Karma, Kaya, Khoros, Krishna

Images still to be included.

The title of this article may sound like an Indian mantra, but it isn’t quite: Kaya refers to Kaya Anderson to whom this article is dedicated, and Khoros is Greek: chorus. But I will owe up and this article should make clear why such references. I start with  a confession: as a student I used to be rather mean and distrustful with all things Indian . Maybe it was a reaction to the fact that at the time I lived and studied in the very hub of London’s hippie Indian craze of the mid 1960s: Chelsea School of Art was right next door to the Antique Market on the King’s Road: incense, marihuana and sitars. I particularly distrusted Indian alternative philosophical attitudes and the forms of teaching associated with them. Not that I knew that much about the Vedas, yoga or Buddhism: I was prey to a common, arrogant bug amongst Western artists and thinkers, one that was (and still is, though less) particularly prejudiced and aggressive against two fundamental Indian notions: karma and guru. Predictably enough, poetic justice turned the tables on me: I met Roy Hart and started following him. Roy Hart was certainly not Indian but he knew well how close his model of teaching was to that of a guru, and what the meaning of working on karma implied[1].

So, let me turn to the person to whom I wish to dedicate this article: Kaya Anderson – a great ‘karmic’ seer, soon to be eighty five – who was, when in her early twenties, one of the first pupils of Roy Hart (then only in his late twenties), and himself a young and devoted pupil of Alfred Wolfsohn. Working with Roy Hart, Kaya did not actually meet Wolfsohn for some time; his health was frail. She tells she fell in love with Wolfsohn before actually meeting him, from the comments and projected aura she perceived through Roy Hart. She also insists on her total confidence in Roy Hart – a confidence which was as it were supervised by Wolfsohn. I use here the term “guru” by transposition from Indian traditions to European practice. From what I know – I never met Wolfsohn – his model of teaching had much more to do with the Talmudic traditions of North and Eastern European travelling teachers, influenced by the ideas of his time, especially German late romanticism and the modernist psycho-somatic propositions of Freud and followers. Roy Hart’s project, or call it agenda, was of a different nature, time and dynamic, much more akin to the notion of guru as it transpires in the life and ideas of George Gurdjieff, which included leading a group of followers into what at the time would be called “self-realization” and ideal communitarism.

Kaya is also a long-time friend and colleague whom I have had recently the honor and pleasure of interviewing on her life and ideas[2]. The task I give myself here is to write of her in terms of the “guru” figure she has become, with praise for her as a charismatic teacher, but also in qualified praise and appraisal of the notional figure of guru itself, too hurriedly distrusted in the West.

The September 2017 yearly workshop proposed by Kaya ended, as has become tradition, with a workshop performance presentation. This year the theme was Hamlet, and specifically his most famous speech “To be or not to be”. I found afterwards that the theme included also “Beauty and Beast”. I had attended the previous 2016 presentation, which was on the theme of Dionysus, mostly from Euripides’ The Bacchae. There is a strong continuity in the principles and treatment of these themes and figures in Kaya’s workshops group performances[3]. Let me take a moment to describe this year’s Hamlet which was about thirty minutes long.

The public entered the theatre space to find a hieratic atmosphere: actors were posted at the four corners like the wardens of a magical ceremonial temple, dressed in black body-tights, immobile. Two women stood in the centre, facing and holding each other. The elder one fixed fiercely the younger blond one, whose gaze erred insecurely. My mind was already asking: “Are we about to see an insecure Ophelia sacrificed in a magical ritual?”[4] Kaya, who greeted the audience with formal courtesy, turned to the stage when ready and made a clear ceremonial gesture to open the proceedings.

During the first declaimed speech, presumably from Hamlet – it was difficult to decipher the probably nervous and inexperienced actress – other members of the cast emerged from underneath the front-row seats through the spectators’ legs; they slid and writhed onto the stage. It was an impressive apparition of a serpentine chorus which then, and throughout the performance, mostly huddled together as if in a container, something like a giant wicker basket tilted towards the audience so as to expose its mutating content: I saw it mostly as a wicca, a witchcraft cauldron. It became often a hissing nest of vipers, but at times it could also be seen as a sacred grail full of angelic feathers. It displayed configurations of birds, of stones, of gargoyles, etc. These were impressive, dark, magic metamorphoses for a disparate workshop group that had probably rehearsed only a few hours together under Kaya’s guidance.

