is the website of Mon Oncle D'Amérique Productions, an
"association loi 1901" based in Paris presenting the
artistic collaborations of American choreographer Clara Gibson
Maxwell since 1987.
photo Johannes Von Saurma
PROJECTION DE LA VIDÉO-DANSE
SUR UNE MUSIQUE D’ ORNETTE COLEMAN
À 19 H LE 14 SEPTEMBRE
À LA CINÉMATHÈQUE QUÉBÉCOISE
335, BOUL. DE MAISONNEUVE EST, MONTRÉAL, CANADA
LORS DU COLLOQUE
“LE CONCEPT D’ ‘IMAGINAIRE SOCIAL’”
“Encuentro-Encuentro” - une chorégraphie “site-responsive” et “multi-arts” de la chorégraphe-philosophe Clara Gibson Maxwell - explore les multiples carrefours de rencontre entre la créativité artistique et l’innovation technique en faisant appel, d’une manière apodictique et non pas discursive, à des traces de diverses imaginaires sociaux irrégulièrement sédimentées et stratifiées dans un seul lieu.
Cette performance participative et ambulatoire créée lors du colloque l’ “Encuentro - Creación humana” organisé par la Cátedra Interinstitucional Cornelius Castoriadis a eu lieu à Mexico, ancienne capitale aztèque, dans la Casa de la Primera Imprenta de América (1524), où cohabitent des signes et des spécimens de “nouvelles technologies” de communication de plusieurs époques et d’imaginaires différents :
• la tête en pierre du serpent à plumes Quetzalcoatl, inventeur des livres et des calendriers, récemment retrouvée dans les soubassements de cette Casa située près du Templo Mayor détruit en 1521 par les Espagnols ;
• une réplique de la presse typographique originale, la première au Nouveau Monde (1536), importée par les autorités pour imprimer des décrets royaux et des tracts religieux ;
• des fragments de fresques du seizième siècle peintes sur les murs de la Casa - encore une méthode de communication ;
• une presse typographique du XIXème siècle hébergée sur place au Musée du Livre ;
• un ordinateur qui fait entendre un extrait d’un texte du philosophe Cornelius Castoriadis sur la passion et les limites de l’informatique.
Nous vous proposons une projection de la vidéo (34 minutes), dont le montage est une extension, une élaboration et un affinement des démonstrations artistiques et philosophiques de cette performance, en particulier le principe de doublement (qui ne veut pas dire répétition) cher à Ornette Coleman, compositeur du morceau de musique sur lequel dansent les interprètes et leurs doubles d’ombre, exemplifiant et prolongeant corporellement la théorie musicale démocratique de cet inventeur du “Free Jazz” - l’ “Harmolodics”, qui accorde une valeur égale à l’harmonie, à la motion (ou le rythme) et à la mélodie.
ancient Greek, "Kalos" meant "Beautiful" and
"Sophos" meant "Wise." We do not claim to be or to
incarnate "Beauty" and "Wisdom," but our creative
collective efforts are directed toward those "ends," motivated
and furthered by the love thereof. The love of Beauty and Truth is the
first condition of possibility for their imaginative re-creation, just
as the practice thereof gives one a taste of and for that love.
In the Funeral Oration from The History of the Peloponnesian
Wars (2.40), Thucydides reports Pericles declaring:
Philokaloumen te gar met ' euteleias
kai philosophoumen aneu malakias.
An initial (overly literal) shot at a translation:
For we love beauty, but with good purpose,
and we love wisdom in a way that does not make us soft.
English philosopher Thomas Hobbes had offered this translation c. 1628:
we also give ourselves to bravery, and yet with thrift;
philosophy, and yet without molification of the mind."
editor, David Grene, comments: "This is a magnificent
seventeenth-century sentence, but liable to misconstruction by a modern
reader. In our idiom the literal rendering is:
We are lovers of beauty, but with cheapness;
lovers of culture, but without softness."
goes on to explain that Hobbes translated Thucydides' great work
"in order that the follies of the Athenian Democrats should be
revealed to his compatriots." Nevertheless, Hobbes the political
absolutist offered us this "magnificent seventeenth-century
translation" of his--one that admirably expresses the ideals of the
Athenian democracy, despite his contempt for them.
