downie is an artist, working mostly as a writer and director within interdisciplinary performance fields, living currently in New Zealand, where he is Program Director for Theatre, Victoria University, Wellington.