I built my own performance vision from the title and from the setting. Canonical interpretations of what Hamlet represents in Western literature tend to make of him the emblematic figure of the emergence of the modern existential individual, alone against the world and extracting himself from the “outrageous fortune” of his family’s miasma (or call it karma – or, maybe even: chorus). In doing so Hamlet drives an anima figure like Ophelia, so attracted to him, but also his own mother, Gertrude, to death – bringing to mind Orestes and his own “outrageous” fortune, pursued by the primordial, matriarchal Furies. Kaya’s chorus takes on a role very similar to that of the tragic chorus of the Erynies (Furies), metamorphosing into the Eumenides (Charities) – and, in Kaya’s case, back and forth for further beauty-beast transformations. I mostly saw the chorus’ mutations as voicing the repressed feminine of Hamlet’s psychic destiny (or, again, karma) – not unlike the witches in Macbeth, or, of course, the ghosts pursuing Orestes. The cast happened to be all-women except for one very handsome young man who blended perfectly, uncannily even, into the women’s chorus – an anecdotic little miracle in itself: was he Hamlet, hiding, like Achilles, in a chorus of schoolgirls, trying to avoid being drafted into the Trojan war? In brief: quite a brilliant if simple chorus conception that countered Hamlet’s solo isolation and his sardonic treatment of Ophelia, and of Gertrude – and of women in general.

The fusion of magma-like configurations of the chorus-basket, openly tilted towards the audience, actually brought out each individual’s presence: there was no hiding from our scrutinizing eyes. Each performer’s soul-participation and quality of presence was laid bare to the spectator’s gaze, with her or his degree of conviction and solidarity, which underpinned each person’s capacity to act, share and convince[5]. This was fascinating to me and brought memories of the chorus work, not only of Roy Hart’s theatre (hours and hours of it!), but of the 1960s and 70s chorus-communal-communist enthusiasts[6], from, for instance, Hair to The Living Theatre. Roy Hart actually named a performance project L’Enthusiasme, if I remember correctly: the chorus of his followers (I was part of the cast) performing, singing and dancing in the streets of the Malerargues neighboring villages in 1974 / 1975, during the ‘heroic’ period when more than forty persons ‘burnt their bridges’ in London in order to follow him to the “pastoral paradise”. It was in some respects a utopian, millenarist move.

Kaya carries that spirit of enthusiasm, with, now, many years of experienced and nurtured wisdom, and this is the reason for my saying she has guru quality. Hers is definitely idealism but not of the naïve, innocent kind. This was patent to me in her way of directing and asking the group to be up-front with enthusiastic chorus cohesion; it was also clear how difficult for some of the participants to enact, especially those who thought they had registered for a personal development Roy Hart workshop without such demanding performative commitments. I was not surprised to hear that some may have found an excuse to leave the workshop before the public presentation. Others, by moments clearly wanted to fade away and vanish from the stage. They could not ‘face it’ and therefore withdrew their faces and presence. Kaya’s rhetoric can be quite sharp, especially in her use of positive / negative verdicts: I see it as her way of driving generous engagement, outwards and radiant theatrical attitudes. The expression used back in the 1960s was: to “come out”, as opposed to withdraw into personal, regressive and non-expressive resistances – to give without reserve, and to “attack” behaviours that refuse to produce and shine with enthusiasm and which thus fall into “negative” withdrawals or cynical attitudes. I understand that some of Kaya’s closest student-friends suggested she tempered her use of the word “attack”. Roy Hart certainly did not hesitate to take such moral-martial stands, sometimes to the point of terror. He once ‘nailed’ me during a rehearsal asking me: “Where is your fear of God?” Today I would say: “delicious terror!”, since the gods were present! Well, mostly, the Bible’s God, the Mosaic one. To speak of gods in the plural and to qualify the moment as “delicious” is a pagan take I doubt Roy Hart would have approved.