The twentieth-century philosopher Hannah Arendt also reflected--more
sympathetically, yet even more idiosyncratically than Hobbes did--on
this famous passage:
We love beauty within the limits of political judgment,
philosophize without the barbarian vice of effiminacy."
her text "The Crisis in Culture," where this translation is
offered, Arendt's main concern was to reconcile "the
Greeks"--who, she believed, were cultureless--with Cicero and
Immanuel Kant by showing how "the Greeks" preceded these two
of her favorite thinkers in the linking of "politics" and
"art." But she also sought to highlight the differences
between "the Greeks" and, on the one hand, "the
Romans" (the latter are said to have originated culture) and, on
the other hand, "the barbarians" (the latter are said to be
viewed by the Greeks as softened by despotism)--not to appreciate the
possible connection between philosophy, democracy, and art in
ancient Athens, where this Funeral Oration was composed. Arendt thus
provides no hint that Pericles' Funeral Oration was spoken in Athens
amid a generation-long struggle of the democratic poleis
against the Spartan-led oligopolies of the time. The contrast the
Corinthians made elsewhere (1.70) between the hesitant and indecisive
Spartans, on the one hand, and the Athenians who saw no contradiction
between thought, feeling, and action, on the other, is missed entirely.
And, finally, she misconstrued the Greek "middle voice" of philokaloumen
and philosophoumen, speaking of the "love of
beautiful things" and "philosophizing" each as "an
activity" (action being one of her primary philosophical
categories), rather than as a a kind of self-transformative (and
society-transforming) process, wherein the collective passion for
democracy would be as important as any action undertaken by
individuals, great or otherwise.
The late social and political thinker, Cornelius Castoriadis, offered an
in-depth reflection upon the meaning of this phrase while criticizing
Arendt's interpretation thereof. It is worth quoting this discussion in
extenso, for here the intimate and crucial connection between
philosophy, democracy, and art is appreciated in full:
The substantive conception of democracy in Greece can be seen clearly in
the entirety of the works of the polis in general. It has been
explicitly formulated with unsurpassed depth and intensity in the most
important political monument of political thought I have ever read, the
Funeral Speech of Pericles (Thuc. 2.35-46). It will always remain
puzzling to me that Hannah Arendt, who admired this text and supplied
brilliant clues for its interpretation, did not see that it offers a substantive
conception of democracy hardly compatible with her own. In the Funeral
Speech, Pericles describes the ways of the Athenians (2.37-41) and
presents in a half-sentence (beginning of 2.40) a definition of what is,
in fact, the "object" of this life. The half-sentence in
question is the famous Philokaloumen gar met'euteleias kai
philosophoumen aneu malakias. In "The Crisis in Culture"
Hannah Arendt offers a rich and penetrating commentary of this phrase.
But I fail to find in her text what is, to my mind, the most important
point. Pericles' sentence is impossible to translate into a modern
language. The two verbs of the phrase can be rendered literally by
"we love beauty . . . and we love wisdom . . .," but the
essential would be lost (as Hannah Arendt correctly saw). The verbs do
not allow this separation of the "we" and the
"object"—beauty or wisdom—external to this "we."
The verbs are not "transitive," and they are not even simply
"active": they are at the same time "verbs of
state." Like the verb to live, they point to an
"activity" which is at the same time a way of being or rather
the way by means of which the subject of the verb is. Pericles does not
say we love beautiful things (and put them in museums), we love wisdom
(and pay professors or buy books). He says we are in and by the love of
beauty and wisdom and the activity this love brings forth, we live by
and with and through them—but far from extravagance, and far from
flabbiness. This is why he feels able to call Athens paideusis—the
education and educator—of Greece. In the Funeral Speech, Pericles
implicitly shows the futility of the false dilemmas that plague modern
political philosophy and the modern mentality in general: the
"individual" versus "society," or "civil
society" versus "the State." The object of the
institution of the polis is for him the creation of a human
being, the Athenian citizen, who exists and lives in and through the
unity of these three: the love and "practice" of beauty, the
love and "practice" of wisdom, the care and responsibility for
the common good, the collectivity, the polis ("they died
bravely in battle rightly pretending not to be deprived of such a polis,
and it is understandable that everyone among those living is willing to
suffer for her" 2.41). Among the three, there can be no separation;
beauty and wisdom such as the Athenians loved them and lived them could
exist only in Athens. The Athenian citizen is not a "private
philosopher," or a "private artist," he is a citizen for
whom philosophy and art have become ways of life. This, I think, is the
real, materialized, answer of ancient democracy to the question about
the "object" of the political institution. When I say that the
Greeks are for us a germ, I mean, first, that they never stopped
thinking about this question: What is it that the institution of society
ought to achieve? And second, I mean that in the paradigmatic case,
Athens, they gave this answer: the creation of human beings living with
beauty, living with wisdom, and loving the common good.
The Peloponnesian War. 2 vols. Trans. Thomas Hobbes. Ed. David
Grene. With an introduction by Bertrand de Jouvenel. Ann Arbor: The
University of Michigan Press, 1959.
Arendt. "The Crisis in Culture." Between Past and Future:
Six Exercises in Political Thought. New York: The Viking Press,
Castoriadis. "The Greek Polis and the Creation of
Democracy" (1983). Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy. Ed. David
Ames Curtis. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.