Transitioning to the Symposium 2020.3-2021.6


Nijinsky’s survival and fierce inoperativity

Yuma Ochi

When he realized that the concept of “I” was collapsing, Shuji Terayama realized that Tatsumi Hijikata and Tadeusz Cantor only regarded the human body as “just a bag full of blood.”
Around the same time, Michel Foucault announced the end of modern humans, and humankind first saw an image of the Earth in outer space taken from Apollo 8. If it had been overstated that anthropocentrism was over, then it was a time when it began to be seen with suspicion.
It was also the time when Ko Murobushi noticed Tatsumi Hijikata’s “Physical Rebellion”; he must have known that the brass plate suspended by Natsuyuki Nakanishi on the stage gave off a sexyness peculiar to inorganic things.

What was the perceptions about “death”? Terayama thought that the plays of Ionesco and Duras, who externalize death as a “corpse,” completely overlooked the fact that the actor’s body itself contained “death.” What did Butoh look like for him? Terayama saw it as a body that realized that death was inherent in the body.
“Human beings are born as half-hearted corpses and take a lifetime to become complete corpses.”
Nijinsky, who is constantly referred to in Butoh, may have already had a “small death (le petit mort)” when he showed a spasm of ecstasy at the end of “Afternoon of a Faun” (1912).
The body as a container that remains after the modern human figure is pulled out. The hollowed-out body after the inside of an illusion of the “individual” created by capitalism is pulled out, and the Butoh dancer who thoroughly trains the body as a container—they throw in one dead body, and another, into the hollow.

The hollow body from which the illusion of “individual” was drawn is sometimes embodied in the form of “madness.” Nijinsky, who erased “I” by madness, sometimes thought of himself as “God” and sometimes as “Cow”. He also became “black” as well as “Japanese”. What was Nijinsky becoming when he was staring at the audience for 20 minutes on stage in his later years of madness?
It could have been becoming something, or it might not have been becoming anything. The body as a container was thrown there.

A sack full of blood, the end of modern human beings, and a corpse where death floats in a cavity after “I” escapes are also “human beings without contents.” A human who denies his own identity, denies it again when something seems to appear to catch him, and then denies it all over again—this artist is what Agamben called “The Man Without Contents,” comparing him to Musil’s “The Man Without Qualities”. What Murobushi—who repeatedly denies his own identity and goes out of it, then goes out again when his identity begins to solidify, and repeats infinite “step off -faux pas-”—may have reached is a human figure driven by such rejection and negativity. A dance that rejects the expression of “content”. To exist as a “someone” with pure latent power that cannot be exhausted by any identity.
Murobushi once muttered “Il y a quelqu’un (someone’s there)” suddenly as he was leaving the stage. He may have been muttering to himself, or it might have been a question of “Who’s there?”

Rosi Braidotti postulated the post-human as a model of humanity that would come after the bodily normativity and standard that Western modernity had established. The “someone” that Murobushi makes appear on the stage as an “anti-body”, an unidentifiable entity that emerges after a series of denial and rejection of the normative body, may be a kind of post-human.
I’m reminded of Murobushi’s “The Enthusiastic Dance Danced in the Grave”, with “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” as its theme song. The body that twitches to the theme song from “The New Battle Without Honor and Humanity” and “Kill Bill” is another post-human variant, as is the silver-painted upside-down corpse from “DEAD 1” that appears with Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze“.

I imagine “Nijinski a minuit”.
It is Nijinsky’s “survivance” with “death” and “madness” that Murobushi tries to invoke in the empty body after he exhausts his own “I”.
As Murobushi’s body convulses, Nijinsky’s shadow also convulses. Or perhaps it can be said that Ko Murobushi had Nijinsky living in his body as Tatsumi Hijikata had his sister living in his body. This deliberate anachronism of the multilayered body would connect the convulsions of 1912 with the convulsions of 2020, exposing the essential inoperativity of man’s separation from the prevailing order, attributes, purpose and identity. With a certain fierceness.

Yuma Ochi

Born in 1981. Visiting researcher at Waseda University’s Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum. Lecturer at Ehime University. With a PhD in literature, specialities include the history, cultural policies, and aesthetic studies of contemporary dance, particularly in France. Curated the “Who Dance? Actuality of Choreography” exhibition (2015-2016) on contemporary dance at the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum and compiled its exhibition catalogue. Research papers include “An Analysis of Jérôme Bel’s ‘The Show Must Go On’” (2011) and “Choreography for Coexistence: Exploring ‘Relations’ in the Choreographic Works of Xavier Le Roy” (2014).

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