With hindsight – and I also own up to my, at times, huge share of resistances to chorus fusion and submission![7] – I think to myself today: how lucky these persons are to be able to take part in such a project-workshop-adventure led by a guru figure like Kaya; what “positive” catharsis – or even exorcism![8] Those close to her know this well and know how to value it – and it showed in their acting, in the lucidity and lively appraisal of their sub-mission. Sub-mission is a paradoxical key term in my own choreographic theatre work. Sub-mission: going under in search of a deeper ‘mission’, a quest for more complex insights, a move that eludes literal surface interpretations. These artists’ intelligence also showed in the way they made sense (made performance) out of what Kaya asked, which may have appeared sometimes erratic, tentative, haphazard, diffuse, contradictory – all of which can be qualities of a seriously experienced and charismatic guru’s ways, teaching and imagination. It also showed in the personal care they took of Kaya.

A word on charisma and gurus. The notion of charisma comes from the Greek word karis which points to « grace, kindness, and life ». Charisma is often used as one of the grand attributes of an actor’s presence, linked to authority and prestige. It is akin to the phenomenology of the Celtic notion of glamour: a magical radiance and shiny attractiveness. Karis was a goddess, known also as Kale (« Beauty ») or Aglaea (« Splendor »). Socrates, who was reputedly ugly – he was described as having the face and allure of a Silenus or even of a Satyr! – was for many irresistibly charismatic. In Plato’s Symposium (The Banquet) there is the scandalous, late and drunken arrival of Alcibiades followed by the erotic clash and flirt between the two charismas: the brazen young and beautiful Athenian general and the older, bald guru figure of Socrates. A bantering confrontation with a high charge of homo-erotic tension – very much the point of Plato’s Symposium – centered on what we call today “transference”, and which addresses in great platonic fashion ‘guru transmission’, that is: charismatic teaching. At one point Alcibiades says something to the effect that he wants to sit next to Socrates and if possible make simple physical contact with him, and that this mattered more to him than listening to Socrates’ speeches, on which he could sound somewhat skeptical. You could say Alcibiades wanted to touch, be touched by and be in touch with Socrates’ embodied charisma – as in an erotic-magical transference (is there any another form?) Roy Hart and Socrates could be said to be similar physical types, relatively small and sturdy – and similar guru-types[9]. Not Kaya, a woman, for one thing, now frail, elegant, delicate and acutely perceptive, full of vibrant animus: ideas and ideals of how to be (or not to be), and very much a herald for the (anima) aspirations and idealisms of two men: Alfred Wolfsohn, who came to be her teacher, and her fellow-companion and at the time young teacher, Roy Hart, whose leadership she subsequently followed.

Let us now go back to the early 1970’s, to London, where somehow an invitation arrived to the Roy Hart Theatre for a day of celebrations at the Bhaktivedanta Manor, North of London, the main Hare Krishna Temple founded by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a remarkable man and a remarkable guru. The invitation was to celebrate his birthday at the magnificent estate-manor-temple, with hundreds of visiting hosts. The estate was donated by Beatle George Harrison to Swami Prabhupada and his Hare Krishna movement. It is still flowering today. Roy Hart asked all his followers, around forty at the time, to go with him. In retrospect, so much could be written about this visit and about its meaning! I remember moving in with Roy, as a phalanx, and creating an isolated circle in one of the gardens, sitting around him and discussing varicose veins, of all subjects! A pale and gentle young English Hare Krishna adept approached the group in her orange sari-robe and asked us if we were all right and invited us to visit the manor and gardens. Roy responded that we were discussing varicose veins – and I think he asked the actress in question to show her legs. De bonne guerre, as the French would say (fair enough warfare): varicose veins against Hare Krishna mantras, two gurus marking territories, albeit distant ones, for I remember strictly no interchange with our hosts. I did get to see Swami Prabhupada holding court in grand Indian manner, on a cushioned, flowered throne, with adepts fanning him with palms and incense. Later I also remember Roy – (I realize I have switched here to calling him by his forename and smiling warmly at the memories) – I remember him saying that he hoped when he reached eighty he would not have disciples fanning him!

I do not recall a single joke of Roy Hart’s that did not have a serious edge or “Socratic” dart to it. I recently reported a memory of his stating (verbatim): “First there was Freud, then Jung, now me”. A colleague remarked it sounded like a Woody Allen joke; and, yes, it could be said to contain a similar brand of Jewish psychoanalytic humor. But one thing is the letter of a joke, another is its spirit (its voice). Behind the guru-fanning apparent joke there is what I would call an existential perspective: did Roy Hart expect his followers to be his disciples for life? He did, in my view. And this has very important implications not only from a historical “guru” perspective, but also in terms of what I would call the theological nature of his legacy – or, to put in another way: such possessive ‘superiority’ goes to the core of his pedagogic ideology and to his idea of consciousness. If today I can contextualize the shadow side of such a statement – and maybe write about it one day – I also realize how important it is for an actor-artist (and everyone) to keep questioning his or her own status and autonomy, and to keep thinking and reassessing the purpose and content of sub-mission – I would say; its ethics and epistemology [10].

These reflections on sub-mission and on its concomitant iconoclastic autonomy, are at the core of my own take in choreographic theatre – which, obviously, involves chorus, choreography, choral codes and sub-missions. One of its main finalities is the political practice and philosophy of empowerment. It asks for the question of autonomy to be constantly confronted, updated and renewed, especially when one is under a director’s strong authority or under the normative spell of a guru-type leader. Choreographic theatre starts with this question in its basic exercise: “follow the leader”. Apprenticeship tackles first the letter of the law, in what I sometimes call “doctrine and dressage”[11], and then the complexities of the spirit of the law and its exceptions. In many respects, it is a training in quicksilver awareness and mercurial presence of mind, i.e. the spirit of Hermes. Artistic interpretations are “hermetic”: rules are made to confirm exceptions, and not the other way round [12]. Hermes will eventually twist, “wrong” or even break the law and its rule. Betrayal is always an option in choreographic theatre[13]: creative betrayal fantasies and enactments quicken the spirit at work, keep it alive, challenged, aware. It relativizes norms, rules and responsibilities.[14]

Before returning to Kaya Anderson, I turn to a performance currently on show in Paris by Polish director Elizabeth Czerkzuc. I went to see it with this article in mind, knowing it dealt with the very influential tradition of Polish group and chorus theatre. The video presentation and the program notes made reference principally to Kantor and to Grotowski, and Elizabeth Czerkzuc states clearly as her mission the preservation and development of their legacy in Polish theatre. The piece was in fact a tribute to Tadeusz Kantor, especially in the title, Réquiem pour les Artistes (re. Kantor’s  Qu’ils crèvent, les artistes – Let the artists die) and in the scenography (re. La Classe Morte – The Dead Class). I am lucky to have seen both of these Kantor productions; they greatly impressed me. In the early 1980’s the master models were Kantor, Pina Bausch and Butoh’s Sankai Yuku – all three revolving around strong chorus work. Well, not quite with Kantor: his was more ensemble work than chorus, with characters individualized to the point of deadly grotesque. Tadeusz Kantor himself used to roam about the stage during the performances; he did so as a ‘naturalistic’ artifex, or deus ‘in’ machina, a sort of magic gnome pulling the strings of his puppet-like actors[15]. He would hush instructions to them, have little aside chats, and discretely (and mysteriously) make signs for music cues and volume shifts. He would finally wrap-up the performance by folding a great white table cloth, and depart with it under his arm with perfect timing and consequent massive applause. What most impressed me was his emotional musicality: his choice of music (recorded or a live accordion on stage), and above all his control of timings and volumes. I missed this subtlety in Elizabeth Czerkzuc’s quite frenetic, Bakhtinian, carnivalesque revival [16].

Like with Kaya Anderson, the cast of Elizabeth Czerkzuc was also mostly women. They were dutifully generous during the tenaciously repetitive and quite demanding choreographic sequences, and, naturally, some dancers stood out with more genius, conviction and “glamour” than others. Elizabeth Czerkzuc was very present in the entrance lobby though not on stage, wearing a fairy-like and slightly kinky dress. There were no real soloists in the piece. Allow me now to share and describe my own very first appearance on stage, around 1973; I had strictly no background or training in theatre. I became part of Roy Hart’s chorus in a performance with a cast of about twenty. At the time I was a (very) young teacher at London University’s Goldsmith College of Art and my students were almost my age… They ‘murdered’ me, especially by comparison with Roy Hart’s wild, nonconformist, solo behavior on stage. One of them put it that I looked like Bambi on Ice!

Kaya Anderson’s chorus side-stepped Bambi: apart from some ‘lost souls’ taken on board during the short workshop, the core-members of the chorus looked experienced, keen, sharp and alive – maybe what Roy Hart meant by “individuals”. I would say they knew their place and performed in consequence[17]. In the Roy Hart Theatre historical collection of critical reviews, there are a few nasty ones; one is to the point here. The revival of L’Economiste after Roy Hart’s death was qualified in Spain of “ñoño”: namby-pamby. What remained after Roy Hart’s death were rather lost souls, without guidance, clustered together in a run-down rural property, organizing themselves into very innocent emergencies, in a stunned yet highly opinionated and hierarchical chorus, and bent on desperate forms of missionary optimism[18]. These were “dark ages”, definitely, for me; dim and fallow ones: an interlude, a depressive Nekyia without many mindful or cultural bearings.

Psychoanalysis tells us that a point can (and should) always be made of Nekyias and depressions, and, interestingly, the two events that reversed perspectives for me in the late 1970s were: a performance by Luis Rodriguez about a landslide in Peru that buried a friend’s village and all his family, and James Hillman’s book, The Dream and the Underworld, in which he posits his thesis on dreams: dreams come up from Hades, the Underworld, along the same “royal road” of Nekyia descents. This is one of the main points I want to bring up in the June 2018 Myth and Theatre Festival, especially the references to the two porticos of Hell: the Gate of Horn (true dreams), the Gate of Ivory (false dreams).

Tadeusz Kantor’s nightmare ghosts and awesome zombies fit into this mindscape: he went down the Golem-puppet trail, acting as director-guide to his ensemble of actors. Kantor states clearly that he was embarking on Nekyia expeditions into the realm of the dead. He qualified this by saying that only the dead can truly speak about the living. We could add, with James Hillman: because the dead under-stand.

Possibly the most ‘archetypal’ performance I have seen involving a leader/chorus dynamic (I rarely use the word “archetypal”, and it does NOT mean necessarily “good”[19]), was by Italian director Leo de Bernardinis, over twenty years ago. He played the main character: a tyrannical, dying old director-king, with long disheveled white hair and a totally hoarse, broken voice. The piece was an assemblage of extracts from King Lear (who else!), Ionesco’s Le Roi se Meurt (Exit the King), and other Saturnine monarchs known for ‘eating’ their children while refusing to let go of power. It included absolute infantilization of the chorus, literally bleating on all fours around him. Leo: a fated name for a cantankerous old Lion-King who took it out on his chorus (and on youth, and on ideals, and on democracy…) Dreadful business. But then, for some, that was the purpose: to provoke and push outrage to its maximum. I did not accept that point. Roy Hart verged sometimes on these chorus dynamics and provocation tactics. French philosopher Catherine Clément, clearly fascinated, wrote an article, at the time, the late 1960s, using Freud’s mythical fantasy of the primordial horde (the chorus of rival sons) and of the murder of the tyrannical father – a sociological facet of Freud take on the Oedipus complex, here regarding the father. Neither the daughters nor the mother(s) were mentioned. A sign of the times?

I write that Roy Hart “verged” on these elitist and sectarian dynamics. The implied proximity and critical distinctions need calm reflection and very careful articulation, especially because such thinking can still structure some of what is taught as “Roy Hart” today. I cannot undertake such an analysis in this article – maybe in future ones. One thing for sure: the guru-subject and model still stirs emotional projections, what I would call anima anxieties, especially and as mentioned, amongst us Westerners: sectarian panics, paranoid mixtures of superiority and inferiority complexes, accusations of embezzlement, of exploitation, of fanaticism or leery isolation, of brainwashing and loss of autonomy, of religious devotional excesses, etc. etc. Roy Hart died in 1975. By then the revolutionary enthusiasm of 1968 was entering serious depressions, turning sour sometimes, or worse: violently apocalyptic, with deadly outbursts of terrorism. The most terrible religious-political disaster happened in 1978 in another supposedly pastoral utopia, in Guyana: The Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, and what is known as the Jonestown “revolutionary suicide”: a sect of almost one thousand persons died after drinking or being forced to drink a cyanide broth.

Kaya Anderson has her own serene star on her forehead, having traversed the turmoils and idealistic dreams of all these times and journeys, including the “slings and arrows” that can came with some of them. Her insights and outlooks are acutely psychological. I can therefore repeat again: lucky those who can take part and profit from her teaching and her performance presentations.

Two reflections to finish. The first concerns the person who made possible the purchase of Malerargues: Davide Montague Crawford, maybe Roy Hart’s closest peer-friend; not artistically – he had little time and interest for theatre – but spiritually and financially, a not so common and very dynamic combination. It was also part of Swami Prabhupada’s background: he was a successful businessman before becoming a spiritual guru. Davide Montague left Malerargues only months after Roy Hart’s passing, never to return, unable to find his place amongst those (a large majority) who remained, admittedly in a rather fanatically principled atmosphere. His life took him to other spiritual, and spiritist involvements. He ended his days suffering a form of Alzheimer’s, but, extraordinarily, cared for by the Northern Ireland Hare Krishna Temple. His ashes, I understand, were dispersed on the Ganges.

Davide Montague was a valued mentor friend to me and I regretted his inevitable departure; it was my fault too: I was also “fanatically principled” in those days. One of the biggest lessons in my life was being his assistant translator while negotiating the purchase contract of Malerargues. I put it this way: “How did a bunch of baby boomers come to own an amazing place like Château de Malérargues and its thirty or so hectares! Because of the charisma of Roy Hart, and thanks to the financial intrepidness of his friend Davide Monty Crawford. The rest, in all modesty, is small print.”

The reflections and value judgments I make in this article are, of course, mine, and engage my point of view alone – a point of view that clearly wants to be speculative. I mean by that that I wish to engage and venture into philosophical reflections, and philosophical dramaturgy: the way one tells, or writes a story is part of the philosophy. Historical truth is not my aim: I think back in order to think forwards, and present. Truths are rarely where we think they are: they are usually waiting elsewhere – very often in fiction. In the process, of course, anima colors memories and judgments. I have also met the opposite attitude, and here again I am lucky to be friends with another important figure: Sonu Shamdasani – historian of psychology and editor of C.G. Jung’s The Red Book. In an early article he sets things straight on what many naively consider to be C.G. Jung’s autobiography: Memories, Dreams and Reflections. It was assembled and commented by (somewhat biased and over-protective) collaborators. Jung may not even have read it! Sonu’s historical article is titled Memories, Dreams and Omissions. I take his point. I hope Kaya Anderson accepts the fact that I wandered so far and wide from her thought-provoking workshop presentation. That also should be a compliment: I thank her for her animation, her stirring anima, her soul making.

Enrique Pardo, Paris, November 11 (Dia de los Muertos).

[1] I remember an exchange in which I pulled a face at the word karma and which Roy Hart picked up: did I not like the notion of karma? I settled diplomatically saying something like “it is important and should not be used lightly…” He concluded: “So you do think there is such a thing like karma.” I actually did not know that much about karma at the time. A bit more now, and especially on the implications of working on one’s karma, or against one’s karma – understood as the givens of one’s genetic or “soul’s code” – a crucial tenet of Roy Hart’s philosophy of singing: singing as exploration of karma (discovery of voice) and singing as transformation of karma: breaking sounds, breaking karma.

[2] Kaya is in the process of writing an autobiography.

[3] The Bacchae was the first performance of the newly formed Roy Hart Theatre, in 1969, at the legendary Roundhouse in Chalk Farm, London. It happened just too soon for me to see.

[4] Director and Pantheatre colleague, Sean Lewis, wrote and directed a great underworld follow-up to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which a (finally) cogent, articulate and fierce Ophelia lets Hamlet ‘have it’.

[5] For reflections on the mythology of persuasion, see Wild Voice, Wild Hear article.

[6] Enthusiasm, in its Greek mythological roots (en-theus) means “possessed by a god or goddess” – and you are advised, especially with Dionysus, to get out of the way! (Or join them?)

[7] Two relevant notes; a proposed theme for a coming article and lecture: “Art, Performance and the Hate of Theatre”, on contemporary resistances to emotional theatricality – a cyclical reaction throughout Western History.

[8] A quote from Roy Hart in L’Economiste: “If you do not submit to direction, you risk never becoming an individual.”

[9] The procedural notion of maieutics is often brought up to describe the Socratic method: the teacher-guru enacting a midwife-like birthing process of a person’s soul. Italian classicist and philosopher Giulia Sissa is fierce in her opposition to Plato/Socrates on this count, calling it essentially a paternalistic attitude. See: Giulia SISSA, L’âme est un corps de femme, (The soul is a woman’s body), Paris, 2000.

[10] Gurus and utopian communities were very much in vogue, and in question, during and after the 1960’s, as exemplified by Sheldon Kopp’s best-seller: If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him: The Pilgrimage of Psychotherapy Patients– 1982.

[11] I discovered this motto on the entrance portico of a Spanish army garrison in Granada : “Doctrina y Adiestraminto”. It was the army’s “School of Genius”!

[12] Roy Hart did pay credence to this principle, but from the point of view of the directing authority: “If one refuses to be directed, one risks never becoming an individual”. A complex phrase which I paraphrase from one of his sermon-like statements in the 1974 performance mentioned above: L’Economiste.

[13] See footnote of Mdoma.

[14] See the exchange with Steve Levine on “wonderful betrayal” – in his comments to the article Teachers, Cheaters, Gurus, Mentors. Laboratory sessions very often bring up the topic of betrayal: all gods, and goddesses are jealous and will tend to want to be “the one and only” or at least the first one. It is the Bible’s first commandment. Theological betrayal is a Biblical mode. I do not think one can say that Hermes betrays. Maybe coyote does, though his are worse, actually beyond betrayal.

[15] I recommend Victoria Nelson’s book: The Secret Life of Puppets. It points to the roots of Kantor’s work in “puppet-golem” Eastern European traditions, especially in the osmosis of Polish and Jewish folklores. It refers to Isaac Bashevis Singer and to Bruno Schultz, and of course to Franz Kafka.

[16] Interestingly, my mentor-like friends at the time were very reticent. Rafael Lopez-Pedraza resisted the restricted stereotypes of Kantor: priest, prostitute and wounded army officer, and the leitmotifs of his sentimental music. For him this was definitely not “archetypal”; it was stereotypal theatre. He preferred the pageants of Lindsey Kemp! James Hillman was wary of Grotowski’s dour medievalism. Charles Boer rejected the underworldly pageants and principles of Butoh’s slow-motions – or of Robert Wilson’s for that matter. All three: outside eyes to theatre.

[17] There is a contradiction, a deep paradox in wanting to be at once a ‘wild’ individual (free and spontaneous) and a ‘formatted’ unit of a chorus. Resolving this tension is where quality of acting and of emotional-thinking emerges.

[18] The story of this period is mostly presented, and received, as an idealistic, pastoral feat: young women and young men building a sort of Rabelesian Abbey of Thelema. Roy  Hart himself spoke of Malerargues as a future Universe-City, an exemplary refuge in a decaying and hostile world.

[19] James Hillman named his own work, after Jung: Archetypal Psychology. It is therefore a very important notion in my own work and philosophy. But the term has been so used and misused in the last fifty years that I have become intellectually allergic to it, especially when referred to in performance. I think what is important is the commentary on the image (cum-mens, with-mind) : the thinking and feeling-tone that accompanies its performance – and not the mere iconic, “archetypal” status of an image.

2 réflexions sur “Karma, Kaya, Khoros, Krishna

  1. Cher Enrique,
    Mon cher vieux gourou … c’est une blague, comme Woody Allen
    J’ai lu ce blog avec les yeux grands ouverts! Je suis en proie à mon propre moment chironique.
    L’Enthusiasme! Delicious Terror! How happy I am to read your « voice ». This is a time of « burning the dross » as T.S. Eliot would say. Mon Mari a Parkisons, en effet – It is a descent into madness. Alors,
    peut-etre one confronts madness with a different kind of madness. Mais avec les Cartes de Tarot et Lenormand I Summon les Muses! My work is growing, evolving, flourishing. J’espère visiter Paris au printemps avant que je vole aux Etats-Unis pour ma tournée de Tarot et si tu es à Paris j’aimerais te voir (et Linda aussi). Je pense que je pourrais bénéficier de ton travail beaucoup plus à mon âge avancé.

    Bonne Continuation,


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